[FPSPACE] Microfiche of Soviet space studies, early 1970s

DwayneDay zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Tue Oct 19 17:21:10 EDT 2004

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Oberg <joberg at houston.rr.com>
Sent: Oct 19, 2004 2:25 PM

>Microfiche of Soviet space studies, early 1970sA lot of these materials from that era have been pulped and shredded, and probably survive in only a small number of accessible copies if at all. But before assigning this to some hapless $6/hr grad student, maybe try to develop a table of contents, or at least an overview of which publications are covered, from what dates. 

I'm not sure what documents are being discussed here, but Jim's comments are good ones--a TOC and some kind of general guide is much more useful than anything else there.  FBIS stuff was usually sent to libraries, I believe.  I imagine that JPRS stuff is at least preserved in the Library of Congress.  Somebody with library connections should have access to a database that shows the holdings around the United States and could look these up.  But my suspicion is that if these were produced as part of a formal series, then they are preserved somewhere.

If your concern is that these things are not being otherwise preserved, then there are easy ways to rectify that, especially if you are willing to part with the original microfiche.  There are several archives I can think of that will take them, especially if we are not talking about huge volumes of stuff.  The key is finding the most appropriate venue.

>A lot of files that I've kept from those years have, I now believe, been 'overtaken by events' including access to Russian prime sources. Some last-word histories (viz., Siddiqi) have also been produced, further diminishing the utility of translated materials, at least in our lifetimes.

Dr. Siddiqi would never refer to his monumental tome as a "last-word" anything.  It's the opening salvo (a full on broadside) in writing an academic history of the Soviet space program.

>Even within the US program, I've seen so much historical raw material lost through decay, non-thinking destruction, mis-filing, end-of-program bulldozing of archives, etc., that I cringe at the thought of any more accidental losses. But we can't keep EVERYTHING -- or can we?

Much of everything is junk.  Not worth preserving.  But this is why one needs archivists and preservation specialists.

NASA has a new monograph out about the Plum River facility up at the Lewis--er, Glenn--Research Center.  It is mostly photographs, one of which is an image of several women pulling files from a huge vertical file shelf.  The caption indicates that most of the documentation on what was conducted at Plum River was destroyed.  Now a lot of the stuff done there concerned ion propulsion, which NASA is still interested in.  One wonders if the agency tossed away records that could still be of practical use (rather than simply historical use).  And keep in mind that NASA actually has a _good_ reputation for preserving its history.  (That said, the agency still has its horror stories.  Marshall closed its history office for something like 15 years and when they reopened it, 70 boxes of historical materials were nowhere to be found.  And I believe that Goddard Space Flight Center, which has managed dozens of earth sciences and other spacecraft programs over the decades has virtually none of its records on them.)


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