The Man who Helped Make NASA: Dr. Sherman P. Vinograd

On July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act creating NASA. In the fifty-five years since, NASA has accomplished incredible feats. The Southwest Collection is fortunate to house the papers of Dr. Sherman P. Vinograd, the former Chief of Medical Science and Technology Director of Biomedical Research at NASA from 1961 to 1979.

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Dr. Vinograd and his NASA colleagues convene with their Russian counterparts in 1973 in Star City, Moscow (now the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center).

Entitled the Sherman P. Vinograd Aerospace Exploration Papers, 1957-2010 and undated, the collection encompasses over twenty boxes of correspondence, financial materials, newspapers, photographs, printed materials, and reports, as well as artifacts and books. These items chronicle Dr. Vinograd’s early life, his early career as an M.D., his years as a physician and researcher at NASA, and the other professional organizations and projects in which he was involved both during and after these periods. The finding aid for this collection is available through Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO), as well as through the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library’s website.


Glass data slides displaying the medical results of NASA’s early manned spaceflight program.

Dr. Vinograd served at NASA from the fall of 1961 until the spring of 1979. During those eighteen years he led the way through that department’s most fruitful medical research and engineering, vehicle development, and manned space flight. Among his many accomplishments was the establishment of the In-flight Medical Experiments Program in preparation for the Apollo missions. This program designed flight crew studies to evaluate human responses to spaceflight. Dr. Vinograd’s team also developed a supportive Research and Development Program that gathered and provided pertinent ground-based data that lead to the creation of NASA’s state-of-the-art medical measurement technology. Prominent among these creations is the Integrated Medical and Behavioral Laboratory Measurement System (IMBLMS). It produced the medical experiments conducted aboard the Gemini, Mercury, Apollo, and Skylab manned space flight programs. Carried aboard virtually all post-Apollo space vehicles by virtue of its rack and module design, the type of equipment used in these experiments was still used years later. Space-based research was not the limit of his work. He also fostered the continuing ground-based medical research program essential to NASA’s successes in ensuing decades, the documents for which can also be found in his papers.


His greatest achievement was conceptualizing, establishing, and chairing the Space Medicine Advisory Group (SPAMAG), which was charged with defining the earth-based and space-based research and life-support requirements for a manned orbiting research laboratory. This Group designed a carefully planned study utilizing highly qualified, specialized members of the scientific community. They postulated an orbiting laboratory designed according to the needs of future human flight crews. This resulted in the creation of Skylab.

Interested researchers may contact our Reference Department via email or by phone at 806-742-9070.

Reference Services!

Did you know that the Southwest Collection’s reference staff has created several bibliographies and research guides? One of the most robust examples of this is our African American Bibliography. It describes many of the materials in our collections relating to African American history, including books, manuscripts, oral histories, photograph collections, and newspapers. Such bibliographies are often essential to navigating the thousands of linear feet and many millions of individual documents in our archives


Although we have many digitized collections as well published finding aids housed on Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) and our own website, the guidance of experienced reference staff highly familiar with our holdings is also of invaluable use to researchers. Fortunately, the Southwest Collection’s Randy Vance and Nicci Hester, with the assistance of our many subject archivists and librarians, are able to provide that assistance. One way in which they accomplish this is through our Reference Files. Containing over 18,000 folders of information about West Texas (Lubbock and the South Plains in particular), Texas Tech University, and the Southwestern United States in general (Arizona, New Mexico, and other states), our Reference Files cover topics such as ranching, agriculture, oil, towns and counties in Texas, and a wide assortment of other subjects. Materials in the files include newspaper clippings, brochures, programs, tourist/travel information, biographies, oral history abstracts, and inventories of SWC manuscript collections.


The Holden Reading Room

Our reference desk is located in the Holden Reading Room. Reading room hours are Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. During the Fall and Spring semesters, Tuesdays and Thursdays see the doors remaining open until 7pm.

Reference requests may be made by email, phone (806-742-9070), mail (MS41041, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409), or fax (806-742-0496). Please note that some materials may require 1-2 days for retrieval. Copies of materials may be made, but with an associated cost. Details can be found here. Please allow up to three weeks for replies and duplication orders, particularly of photographs and oral history interviews.

