The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also reminiscences and interviews recorded by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
George V. Baron recorded his reminiscences of his career at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 1982 and 1983 and donated them to the Smithsonian Institution Archives Oral History Collection.
These reminiscences by Barton cover his hiring, orientation to the Satellite Tracking Program, the launching of Sputnik, installation of Baker-Nunn cameras, and his technical innovations such as the Barton Scope and reels for winding film.
The Barton Reminiscences consist of 3.5 hours of audio recordings and 83 pages of transcript.
George V. Barton (1928- ), marine electronics specialist and amateur astronomer, joined the staff of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in 1957 to work on the Satellite Tracking Program (STP). Over the course of the next year, he set up Baker-Nunn cameras at satellite tracking stations in Las Cruces, New Mexico; Olifantsfontein, South Africa; San Fernando, Spain; Naini Tal, India; and Villa Dolores, Argentina. Barton left the STP in 1958 to work on the Cateye Project from 1958 to 1963 and career at the Naval Research Laboratory from 1964 to 1974. He then returned to the field of marine electronics.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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