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Ernest Klema Papers

Call Number: MS044

Scope and Contents

This collection contains class notes from graduate work as well as professional notes and subject files collected by Ernest D. Klema from 1944-1963. Much of the collection contains notes for courses that Klema taught in nuclear engineering and physics at the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950 -- 1963
  • Creation: 1942 -- 2006


Language of Materials



This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Ernest Donald Klema was born October 4, 1920 in Wilson, Kansas. He received a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Kansas in 1941 and an M.A. in Physics from the University of Kansas in 1942. Soon after starting graduate school at Princeton University, his professor and project were transferred to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory including Klema. There, Klema worked on a Van de Graaff project from 1943-46. According to Klema, the young scientists at Los Alamos organized the Los Alamos University after the war. Courses were organized to permit the scientists to catch up on coursework they had missed during the war. Students traded notes from courses with each other. Instructors for the courses included Enrico Fermi, Victor Weisskopf, Hans Bethe, and Julian Schwinger.

Klema attended the University of Illinois from 1946-1949, working with Al Hanson, Arnold Nordsieck, Jim Allen, and Maurice Goldhaber. From 1949-1950, Klema transferred to Rice University, where he completed his PhD in Physics in 1951 working with Tom Bonner and Gerry Phillips. Klema received a fellowship from the Atomic Energy Commission for his studies at Illinois and Rice. He then worked as a senior physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) from 1950-56. While doing research there, Klema also taught two courses (a nuclear physics lecture and an experimental reactor physics laboratory) at the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology, which trained young nuclear scientists before many universities had set up Nuclear Engineering departments. At ORNL Klema worked with Art Snell and Alvin Weinberg.

Klema was appointed his associate professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan, 1956-58. Moving to Northwestern University, he worked as professor of nuclear and scientific engineering from 1958-68, and as department chair from 1960-67. While at Northwestern, Klema pursued research at the nearby Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). He served as a member of the planning committee for the Associated Midwest Universities (AMU)-Argonne National Laboratory High Voltage Electron Microscope Meeting. AMU was involved in administrating ANL at the time. At Argonne, Klema contributed to the development of an electron microscope and also developed an ANL summer research program for his students from Northwestern.

In 1968, Klema became Dean of the College of Engineering (1968-73) and professor in the College of Engineering (1968-88) at Tufts University. He was also appointed adjunct professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from 1973-83, where he researched issues relating to technology and society. As of June, 2006, Klema is Emeritus Professor of Engineering Science and Dean Emeritus of the College of Engineering at Tufts University.

Klema also was a visiting scholar in the Physics Department at Harvard University. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Nuclear Society. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, Sigma Xi, Phi Beta Kappa, and Pi Mu Epsilon. He co-founded the company Nuclear Diodes, Inc. Klema's statement on research interests included angular correlations of gamma rays, fission cross sections, empirical nuclear models, semiconductor detectors, and science and technology policy.

Ernest Klema married Virginia Carlock in 1953. They had two children, Donald and Catherine. He died in Bar Harbor, Maine, on October 14, 2008.


4.8 Linear Feet


The collection is organized into five series: Biographical Information; Class Notes from Los Alamos National Laboratory; Class Notes from the University of Illinois; Teaching Notes from the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology; Subject files and publications from Argonne National Laboratory/Association of Midwest Universities/Northwestern University.

Custodial History

The collection was donated by Dr. Klema. We have contacted Dr. Klema, and he has no more materials to add to the collection.

Related Materials

Spencer Weart of the American Physical Society and the University of Maryland conducted an interview with Klema as part of interviews of 100 nuclear physicists at Los Alamos.

Processing Information

Dr. Klema organized the material in the five series and included an inventory. Thus, series are arranged in original order.

The collection was processed by Liz Chrastil, supervised by Susanne Belovari, July 2006. Date ranges were added to folders were appropriate, notebooks were foldered.

Processing status

This collection is processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States