On November 18, 1946, Harry Truman authorized the National Research Council to establish an organization “to undertake a long range, continuing study of the biological and medical effects of the atomic bomb on man.” The result was the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (Genbaku-Shogai I-inkai). Necessitated by the most cataclysmic event of the century, the breadth, scope and duration of the work of the ABCC has given that institution an unparalleled position in the history of science and of medicine.
Since 1986, the McGovern Center has solicited and preserved the documents of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. This Collection is comprised of manuscripts and other records donated by former members throughout the United States. There are nearly 200 cubic feet of records. The individual collections offer insight; while the entire collection offers a comprehensive view of the attitudes, goals, and activities of the Commission from the late 1940’s through its evolution into the Radiation Effects Research Foundation. An interesting component of the ABCC Collection are the photographs. These augment the written records and provide their own historical evidence of the research activities, international interest in the ABCC, and the interactions of the personnel.
As the individual collections are processed, printed guides and inventories are compiled and made available for interested researchers and scholars. The collections and photographs are being given international access through the Library’s Online Catalog. Some documents are being scanned and posted online, such as the personal journal of Dr. William Moloney. Preservation of these resources and access are our contribution to the global understanding of the valuable work of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and its individual members.
Our commitment to the preservation of the history of the ABCC is strong. We encourage scientists to deposit their materials in our Library. If you have materials pertaining to the work of the ABCC or know of the existence of such materials, please contact the McGovern Center.