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Arnold Orville Beckman Papers

Identifier: 10103-MS

Scope and Contents

The Arnold O. Beckman papers primarily relate to Beckman’s philanthropy, including newspaper clippings, photos, scrapbooks, honorary plaques and certificates, and correspondence (circa 1954-1989).


  • Creation: 1919-1989


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Researchers must apply for access in writing. Contact the archives for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

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.

Biographical / Historical

Arnold Orville Beckman (1900-2004) was an American investor, inventor, chemist, and philanthropist. He was the founder of Beckman Instruments, Inc.; Caltech Assistant Professor from 1929 to 1940 and a Caltech Trustee from 1953 to the end of his life.

For additional information, the Beckman oral history interview conducted by Mary Terrall can be found at Caltech Archives Oral Histories.


10 linear feet (12 archival boxes, 3 storage cartons, and oversize material)

Language of Materials



The Arnold Beckman materials are primarily printed matter relating to Beckman's philanthropy, including newspaper clippings, photos, albums and scrapbooks. There are also two archival boxes of biographical newspaper clippings from the 1950s through 1989. Although there is only a small amount of correspondence (less than one archival box), many of the correspondents are noteworthy figures, including several politicians. The three storage cartons contain photo albums and scrapbooks. The collection also contains a large number of photographs, several plaques and honorary certificates, two reel-to-reel audio tapes, two audio cassettes and one Lyndon Johnson pen.


Series 1: Biographical Information, contains newspaper clippings, articles and printed material about Beckman’s life.

Series 2: Philantropic Gifts, contains the documentation of the Beckmans’ many donations and endowments.

Series 3: General Correspondence, includes communications with individuals and it is arranged in alphabetical order. Major individual correspondents represented in Series 3 include United States President Richard Nixon, Caltech presidents Lee DuBridge, Harold Brown and Marvin Golderberger, and Princess Margaret.

Series 4: Miscellaneous Printed Material, contains few printed materials and transcripts.

Series 5: Photographs, contains family photos, formal portraits and photos of Beckman and his wife Mabel taken at events and with personalities.

Series 6: Miscellaneous Items and Tapes, contains memorabilia, recordings and mementos.

Series 7: Miscellaneous Documents, includes, speeches, interviews and research notebooks.

Series 8: Awards, Honors, contains awards, certificates and medals.

Series 9: Scrapbooks, Photo Albums, includes both family album and album of events attended by Beckman.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The majority of the collection was donated to the Caltech Archives by Arnold Beckman, and came from his home files. Boxes 9 and 10 are miscellaneous files that came from his Beckman Foundation office in Irvine, California, and were transferred to the Caltech Archives by Beckman's assistant.

Related Materials

The Science History Institute (formerly Chemical Heritage Foundation) has an extensive collection of Arnold Beckman's personal papers and the records of the scientific and medical instrument manufacturer, Beckman Coulter, Incorporated. The Digitized portions can be accessed here.

To search the additional holdings of the Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History, see the online catalog.

Guide to the Arnold Orville Beckman Papers
Gwen Torges and Caltech Archives Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Edited by Penelope Neder-Muro, 2020

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
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