Welcome to the History Portal of the ACA



The American Crystallographic Association History Project showcases and preserves the history of crystallography and X-ray diffraction 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, the IUCr website has information on the history of crystallography in North America.


Latest Additions

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.

Alexander McPherson, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men"

Alex accepted the 2013 Fankuchen Award on behalf of Richard E. Dickerson at the 2013 ACA meeting in Honolulu, HI and presented a lecture summarizing the work of Dickerson and other 20th century crystallographers

Thomas C. Terwilliger, "Molecular replacement and model-building using distant homology models as templates"

In this video of his ACA Kenneth Trueblood Award presentation Tom describes a combination of modeling and electron density fitting, and introduces a technique he calls "morphing".

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.