University acquires collection of pioneering astrophysicist Martin Pomerantz
Martin A. Pomerantz
The Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory, affectionately referred to by Antarctic researchers as "MAPO" (may-poh), was dedicated by the National Science Foundation in 1995. The two-story structure houses research projects focusing on cosmic rays and solar oscillation.
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11:30 a.m., Feb. 17, 2009----The University of Delaware has acquired a large collection of papers and records belonging to the pioneering South Pole explorer and astrophysicist Martin A. Pomerantz.

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Pomerantz served as the director and then president of the Bartol Research Institute from 1959-1987. In 1977, he moved the institute to the University of Delaware, where it is a research center in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He died Oct. 25, 2008, at the age of 91.

The acquisition was announced by Ian Janssen, director of University Archives and Records Management, on Feb. 11 at the University's William S. Carlson International Polar Year lecture “Building for Science at the South Pole,” by Jerry Marty, facilities construction and maintenance manager at the National Science Foundation.

Janssen said he was contacted in late 2007 by a representative from the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming, which was de-accessioning several large collections it had possessed for many years and was unable to process or provide access to researchers.

The 55 boxes of records, spanning 65 cubic feet, include Pomerantz's correspondence with polar stations, site reports from polar stations, administrative files from the Franklin Institute and the Bartol Research Institute, and photographs, ranging in date primarily from the 1950s to 1970s, although some records date to the 1930s, Janssen said.

Janssen said he expects the final processing of the collection to be completed by late 2009 or early 2010, after which the materials will be available to scholars and the public.

“University Archives and Records Management is the primary repository for the historical records that tell the story of the University of Delaware,” Janssen said. “The Pomerantz collection greatly enhances its existing collections, which the University community is encouraged to use. This unit always is interested in acquiring records, images and objects related to the history of this University,” Janssen noted.

Pomerantz pioneered the use of the South Pole as a laboratory for studying astronomy and astrophysics. He directed the Bartol Research Institute's Antarctic research program for 30 years, initiating cosmic ray and solar oscillation studies that continue at the South Pole at the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory. The director of the National Science Foundation dedicated the facility in Pomerantz's honor in 1995.

In a statement issued upon Pomerantz's death, Karl Erb, the director of the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, noted: “Although few people truly achieve such status in their lifetimes, Dr. Pomerantz was literally a legend in Antarctic science for his vision and dedication to the field of astronomy, specifically in making the South Pole a pivotal location for cutting-edge astrophysical observations.”

Article by Tracey Bryant