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Argonne Universities Association Collection

Identifier: 450

Scope and Content

The collection consists of organizational records of the Argonne Universities Association and also includes contracts, meeting minutes, committee files, correspondence, reports, proposals, and papers relating to the Argonne National Laboratory.


  • 1964-1973

Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Requests for permission to quote should be arranged with head of University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

During World War II, a classified research and development project in nuclear research known as the Metallurgical Laboratory was organized and staffed by leading scientists drawn from universities all over the world. The Laboratory, based at the University of Chicago, was developed under the Office of Scientific Research and Development (O.S.R.D.) until January 1942, when it was taken over by the Army Corps of Engineers, Manhattan District. In December 1942 the first successful, controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was achieved under the direction of Professor Enrico Fermi.

Shortly after Japan surrendered, the Manhattan District appointed a committee of leading scientists from the Midwest area to consider the advisability and feasibility of establishing a permanent center for nuclear research in the Midwest. The committee held meetings in late 1945 and early 1946 and recommended that it would be in the interests of the Midwest and of the country to establish such a center. The University of Chicago was invited to become the operating contractor in 1946 and, because of the hazards involved, the site chosen was an isolated area in DuPage County, Illinois. The project was known as the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). The institutions that participated were: Battelle Memorial Institute, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Case School of Applied Science, University of Chicago, University of Cincinnati, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, University of Indiana, Iowa State College, University of Iowa, Mayo Foundation, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State Science (sic), University of Pittsburgh, Purdue, St. Louis University, Washington University, Western Reserve University, and the University of Wisconsin.

Also at this time, Congress approved legislation transferring the responsibility for nuclear research and development from the Army to the newly established Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). In Spring 1947 the AEC took over the administration of the contract with the University of Chicago.

ANL was managed by these two organizations until 1964 when discussions took place among representatives of various midwestern universities, the University of Chicago, the Atomic Energy Commission, and ANL regarding multi-university management at Argonne. The AMU-Argonne-Chicago-MURA Ad-Hoc Committee was established as a result of a meeting on January 16, 1964 of the Policy Advisory Board of the Argonne National Laboratory which recommended that President George W. Beadle of the University of Chicago cooperate with AMU and MURA in the establishment of such a committee. The committee, known as the Williams Committee, was specifically charged with the responsibility of studying procedures for advancing high energy research in the Midwest.

The committee consisted of seven men. The chairman was John H. Williams of the University of Minnesota who represented AMU: other members included A. V. Crewe (Argonne); E. L. Goldwasser (AMU); Frederick L. Hovde (MURA), with Elvis Starr acting as his alternate; Warren Johnson (University of Chicago); A. W. Peterson (MURA); and Bernard Waldman (MURA). Frederick Seitz, President of the National Academy of Sciences, served as consultant.

The need for a new organization at ANL arose partially from the failure of the Midwestern Universities Research Association to obtain authorization for construction of the proposed MURA Fixed Field Alternating Gradient (FFAG) accelerator and the need to incorporate MURA's programs into an organization more closely allied to Argonne. As a result of a series of meetings, the committee unanimously recommended, in a final report dated September 23, 1964, that a tripartite agreement among the AEC, the University of Chicago, and a not-for-profit corporation organized by a group of midwestern universities, be drawn to replace the prime contract, then in existence, for operation and management of ANL. The Atomic Energy Commission approved the tripartite agreement on October 21, 1964. The Argonne Universities Association (AUA), formed to represent the universities at a founders meeting on February 25, 1965 and confirmed by a "Founders' Agreement" signed by 26 universities on July 1, 1965, became a principal party in the five-year contract which was signed with the AEC and the University of Chicago on October 21, 1966. [For a listing of the 26 universities, see July 1967 brochure of AUA Organization and Committees in Reports and Proposals, folder 143.]

The purposes of the Argonne Universities Association, as stated in the Annual Report for 1970, are to "foster scientific research by formulating, approving, and reviewing policies, programs, and reviewing budgets of the Argonne National Laboratory and by conducting or participating in the direction, operation, and development of other scientific research laboratories and similar facilities."

The affairs of the AUA are managed by its nineteen-member Board of Trustees. Board members serve two-year terms and meet at least three times a year. The President of AUA and a representative of the University of Chicago are "ex-officio" trustees with a vote. The chief executive officer of AUA is its president who supervises and administers all of the business and affairs of the Association. Each AUA university is represented by up to three delegates at the annual members meeting which is held in October for the election of trustees and other special business. The Board of Trustees also meets on the same day following the members meeting. At this annual meeting the Board of Trustees elects the officers of the Corporation and, from its members, a seven to nine member Executive Committee for Argonne National Laboratory affairs. This committee has the authority of the Board of Trustees with regard to Argonne National Laboratory affairs.

To facilitate the work of the Board of Trustees, special AUA Board committees function in various areas of interest to Argonne: biology and medicine, education, environmental studies, high energy physics, physical sciences and mathematics, and reactor development

Special committees have also been organized to encourage greater Argonne-university interaction and to plan new facilities and programs. Information about many of them can be found in the collection. [Special committees seem to change from year to year. Many are listed in the folder description under AUA Committees and also in the brochures on Organization and Committees of AUA in AUA Reports and Proposals, folders 114-134 and 143.

To assist AUA in evaluating Argonne programs and to serve the scientific divisions of Argonne, ANL divisional review committees meet at the Laboratory at least once a year. Information on many of these committees can be found in the papers in the section on Argonne National Laboratory Review Committees, and in the Annual Reports. A list of research and development divisions and their activities is included in the brochure entitled, "What is the Argonne National Laboratory?" (in folder 183).

In 1967 discussions took place regarding the merger of Associated Midwest Universities (AMU) into AUA. [AMU was an inter-university corporation composed of thirty-three academic and research institutions with headquarters at Argonne. For further information about AMU, see the papers of MURA.] A plan of merger was drawn up and approved at a special meeting of the AUA Board of Trustees on October 9, 1967. The Articles of Merger were filed with the State of Illinois on July 1, 1968; the merger became effective on the filing date.

In the summer of 1968, the following universities became members of AUA: Ohio University, Pennsylvania State University, Southern Illinois University, and the University of Texas at Austin. This increased the membership of AUA from 26 universities to 30.


9 boxes


The collection consists of organizational records of the Argonne Universities Association and also includes contracts, meeting minutes, committee files, correspondence, reports, proposals, and papers relating to the Argonne National Laboratory.


The collection is arranged in ten series:

  1. I. Organizational Papers
  2. II. By-Laws
  3. III. Contracts
  4. IV. Board of Trustees
  5. V. Executive Committee
  6. VI. Individual Members
  7. VII. Committees
  8. VIII. Correspondence and General Files
  9. IX. Reports and Proposals
  10. X. Argonne National Laboratory

Source of acquisition

The collection of the Argonne Universities Association (AUA) was deposited in the University of Minnesota Archives by Laurence R. Lunden, University of Minnesota Vice President of Business Administration from 1959-1971 and former member of the AUA Board of Trustees.

Related Material

Further information on the history of the AUA may be found in a 1954 (?) letter to Herman B. Wells from Lawrence A. Kimpton which is located in the Correspondence and General Files of Midwestern Universities Research Association (MURA), folder 223.

Argonne Universities Association Collection
Karen Klinkenberg
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Collecting Area Details

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