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Jagdish Mehra Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Finding Aid/Inventory

Personal Paper Series: (Correspondence)

Jagdish Mehra Personal Papers Series (Subject Files)




Book Projects


Interview Transcripts

Oral Recordings


Audio Visual

Duplicates and Catalogs

Closed Material

Contact us about this collection

Jagdish Mehra Collection, 1924-2001 | University of Houston Libraries

By Samantha Herber, Mikaela Selley, Vanco Hua, Lanchi Pham, Syed Chowdhury, Chinh Doan, Lisa Borden, Toni Blackwell, Dick Dickerson, and Bobby Marlin

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Collection Overview

Title: Jagdish Mehra Collection, 1924-2001View associated digital content.

ID: 09/1995-003

Primary Creator: Mehra, Jagdish

Extent: 177.0 Linear Feet

Subjects: Astrophysicists, Astrophysics, Communication in physics, Cosmic physics, Dirac, P. A. M. (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-1984, Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988, Gell-Mann, Murray, Lamb, Willis E. (Willis Eugene), 1913-2008, Mehra, Jagdish, Physicists, Physics, Physics - History, Physics - Study and teaching, Quantum theory, Schwinger, Julian, 1918-1994, Science - History

Forms of Material: Audiotapes, Correspondence, Manuscripts (document genre)

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

A vast number of books, monographs and reference works on physics, mathematics, philosophy and history of science compose the collection. There are thousands of reprints of original papers autographed by their authors. The manuscripts of hundreds of published and unpublished books, papers, and lectures from physicists, mathematicians, philosophers, and literati are in the collection.

Dr. Mehra's research in the history of 20th century physics has produced taped interviews with many famous scientists. The tapes compile discussions on physics, astrophysics, cosmology, quantum mechanics and quantum physics. Those interviewed include P.A.M. Dirac, W. Heisenberg, Richard Feynman, Julian Schwinger, Willis E. Lamb Jr., Murray Gell-Mann and numerous other Nobel Laureates and distinguished scientists. Other tapes record speeches by many Nobel Prize winners in physics. The information in these oral histories is unique.

Related Materials:

Jagdish Mehra Audio digital collection (http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/jmac)

Biographical Note

Jagdish Mehra, prominent historian of modern physics and the author of The Historical Development of Quantum Theory, 6 volumes, (1982-2000), died on 14 September, 2008 at his home in Sugar Land (near Houston), Texas.

Jagdish Mehra was born on 8 April, 1931, in Meerut (north of New Delhi), India.  He finished high school and his early studies in India and went on to earn both bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Allahabad University.  He then began post-graduate studies at the Max Planck Institut für Physik at Göttingen, Germany (1952-1955).

In 1958 Mehra moved to the United States and obtained a second Master of Science degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.  Later he completed work for a Ph.D. in theoretical physics at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland (1963).  From 1964, he taught at various American universities; including Purdue and Southeastern Massachusetts.  Additionally, he directed a program in physics and the history of physics for IBM in Chicago (1967 to 1969) until he was asked to join E. G. Sudarshan and Ilya Prigogine at The University of Texas at Austin, (1969 -1973).  Special professorships at both the University of Geneva and the Solvay Institute in Brussels lured him back to Europe in 1973.  During the 1980s Mehra lectured at Rice University and the University of Houston, as well as at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy (1989-1991).

At the age of 15, upon receiving an encouraging letter from Albert Einstein, Jagdish Mehra became interested in the history of modern physics and later had the good fortune to discover the first scientific essay (1895) penned by this same lifelong idol.  His recorded interviews, with most of the distinguished physicists of the Twentieth Century, notably Paul Dirac, Richard Feynman, Werner Heisenberg, and Eugene Wigner, explore and document the origin and development of their revolutionary ideas.  On the occasion of Dirac’s 70th birthday, in 1972, Mehra organized what was perhaps the greatest symposium of the 20th century: “The Physicists Conception of Nature.”  In 1994 he wrote a thorough and lively biography of Richard Feynman entitled The Beat of a Different Drum.  With Kimball A. Milton, he authored a scientific biography of Julian Schwinger, Climbing the Mountain, (2000), while editing the seven volumes of Wigner’s Collected Works (1992-2001).  Mehra’s interests extended far beyond science and thus the interviews he conducted included those with literary and philosophical celebrities, such as T. S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, Louis Aragon, Carl Gustav Jung, and Jean Paul Sartre.  The Jagdish Mehra Collection – highly praised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as “absolutely unique as a scientific and cultural source” – now comprises a premier research center of the University of Houston Libraries’ Special Collections.

