Joan Warnow-Blewett, a key staff member of the Center
for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics
for 32 years, retired on 1 August 1997. She joined AIP in
1965 as Librarian of the Niels Bohr Library; in 1974 she
was promoted to Associate Director of the Center.

In January 1965, when Joan came to work at the Niels
Bohr Library, the AIP Center for History of Physics had
not yet been founded. The foundation of the Library and
the Project on the Recent History of Physics in the U.S.
was still a fresh story. She has retained a tremendous
appreciation for the physicists whose assertiveness,
creativity and hope  initiated these programs, and her
career as Associate Director of the Center was inspired by
the spirit of their plans to document modern physics. Over
the years, Joan put these plans into action by making sure
AIP would play a leadership role in guiding papers of
historical significance into appropriate repositories.

Most important, she realized that the Center's plans must
evolve to meet changes in the physics community, and she
pioneered the "documentation strategy" approach to
preservation. To meet the need Joan initiated
documentation research projects, in which archivists were
joined by historians, sociologists and scientists to study
from an archival perspective new institutions such as the
postwar national laboratory and the multi-institutional
collaboration. Joan became widely known in the archival
community for her innovations, as well as for her personal
helpful cooperation with people at many institutions.  For
example, the AIP received the Distinguished Service
Award of the Society of American Archivists in 1985.

Another component of Joan's responsibility was the
National Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and
Allied Sciences. As the Center's historical projects and
preservation work expanded, so did the Catalog. 
Eventually its name was changed from "National" to
"International" Catalog.  Joan's major innovation was to
persuade institutions outside the United States to conduct
surveys to locate relevant collections in their countries and
share the information with the International Catalog.  

A friendly understanding between archivists and scientists
was one of Joan's deeply felt goals.  She promoted the
idea that strong professional archival skills are more
essential for those working with papers of scientists than a
background in science itself. She enjoys telling how she
came to the American Institute of Physics through a
classified advertisement in the New York Times that,
fortunately, didn't mention physics or science. She also
likes to say that in order to save and care for papers of
scientists, archivists don't have to marry a physicist--as she

Although Joan took up retirement status on August 1st she
was immediately rehired by AIP on a part-time basis as
Archivist Emeritus, serving as a valued adviser to Center
staff, and continues as Project Director of the grant-funded
AIP Study of Multi-Institutional Collaborations. Her other
duties have been taken over by Joe Anderson, who has
been promoted to Assistant Director of the Center. On
completion of the collaborations study in 1998 Joan will go
into retirement full-time (in North Carolina) with her
husband, the eminent accelerator physicist John Blewett. 
Joan can be reached at her new e-mail address: