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Charter Heslep Papers, 1932-1963

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Heslep, Charter, 1904-1963.
Title
Charter Heslep Papers
Dates
1932-1963 (inclusive)
1950-1963 (bulk)
Quantity
0.75 cubic feet, including 165 photographs, (2 boxes)
Collection Number
MSS Heslep
Summary
The Charter Heslep Papers are primarily comprised of materials dating from Heslep's time as an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission. The collection includes correspondence, speeches, ephemera, photographs, and sound recordings relating to Charter Heslep's work with the AEC, with emphasis on his efforts to televise U.S. nuclear tests on behalf of the Commission.
Repository
Oregon State University Libraries, Special Collections & Archives Research Center
Special Collections & Archives Research Center
121 The Valley Library
Oregon State University
Corvallis OR
97331-4501
Telephone: 541-737-2075
Fax: 541-737-8674
scarc@oregonstate.edu
Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
Languages
English

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Charter Heslep was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1904. In 1929, he took a position at the Washington Daily News where he later became managing editor. In 1941 he was appointed night news editor for NBC in Washington. During World War II, Heslep served as chief radio news censor for the Broadcasting Division of the Office of Censorship. In 1946, he became manager of the Mutual Broadcasting Company's Washington division. In 1949 he left MBC to become Assistant to the Director of the Atomic Energy Commission. Heslep was an official observer to several nuclear bomb tests at both the Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Proving Grounds. He was also recognized as a ghostwriter for many public officials including President Eisenhower, Admiral William D. Leahy and members of the Atomic Energy Commission. Charter Heslep died in 1963 at the age of 59.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Charter Heslep Papers document Heslep's work as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission. The bulk of the collection is comprised of materials relating to Heslep's participation as an official observer in several nuclear weapons tests including detonations in Operations Crossroads, Upshot-Knothole, Tumbler-Snapper, Teapot, and Redwing. Notably, the Heslep Papers contain extensive correspondence between Heslep and his wife, Margaret, describing recording and broadcasting preparations for the Upshot-Knothole, Tumbler-Snapper, and Redwing tests. The collection also includes certificates of participation from Operations Teapot and Redwing, and photographs of the Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Proving Grounds, Heslep in his role as official observer, and assorted nuclear detonations.

The collection also contains speeches authored by Heslep on various topics such as nuclear energy, television and radio, and the practice of ghostwriting. Ephemera related to Heslep's position at the Atomic Energy Commission, including event programs and publications, can also be found in the Heslep Papers. In addition to photographs of military tests, sites, and personnel, the collection also contains photographs of Heslep at the Washington Daily News, Atomic Energy Commission and International Atomic Energy Agency events, and assorted sites and individuals associated with nuclear weapons and atomic energy during the 1950s and 1960s.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

Charter Heslep Papers (MSS Heslep), Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Correspondence, 1950-1957Return to Top

Series I is composed predominantly of letters to and from Charter's wife, Margaret, between 1950 and 1958. Their correspondence includes personal and family news, descriptions of Heslep's work on behalf of the Atomic Energy Commission, and extensive correspondence dating from Heslep's observation of nuclear tests in Nevada (1952 and 1953) and the Marshall Islands (1956). Notably, Heslep provides detailed descriptions of activities surrounding the Tumbler-Snapper Charlie test, the Upshot-Knothole Annie test, and the Redwing Lacrosse and Cherokee tests--the first thermonuclear drop--including setup of broadcast relays, weather reports, the detonations of nuclear devices, and life at Camp Mercury and aboard the USS Mount McKinley. The series also includes several letters to the Heslep children, a telegram regarding a cancelled meeting with Harry S. Truman, correspondence granting clearance for Heslep to attend the Eniwetok-Bikini Atolls tests, and a letter to Captain H. G. Rickover describing plans for Heslep to author a book on nuclear submarines.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1.1
Family Correspondence
1950
1.2
Family Correspondence
1951
1.3
Family Correspondence
1952
1.4
Family Correspondence
1953
1.5
Family Correspondence
1954
1.6
Family Correspondence
1956
1.7
Family Correspondence
1957
1.8
Professional Correspondence
1953-1956

Series II:  Speeches, 1950-1963Return to Top

This series is comprised of speeches authored and given by Charter Heslep during his time at the Atomic Energy Commission. Topics include the defensive applications of radio and television, the role of the Atomic Energy Commission, the history of nuclear weapons in the United States, and the role of ghostwriting in the public sphere.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1.9
"The Atom Business," American Association of University Women, Richmond, VA
1950
1.10
"Radio's Role in Defense," Tennessee Broadcaster Association Dinner, Nashville, TN
1950
1.11
"Mobilizing Radio and Television," Cnference on Station Problems, Norman, OK
1951
1.12
Mimeographed typescript of untitled speech before the NATO Information Program Group II
1954
1.13
"The AEC Can Talk," American Women in Radio and Television, Kansas City, MO
1954
1.14
Speech Material on First Experimental Central Station Nuclear Power Project
1954
1.15
"The Geneva Story," Radio Television News Directors Association, Denver, CO
1955
1.16
"Some Aspects of the Impact of the Nuclear Age in the United States," United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Paris
1958
1.17
"Ghosting: A Necessity, Not a Sin," Conference on College Composition and Communication, Washington, D.C.
1961
1.18
"Atoms for Peace: Program or Propaganda?" Springfield College, Springfield, MA
1963