Whether organizing timely physics conferences or hosting lively social events in Austin, Geneva, or Brussels, Mehra regularly assembled representatives from the two worlds of science and literature (as described by early sponsor, Charles Percy Snow), thus opening new vistas to many privileged participants.  Mehra became well known to a wider audience through a multitude of lectures, articles, and books on a vast number of topics.  In addition to the publications previously mentioned his most ambitious and time-consuming project was perhaps the composition of the six volumes: The Historical Development of Quantum Theory (1982-2000).  Speaking as a long-time collaborator, Helmut Rechenberg can verify that Jagdish Mehra was a demanding and stressing partner.  “He constantly pressed for rapid progress in the investigation, analysis and proper assembly of the vast number of sources that he required.  Such tedious work; involving questions, criticism, and innovative thinking, was always rewarded with a final product of great precision and excellence.”

Helmut Rechenberg, Max Planck Institut Für Physik, Munich, Germany

Richard H. Dickerson, Curator, Jagdish Mehra Collection, University of Houston

Subject/Index Terms

Communication in physics
Cosmic physics
Dirac, P. A. M. (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-1984
Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988
Gell-Mann, Murray
Lamb, Willis E. (Willis Eugene), 1913-2008
Mehra, Jagdish
Physics - History
Physics - Study and teaching
Quantum theory
Schwinger, Julian, 1918-1994
Science - History

Administrative Information

Repository: University of Houston Libraries

Access Restrictions: Open for research.

Use Restrictions: Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Paper Series: (Correspondence)],
[Series 2: Jagdish Mehra Personal Papers Series (Subject Files)],
[Series 3: Lectures],
[Series 4: Articles],
[Series 5: Symposia],
[Series 6: Book Projects],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[Series 8: Interview Transcripts],
[Series 9: Oral Recordings],
[Series 10: Memorabilia],
[Series 11: Audio Visual],
[Series 12: Duplicates and Catalogs],
[Series 13: Closed Material],

