Archives and Special Collections

Scope and Contents

Dr. Robert H. Goddard was a member of the Clark Physics Department for 29 years. Foremost American pioneer of rocket research, he laid the technical and theoretical foundations for many of the developments in long-range rockets, missiles, satellites and space flight, which collectively put us into the Space Age.

The original deposit of Goddard papers, concerning Dr. Goddard's life and work, was given to Clark University by Mrs. Goddard in 1964, but these materials were not brought to campus until the Goddard Library was opened in May of 1969. Additional Goddard materials, including large quantities of photographs and most of Mrs. Goddard's working files were transferred, with the approval of the Trustee of the Goddard Estate, on October 23, 1978. A smaller portion, consisting of additional photographs and a card index to the patents (with cross-references), came to Clark on February 20, 1979. Included in the collection also are files from the office of Patent Attorney, Charles T. Hawley, following the progress of Dr. Goddard's patent applications. These files overlap with Dr. Goddard's records of the applications. The collection includes original paintings by Dr. Goddard.

In the Goddard Collection are original manuscripts, documents, and copies of manuscripts and documents. In some cases, copies have been made of original documents in other collections. In other instances, there are copies of originals that have been lost or destroyed. We have also copied Dr. Goddard's carbons of his correspondence onto acid-free permalife paper. The carbon copies are in a separate subseries. (In The Esther C. Goddard Papers photocopies have been made of some of her correspondence as well. There too the photocopied carbons are in separate subseries.)

The correspondence files had lost their original arrangement through reorganization by Mrs. Goddard, as she worked on the three volumes of excerpts of her husband's papers, published in 1970. Large segments were grouped into her categories, that is, "papers used" and "papers omitted". Earlier researchers also apparently numbered documents to suit their purposes. To overcome the limitations of these (idiosyncratic suited) arrangements, the correspondence was refiled chronologically within three groups--"Letters To", "Letters From", and "Letters About (including miscellaneous)". In order to compensate for the temporary lack of an in- house card catalog index (currently in progress), we have listed the individual correspondents alphabetically under the appropriate folders.

Despite the comprehensiveness of the Collection, gaps exist. From Dr. Goddard's "Autobiographical Statement" of July 1927, we have:


"Accordingly, one day [1904] I gathered all the notes I could conveniently find and burned them in the little old-fashioned wood stove in the dining room."

Also, until his marriage in 1924, and the undertaking of secretarial duties by Mrs. Goddard, Dr. Goddard's correspondence files are incomplete. Moreover, a fire in the office of Dr. Goddard's patent attorney, Charles T. Hawley, destroyed most of the early patent case material. And from the Preface to bound Volume XXIII, transcribed by Mrs. Goddard and entitled "Progress Reports to Navy Department, 1941-1945", we learn from her note of March 31, 1956:


"This volume contains photostatic copies of the Progress Reports Dr. Robert H. Goddard submitted to the Army Air Corps from December 1941 to July 1942, and to the Navy Department from November 1942 to May 1945. Four reports in late 1942 are missing. "Dr. Goddard's carbon copies of the Navy reports disappeared shortly after his death from his files at the Curtiss-Wright Corporation at Caldwell, NJ, making it necessary for me to ask the cooperation of the Navy Department in supplying photostatic copies as they were declassified. All these reports were kindly sent, except those submitted in December 1941 and 1942 (Contract No. N03-91391), which were missing from the Navy files. During the first half of 1942, however, progress reports under a concurrent contract (No. 42-7280) with the Army Air Corps were submitted to Wright Field, and covered, in the main, the same development as that carried on for the Navy Department. These reports to the Army have therefore been copied and are inserted before the photostated Navy reports."

Additional Robert Goddard materials are held in the Clark University Archives and not listed here. These include correspondence in the G. Stanley Hall Papers, Wallace W. Atwood Papers and Physics Department records, Physics Colloquium lecture notebooks, material on the Clark University Radio Club, and newspaper clippings concerning Goddard and the University of his time. In addition, Dr. Percy Roope's papers are made up of interviews about Dr. Goddard. Some papers of his assistant Larry Mansur are held in the Bedford Public Library.

Mrs. Goddard was her husband's constant companion in rocket research, his assistant, secretary, photographer, and motion picture filmer. After her husband's death, she was the principal interpreter of her husband's work, an indefatigable speaker and correspondent about Robert Goddard, rocketry, and space, and collector and editor of her husband's papers. For the period between his death, in 1945, and her own in 1982, her papers (page 71) serve as a barometer of interest in the space age, documenting school children's inquiries, public ceremonies, scholarly interests, and recognition of the historic research conducted by her husband.

The Milton Lehman Papers

Milton Lehman (1917-1966) was a free-lance writer, contributing about 250 articles to national magazines such as Saturday Evening Post, Life, Reader's Digest, McCall's, Look, The York Times, and other periodicals, books and newspapers. He wrote a biography of Robert H. Goddard that was published in 1963. He was helped throughout the seven year writing process by Esther C. Goddard, Goddard's wife, who supplied him with transcripts of Goddard's notes, notebooks, diaries, reports and correspondence and with photographs of his work as well as her own recollections. Lehman interviewed people from all parts of Goddard's life; his childhood, schooling, early Clark teaching career, Roswell experiments and final years consulting to the Navy. He also obtained copies of the correspondence between the Smithsonian Institution and Goddard from the Smithsonian's archives.

In 1997 Lehman's widow sent his files to Clark University. The papers, comprising three linear feet, consist of typescripts from the tapes of his many interviews, copies of Goddard's papers and correspondence, clippings, and lists and commentary supplied by Esther C. Goddard. For instance, she gave him typed excerpts from Goddard's letters to her which don't appear in the Goddard papers. The papers are arranged in Lehman's order in which he created a number to different subject breakdowns, B-5 for bibliography, B-20 for letters, B-25 for interviews, etc. As well as this subject breakdown, Lehman also had a chronological category for the years from 1912 to 1940 (B-30). In these folders he was apt to keep copies of Goddard's correspondence, transcripts from his diaries, clippings, parts of his interviews, or anything that seemed particularly pertinent to those years. At the time that the tapes of his interviews were transcribed, multiple copies were made and so interview material can be found not only in the interview section but also in the more general files such as "concepts," background," or "rockets."

Additional correspondence between Milton Lehman and Esther Goddard can be found in Mrs. Goddard's papers.