Gertrud Weiss Szilard Papers, 1920 - 1997 (bulk 1960-1981) (MSS 0432)

Restrictions: Photographic negatives are restricted. Researchers must request permission to view negatives from the director of Special Collections & Archives. Original audio cassettes are restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced.

Extent: 0.82 Linear feet (1 archives box, 1 card file box)

Papers of physician Gertrud Weiss Szilard. Weiss was a professor of preventive medicine and a public health officer, researcher, and consultant. She was married to nuclear physicist and biologist Leo Szilard and edited his papers after his death. Her papers include biographical information, correspondence, photographs, and audio recordings relating to her work and that of Leo Szilard.

Gertrud (Trude) Weiss Szilard was born December 28, 1909 in Vienna, Austria, the daughter of physician Arthur Weiss. She entered the University of Vienna in 1928, studying mathematics and physics. Weiss left after one semester, however, and traveled to Switzerland where she worked as governess to the daughter of poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) and took language courses at the University of Lausanne. The following year she studied physics and biology at the University of Berlin while working as a secretary and translator. During this time she met Hungarian nuclear physicist Leo Szilard, translating a manuscript for him and attending one of his physics classes. Szilard convinced Weiss to study medicine instead of physics, and she returned to the University of Vienna in 1930, graduating with an M.D. in 1936.

Concerned by the rise of power in Nazi Germany, Szilard urged Weiss and her family to move to England, and then to the United States. Weiss did her postgraduate training at West London Hospital from 1936-1937, and then served internships and residencies at hospitals in New York City until 1944. She was licensed to practice medicine in New York State in 1938, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1943. Weiss then earned an M.S. in Public Health at Columbia University in 1944, and was certified in preventive medicine in 1949. She worked as a health officer for the New York City Department of Health from 1944-1950, and as an instructor and adjunct assistant professor of preventive medicine at the New York University College of Medicine from 1948-1950.

Weiss and Szilard, who had also emigrated to the United States, continued a correspondence begun in the 1930s, and maintained a relationship through letters, phone calls, and visits. She kept many of Szilard's important documents for him, as he did not maintain a permanent residence. In 1950, Weiss moved to Denver to take positions as assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and acting director of communicable disease control for the Denver Department of Health and Hospitals. She was licensed to practice medicine in the State of Colorado in 1951, and became associate professor at the University of Colorado in 1954.

Szilard, now working in molecular biology at the University of Chicago, was also a visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado and often stayed with Weiss when he was in Denver. The couple's unmarried status began to threaten Weiss's employment, and they married in 1951, continuing to live apart and pursuing their respective careers. Weiss continued to practice medicine under her maiden name, although she also used the names Trude Szilard and Gertrud Weiss Szilard after her marriage.

Starting in 1961, Weiss spent four years at Georgetown University as a clinical associate professor of preventive medicine, and was a consultant for the World Health Organization's Health Statistics Branch and the Inter-American Mortality Investigation. In 1964, she moved to La Jolla to join Szilard, who was a fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Szilard died of heart failure later that year. Weiss remained in California, working for the UC Los Angeles School of Public Health and the UC San Diego School of Medicine until 1977. She also consulted for the US Public Health Service, was project director for the Southeast San Diego Health Study, and was on the board of directors for the Council for a Livable World Education Fund.

Weiss spent 1975-1981 as an associate research bibliographer for the UC San Diego Program on Science, Technology and Public Affairs. She collected and edited her husband's papers, publishing Reminiscences by Leo Szilard (1968), The Collected Works of Leo Szilard (1972), Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts (1978), and Toward a Livable World: Leo Szilard and the Crusade for Nuclear Arms Control (1987). Weiss died on April 27, 1981.

The Gertrud Weiss Szilard Papers document her career as a professor of preventive medicine and as a public health physician, as well as that of her husband, nuclear physicist and biologist Leo Szilard. The collection dates from 1920-1997 and is arranged in the following series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) EDITING & WRITING, 4) PHOTOGRAPHS and 5) SOUND RECORDINGS.

Series 1) BIOGRAPHICAL: Includes Weiss's curriculum vitae, news clippings, an interview, and her enrollment book from the University of Vienna.

Series 2) CORRESPONDENCE: Incoming and outgoing correspondence of Gertrud Weiss and her brother, Egon Weiss, who was a librarian at the US Military Academy Library. The correspondence, which ranges from 1959-1997, mostly concerns Leo Szilard, his papers and patents, and the naming of a crater on the moon for him. A smaller amount of correspondence concerns Gertrud Weiss and her career. Includes a file of addresses and telephone numbers.

Series 3) EDITING & WRITING: Reviews and publicity on the published papers of Leo Szilard, which Weiss edited; a collection of reviews of biographies on other nuclear physicists; lists of correspondence in the Leo Szilard papers; and a proposal by Weiss for a collision proof automobile.

Series 4) PHOTOGRAPHS: Prints, negatives, and slides of Gertrud Weiss and her family and colleagues, taken from 1920-1980. The series includes one negative, represented by a print in the collection, which has been restricted for preservation. Researchers wishing to view the negative must obtain permission from the director of Special Collections & Archives.