Series 1: Personal Paper Series: (Correspondence)
The Personal Papers Series (correspondence) consists of two boxes of Jagdish Mehra correspondence. The files include personal correspondence both to and from Mehra and have been arranged alphabetically by the last name of the subject. Some correspondence related to a general topic was placed in alphabetical order by topic within the personal correspondence sub-series. Each folder is arranged chronologically.  The correspondence files include letters from known scientists such as Einstein and from many universities around the world, including The University of Houston.
Box 1
Folder 1: Academie Royale
Folder 2: Academy of Sciences of the USSR
Folder 3: Adam Hilger Publishers
Folder 4: Adelman, George
Folder 5: Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Bi - National Colloquium
Folder 6: Ambegaokar, Vinay
Folder 7: American Association of Physics Teachers
Folder 8: American Institute of Physics (AIP)
Folder 9: American Medical Association
Folder 10: American Scientist
Folder 11: Arizona State University
Folder 12: Astronomy Centre
Folder 13: ATT Research Laboratories
Folder 14: Awards for Senior U.S. Scientists
Folder 15: Bahal, Meena
Folder 16: Bantam Books
Folder 17: Beitz, Berthold
Folder 18: Bertotti, Bruno
Folder 19: Beth, H.A.
Folder 20: Blue Cross - Blue Shield of Texas
Folder 21: Born, Heisenberg
Folder 22: Bose Memoir
Folder 23: Braunizer, Ruth
Folder 24: Brown University
Folder 25: Brush, Stephen G.
Folder 26: Bucherer
Folder 27: Butch
Folder 28: California Institute of Technology
Folder 29: California State University
Folder 30: Cambridge University Press
Folder 31: Case Western Reserve University
Folder 32: Casimir
Folder 33: Catlett, Stephen
Folder 34: Chandrasekhar, S.
Folder 35: Chanu, Jacques
Folder 36: Charles Scribner's Sons Publishers
Folder 37: Chiba University
Folder 38: Chinese University of Hong-Kong
Folder 39: Citadel Press
Folder 40: Clark, Ronald
Folder 41: Cohen, Georgia
Folder 42: College de France
Folder 43: College of William and Mary
Folder 44: Colorado State University
Folder 45: Cornelia and Michael Bessie Books
Folder 46: Cornell University
Folder 47: Crease, Robert P.
Folder 48: Cuppens - Michiels, J.
Folder 49: Dalitz
Folder 50: Desphande, R.D.
Folder 51: Deutsches Museum
Folder 52: Dirac, P.
Folder 53: D'Or Louis
Folder 54: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
Folder 55-57: Dyson and Family
Folder 60: Einstein Research
Folder 61: Enz, Charles
Folder 58-59: Einstein
Folder 62: Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
Folder 63: European Physical Society
Folder 64: Feynman
Folder 65: Fierens, P.
Folder 66: Flinders University of South Australia
Folder 67: Foundations of Physics
Folder 68: Friedvieweg and Sohn
Folder 69: Friedman
Folder 70: Freindlich Books
Folder 71: Fuchs, Klaus
Folder 72: Geheniau
Folder 73: George, Jim
Folder 74: Ghosh, Satyavrata
Folder 75: Glaus, Beat
Folder 76: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, Inc.
Folder 77: Government of India
Folder 78: Government of Jamaica
Folder 79: Graduate School, Beijing
Folder 80: Gribbin, John and Mary
Folder 81: Harvard University
Folder 82: Harvey Mudd College
Folder 83: Heisenberg, Werner
Folder 84: Hendry, John
Folder 85: Hertz, Rudolf H.
Folder 86: Hollaender, Alexander
Folder 87: House of Representatives
Folder 88: Humboldt Conference
Folder 89: Hund, Friedrich
Folder 90: Hyman, William
Folder 91: IBM Watson Research Laboratory
Folder 92: "Il Nuovo Cimento"
Folder 93: Indian National Sciences Academy
Folder 94: Instituo Universitario Pedagogico de Caracas
Folder 95: Institut de Physique Nucleaire
Folder 96: Institut for Theoretical Physik
Folder 97: Institut fur Theoretische Physik
Folder 98: Institut - Lorentz
Folder 99: Intitut Voor Theoretische Fysica
Folder 100: Institute of History of Medicine and Medical Research
Folder 101: Institute of Theoretical Physics
Folder 102: International Center for Theoretical Physics
Folder 103: Jauch, J.M.
Folder 104: Jawaharlal Nehru University
Folder 105: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Folder 106: Johnson, J.A.
Folder 107: Kakkar
Folder 108: Kaufmann-Buhler, Walter
Folder 109: Kemmer, Nicholas
Folder 110: Kerber, F.
Folder 111: Kerszberg, Pierre
Folder 112: Knapecz, Geza
Folder 113: Koyre, Alexandre
Folder 114: Kothari, D.S.
Folder 115: Kragh, Helge
Folder 116: Kramish, Arnold
Folder 117: Krieger, Leonore
Folder 118: Krishna, A.
Folder 119: Krishnan, R.S.
Folder 120: Kromphardt, Karl
Folder 121: Laboratorio Di Cibemetica
Folder 122: Laboratorie de Physique Theorique
Folder 123: Lamb, Willis
Folder 124: Lanczos International Centenary Conference
Folder 125: Laurikainen, K.V.
Folder 126: Leighton, Ralph
Folder 127: Lenner
Folder 128: Les Instituts Internationaux de Physique et Chimie
Folder 129: Leussink, Hans
Folder 130: Lord Rayleigh
Folder 131: Lord Snow
Folder 132: Magner
Folder 133: Manchester University Press
Folder 134: Marietta College
Folder 135: Marith
Folder 136: Marois, M.
Folder 137: Marshak
Folder 138: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Folder 139: Mathematical Reviews American Mathematical Society
Folder 140: Max - Planck Institut
Folder 141: Mayor, Federico
Box 2
Folder 1: Mehra Book
Folder 2: Mehra, Kailash
Folder 3: Mehra, Madhan
Folder 4: Mehra, Mahim
