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Walter Orr Roberts Collection

Identifier:  - WOR

Scope and Contents

The Walter Orr Roberts Collection includes records pertaining to Dr. Roberts' work with Soviet scientists, published and unpublished writings, various photographs from around the world, audio cassettes of Dr. Roberts' presentations, films, and some memorabilia. Select materials from this collection have been digitized and are available in OpenSky, NCAR Library's digital repository.


  • 1940 - 2007
  • Majority of material found within 1980 - 1989
  • Other: Date acquired: 20060000


Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection is open, although there are some materials that are restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.

Biographical / Historical

Walter Orr Roberts set up the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) in 1940 on the Continental Divide at Climax, Colorado, which evolved from a one-man operation affiliated with the Harvard College Observatory to a research laboratory at NCAR. While at HAO he made studied the behavior of the sun by photographing its prominences and corona through artificial eclipses of the sun by means of a newly invented solar telescope called the coronagraph, of which he completed the Western Hemisphere's first example.

In 1960, the National Science Foundation asked Roberts to be the director of the newly formed NCAR, which he headed until 1968. He simultaneously held the position of President of UCAR from 1960 until 1973. Roberts was influential in establishing Boulder’s space and rocket science communities that later spawned the University of Colorado’s Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics and Ball Brothers Research Corporation, now Ball Aerospace Systems Division.


3.30 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection has been arranged topically and the folders are listed in alphabetical order.

Physical Access Requirements

The collection must be viewed in the Archives during normal business hours.

Technical Access Requirements

There are some audio-visual materials that are not available for play-back as they are original copies that have not been digitized.

Source of Acquisition

Janet Roberts, Betty O'Lear, UCAR Corporate Affairs Office, CU's American Music Research Center

Method of Acquisition

The Walter Orr Roberts collection is comprised of materials donated by his wife, Janet Roberts, UCAR staff member, Betty O'Lear, UCAR Corporate Affairs Office, and CU's American Music Research Center.

Appraisal Information

Duplicate materials were removed from the collection.

Accruals and Additions

No accruals or additions are expected.

Related Materials

The University of Colorado Archives holds the Papers of Walter Orr Roberts.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in April 2010. Materials were brought together from a few sources to create a single collection. Writings stored in 3-ring binders were removed and rehoused in acid-free folders. Photographic materials were rehoused in appropriate preservation enclosures and stored in folders according to original order. Many photographs have little or no identifying information.

Kathleen Legg
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Archives Repository