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International Geophysical Year (IGY)

 

From July 1957 to December 1958 an international cooperative scientific program was conducted to study the earth and its environment. This program was called the International Geophysical Year. More than 70 countries participated in the project which led to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts, the theory of plate tectonics, exploration of outer space, construction of earth satellites, and increased research in the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions. IGY was sponsored by the International Council of Scientific Unions and involved nearly 30,000 scientists. In a radio and television address on June 30, 1957, President Eisenhower expressed his belief that "the most important result of the International Geophysical Year is that demonstration of the ability of peoples of all nations to work together harmoniously for the common good. I hope this can become common practice in other fields of human endeavor."

Article, "News Report of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, Volume IV, March-April 1954, Number 2 - The United States Program for the International Geophysical Year" by Joseph Kaplan, Chairman, United States National Committee, International Geophysical Year, March-April 1954 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

Letter, Asst. Secretary of Defense to Joseph Dodge regarding DoD's interest in the IGY program, March 19, 1954 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

Letter, Sinclair Weeks, Secretary of Commerce, to Detlev Bronk, President of the National Academy of Sciences, concerning U.S. program in geophysical research, March 23, 1954 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

Letter, Detlev Bronk, President, National Academy of Sciences, to Sherman Adams proposing the International Geophysical Year, with attached memo, April 21, 1954 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

National Science Foundation report on the International Geophysical Year, June 2, 1954 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

List of 29 nations participating in International Geophysical Year, June 7, 1954 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

Letter, Chester I. Barnard, Chairman, National Science Board to the President, June 22, 1954 concerning IGY and President's response, June 24, 1954 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

"Outline of International Geophysical Year Program" by the U.S. National Committee, International Geophysical Year 1957-58, July 26, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

Press Release, statement by White House Press Secretary, James C. Hagerty on earth-circling satellites as part of IGY program, July 29, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

Press Release by the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Science, "Plans for Construction of Earth Satellite Vehicle Announced," July 29, 1955 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (1)]

Statement by President Eisenhower concerning the Amundsen-Scott IGY South Pole station, January 11, 1957 [DDE's Records as President, Official File, Box 624, OF 146-E IGY (2)]

Press Release, "Remarks by the President in connection with the opening of the International Geophysical Year," June 30, 1957 [DDE's Papers as President, Speech Series, Box 22, IGY]

Summary of IGY Projects Affected by Recent DoD Fiscal Actions, October 25, 1957 [White House Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, Special Assistant Series, Subject Subseries, Box 3, Dept. of Defense (2)]

Memorandum to James R. Killian, Jr. from Dr. George Kistiakowsky, Dr. Emmanuel Piore and Dr. Herbert York on the "U.S. IGY Satellite Program Prognosis and Recommendations," December 19, 1957 [White House Office of the Special Assistant for Science and Technology, Box 12, IGY]

Images in the audiovisual collection

Secondary resources for this topic include:

IGY: Year of Discovery, The Story of the International Geophysical Year by Sydney Chapman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1959.

The Making of a Moon: The Story of the Earth Satellite Program by Arthur C. Clarke, Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1958.

For additional information please see:

International Geophysical Year Subject Guide