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William P. Jesse Collection, 1947-1984


Archives and Special Collections,
Benedictine University Library

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Benedictine University Library, Archives and Special Collections
Creator: Jesse, William P.
Title: William P. Jesse Collection, 1947-1984
Language of Materials: Materials in English
Abstract: William P. Jesse was a nuclear physicist who assisted on the Manhattan Project during World War II. After the completion of the war, Jesse continued his work at Argonne National Laboratory, and upon his retirement continued his research at St. Procopius College.

Collection consists of a personal collection of physics papers written by other scientists, lantern slides from lectures, lab notebooks kept throughout Jesse's post-Manhattan Project career, and publications written by Jesse.
Extent: 6 linear feet, 8 records center boxes

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions


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Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred Citation

[Identification of item] William P. Jesse Collection, ARCH-104, Archives and Special Collections, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL, USA

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Acquisitions Information


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Processing Information

Processed by Jennifer E. Merriman, November, 2010

Encoded by Jennifer E. Merriman, November, 2010

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Additional Descriptive Resources


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Biographical Note

William Polk Jesse was born on March 14, 1891 in New Orleans, La. Jesse received a B.S. in physics from the University of Missouri in 1913, and continued his graduate work at the University of Chicago in 1919 upon the end of World War I. In 1921, he became an instructor for Yale University, and received his PhD in 1924. After teaching at various institutions for ten years, Jesse returned to the University of Chicago, and transferred to the Metalurgical Laboratory to assist with the Manhattan Project during World War II.

After the war, Jesse joined Argonne National Laboratory and began making accurate measurements of W, the energy required to produce an ion pair. A result of this research has now become known as the "Jesse effect". After retirement from Argonne, Jesse continued his research at St. Procopius College until 1972.

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Collection Overview

The collection documents most of William Poke Jesse's post World War II, and Manhattan Project activities. Publications collected by Jesse are included, which include his notes and notations. Publications written by Jesse are also included, as well as a collection of glass slides which correspond to his articles and lectures. The bulk of the collection is comprised of a series of 48 lab notebooks which document the work of Jesse between the years of 1947-1972. Scrapbooks have been left intact, and include mostly notations, graphs, and experiment notes, procedures and results.

Photographs are organized by date and are mostly of visitors to Erlenborn's office, either in Illinois or Washington, D.C., but also included here are photographs of important Presidential and Congressional events. Gerald Ford, King Peter II of Yugoslavia, Richard Nixon, Helmut Schmidt, Orrin Hatch, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and the winners of various "Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow" competitions are some of the individuals appearing with Erlenborn in this series.

Collection Arrangement

In most cases items have been placed in chronological order.

1. Publications, 1932-1966
2. Slides 1960-1967
3. Lab Notebooks, 1947-1972
4. Personal Papers and Publications, 1950-1964

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Online Catalog Headings

These and related materials may be found under the following headings in online catalogs.

Jesse, William Polk
Nuclear physics
Nuclear physics--History--20th century
University of Chicago.
Argonne National Laboratory
Manhattan Project (U.S.)
Nuclear physics--Measurement
Nuclear physics-Research
St. Procopius College (Lisle, Ill.)

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Detailed Description of the Collection

1. 1.Publications, 1932-1966
About 100 items.
Arrangement: Chronological by year of publication, then alphabetical
Publications and papers which belonged to Jesse, and contain his notations, but were not written by him personally.
Box 1 Publications 1960-1972

2. 2. Slides 1960-67
About 50 items.
Arrangement: Original Order.
Included are lantern slides from all of Jesse's major lectures and presentations. Slides are kept in the original boxes, in the original order. Slides consist mostly of charts and graphs, with a few slides containing mathematical formulas. Boxes are labeled with the name and date of the lecture
Box 2 Lecture Slides

3. 3.Lab Notebooks, 1947-1972.
About 48 items.
Arrangement: chronological,
This series contains all lab notebooks kept by Jesse during his tenure at Argonne National Laboratory, and at St. Procopius College. The notebooks contain his notations from experiments, as well as results, calculations conducted during experiments. Pages are dated and numbered

3.1. Committee on Government Operations, 1967-1984.
About 1,100 items.
Box 3
Lab Notebooks 1-12
Box 4
Lab Notebooks 13-24
Box 5
Lab Notebooks 25-36
Box 6
Lab Notebooks 37-48

4. Personal Papers and Publications 1950-1964
Arrangement: chronological
Publications are organized chronologically by year, and are generated by Jesse approximately once a year between 1950 through 1968. They discuss Jesse's findings primarily during his work at National Argonne Laboratory and St. Procopius College, doing work with determining accurate values of W for beta particles.
Folder 7.1 Distribution List
Folder 7.2 The Range-Energy Curves for Alpha Particles and Protons, 1950
Folder 7.3 The Ionization in Argon and in Air by Single Alpha-Particles as a Function of The Energy, 1950
Folder 7.4 Techniques in the Constitution and Use of Integrating Ionization Chambers, 1951
Folder 7.5 Alpha Particle Ionization in Mixtures of Noble Gases, 1952
Folder 7.6 Alpha-Particle Ionization in Pure Gases and Average Energy to Make n Ion Pair, 1953
Folder 7.7 Ionization by Alpha Particles in Mixtures of Gases, 1955
Folder 7.8 Ionization in Pure Gases and the Average Energy to Make in Ion Pair for Alpha and Beta Particles, 1955
Folder 7.9 Recoil Particles from Po and Their Ionization in Argon and Helium, 1956
Folder 7.10 The Backscattering of Beta-Particles from Gases, 1957
Folder 7.11 Absolute Energy to Produce an Ion Pair by Beta Particles from S
Folder 8.1 Absolute Energy to Produce an Ion Pair in Various Gases by Various Particles from S^35, 1958
Folder 8.2 The Ionization by Polonium Alpha Particle in Air and the Average Energy to to Make an Ion Pair, 1960
Folder 8.3 Alpha-Particle Ionization in Polyatomic Gases and the Energy Dependence of W
Folder 8.4 An Isotope Effect in the Probability of Ionizing a Molecule by Energy Transfer from a Metastable Noble-Gas Atom, 1962
Folder 8.5 Isotope Effect in the Ionization of Polyatomic Gases by Beta Particles, 1963
Folder 8.6 Isotope Effect in the Ionization of Polyatomic Gases by Metastable Atoms, 1964
Folder 8.7 Alpha-Particle Ionization in Argon-Methane Mixtures and the Energy Dependence of the Ion Pair Formation Energy, 1968