Tornadoes, the F-Scale, and Dr. Tetsuya Theodore Fujita

The Southwest Collection houses the papers of Dr. Tetsuya Theodore “Ted” Fujita. Dr. Fujita (1920-1998) was a world-renowned meteorological researcher whose work changed the way that people viewed and dealt with severe storms, in particular tornadoes and hurricanes. The collection, entitled The T. Theodore Fujita Papers, 1896-2003, encompasses over one hundred boxes of photographs, articles, published and unpublished reports, conference proceedings, charts, graphs, slides, film, correspondence, maps, and other research materials from his five-decade career.


Ted Fujita was born in Kitakyushu, Japan. After receiving his doctorate from Tokyo University in 1950, he began a career as an associate professor at the Kyushu Institute of Technology. In 1953, he began teaching at the University of Chicago where he served as a professor until his death in 1998. At the University of Chicago he focused his research on meteorology, especially severe weather, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and microbursts in the United States and internationally.

Photo and description of the Fujita Tornado Scale ADJ watermark

Fujita, an observationalist working well before the era of digital recording devices and DOPPLER radar, pioneered new techniques for documenting severe storms, including aerial photography and the use of satellite radar images and film. He is famous for creating the Fujita Scale, or F-scale, for assessing tornadic intensity based on a storm’s wind speed and the amount of damage that it caused. To properly define this scale, Fujita methodically documented physical damage, loss of life, and the social effects of tornadoes and hurricanes on communities. He also theorized multiple vortex tornadoes before they were captured on film.

Fscale classification of 1971 tornadoes (2)

Much of this research was performed as part of nationally prominent projects that Dr. Fujita led, participated in, or supported, such as the Satellite and Mesometeorology Research Project (SMRP), the National Severe Storms Project (NSSP), and the creation of the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University. This research not only led to changes in building codes and improved early detection methods, but also attracted the interest of government agencies including NASA, the United States Navy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Private institutions such as the Climatological Consulting Corporation also sought Fujita’s expertise during their investigations of legal and financial claims in the wake of severe storms.

US Tornado Map 1930-74-9x12

Maps such as this were used to document tornado outbreak over many decades. Later editions would contain information on the Superoutbreak of 1974.

The most notable materials in the collection pertain to 1974’s Super Outbreak of tornadoes. The incident was the second largest tornado outbreak on record for a twenty-four hour period, producing one hundred forty-eight tornadoes occurring in thirteen states in the Midwest, South, the Eastern seaboard, and the Canadian province of Ontario. The Super Outbreak’s death toll of three hundred was not exceeded until the recent April, 2011 outbreak. This portion of the collection consists of hundreds of photographs, several boxes of research material and publications, and a variety of maps, charts, and other documentation created by Fujita in the Outbreak’s aftermath.

The finding aid for the collection may be viewed at Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO):, as well as through the Southwest Collection/Special Collection Archives website at

The Southwest Collection’s 10 Millionth Item

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The 10 millionth item received by the Southwest Collection was a letter donated in 1976. It was dated July 11, 1933, and was addressed to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from Marvin Jones, an Amarillo lawyer and twelve-term U.S. Congressman from Texas’ 13th Congressional district. In this letter Jones recommends that the Federal Government assume control of the Federal Reserve Banks. He also suggests that while farms and city housing have been subsidized, homes falling outside of these categories should also receive government aid. Both of these suggestions were key items of debate during the New Deal Era.

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The announcement of the item in For Your Information: A Newsletter to the Faculty and Staff of the TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY COMPLEX, VOL. 7, No. l, Sept. 1, 1976, p. 31, courtesy of the TTU University Archives

Jones’ first vote as a Congressman was for the declaration of war against Germany prior to World War I. Beginning in 1931, he chaired the House Committee on Agriculture during which time he wrote the letter above. In 1940 was nominated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to serve as associate judge–and later as Chief Justice under President Harry S Truman–of the United States Court of Claims.