Folder 5: Mehra, Mrs.
Folder 6: Michel, L.
Folder 7: Mikes, George
Folder 8: Mills, Coley C.
Folder 9: Miscellaneous
Folder 10: Moen, C.H.
Folder 11: Mouton Editeur
Folder 12: Muses, C.
Folder 13: Nambu, Y.
Folder 14: National Academy of Science
Folder 15: National Institute of Science, Technology, and Development Studies
Folder 16: Neils Bohr Institute
Folder 17: Neuhoff, Klaus
Folder 18: New Jersey Institute of Technology
Folder 19: Nobel Prize
Folder 20: Nordisk Institute for Teoretisk Atomfysik
Folder 21: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Folder 22: North Holland Publishing Company
Folder 23: Northwestern University
Folder 24: Nuclear Physics Journal
Folder 25: Oakridge National Laboratory
Folder 26: Oehler, J.
Folder 27: Olive, David
Folder 28: Patrigot, Danielle
Folder 29: Pauli, W.
Folder 30: Pearson
Folder 31: Philosophical Library
Folder 32: Physics Today
Folder 33: Prigogine, Ilya
Folder 34: Princeton University
Folder 35: Probst, David
Folder 36: Qian, W.Y.
Folder 37: Queen Mary College
Folder 38: R. Piper Verlag
Folder 39: Radelet, Pierre
Folder 40: Raju, Pal
Folder 41: Rambaux, Marie
Folder 42: Randers, Gunnar
Folder 43: Rayaski
Folder 44-45: Rechenberg
Folder 46: Reidel Publishing Company
Folder 47: Rembiesa, Peter
Folder 48: Richter, Steffen
Folder 49: Rockefeller University
Folder 50: Rosa, Rodolfo
Folder 51: Rosenfeld
Folder 52: Roskilde University Centre
Folder 53: Rossberg
Folder 54: Rossel, Jean
Folder 55: Salam, Abdus
Folder 56: Salk, Jonas
Folder 57: Sauro, Joseph P.
Folder 58: Scheffels
Folder 59: Schorling
Folder 60: Schrodinger Centenary Conference
Folder 61: Schweber, S.S.
Folder 62: Schwinger, Julian
Folder 63: Sciamo, D.W.
Folder 64: SCIENCE
Folder 65: Science Reviews Limited
Folder 66: Science Today
Folder 67: Scientific American
Folder 68: Simon and Schuster Publishers
Folder 69: Smithsonian Institution
Folder 70: Societe Generale de Bonque
Folder 71: Solvay Conference of Surface Science
Folder 72: Sondersammlung, Abteilung
Folder 73-74: Springer - Verlag
Folder 75: Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Folder 76: Stanford University
Folder 77: State University of New York
Folder 78: Stewart, G.S.
Folder 79: Stonybrook
Folder 80: Sudarshan
Folder 81: Sugimoto
Folder 82: Symposium in Trieste
Folder 83: Syracuse University
Folder 84: TATA Institute of Fundamental Research
Folder 85: Tel - Aviv University
Folder 86: Temple University
Folder 87: Texas A&M University
Folder 88: The Australian National University
Folder 89: The British Council
Folder 90: The Commonwealth Fund
Folder 91: The Merchants Bank of New York
Folder 92: The New Yorker
Folder 93: The Royal Institute of Technology
Folder 94: The White House
Folder 95: Third World Academy of Sciences
Folder 96: Times Newspaper Limited
Folder 97: Transco Synfuels Company
Folder 98: Trautman, Andrzej
Folder 99: Trinity University
Folder 100: Uela - Flores, Julian
Folder 101: United State Atomic Energy Commission
Folder 102: Universele Wereldgeschiedenis
Folder 103: Universidad delle Valle
Folder 104: Universitat Hamburg
Folder 105: Universitat Stuttgart
Folder 106: Universite de Geneve
Folder 107: Universite de Paris
Folder 108: Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Folder 109: University of Alberta
Folder 110: University of Arizona
Folder 111: University of Bonn
Folder 112: University of California
Folder 113: University of Chicago
Folder 114: University of Denver
Folder 115: University of Exeter
Folder 116: University of Florida
Folder 117: University of Hartford
Folder 118: University of Helsinki
Folder 119: University of Houston
Folder 120: University of Joensuu
Folder 121: University of Kentucky
Folder 122: University of London - King's College
Folder 123: University of Maryland
Folder 124: University of Minnesota
Folder 125: University of Notre Dame
Folder 126: University of Oxford
Folder 127: University of Pennsylvania
Folder 128: University of Pittsburgh
Folder 129: University of Rochester
Folder 130: University of Texas, Austin
Folder 131: University of Texas, Dallas
Folder 132: University of Turku
Folder 133: University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
Folder 134: Uniwersytet Jagiellonski
Folder 135: UR Hotel
Folder 136: Valentin Telegdi
Folder 137: Van der Merwe
Folder 138: Van der Vegt
Folder 139: Van Hove, Leon
Folder 140: Van Sant, Tom
Folder 141: Von Weizsacker
Folder 142: W. Heffer and Sons Ltd.
Folder 143: Waerden
Folder 144: Washington University
Folder 145: Welch Foundation
Folder 146: Wentzel, Gregor
Folder 147: Wheeler, Archibald
Folder 148: Wigner
Folder 149: Wilhelmi, Z.
Folder 150: Wilkinson, Denys and Helen
Folder 151: Winter, K.
Folder 152: Yale University
Folder 153: Yeshiva University
Folder 154: Zeith and VerBrugge Booksellers

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Paper Series: (Correspondence)],
[Series 2: Jagdish Mehra Personal Papers Series (Subject Files)],
[Series 3: Lectures],
[Series 4: Articles],
[Series 5: Symposia],
[Series 6: Book Projects],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[Series 8: Interview Transcripts],
[Series 9: Oral Recordings],
[Series 10: Memorabilia],
[Series 11: Audio Visual],
[Series 12: Duplicates and Catalogs],
[Series 13: Closed Material],

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