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Robert Frank papers

Identifier: MSS 404

Scope and Contents

The Robert Frank papers, 1946-2000s, primarily includes Frank's research files on various subjects in the field of physics, including diffusion, magnetomechanical damping, and metallurgy. Papers consist of Frank's published articles and research notes as well as correspondence and other materials related to various research grants he received. Of note in the research files series are several of Frank's and his students' research notebooks, primarily kept during their work with the University of Illinois's secondary mass spectrometer and Cray supercomputer. Frank kept meticulous research notes, recording entries tracking his research processes down to the day and including any resulting formulas, computer scripts, data analyses, and developments with his projects. It is clear that he encouraged his students to do the same, as their research notebooks are also greatly detailed.

Also included in the collection are a number of files related to the Augustana College Physics Department and the study of science at Augustana. These materials include reports, departmental correspondence and notes, newsletters, and material related to the Augustana Research Foundation. Of note is a folder labeled "Frank, Robert C." containing correspondence between Frank and Rudolph W. Edmund about Frank's vision for the department at the time of his hiring and discussions of how to grow the department as a research program, including Frank's suggestions on grant investments in equipment and building improvements. The series also includes a collection of published articles by Daniel C. Tsui, a star physics student at Augustana (class of 1961) who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1998.

Several folders of Frank's personal papers are included at the end of the collection, consisting of papers that were unrelated to his research or the Physics Department. These papers primarily include alumni newsletters, letters to Frank from Augustana College alumni, and biographical information about Frank.


  • 1946-2000s


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection. Computer files may be inaccessible pending reformatting. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College and the copyright holder.

Historical Note

Robert C. Frank was born in Adams, Wisconsin, in 1927. He married Rhoda J. Braun in 1951, and together they have three daughters. Frank received his B.A. from St. Olaf College in 1950 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in solid state physics from Wayne State University in 1952 and 1959 respectively. His dissertation was entitled Diffusion of Hydrogen in Single Crystal Germanium. While pursuing his Ph.D., Frank worked as a research physicist for General Motors Research Laboratories in Warren, Michigan, where he continued to work until 1964.

In 1964, Frank joined the faculty as a professor of physics at Augustana College. Frank was instrumental in helping to shape Augustana's physics program, which became increasingly research-based after he was hired. He served as chair of the Department of Physics from 1964 to 1976, acting dean of the college during the 1969-1970 school year, and director of graduate studies from 1969 to 1976. He also served as director of research for the Augustana Research Foundation from 1974 to 1984 and held a number of visiting positions at major Illinois research institutions, including the University of Illinois (Summer 1977, 1978, and 1980) and the Argonne National Laboratory (1982-1983).

During his time at Augustana, Frank lead a number of projects related to the study of physics, many of which involved Augustana students as research assistants. From 1965 to 1972, he lead the department in a magnetomechanical damping project that focused on the damping of vibrations in metals caused by the magnetic effects of the metals. From 1983 to 1992, Frank took students to the University of Illinois in the summers to work with the university's secondary mass spectrometer and Cray supercomputer.

Frank published widely in the field of physics and also authored two books designed to teach students how to do scientific research: Introduction to Scientific Research: Things Your Research Advisor May Not Have Mentioned (1999) and A Brief Introduction to Scientific Rsearch (2006). Frank is also a devout Christian and has drafted several books on contemporary Christianity and its relation to science, one of which has been published: Christ's Team: A 21st Century View of Christianity (2009)


2.0 Cubic Feet (/ 5 boxes)

Language of Materials



Robert C. Frank was a professor of physics at Augustana College from 1964 to 1992. Frank was active in helping shape the early development of the Physics Department in the 1960s, advocating for the program to become research-focused. Frank specialized in solid state physics, metallurgy, magnetomechanical damping, diffusion, and scientific computing. He completed several research projects during his time at Augustana, often involving Augustana students as research assistants. The Robert Frank papers, 1946-2000s, primarily includes Frank's research files and publications, including numerous research notebooks he and his student assistants kept during projects in the 1980s and 1990s. Also included are files related to Augustana's Department of Physics and the study of science at Augustana College, and a small amount of Frank's personal papers.


The collection is arranged into three series: research files, Department of Physics files, and personal papers. Folders within series have been arranged in chronological order, with the exception of Frank's and his students' research notebooks, which have been grouped together to better facilitate the study of Frank's various projects' development. Original order within folders has been maintained, and Frank's original folder titles have been retained.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Robert Frank, June 2016.

Separated Materials

The following items have been separated and added to Special Collections' book collections.

Publications by Robert Frank

  1. Annual Review of Materials Science (Voluem 13, 1983)
  2. The Augustana Research Foundation: The First Fifty Years (1998)
  3. A Brief Introduction to Scientific Research (2006)
  4. Christ's Team: A 21st Century View of Christianity (2009)

Processing Information

Processed by Samantha Crisp, October 2016.

Robert Frank papers, 1946-2000s.
Samantha Crisp
October 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository

639 38th Street
Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States