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George Fink Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 21/7/37

Scope and Content

Series 1, Personal Memorabilia (1923-1971, undated), contains yearbooks, high school papers and diploma, college souvenirs and diplomas, as well as photographs and news paper clippings, Fink’s income tax returns, vacation memorabilia, employment prospects and applications with Sylvania Electric, and Fink’s personal diary.

Series 2, Correspondence (1932-1958, undated), contains personal correspondence between friends and family, as well as professional correspondence, and unanswered letters sent out and received.

Series 3, Patents (1948-1959, undated), contains correspondence with attorney John Michel regarding a patent, Method and Means for Comminuting Solid Particles, Automatic Rebalance Signal Indicator, Photo Electric Feedback Operated Amplifier, Recorders for Electrical Quantities, and Distributed Dark Field Microscope.

Series 4, Non-Professional Concerns (1930-1970, undated), contains newspaper clippings about atomic energy control, lists and catalogs of books, newspaper clippings regarding the Catholic Church and contraception, church and state issues, various other articles about religion and philosophy. Letters to the editor to the Des Moines Register, the Hawkeye Gazette, and the Saturday Review of Literature. Correspondence and newspaper clippings about politics, book reviews on science, philosophy, and religion. American Humanist Association, American Rationalist Federation, several articles and organizations regarding rational and freethinking.

Series 5, Scientific Research (1933-1970, undated), contains notes, graphs, pamphlets, and correspondence from SAM Laboratories. Several published articles. Notes about microscopes, and Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. Pamphlets, articles and correspondence from other scientists. Fink’s presentation to the Berg Science Seminar.


  • 1923-1971, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


George Adolph Fink, atomic physicist, mechanical engineer, inventor, freethinker, and man of letters, was born May 4, 1906, the second son of Adolph and Ida Nist Fink. With the death of his parents as a youth, Fink left his native Cedar Rapids to live in Burlington with his father’s brother Fred Fink. There he graduated from high school (1923) and Burlington Junior College (1925). He worked for the Murray Iron Works for the next two years, and then enrolled at Iowa State College as a mechanical engineering major. He switched to physics and earned a bachelor’s degree (1931), a master’s (1932) and a scholarship to Columbia University. Fink obtained his Ph.D. (1936), assisting Dr. John R. Dunning in the physics department. Some years later, Dunning asked Fink to return to Columbia to work for the SAM laboratories of the Manhattan Project. Fink participated in the Manhattan Project (1942-1945), working on research connected with the gaseous diffusion plant for the separation of uranium isotopes. Two months after Hiroshima, Fink left the Sam laboratories and returned to his employer, C.K. Williams and Co., from whom he had taken a leave of absence during the war. Fink returned to Burlington (1949) to work on some inventions of his own, but then left again in the early fifties for jobs in Dayton, Ohio, and Chicago. He again returned to Burlington (1953) to work for his first full-time employer, the Murray Iron Works. Fink stayed in Burlington and at Murray until his death in early January (1971).

This collection consists of 30 boxes of material and covers all aspects of the last fifty years of Dr. Fink’s life. Because he led a highly skilled and professional scientific life, as well as a rewarding non-professional life, The George Fink Papers include materials concerning both facets of his life. The first of these, the non-professionally related papers, is divided into five sections and include 1) Fink’s diary and other personal memorabilia; 2) his correspondence with friends, relatives, and those critical of free-thinking; 3) his patents; 4) his non-professional concerns which include numerous letters to the editor, notes, and articles of a wide assortment of topics; 5) and materials concerning the many organizations to which Fink belonged.

The other major category of the Fink Papers deals with is professional concerns. This section includes scientific research material from the SAM project of Columbia University, Division of War Research on which Fink worked as a part of the Manhattan Project. It also includes Fink’s own research on Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity which he tried to disprove; the D.D.F. Microscope for study of minute objects; and the Photo Electronic Feedback Amplifier which was a camera used in microscopic experiments. There is also information of Fink’s research on the Methods and Means to Comminute Solid Particles.

This collection of papers also contains a group of pamphlets which were of great interest to Dr. Fink. The various pamphlets express views on religion, the Catholic Church, freethinking, atheism, and personal philosophies. These are found at the end of the collection and are listed by the authors name or by the general topic.


11.97 Linear Feet (26 document boxes, and 5 half-document boxes)


Series 1: Personal Memorabilia

Series 2: Correspondence

Series 3: Patents

Series 4: Non-Professional Concerns

Series 5: Scientific Research

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 21/7/37. George Fink Papers, 1923-1971, undated
January 15, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672