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Marvin Jones, ca. 1920, courtesy of Wikipedia

The Marvin Jones Papers, 1905-1976 and undated consists of 41 boxes of archival material including correspondence, political materials such as drafts and official copies of legislation, office files, financial and legal material, speeches, photographs, scrapbooks, and other materials related to his life and career. The letter described above is one item among many in the Southwest Collections’ growing digital archives, and can be found here:

This item was most recently shared as a part of Texas Tech University’s Charter Day celebration. Charter Day marked the anniversary of Texas Governor Pat Neff signing Senate Bill 103 to establish Texas Technological College on February 10, 1923. In celebration of the 90th anniversary of Charter Day, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library highlighted unique items from its vast holdings. Many of the materials featured during the celebration reside in TTU’s University Archives, the digital holdings of which may be found here: Finding aids for its collections may be found on Texas Archival Resources Online:

The Southwest Collection and the National College Baseball Hall of Fame

Since 2004 the Southwest Collection (SWC) has served as repository for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (NCBHoF) on behalf of the College Baseball Foundation. The SWC has archived the history and material legacy of college baseball, including scrapbooks, photographs, videos, media guides and artifacts. Recent donations include ball caps, bats, uniforms, cleats and other items of interest from current and past college baseball players and coaches. Special items include the scrapbooks of Bob Horner of Arizona State University, and uniforms belonging to Hall of Fame Coach Rod Dedeaux of USC and Hall of Fame pitcher Dave Winfield of the University of Minnesota. Perhaps most impressive, the SWC downloads and archives nearly 700 emails per day during each baseball season from over 200 Division I and other schools.


Recording and videoing oral histories with Hall of Fame inductees, as well as the current NCAA baseball Player of the Year award winners who also attend the event, are another invaluable method through which the SWC preserves the history of college baseball. To date, nearly 100 oral histories have been conducted with players and their families. The Southwest Collection is proud to claim these as part of its robust oral history collection currently comprised of thousands of interviews, with new additions every month.


The 2013 Hall of Fame induction festivities lasted from Friday, June 29through Saturday, June 30. This year saw the induction of seven new members:  Sal Bando of Arizona State University; Tom Borland of Oklahoma State University; Ralph Garr of Grambling University; Tino Martinez of the University of Tampa; Coach Don Schaly of Marietta College; Roy Smalley of the University of Southern California; and Coach John Winkin of Colby College, The University of Maine, and Husson College. The players and their family members expressed deep appreciation for the honor they received.


2013 Hall of Famer Ralph Garr of Grambling University.

Hall of Famers’ careers were not the only ones celebrated. College baseball’s finest young athletes received awards for their on-the-field excellence. The 2013 season’s award winners were: Kris Bryant of the University of San Diego, National Player of the Year; Jonathan Gray of the University of Oklahoma, National Pitcher of the Year; Alex Bregman of Louisiana State University, Shortstop of the Year; Marco Gonzalez of Gonzaga University, Two-Way Player of the Year; Stuart Turner of the University of Mississippi, National Catcher of the Year; Mike Dickson of Gloucester County College, National Coach of the Year; and Dale Williams, recipient of the National Collegiate Umpire Award. The player awardees, coach, umpire, and Hall of Famers enjoyed the finest hospitality that the Southwest Collection and Lubbock, Texas had to offer. The culminating event of the weekend was the Night of Champions, broadcast from Texas Tech University’s Allen Theater.


Both the Hall of Famers and the award winners were particularly enamored of the commemorative posters and baseball cards produced by the Southwest Collection’s exhibit preparator Lynn Stoll. Each year the posters and cards highlight the biography and always-impressive stats of each of the 2013 award winners.


Participation in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame festivities is but one of many ways in which the Southwest Collection preserves and makes available all aspects of sports history. Most prominent among its many other sports-related collections are the records of the former Southwest Conference, the Big XII Conference, and the few remaining records of the former Big 8 conference. For more information about the SWC’s sports and other collections please contact us at 806-742-3749, or via our website: Be sure to visit our tumblr, Facebook, and twitter (@SWCArchive) sites as well.