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Earl Wadsworth McDaniel Papers

Identifier: MS455

  • Staff Only


This collection contains the lecture notes, research materials, biographical information, and correspondence of Earl Wadsworth McDaniel, professor of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.


  • 1929-1998 and undated (bulk dates 1962-1993)


General Physical Description note

(14 document cases, 1 half-size document case)

Restrictions: Access

Folders containing recommendation letters (SERIES 1) are restricted.

Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


5.8 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

SERIES 1 of this collection contains several biographical sketches on McDaniel, mostly in the form of resumes, as well as letters of recommendation and correspondence, dating mainly from after McDaniel's retirement. SERIES 2, Writings and Reviews, contains McDaniel's writings, including drafts of book chapters, a 1976 commencement address, and mock-up illustrations for his 1993 book, Atomic Collisions: Heavy Particle Projectiles. Lecture and Research Notes (SERIES 3) contains lecture and research notes, in the form of heavily annotated textbooks. The last series, SERIES 4, consists of articles and books that are mostly unannotated. These were presumably kept for teaching and research.

Biography of Earl Wadsworth McDaniel

Earl Wadsworth McDaniel (1926-1997) served on the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology for more than 30 years.

McDaniel was born on April 15, 1926 in Macon, Georgia to Mr. and Mrs. J.B. McDaniel. Earl McDaniel earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Georgia Tech in 1948. After graduating, he went to the University of Michigan, where he subsequently earned an M.S. (1950) and Ph.D. (1954) in Physics.

In 1954, McDaniel returned to Georgia Tech as an Assistant Professor. During his tenure as an Assistant Professor, he helped to develop the Southern United States’ first atomic clock. In addition, he helped set up a subcritical nuclear assembly at Georgia Tech in 1957, and he worked extensively on the topic of atomic collision, authoring or co-authoring six books about the topic. McDaniel’s desire to improve Georgia Tech’s physics program, particularly nuclear physics, proved to be beneficial to not only Georgia Tech, but also to the larger scientific community. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1956, to Professor in 1961, and in 1970 to Regent’s Professor of Physics, the then-highest professor rank in the University System of Georgia. McDaniel was named Georgia’s “Scientist of the Year” in 1971, mainly for his development of the drift tube spectrometer, an apparatus meant for studying the behavior of low-energy ions in gases. Throughout his career, which formally ended in 1986 with his retirement, he continually earned remarkable recognition for his work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fulbright Research Scholarship. After retirement, McDaniel continued to work in and outside academia. By the time of his death on May 4th, 1997, he had authored over 140 scientific research papers, authored or co-authored six books, and co-edited nine other books.

McDaniel was married to the former Frances Scarratt (1926-2003), and they had two children, Linda and Keith.


The collection is divided into four series:

Missing Title

  1. SERIES 1. General office files
  2. SERIES 2. Writings and reviews
  3. SERIES 3. Lecture notes
  4. SERIES 4. Other research notes

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available on request in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.


Donation (accession number: 2000.086).

Separated Material

A box of transparencies and a photograph have been separated from the collection and will be processed separately as VAM455.

General Physical Description note

(14 document cases, 1 half-size document case)

Processing Information

Taylor Prichard, Rachelle Wiese, and Christine de Catanzaro processed these papers in January 2014.

Inventory of the Earl Wadsworth McDaniel Papers, 1950-1998 and undated
Christine de Catanzaro, Sierra Harrison, Taylor Prichard
Copyright January 2014.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA