Archive of Letters

Price: $500.00

1958. Near Fine.

February 3, 1958 - June 4, 1958. From German nuclear physicist Dr. Harry Schlüdi to Gerda Ellington: 13 ALS with original envelopes. Included with the group is a 1958 International Banking Holidays booklet, 3 small AL written in German, and 1 tiny notecard signed "Happy Xmas / Harry." Near fine collection with usual creasing to letters, light wear and toning to envelopes, and a bit of dampstaining to one of the envelopes. Overall, an excellent and intriguing collection. This collection includes thirteen letters from Dr. Harry Schlüdi, a German nuclear physicist, to his romantic partner, Gerda Ellington. Addressed in Schlüdi's letters as "Mrs.," Gerda may have been divorced or widowed, or perhaps the two were carrying out an affair. The letters trace Schlüdi's arrival at Illinois' Argonne National Laboratory in February of 1958, where he studied at the prestigious International School of Nuclear Science and Engineering, to his departure in June of 1958, at which point he left for San Francisco to aid with the construction of a G.E. Nuclear Plant. In his letters, he repeatedly describes his unhappiness and poor mental state in lines like: "My work - and activity - increased tremendously and I'm again as I had been when you met me the very first time, namely nervous, overworked and always very moody" and "You don't know how I'm suffering. I'm longing for you and for warm climate." Schlüdi also laments that he and Ellington, who lived in Raleigh, NC, cannot see each other for Easter, and sends her a late Valentine's Day card: "I couldn't leave the laboratory the last 3 days - and get a card." In one letter, he waxes poetic about her, writing: "Now I look out of my window. Whole the land is covered with snow. It is bitter cold and the sky is as black as ink. Only the red bulbs of 'Genc Motel' throw a mystic light to the yard and the snow cristalls [sic] are reflecting these light beams directly to my window. Light in the dark. Like your love in my loneliness." While brief, he makes some references to the particulars of his work at Argonne, for example mentioning in his final letter that he worked on the "calculation and design of a 100MWe Heavy Water, pressurized reactor." Argonne National Laboratory, born out of the infamous Manhattan Project, was the first national laboratory established in the United States. Its International School of Nuclear Science and Engineering was established in 1955 as part of the Atoms for Peace program, and offered "unclassified courses in design, construction, and operation of reactors for nuclear research…and other related peacetime applications of nuclear energy." In all, this archive of letters provides remarkable and profound insight into the heart of a high-level nuclear physicist at the dawn of the Atomic Age. Item #HSCH001