Cage 740

Philip and Neva Abelson

Oral history interviews, 1989

Acquisition And Processing Information

This collection was transferred to the Washington State University Libraries from the university President's office in 1994 (MS 1994-37); it was processed in 2009 by Cheryl Gunselman.

Extent/Quantity Information

Number of Containers: 1

Linear Feet of Shelf Space: .25


Philip H. Abelson (1913-2004), a graduate of Washington State College (B.S., chemistry 1933; M.S., physics 1935), was a prominent American scientist who served as editor of the journal Science from 1962 to 1985. He earned his Ph.D. in nuclear physics (1939) from the University of California, Berkeley. During World War II, Abelson worked at the Naval Research Laboratory, where he developed the thermal diffusion process for separation of Uranium-235 from Uranium-238, and worked on the development of nuclear reactors for use on submarines. He spent most of his career at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (now the Carnegie Institution for Science), where he continued to conduct research in nuclear physics, and also pursued research questions in other science disciplines, particularly biochemistry and microbiology. With his colleague Edwin McMillan, he discovered the element Neptunium.

Neva Martin Abelson (1910-2000) met Philip Abelson at Washington State College, where both were students in chemistry. She earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1934, and an M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1942. She was a distinguished scientist, with a long career in biomedical research and medical school teaching. With Louis K. Diamond, she developed the Rhesus factor test that is now routinely conducted for pregnant women, a response to life-threatening Rh factor incompatibility that often caused illness and death in affected newborns.

Collection Description

The collection consists of audio recordings of 1989 oral history interviews conducted with Philip and Neva Abelson by Linda Lilles, along with supporting documentation.

Collection Arrangement

The collection is arranged in a single series.


Abelson, Philip Hauge
Abelson, Neva M.


This collection is open and available for research use. Copyright restrictions apply.

Preferred Citation

The suggested citation for the collection is:

[Item Description]
Philip and Neva Abelson oral history interviews, 1989
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Washington State University Libraries
Pullman, WA

Related Materials

Philip Abelson papers (Cage 741).


Items are in English.

Container List:

Box Folder Description
1 1 Philip Abelson interview recording, 1989 October 20 (2 audiocassettes; second copy of audiocassettes; also reformatted version: digital audio file on compact disc)
  2 Neva Martin Abelson interview recording, 1989 October 20 (2 audiocassettes; also reformatted version: digital audio file on compact disc)
  3 Summary of Philip Abelson interview, with tape index (typescript)
  4 Consent forms, 1989 October 20