Microwave Spectroscopy Information Letter

        This was and still is an invaluable resource to the Rotational Spectroscopy community.  It was priceless in the pre-Internet era as it disseminated informal information on who was working on what.  This allowed unnecessary duplication of work to be avoided, and it also gave a chance for pooling of research effort and was generally stimulating to those who read it (but in many participating labs only the senior members may have been aware of the existence of this publication).

        The Newsletter was originated in 1960 by E.Bright Wilson of Harvard University and consisted of an ever growing number of pages.  The pages were compilations of information on projects provided by the participating laboratories, to which the Newsletter was sent in return.  An important part of the Newsletter was a formula index (at the end), and later also a list of laboratories (at the beginning).  There were initially two issues of the Newsletter per year but from issue 9 it became a yearly effort, published in the second quarter of the year.

         Perusal of the earlier editions of the Newsletter provides a fascinating glimpse at the evolution of the field of Rotational Spectroscopy and also at the careers of the participating scientists.  The Newsletter has been compiled by four different editors (often with named co-editors) and the issues have been as follows:


E.Bright WILSON Jr.
Department of Chemistry, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
E.B.Wilson Jr.
Issues 1960-1973: I-XVI

3(1961)  4(1962)  5(1962)  6(1963)  7(1964)  8(1964)  9(1966)  10(1967)  11(1968)  12(1969)  13(1970)  14(1971)  15(1972)

The above are scanned versions of issues 3-15 sent to me by Bob Bohn.  Issues 1 and 2 have not yet been found so that the date of the first issue is for the time being a guess based on the early pattern of two issues per year.
The bitmap scans have been run through optical character recognition so that (when OCR succeeded) the issues are text searchable.
It is worth noting that:
  • issue 3 = 21 participating laboratories, 9 pages+2 pages of formula index
  • issue 15 = 55 participating laboratories, 42 pages+5 pages of formula index (this issue was co-edited by R.H.Schwendeman)
Department of Chemistry, Michigan State University, USA
Issues 1974-1992: XVII-XXXV

16(1973)  17(1974)  18(1975)  19(1976)  20(1977)  21(1978)  22(1979)  23(1980)  24(1981)  25(1982)  26(1983)  27(1984)  28(1985)  29(1986)  30(1987)  31(1988)  32(1989)  33(1990)  34(1991)  35(1992)

The change of editorship from Wilson to Schwendeman was a gradual one, since they coedited issues 15-17. The handover date has therefore been set  somewhat arbitrarily.  Schwendeman also had a number of different coeditors as attested to by these collected cover pages for issues 15-24 sent to me by Frank Lovas.

23(1980): this is a sample issue from that period sent to me with a pile of paper originals by Kaori Kobayashi.  There are now 48 numbered pages and 61 contributing labs.  The national breakdown in order of the number of labs from a given country is as follows:
  • 19 = USA
  • 11 = Japan
  • 7 = United Kingdom
  • 6 = Germany
  • 3 = Canada
  • 2 each = France, India, The Netherlands
  • 1 each = Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USSR

33(1990): the number of labs remains relatively stable at 57 but the numbered pages now go up to 77.

Frank J. LOVAS
NIST, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA
Issues 1993-1999:  XXXVI-XLII

These newsletters came in rather official looking envelopes  since NIST is administratively under the United States Department of Commerce.  Note also the letter from the Editor outlining the aims of the Newsletter, and containing a reminder of the deadline.  This was quite important in the days of paper mail and paper processing, and occasionally entries for some labs had to be added in some post-deadline position, as at the end of the
41(1998) issue.

36(1993)  37(1994)  38(1995)  39(1996)  40(1997)  41(1998)  42(1999)
Robert K. BOHN
Department of Chemistry, University of Connecticut, USA
Issues 2000-2017: XLIII-LX

The  newsletter has become more voluminous than ever.  The Editor also occasionally added pages of additional information (placed at the very end, after the formula index):
  • 50(2007) - 54(2011): Interesting Trivia from the Information Newsletter
  • 55(2012): An anecdote about E.Bright Wilson
  • 57(2014): History of Newsletter Editions and Editors
  • 58(2015): In Memoriam: Dr Michael Charles Lewis Gerry
43(2000)  44(2001)  45(2002)  46(2003)  47(2004)  48(2005)  49(2006)  50(2007)  51(2008)  52(2009)  53(2010)  54(2011)  55(2012)  56(2013)  57(2014)  58(2015)  59(2016)  60(2017)
Chemistry, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Rolla, USA
Issues 2018-current: LXI-current