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Pope A. Lawrence Papers 1924-1983
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Collection Scope and Content Note


Correspondence, field studies, reports, scientific data, photographs, maps, and publications (1924-1983; 14.5 l.f.) document the varied research and policy-making career of Pope A. Lawrence, an environmental health scientist with the Public Health Service (PHS) and the Environmental Health Agency (EPA). His papers contain a wealth of primary source research materials and scientific data related to: environmental and industrial hygiene; radon activity; use of beryllium as a rocket propellant; uranium mining; and toxicological, biological and chemical weapon systems, primarily from the 1950s through the 1970s, especially as related to America's atomic age federal policy. Included in this collection are personal letters to and from his children discussing their academic aspirations; the exhibit of parental advice on their decisions, as well as handwritten letters to and from colleagues sharing career plans and employment promotions. The collection is evidence of the high-importance federal government scientists/researchers placed on ensuring effective implementation of pertinent provisions of the Clean Air Act (1963) and their work for the abatement or control of environmental and workplace pollution.

The Correspondence and Air Pollution Control Office series comprise the bulk of the collection's research potential. The Correspondence series reveals Lawrence's abilities as an administrator and his communication skills in relating with sister agencies in the PHS and other similar state agencies (state health Departments in Texas, New Mexico and Utah); the National Cancer Institute (NIH Field Investigations and Demonstrations Branch); and as Chief of the EPA's Federal Agencies Section, Abatement Branch, Division of Air Pollution. This series also illuminates federal activities and programs involving the Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Armed Services Explosives Safety Board. Lawrence's correspondence files also record his service as liaison representative to the Committee on Toxicology, reviewing plans to demilitarize and develop safe methods of disposing chemical and biological weapon systems waste (see Series 2: Correspondence, 1942-1978 and Series 3: Air Pollution Control Office, 1949-1983, Beryllium As Rock Propellant sub-series).

Series 3 also documents the most significant portion of Lawrence's professional career as an administrator and policy chief for a 10 year, fifteen state research project involving respiratory cancer. Its goal was to identify specific types of cancer deaths due to oral and pulmonary cancer and recommend strategies for reducing the spread of these cancers through workplace and environmental improvements. The field studies were made using veterans who smoked, uranium mining and mill workers, railroad workers, firemen and diesel workers, occupational and industrial workers. Uranium mining was the primary focus of this research. The "Uranium Miner's Study" subseries contains much of the original field research and administrative work, whereas the later "Uranium Mining" subseries documents the ongoing post-study analysis and broader reporting and research activities with which Lawrence was involved.

Complementing the series are photographic slides and twenty-four geographical survey maps of the United States that detail the field study areas used in the ten-year study on respiratory cancer. The maps reflect the work of several federal agencies involved in developing environmental standards and implementing guidelines for the contamination cleanup and restoration of land areas, national park areas, industrial areas, and polluted air. The maps of uranium deposit locations correspond with the field studies presented by Lawrence and other scientists involved in that research.

This collection also documents his participation at conferences and making scientific presentations highlighting many preventive measures on environmental, industrial and occupational fronts that had potential damaging affect on the lives and health conditions of American workers. His work became central in the federal government establishing legislative policy in its accountability to the American public.

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