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Edward Martell papers

Identifier: COU:1029

Scope and Contents

I. Subject files by author contains files, largely articles, listed alphabetically by last name II. Subject Files by topic contain files regarding the origin of life and radiation topics.


  • Creation: 1962 - 1995

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Statement

The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Biographical Note

Edward A. Martell (February 23, 1918 - July 12, 1995), was a radio-chemist and scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Martell was a noted critic and investigator of plutonium and radiation contamination produced by the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Colorado.

A graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point in 1942, Martell received a PhD. in Radiochemistry at the University of Chicago in 1950.

After receiving his commission as a Second Lieutenant from the USMA, Martell served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, participating in the Okinawa campaign in World War II. Martell retired from the Army at the rank of Lt Colonel.

From 1950 to 1962 Martell was in the field of nuclear research as a group leader at the Fermi Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University of Chicago and at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory in Bedford, Massachusetts. Dr. Martell directed radiation-effects projects in three nuclear weapons tests in Nevada and in the 1954 CASTLE hydrogen bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, South Pacific.

Edward Martell continued his environmental radioactivity research at the National Center for Atmospheric in Boulder beginning in 1962. Joining the Atmospheric Chemistry Division at NCAR marked a watershed in Martell’s career. He researched and criticized the dangers of radioactive contamination in general, and focused on the environmental threat posed by Rocky Flats specifically, until 1995. In 1993, Edward Martell published a paper on the origins of life and at the time of his death he was writing a book on “Natural Radionuclides and Life” for the Yale University Press. Dr. Martell served as president of the International Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Radioactivity for four years, a commission of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences. In addition, he was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Martell married Marian Elizabeth Marks, had four children Edward Jr., Margaret, Maribeth and Robert and one granddaughter Leif at the time of his death. Edward Jr. and Margaret preceded him in death.


67.5 linear feet (46 boxes)

Language of Materials



Edward A. Martell was a prominent scientist at NCAR and a well known researcher and critic of the environmental hazards posed by the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. The Martell Papers consist of Dr. Martell’s scientific files from the National Center for Atmospheric Research 1962-95. The collection contains personal files and subject files.


This collection has remained in original order, with a surveyed inventory list.

It is arranged into the following series: Series 1: Subject files by author, undated Series 2: Subject Files, undated

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was given by Niels D. Schonbeck in two accessions. The largest in 2003 and the other consisting of 1 linear foot in 2018.

Permanent URL

In Progress
Surveyed by Robert Frakes Transcribed by Katelyn Morken, July 2018.
September 13, 2006
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States