Concern for the documentation of modern science in the United States dates from the Conference on Science Manuscripts held in Washington in May 1960, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the History of Science Society (HSS). Other notable events of the 1960s were the establishment of the American Institute of Physics Center for the History of Physics (1960) and the work of the project on sources for the history of quantum physics (1961-1966). A number of events in the mid to late 1970s indicated a resurgence of interest in documentary questions including the development of strong archival programs in institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 1978, three professional groups - the History of Science Society (HSS), the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) appointed representatives to a body that took the title of Joint Committee on Archives of Science and Technology (JCAST). The committee received a planning grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), and when a further grant from NHPRC was received beginning in 1981, the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) joined the sponsoring societies.
A particularly significant aspect of JCAST and its activities was its success in bringing together the concerns of archivists and historians in a constructive evaluation of contemporary archival problems. Further, the methodologies the committee identified as well as some of its specific findings have value beyond science and technology.
The committee prepared a series of position papers on a variety of archival issues that drew on the resources and expertise of its members. Then, after four years of activity that included issuance of a preliminary report in May 1980, JCAST issued a final report, "Understanding Progress as Process: Documentation of the History of Post-War Science and Technology in the United States." *
Committee members included: Joan Warnow-Blewett, Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics (Chair) (SAA); David Allison, Naval Research Laboratory (SHOT); David Bearman (HSS); Maynard Brichford, University of Illinois Archives (SAA); John Clayton, University of Delaware Archives (ARMA); Clark A. Elliott, Harvard University Archives (HSS); Robert Friedel, Center for History of Electrical Engineering (SHOT); Brooke Hindle, NMAH, Smithsonian (SHOT); Ann Campbell, Society of American Archivists; Sharon Gibbs, Center for Polar & Scientific Archives (HSS); David H. McCurdy, (ARMA); Alan Negus (ARMA); Helen Slotkin, MIT Archives (SAA); Richard Williams (SHOT).
*Adapted from: "Joint Committee on Archives of Science and Technology (JCAST): Summary from the Final Report," by Clark A. Elliott, 1984.