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Bruce B. Benson (AC 1943) Papers

Identifier: MA.01016

Scope and Contents

The Bruce B. Benson Papers consist of 1.5 linear feet of material relating to Benson's academic and professional life. A detailed description of the collection contents can be found below in the series descriptions.

The materials are divided into 5 series:

Series 1: Student Notes and Tests [1939-1946], are Benson's handwritten notes, along with exam booklets and other assignments from courses he took as an undergraduate at Amherst College and a graduate student at Yale University.

Series 2: Teaching Notes and Assignments [1943-1975, undated] includes syllabi, lecture notes, course readings, and assignments for courses that Benson taught. The notes for some classes are written on the backs of assignments from previous courses that Benson taught.

Series 3: Publications and Draft Writings [1946-1984, undated], consists of published and draft physics and oceanographic research by Benson. The earlier part of the Benson's research career apparently focused on nuclear physics, while later in his career he applied his physics knowledge to oceanographic research, in particular researching dissolved gases in salt and freshwater.

Series 4: Administrative Materials [1955-1977], includes memos, notes, and reports for Amherst College faculty and administrative committees on which Benson served.

Series 5: Photographs and Correspondence [circa 1960-1988], includes several photographs of Benson involved in teaching or research and three pieces of miscellaneous correspondence addressed to Benson.


  • Creation: 1939-1988


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Bruce B. Benson (AC 1943) Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Bruce B. Benson(AC 1943) Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

Bruce Buzzell Benson was born in 1922 in Choteau Montana, and enjoyed his alliterative name, often signing notes as "B3." He graduated with a B.S. in Physics from Amherst College in 1943 and received an M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1945 and 1947, respectively. Benson taught physics at Amherst College from 1947 until his death in 1990. He also served as an associate at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute from 1957-1967. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958. Benson's research specialties were nuclear physics and oceanography. His wife, Lucy Wilson Benson, was very involved with liberal politics and policy on a state and national level, serving in turn as national president of the League of Women Voters, Massachusetts Secretary for Health and Human Services, and U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Benson himself was reportedly the first male member of the League of Women Voters. He died in 1990 at the age of 68. In 1997, Harry V. Keefe donated the Keefe Science Library to Amherst in memory of his Amherst College roommate, Bruce Benson.


1.5 Linear feet

Language of Materials



Amherst College alumnus (1943), instructor and later professor of physics at Amherst College, 1947-1990. Collection includes Benson's class notes and exams from college and graduate school; teaching notes and assignments from courses he taught at Amherst; draft articles about physics that he wrote, along with reprints of his published articles; material from college-wide faculty committees on which he served; and a small number of photographs and pieces of incoming correspondence.

Custodial History

The Bruce B. Benson (AC 1943) Papers were donated to Amherst College in two posthumous accessions by Benson's widow, Lucy Wilson Benson. Some of the materials were previously filed with Benson's Alumni Biographical File.

Related Materials

  1. Bruce B. Benson and photos of his lab in Amherst College Photographer Negatives, 1960-2005
  2. Lucy W. Benson in Non-Alumni Biographical Files
  3. Amherst College Committee Records, 1826-2010


Claire Lobdell, Merrill Project Archivist
January 2014
Language of description
Script of description
This work was funded by a grant from the Hellen Ingram Plummer Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299