Series 5: SOUND RECORDINGS: Audio cassettes of talks, interviews and music which Gertrud Weiss recorded between 1972 and 1980. Original audio cassettes are restricted, and researchers must request user copies be produced.

Leo Szilard Papers. MSS 32. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss. MSS 650. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

Container List

BIOGRAPHICAL

Box: 1 Folder: 1
Curriculum vitae, 1950-1981
Box: 1 Folder: 2
Keen, Harold. "Women in Medicine" (excerpt). Interview of Gertrud Weiss Szilard in San Diego Magazine. Annotated typescript, 1980 December
Box: 1 Folder: 3
Meldungsbuch (enrollment record), University of Vienna, 1934-1935
Box: 1 Folder: 4
Newspaper clippings, 1951-1980
Box: 1 Folder: 5
Obituaries, 1981
Box: 1 Folder: 6
Previous employment and references, 1944-1975

CORRESPONDENCE

Box: 1 Folder: 7
Bullard, Edward, 1970
Box: 1 Folder: 8
Cole, Kenneth S., 1978
Box: 1 Folder: 9
Cooke, Alistair, 1978
Box: 1 Folder: 10
Cousins, Norman, 1979
Box: 1 Folder: 11
Dannen, Gene, 1982
Box: 1 Folder: 12
Dyson, Freeman, 1979
Box: 1 Folder: 13
Golden, William T., 1982
Box: 1 Folder: 14
Gruber, Carol, 1980-1981
Box: 1 Folder: 15
Harvard College Observatory (Donald H. Menzel), 1970
Box: 1 Folder: 16
Kapitza, Peter L., 1980
Box: 1 Folder: 17
Kissinger, Henry A., 1969
Box: 1 Folder: 18
Kreisky, Bruno, 1974-1981
Box: 1 Folder: 19
Livingston, Robert B., 1960
Box: 1 Folder: 20
Lusignan, Suzanne de, 1971-1972
Box: 1 Folder: 21
McGovern, George, 1964-1979
Box: 1 Folder: 22
Pan American Health Organization, 1962
Box: 1 Folder: 23
Pugwash Conferences on Science & World Affairs, 1976
Box: 1 Folder: 24
Revelle, Ellen, 1979
Box: 1 Folder: 25
Silard, Bela , 1962
Box: 1 Folder: 26
Smithsonian Institution, The National Museum of History & Technology, 1980
Box: 1 Folder: 27
United States Department of State, 1981
Box: 1 Folder: 28
University of California, San Diego, 1970-1980
Box: 1 Folder: 29
University of Colorado Medical Center, 1959-1980
Box: 1 Folder: 30
Weizsacker, C.F. Freiherr von, 1979
Box: 1 Folder: 31
Weiss, Egon, 1997
Box: 1 Folder: 32
Wigner, Eugene, 1969
Box: 1 Folder: 33
Wingard, Eileen, 1980
Box: 1 Folder: 34
Miscellaneous correspondence, 1960-1979
Box: 1 Folder: 35
Addresses and telephone numbers, undated

EDITING & WRITING

Box: 1 Folder: 36
Collected Works of Leo Szilard (1972) - Publicity, 1972
Box: 1 Folder: 37
Draft of a Proposal for a Project to Develop a Collision Proof Automobile, undated
Box: 1 Folder: 38
Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts (1980) - Reviews
Box: 1 Folder: 39
List of correspondence in Szilard "Book Folders"
Box: 1 Folder: 40
List of correspondence in Szilard folder B-17
Box: 1 Folder: 41
Reviews of books on nuclear physicists, by various authors, 1968-1994
Box: 1 Folder: 42
Toward a Livable World: Leo Szilard and the Crusade for Nuclear Arms Control (1987) - Reviews, 1988

PHOTOGRAPHS

Box: 1 Folder: 43-46
Gertrude Weiss, ca. 1920-1980

Restrictions Apply

Box: 1 Folder: 47
Gertrude Weiss - Group photos, ca. 1925-1975
Box: 1 Folder: 48
Vienna, 1973

SOUND RECORDINGS

Box: 2 Folder: 1
M.I.T., 1972 September 21

Restrictions Apply

Box: 2 Folder: 2A-2B
Alvin Weinberg at UC San Diego - Original & use copy, 1975 March 19

Original recording, tape 2A, is restricted. Tape 2B is a listener copy and must be used in place of the original.

Box: 2 Folder: 3
Hungary, 1978 February

Restrictions Apply

Box: 2 Folder: 4
Szilard & Richards play Brahms Cello Sonata #1, 1980 June

Restrictions Apply

Box: 2 Folder: 5
1980 September 15

Restrictions Apply

Box: 2 Folder: 6
1980 September 16 - December 16

Restrictions Apply

Box: 2 Folder: 7
Music from record, undated

Restrictions Apply

Box: 2 Folder: 8
Radio interview: G.W.S., La Jolla, undated

Restrictions Apply

Box: 2 Folder: 9
V. Weizsacker, undated

Restrictions Apply

Box: 2 Folder: 10
York, undated

Restrictions Apply