Skip to main content

Donald A. Glaser Papers

Identifier: GlaserDA


Donald Arthur Glaser (1926–2013) earned his PhD in Physics and Mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1950 and won the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the bubble chamber. He then changed his research focus to molecular biology and went on to co-found Cetus Corporation, the first biotechnology company. In the 1980s he again switched his focus to neurobiology and the visual system. The Donald A. Glaser papers consist of research notes and notebooks, manuscripts and printed papers, correspondence, awards, biographical material, photographs, audio-visual material, and born-digital files. This finding aid is an intellectual arrangement of two collections: first portion originally from the University of California Berkeley, Bancroft Library and the second from the Caltech Archives.


  • Creation: 1918-2016
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1949-2003


Conditions Governing Access

This collection has been fully digitized and can be accessed at Donald A. Glaser Papers. For physical access to the papers, requests must be submitted in writing. The UC Berkeley portion is stored offsite.

Conditions Governing Use

Caltech Collection: Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Caltech Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise,is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Berkeley Collection: Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See:

Biographical / Historical

Donald Arthur Glaser was born on September 21, 1926 in Cleveland, Ohio. He received his B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the Case School of Applied Science in 1946, and a PhD in Physics and Mathematics in 1950 from the California Institute of Technology where Nobel Laureate Carl Anderson was his advisor. He joined the faculty at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1949 where his interest in elementary particles led to the invention of the bubble chamber in 1953. Glaser moved to UC Berkeley in 1959 and in 1960, at the age of 34, won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Shortly after he moved to Berkeley, his research shifted to automated experimentation in molecular and cell biology. He worked in UC Berkeley’s Virus Lab, conducting experiments with bacteria and bacterial viruses called phages and mammalian cells. He designed automated equipment that made it easier to grow these cells and to study how they grow, repair themselves, and reproduce. His work in this area led to cofounding one of the first biotechnology companies and eventually to Cetus Corporation. Glaser shifted his research interests toward neuroscience and the visual system by 1981 and continued work in this field into the 2000s. Glaser passed away on February 28, 2013.


15.97 linear feet (41 boxes (Caltech Collection); 17 cartons (UC Berkeley Collection))

Language of Materials



The letter B or C in the box identifier indicates ownership by Berkeley or Caltech, respectively.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Caltech Collection: The Donald A. Glaser papers were generously given to the Caltech Archives by Lynn Glaser in 2015. Berkeley Collection: The Donald Glaser papers were gifted to the Bancroft Library by Donald Glaser in 2007.


The University of California, Berkeley and Caltech Donald A. Glaser Papers were acquired separately and the ownership of the collections remain with the two institutions. This collection guide intellectually combines the two collections. The UC Berkeley portion of the Donald Glaser Papers are on an indefinite loan to the Caltech Archives.

Processing Information

The Caltech collection was processed by Kristen Abraham, Bianca Rios, and Mariella Soprano. Processing began in 2015 and was completed in 2017 at the Caltech Archives, Caltech. The Berkeley collection was processed by Lara Michels at the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley in April 2015.

Finding Aid for the Donald A. Glaser Papers, 1943-2013, bulk 1949-2003
Bianca Rios and Mariella Soprano
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections Repository

1200 East California Blvd.
MC B215-74
Pasadena California 91125 United States of America
(626) 395-2704