PAULING, Linus (1901-1994). Autograph correspondence with Samuel Goudsmit, mainly concerning their joint work The Structure of Line Spectra, comprising 14 autograph letters signed, 5 typed letters signed, 1 typed letter signed all by Pauling and 3 unsigned carbons of letters by Goudsmit to Pauling, v.p., 1927-1972. Together 27 pages, 4o. Accompanied by over 170 photocopies of correspondence between Pauling, Goudsmit, representatives of McGraw-Hill and others, from the Linus Pauling Papers.
A fascinating series of letters between Pauling and Goudsmit, reflecting their long scientific and personal association. Most of the letters date from the 1930s, and of these roughly half relate to the publication of their Structure of Line Spectra. The letters are sprinkled with references to other notable physicists, such as W.L. Bragg, George Uhlenbeck, Robert Bacher, Robert Millikan, Arthur Noyes, Richard Tolman, Fritz Zwicky, John Slat, Hendrik Kramers and others. Pauling and Goudsmit met in either 1926 or 1927 in Europe, where Pauling had gone on a Guggenheim fellowship to study quantum mechanics. Pauling calls this period in the 18 April 1931 letter "the happiest period of scientific cooperation in my life, and the most profitable to me. Your kindness in explaining the theory of line spectra to me I shall never forget."
The Structure of Line Spectra was a pioneering textbook that originated in Goudsmit's doctoral thesis. The two reworked the text for three years before it was published in 1930. At the time most of these letters were written Pauling was assistant professor/professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and Goudsmit was professor of physics at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. At the time of their meeting, Goudsmit had already published his important work on electron spin (1925) and was continuing his research into the Zeeman effect. A few years later (1931) Pauling published his famous paper on the nature of the chemical bond based on quantum mechanical principles which he describes in his 19 April 1931 letter as "the best work I've ever done." The historical significance of this paper was validated by the Nobel Prize committee, when he received his first Nobel in chemistry for his work on the chemical bond. (23)