The Archives and Special Collections center recently acquired the Jacob. I Fass papers, a small collection of the WWII-era correspondence, notes, and photographs of chemical scientist Jacob I. Fass.
Fass was a chemical engineer who worked at National Oil Products Co. (NOPCO) during World War II. The collection includes the secret notes that he took while employed there, documenting his work processes as well as office politics and conversations between employees. The fact that these notes were kept in secret—folded up into tiny squares so that Fass could smuggle them out of the building—speaks to his unease and even paranoia surrounding his work, his co-workers, and his fear of being drafted for the war.
The majority of the collection consists of his correspondence with family and friends. The letters cover a wide variety of topics including politics, philosophy, music, photography, and the war. While much of the correspondence is serious, there are also many letters from close friends with a lighthearted, affectionate tone. Fass received one letter from a friend in Washington that was hand-written in miniscule print, joking that the full letter of 3,210 words could be found on the head of a pin stuck through the middle of the page.
This collection will be of interest to researchers investigating World War II, the history of chemistry, and American communism. The finding aid for this collection can be viewed here. The Jacob I. Fass papers may be viewed by appointment in the Archives and Special Collections Center Reading Room. To make an appointment, please contact 973-761-9476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.