Welcome to the History Portal of the ACA



The ACA History Project showcases and preserves the history of crystallography, X-ray diffraction, and structural science through online access, articles in ACA RefleXions quarterly newsletter, and archival at the Niels Bohr Library and Archives in College Park, MD.  For the curious, click here to identify the people in the banner above and the image in the background.


In celebration of the 2014 International Year of Crystallography and the international nature of structural science, here are links to other history resources.  For example, the IUCr website has links from the ACA on the history of crystallography and the Diamond Light Source (UK) has a new documentary film on the history of crystallography, focusing on the Braggs.


Latest Additions

Daniel Rabinovich, "The World of Crystallography on Postage Stamps"

Dan's ACA Wood Award presentation gives an entertaining view of crystallographic history featuring colorful stamps from many countries.

Martin Buerger, "Background and Early History of the American Crystallographic Association"

The ACA Beginnings Page is now online. This new page highlights the formation of ACA and the celebration of the ACA 50th anniversary.

John R. Helliwell, "Synchrotron Radiation Macromolecular Crystallography: instrumentation, methods and applications"

In this video of his ACA Patterson Award presentation John relates his leading role in using synchrotron radiation for structure determination.

Thomas F. Koetzle, "From the Amino Acid Structures to Metal Hydrides:  Four Decades of Single-Crystal Neutron Diffraction"

The first recipient of the ACA Bau Award, Tom was one of the pioneers in developing single-crystal neutron diffraction.

Richard E. Marsh, "My Crystallographic History"

A sometimes humorous account of Marsh's career in crystallography.

Abraham Clearfield, "A Life in Crystallography"

The child of Russian immigrants, Abe grew up in Philadelphia.  He tells the story of his career, which emphasized the use of powder diffraction to study a wide variety of inorganic compounds.

The 1988 Nobel Laureates Symposium

Held during the ACA meeting in Philadelphia, the session was chaired by Linus Pauling and featured lectures by five Nobelists - Sir John Kendrew, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, William N. Lipscomb, Herbert H. Hauptman, and Jerome Karle - as well as introductory and concluding comments by Pauling.

Contribute Your Memoir and Photographs


Potential authors are encouraged to contact Virginia Pett if they are interested in contributing to this project.  Stories of careers in government, industry, and academia are solicited.  We want to learn more about all aspects of the history of crystallography and x-ray diffraction:  instrumentation, teaching, research advances.  We are interested in the history of research groups and organizations — such as the ACA or the PDB  — as well as individuals.