In his 1993 commencement address, UC San Diego Chancellor Richard C. Atkinson referred to the establishment and development of the University of California at San Diego as "an improbable venture." He was acknowledging the efforts of the individuals who had, in little more than three decades, created a world class institution of research and instruction. Founded in the 1960s as a privileged institution for research during the Cold War science boom, UC San Diego matured into a full-fledged campus where humanitites, arts, health and social sciences flourish. UC San Diego is recognized today as the best institution of higher learning established in the U.S. since World War II.
Much of the history of UC San Diego's growth, as well as its intellectual and administrative history, may be found in the UCSD Archives. Established shortly after the university was created in the 1960s, the UCSD Archives includes materials as diverse as records of the chancellors, student newspapers, campus financial reports, campus master plans, course catalogs, yearbooks, commencement programs, and memorabilia. Records from provosts, deans, and vice chancellors document the creation of the various colleges and schools, and correspondence to the chancellors reflects the university's interactions with the San Diego community.
Related to the UCSD Archives and also rich in UC San Diego history are the papers of selected faculty members. These include their research and professional papers—e.g., laboratory notebooks, writings, correspondence, reprints—as well as teaching and course-related materials that illustrate aspects of UC San Diego's intellectual life. Because the majority of the university's faculty teach in the fields of medicine and the sciences, the collections of faculty papers are strongest in these areas. Eminent faculty whose papers are a part of the collections include Martin Kamen, Hans Suess, Michael Shimkin, Russell Dolittle, William Thompson, and Nobelists Hannes Alfven, Harold Clayton Urey, and Maria Goeppert Mayer.
(Go to the UCSD Finding Aids Database to view finding aids for collections of university records or faculty papers. For collections of university records, click on the entry for UCSD Archives under "U." For collections of faculty papers, look in the index corresponding to the last name of the faculty person.)
Archival collections documenting the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the papers of selected SIO faculty are housed in the SIO Archives. In addition to the records of various research laboratories of SIO, these collection include the papers of Roger Revelle, William Nierenberg, and William Ritter.
An "informal" history of UC San Diego utilizing many of UCSD's archival resources, was published in 1993. See: Nancy Scott Anderson. An Improbable Venture: A History of the University of California, San Diego. La Jolla, CA: The UCSD Press, 1993.