[SIGCIS-Members] Handwritten "First Draft" in Dyson's book?

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Tue Sep 1 11:45:17 PDT 2015

Following up on Chuck's point, I believe that Dyson's work at IAS on the
history of its computer project (led by von Neumann) prompted IAS to
organize and make accessible its files on the project.

Dyson also received access from John von Neumann's daughter, Marina von
Neumann Whitman, to some papers she had retained when the Library of
Congress accessioned her father's papers. These include letters between von
Neumann and his second wife, Klara. He was kind enough to share some of his
copies of these with us, as they were at that point in Whitman's basement.
However she has subsequently given them, along with her own papers, to
Radcliffe College.

I would, however, be stunned if either collection holds a manuscript for
the "First Draft." I'm confident that it is not in Goldstine's collection
at Hampshire college, which is quite small and has an excellent folder
level finding aid. Goldstine's APS papers were, when I used them a few
years ago, not fully processed and had only a draft finding aid. Something
could be hiding there, but I didn't come across it and IIRC he gave to
Hampshire first and provided them with the things he thought were most
historically significant. I recall seeing a recent announcement from APS
that the papers were finally processed. I'm also fairly sure that there is
no First Draft manuscript in the von Neumann papers at the Library of
Congress, as I looked through carefully for one without success.


On 1 September 2015 at 13:00, Chuck House <housec1839 at gmail.com> wrote:

> George Dyson has given a number of talks about this book, the process by
> which it was written, and the sources.  A key set of sources were
> available from family and friends, previously unaccessed.  My strong hunch
> re your question is that "lots of the unreferenced information" is of this
> type.  My understanding (or maybe inferred belief) is that much of this
> material is in process of being given to (or maybe has been given to) the
> Princeton libraries, but it likely is not yet indexed, catelogued, or
> assentioned, which could account for your difficulty in locating some of
> it.
> I am pretty sure that Dyson's contact info is available via the Computer
> History Museum.  Dag?
> Best regards,
> Chuck House
> On 9/1/15 7:56 AM, "Members on behalf of Mai Sugimoto"
> <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org on behalf of nix.pura at gmail.com> wrote:
> >Dear SIGCIS members:
> >
> >I found George Dyson's book, Turing's Cathedral (2012), seems to show
> >the original hand-written version of the "First Draft" (probably?) in
> >a picture page, which is on 13 pages after p.136. Since the caption
> >says the picture is from Princeton University Libraries, I contacted
> >archivists of the Libraries to access the manuscript. But the
> >archivists answered they cannot find any material like the picture
> >within the collection or elsewhere in related collection. I also asked
> >to the IAS Library, but they cannot find anything, either. Then, as
> >the archivists suggested, I contacted the publisher to send a message
> >to Mr. Dyson. They told me just a forwarding address, so I sent a
> >regular mail to Mr. Dyson in last February to make sure of the
> >location of the manuscript.
> >
> >I have not received the reply yet. I am stranded. Does anyone know
> >contact information of Dyson, or have any idea about the picture on
> >the book or the original hand-written version of the draft? My
> >colleagues and I have been working of a Japanese translation of von
> >Neumann's original paper. Dyson's book is very interesting, but it
> >seems to have a lot of unreferenced information, so my collaborators
> >and I think that we should be careful to handle this book in the
> >bibliographical comments.
> >
> >Best,
> >
> >Mai Sugimoto
> >Associate Professor
> >Faculty of Sociology, Kansai University
> >3-3-35, Yamate-cho, Suita-shi
> >Osaka, Japan 564-8680
> >msgmt at kansai-u.ac.jp
> >_______________________________________________
> >This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion
> >list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member
> >posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list
> >archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and
> >you can change your subscription options at
> >http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org
> _______________________________________________
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion
> list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member
> posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list
> archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and
> you can change your subscription options at
> http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/attachments/20150901/7834cec5/attachment-0002.htm>

More information about the Members mailing list