This morning Tasha O’Neill, Artist, co-founder of the Space Studies Institute, SSI Senior Associate and widow of Gerard K. O’Neill, sent this note. We are very proud to share it with you.
In Oct. 2013, I finally decided that it was time for Gerry’s papers to leave this house for a more permanent resting place.
After Patrick McCray had finished the research for his book ‘The Visioneers’, I packed up 26 file boxes with Gerry’s papers and drove them to the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport where they would be archived. The important thing to the family had been that ALL of his papers were accepted, covering all aspects of his distinguished career: Physics, Space, Geostar (and other entrepreneurial ventures), aviation, including articles, books, manuscripts, photographs and a screenplay about the High Frontier.
Patrick McCray had made the introductions to his contact who would be championing the acceptance – Supervisory and Acquisition Archivist Patricia Williams.
A few weeks after contacting her, the selection committee at the archives had determined that Gerry was worthy of being included.
We drove to Washington Dulles Airport, were met at the gate and made our way down the taxiway that all aircraft now housed in the Museum had used, including the Space Shuttle and the Concorde. We were led down a ramp into a huge loading bay where staff was waiting to help us unload the Explorer. We were then escorted up to the archives, had the boxes counted and formally received. Patti gave us a tour of the archives including the cold chamber where some manuscripts are chilled for three days to kill any insects before they could do any more harm. She invited us to come back once the papers had been properly archived.
On April 19, 2016, we drove to Dulles where Patti Williams introduced us to Tyler Love who had actually preserved and archived Gerry’s papers. She was very complimentary of how organized they had been and how easy it was to maintain the order that Gerry had put them in. There were stories of how sticky notes can cause harm and what she did to preserve the paper and the content that had been covered up by the sticky notes.
I was able to fill in some mysteries of why there was a newspaper from 1982 featuring the Epcot opening at Disneyworld. The answer was that Gerry had been an advisor to the creators of a space ride and that we had been invited to the gala opening.*
We toured the stacks and noted that 73 boxes occupy 10 shelves.
I was pleased to see that Amelia Earhart’s was right next to his and the Saturn History Project Oral History Interviews as well. He is in good company.
— Tasha O’Neill
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Archives Division
Direct link to the O’Neill collection: http://airandspace.si.edu/files/pdf/archives/finding-aids/NASM-2014-0005_GKO’Neill.pdf
* – for more on the Epcot O’Neill Colony attraction see this issue of SSI Update