Series III:  Ephemera, 1945-1961Return to Top

Series III is comprised of several items of ephemera collected by Heslep during his career. The series includes programs from nuclear energy-related events and a press kit from Atomos en Accion, an exhibition on nuclear science and technology held in Peru in 1961. The kit includes correspondence, an organizational chart, and promotional materials relating to Heslep's attendance as a representative of the Atomic Energy Commission. The series also contains a report by Charles L. Dunham on a nuclear energy symposium held in Argentina, an account of reporter Paul Harvey breaking into restricted military property, an article on Heslep from the Augusta Herald, articles written by Heslep on the televising of nuclear tests, several certificates of participation from Oak Ridge Laboratories, Operation Teapot, and Operation Redwing, and a news sheet printed on board the USS Mount McKinley.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1.19
Program from the Atomic Age Dinner of America United for World Organization, Inc.
1945
1.20
Certificates of Participation in Atomic Tests
1950-1956
1.21
"Paul Harvey Incident" Materials Compiled by Radio Reports, Inc.
1951
1.22
"Charter Heslep in Augusta," The Augusta Herald
1952
1.23
"They Said It Couldn't Be Done: The Story of the First Live Televising of an Atomic Detonation"
1952
1.24
"It Couldn't Be Done - But T-V Men Did It," The Quill
1952
1.25
Program from the ground breaking ceremony for the Shippingport Atomic Power Station
1954
1.26
"B-52 Makes America's First Bomb Drop," Port & Starboard Press, Amateur news sheet printed on board the USS Mount McKinley.
1956
1.27
Program from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Annual Honor Awards Ceremony
1956
1.28
"Chronology of Important Events in the Atoms for Peace Program"
1958
1.29
"Trip Report: Second Inter-American Symposium on the Peaceful Application of Nuclear Energy, Buenos Aires, Argentina," Charles L. Dunham
1959
1.30
"Atomos en Accion" Press Kit
1961

Series IV:  Photographs, 1932-1961Return to Top

Series IV is comprised of both color and black and white photographs relating to Heslep's work as a news reporter and member of the Atomic Energy Commission. The collection contains photographs of nuclear test preparations and explosions including images of Operation Trinity; Operation Tumbler-Snapper's Charlie test; Operation Upshot-Knothole's Annie, Nancy, Ruth, Dixie, Ray, and Grable tests; Operation Plumbbob's Priscilla and Fizeau tests; Operation Greenhouse; and Operation Redwing. The collection also includes photographs of test dummies and buildings, portions of the Nevada Test Site including "News Nob" and Camp Mercury, and photos of work aboard the USS Mount McKinley, an observer ship in the Pacific Proving Grounds during the Redwing tests.

The series also includes photos of Atomic Energy Commission events, meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory conference, Britain's first plutonium factory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, protests surrounding the Rosenberg espionage hearings, and other events and people relating to nuclear science and history. The series also contains numerous career photographs of Heslep in his position at the AEC, the Washington Daily News, and the Mutual Broadcasting Company as well as headshots and studio portraits.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1.31
Operation Trinity
1945
1.32
Operation Tumbler-Snapper
1952
1.33
Operation Upshot-Knothole
1953
1.34
Operation Plumbbob
1957
1.35
Nevada Test Site Unidentified Nuclear Tests
undated
1.36
Nevada Test Site
1952-1953
1.37
Operation Greenhouse
1951
1.38
Operation Redwing
1956
1.39
Pacific Proving Grounds Unidentified Nuclear Tests
undated
2.1
Career Photographs
1932, 1937
2.2
Career Photographs
1945-1949
2.3
Career Photographs
1950
2.4
Career Photographs
1951
2.5
Career Photographs
1952
2.6
Career Photographs
1953
2.7
Career Photographs
1954
2.8
Career Photographs
1955
2.9
Career Photographs
1956
2.10
Career Photographs
1957
2.11
Career Photographs
1958
2.12
Career Photographs
1959
2.13
Career Photographs
1960
2.14
Career Photographs
1961
2.15
Career Photographs
undated
2.16
Headshots and Studio Portraits of Charter Heslep
1932, 1952-1959

Series V:  Sound Recordings, 1958-1961Return to Top

This series is composed of two sound recordings, "Peaceful Use of the Atom" and "Atoms for Peace: 1946-1961".

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
2.17
"Peaceful Use of the Atom" Reel 1
January 16, 1958
2.18
"Peaceful Use of the Atom" Reel 2
January 16, 1958
2.19
"Atoms for Peace: 1946-1961"
February 8, 1961