Friday, October 8, 2010

"Houston, We've Had a Problem"

A photograph of a tank, captioned "onboard camera view."So goes the often misquoted announcement by Jack Swigert after one of the spacecraft's oxygen tanks ruptured during the Apollo 13 mission.  The ultimate cause of the rupture was determined to be a fairly lengthy chain of unlikely events.  This is detailed in the NASA report from July 1970, titled Apollo 13 Cryogenic Oxygen Tank 2 Anomaly: Anomaly Report No. 1. Shown here is an onboard camera image of the tank area after the rupture. This report as well as the mission plan and final report for Apollo 13 can be found in the papers of Richard Allenby, Dartmouth class of 1944.

In addition to the Apollo 13 mission, Allenby's papers contain photographs, illustrations, technical reports, professional correspondence, mission reports, and official programs from the NASA manned Space Programs Gemini III, IV, V, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, Mercury, and Apollo 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.

Among the many images in the collection is one of President Richard Nixon exchanging "OK" signs with the members of the Apollo 11 mission.  Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins were the first astronauts to land on the moon and were placed in quarantine aboard the USS Hornet after they returned to earth to minimize the possibility of contamination by unknown pathogens from the moon.

A photograph of Nixon exchanging "OK" gestures with crew members behind glass.

Ask for MS-1024 to see these items and many more.  A finding aid for the collection is available.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Most Popular Item

A title-page for the Book of Mormon.People always ask us what is the most requested item in our collections. When we answer, they are almost always surprised. That is because the most requested item in our collections is something that is hardly ever requested by Dartmouth students, faculty, or staff--90% of its use is from visitors. What is it? The first edition of Joseph Smith's The Book of Mormon; An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi (Palmyra, NY: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the author, 1830).

The book gets so much use that our Preservation team, Deborah Howe and Stephanie Wolff, constructed a special box for it. With the pull of two simple cords, the box transforms into a secure custom-fit cradle to facilitate use of the book.
The Book of Mormon, open inside its case.

Joseph Smith was born in nearby South Royalton, Vermont. Thousands of people visit his birthplace each year from all over the world. Many then pay a visit to Rauner Library to view the Book of Mormon. Smith has an important tie to Dartmouth: Nathan Smith, founder of the Darmouth Medical school (and no relation to Joseph), treated his leg when he was a child and, so the story goes, saved his leg from amputation.

To see the book yourself, ask for Val RBJM B644sg.