IAU Commission 41 : Meetings : Astronomical Archives Session

Preserving the Material Heritage of Astronomy

David H. DeVorkin (USA)

Without doubt 20th-century astronomy and astrophysics has been dominated by the growth and variety of new observational techniques. At the very least, the proportionate share of resources put into observational equipment has dwarfed all other direct costs. For this reason, among many, to understand and appreciate the nature of modern astronomy, and its place in modern society, one must make an effort to preserve the artifacts of the enterprise, if only to demonstrate the commitment society has made to understanding the universe. Here we describe three methods in place at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum to preserve the material culture of 20th century astronomy. These methods include oral history, video history and the identification and preservation of original records.

HTML version: Wolfgang R. Dick. Created: 11 July 2000