Sarah Bridger

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History
Columbia University

2007 to 2008
Dissertation Research Fellow

Scientists and the Ethics of U.S. Weapons Research, 1957-1991

My dissertation tracks three overlapping groups in post-Sputnik America: scientists who conducted research in nuclear weaponry, chemical weaponry, and computer command-and-control systems; expert critics of these weapons technologies; and the science consultants who advised the U.S. government and military in these areas. I will examine how scientists used their intellectual status to steer public debate and policy decisions, how their influence waxed and waned through wartime and peacetime, and how attitudes toward weapons research evolved in government, industry, and academia during the Cold War. I will be working in the archives of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Princeton University, the Hagley Museum and Library, and the American Philosophical Society. These repositories contain relevant industry papers addressing the roles of scientists as weapons workers and as government and military consultants (Hagley and CHF); materials relating to chemical warfare (CHF); documentation of debates over defense contracting, weapons research, and scientific ethics in an academic context (Princeton); and the personal papers of numerous scientists who worked in fields relevant to weapons production (APS and CHF). Read Sarah's report on her month of research in Philadelphia.