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William P. Jesse Collection

Identifier: SC-108

Scope and Contents

The collection documents most of William Polk Jesse's post World War II and Manhattan Project activities. Publications collected by Jesse are included, which include his notes and notations. Publication written by Jesse are also included, as well as a collection of 96 glass slides whcih correspond to his articles and lectures. The bulk of the collection is comprised of a series of 50 lab notebooks which document the work of Jesse between the years of 1947-1972. There is one scrapbook that has been left intact which includes photographs, brochures, and letters from Jesse's travels and career.

In addition to this scrapbook there are not only a few keepsakes from Jesse's personal life, but also a variety of notations, graphs, experiment notes, procedures, and results are also included within documents. A few of the keepsakes include a framed photograph of Jesse's mother, pins from the University of Missouri, samples of atomsite, and a piece of graphite from the first nuclear reactor in the United States. All of these artifacts within the collection have been organized accordingly.


  • Creation: 1891 - 1984


Biographical / Historical

William Polk Jesse was born on march 14, 1891 in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1913, Jesse received a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Missouri, and he continued on with his graduate work at the University of Chicago in 1919 upon the end of World War I. In 1921, he became an instructor at Yale University, where he received a PhD in 1924. After teaching at various institutions for ten years, Jesse returned to the University of Chicago, and then transferred to the Metalurgical laboratory to assist with the Manhattan Project during World War II.

After the war, Jesse went on to join the Argonne National Laboratory and began making accurate measurements of W, the energy required to produce an ion pair. A result of this research has now become known as the "Jesse effect." After his retirement from Argonne, Jesse went on to continue his research at St. Procopius College until 1972.


6.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



William P. Jesse Collection
Jennifer E. Merriman
November 2010
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Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections Repository

Benedictine University
5700 College Rd.
Lisle IL 60532 United States