William H. Rowen Papers, 1944-1989

Manuscript Collection #747

  • Descriptive Summary
    Title: William H. Rowen Papers
    Creator: Rowen, William H.
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: Records (1944-1983), of naval officer, member of USNA class of 1941, who later worked with Lockheed Air and Missile Corporation including correspondence, notes, scientific and technical reports, articles, rosters, and miscellany.
    Extent: 1.5 Cubic feet,
  • Description

    This collection encompasses the forty year scientific career of William Howard Rowen, which was conducted within the United States Navy and then with the Lockheed Corporation. With a clear delineation of employers, this collection is divided into two series: United States Military Career, 1944 – 1960, and Lockheed Missile & Space Career, 1961-1985. Each series is then divided into project or topic specific subseries.

    The United States Military Career series consists of the following four subseries: US Naval Service Records, 1944 – 1960; Correspondence and Personal Records 1947-1962, 1989; Academic Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1944 – 1947; Academic Research at University of California, Livermore, Radiation Laboratory, 1957-1960.

    William H. Rowen had a twenty-four year career with the United States Navy, from his Annapolis graduation in 1941 to his requested discharge in 1961 he was posted to the USS Augusta in the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II, then to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, in 1947, after his completion of a Master’s in Science of Electrical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From 1949 to 1951 Rowen was posted under the Joint Task Force Three (JTF3) where he worked on Nuclear Weapons Testing and took part in the Marshall Island’s Nuclear Testing at Eniwetok Atoll. Upon his promotion to Commander in 1951 he was assigned as the commanding officer of the USS Lloyd Thomas until 1953. For the next three years he worked with the Atomic Nuclear Commission until taking command of the USS Manley from 1956 to 1958. He followed this at-sea posting by conducting more nuclear research at the University of California Berkeley’s Livermore Radiation Laboratory, under the direction of Edwin McMillan. He also served as an instructor at the Naval War College in the summer of 1960. He ended his military service in 1960, and joined the Lockheed Air and Missile Corporation. As the assignments Rowen undertook with the United States Navy are of a highly sensitive nature the records found in the US Naval Service Records subseries are primarily a collection of orders received and travel documentation. Though of special interest is one very large plotting map from the USS Augusta showing troop movements in the South of France during the summer of 1942. (See oversize folder two). Also of note are four maps from 1958 drawn for the Atomic Energy Commission of nuclear testing sites in Nevada. (See oversize folder one).

    Both professional and personal correspondence is included within this subseries. Rowen’s professional correspondence is from 1960-1962 when he was reaching out to find a new position outside the Navy. During this process he reached to top scientists such as Bernard O’Keefe, the manager of Los Alamos who designed the detonation systems of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Harold Edgerton, a lauded professor of engineering at MIT. The personal correspondence is greater in scope, from 1947 to 1966, and includes photographs of the Rowen family aboard the USS Manley in 1957. Of special note is a handwritten letter from Roberta Burke dated May 3, 1958. Mrs. Burke, the wife of Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, was known as the ‘first lady of the United States Navy’ for her welcoming and diligent service to naval servicemen and their families.

    After these two subseries the collection is nearly solely focused on academic research and specific projects undertaken while employed with Lockheed Air and Missile Corporation.

    While at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rowen researched and wrote his thesis “Construction and Test of an Electron Multiplier Alpha Particle Detector” in collaboration with James A. Dare. His notebooks from work in the synchrotron lab and classwork in the disciplines of geometry, physics, and Russian, can be found in the subseries concerning MIT.

    The subseries titled Academic Research at the University of California, Livermore, Radiation Lab, contains several articles pertaining to the application of Deterministic Wave Theory on elementary particles authored by Paul Wesley, and notebooks on wave mechanics, neutron scattering & diffusion, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, and radiation.

    Looking for a position where he could focus more on his areas of expertise, William H. Rowen requested retirement from the US Navy and was immediately employed by Lockheed Corporation in 1961. This second series is divided into four subseries based on project specifics. They are as follows: Project Rover Notes and Research, 1960 – 1963; Adaptive Simulation Notes and Research, 1960-1965; Information Display Notes and Research, 1964-1965; Departmental Organizational Records, 1961-1984.

    One of his first projects undertaken was work on the governmentally contracted Project Rover, which was to develop a nuclear thermal rocket. His theoretical and applied research notebooks as well as a paper Rowen presented to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics on June 19, 1963, titled “Captive Testing Nuclear Rocket Stages” are included.

    Rowen’s original theoretical and conceptual notes on adaptive simulation, the ability of steered aircraft to automatically mechanically enhance manual landings, and his academic paper on “Adaptive Simulation in Lunar Landings” of 1964 as well as his patent disclosure is included within this section.

    During his tenure at Lockheed, Rowen also worked on a project for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) regarding information displays of space vehicles. His notes and two reports “Information Display for Large Vehicle Checkout” and “Control of Automated Stage Checkout” are included in the subseries on Information Displays.

    During his twenty-three year tenure at Lockheed, Rowen worked on many different projects and outside contracts, and as a consequence was assigned to different divisions. The subseries on departmental organization contains all the administrative materials and instruction manuals for the assorted departments within Lockheed such as the Space Systems, Engineering, and NASA. An organizational chart of the Space Division from October 1983 can be found in oversize folder one.

    This collection contains a wealth of scientific information and research, though it is important to note that aside from the academic papers and reports the majority of the collection is made up of mathematical data. The notebooks are filled with equations and theorems with very little to no written explanatory notations. Bearing that in mind, this collection would be of particular interest to researchers concerned with the scientific history of the nuclear programs in the United States, or those researching applied theoretical mathematics in the Space Age.

  • Biographical / Historical Note

    William H. Rowen was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 22, 1918, to John Howard Rowen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Mayme Froehlich of Toledo, Ohio. He attended the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, graduating first in his class in Mathematics in 1941. While at the Naval Academy, Rowen was the Co-President of the Math Club, and member of both the Foreign Language and Boat Clubs. He wrote for the school journal the Trident and was the picture coordinator for the 1941 edition of the Lucky Bag, the Naval Academy’s yearbook. Graduating just as the United States was entering World War II, Rowen saw action in the Mediterranean theatre while serving aboard the USS Augusta from 1941 to 1944. After the War, Rowen would go on to earn his Masters of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His specialty was in nuclear power, and as such he worked at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, the Joint Task Force Three, in the South Pacific, and the Atomic Energy Commission in Nevada. After requesting to retire from the United States Navy in 1961, Rowen began working for the Lockheed Corporation, in their Space and Missile department as part of the Space Systems Division.

    William Howard Rowen married Isabel Buchanan Bruyers in New York City, New York, on June 25, 1942. Isabel was born in Toledo, Ohio, on August 17, 1917. They had two daughters, Heather Buchanan Rowen and Georgia Lou Rowen. William H. Rowen died in Palo Alto, California, on October 25, 1987, at the age of sixty-nine. His widow, Isabel, outlived him by twenty-three years, dying on October 7, 2000.

  • Administrative Information
    Accessions Information

    September 4, 1997, 1 1/2 cubic feet; Records (1944-1983) of naval officer, member of USNA Class of 1941, including correspondence, notes, scientific and technical reports, articles, rosters, and miscellany. Donor: Mrs. William H. Rowen.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Mrs. William H. Rowen

    Access Restrictions

    No restrictions except for Box 747.4 which is closed and can't be accessed.

    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    William H. Rowen Papers (#747), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

    Processing Information

    Encoded by Apex Data Services

    Processed by Samantha Sheffield December 2015

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