Skip to main content

Weston Anderson Papers

Identifier: 2016-007

Scope and Content

The Weston Anderson Papers contain the personal papers of American physicist and inventor Weston Anderson. The collection is arranged into the following six series:

  1. Notebooks
  2. Printed Materials
  3. Miscellaneous
  4. Audio-Visual Materials
  5. Artifacts
  6. Photographic Materials


  • Creation: 1953-2015
  • Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk 1957-1998


Language of Materials

All collection materials are in English.

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Copyright Information

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Weston Anderson Papers. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

Weston Anderson was an American physicist and inventor. Born in Kingsburg, California in 1928, Anderson became interested in science and technology at a young age, first playing with batteries as a boy, then later obtaining an amateur radio license while still in high school. He attended Reedley College for two years and transferred to Stanford University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.

Anderson remained at Stanford for his graduate studies, earning both his Master of Science degree and Ph.D. (1954) in Physics. It was at Stanford that he was first introduced to Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), a physical phenomenon that later became the basis for a number of scientific and medical instruments, including NMR spectrometers and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. Anderson studied under Nobel Prize winner Felix Bloch, one of the co-inventors of NMR spectroscopy. For his Ph.D. dissertation, he studied the use of NMR to analyze hydrocarbons. From 1954 to 1955, Anderson held a post-doctoral position at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. Once again working under Felix Bloch, he continued to conduct research on NMR and published several papers on the subject.

In 1955, Anderson joined the research staff of Varian Associates, an instruments and electronics manufacturer based in Palo Alto, California, where he enjoyed a long and illustrious career. At Varian, he became a recognized pioneer in the development of commercial NMR instruments. During the early 1960s, Anderson and Varian colleague Raymond Freeman discovered that by irradiating a single line of the NMR spectrum with a weak radio-frequency field, all lines with energy levels in common with the irradiated line were split into a doublet. They also discovered that this procedure aided the analysis of complex spectra and molecular structures. Described in their co-authored paper “Use of Weak Perturbing Radio-Frequency Fields in Nuclear Magnetic Double Resonance” (1962), Anderson’s and Freeman’s discovery led to a number of innovations in NMR technology.

Also of note was Anderson’s work on Fourier Transform NMR. Developed by Anderson and his Varian colleague Richard Ernst during the mid 1960s, Fourier Transform NMR increased the speed of NMR scans by using multiple short radio pulses. This particular development greatly improved the sensitivity and resolution of NMR, and made both NMR spectroscopy and MRI practical and commercially feasible. Ernst continued to develop Fourier Transform NMR on his own after leaving Varian in 1968, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in this area in 1991. In addition to his work on NMR, Anderson made numerous contributions to the development of other technologies, including ultrasound, computer tomography (CT) scan, vacuum microelectronics, and x-rays. Over the course of his career at Varian Associates, he rose through ranks of the firm’s research staff hierarchy, eventually serving as Director of Central Research and Research Center Principal Scientist. Anderson retired from Varian Associates in 1999, but continued to serve the firm as a consultant for many years.

Weston Anderson was awarded sixty-four patents over the course of his career, including those for “Impulse Resonance Spectrometer Including a Time Averaging Computer and Fourier Analyzer” (1965) and “Ultrasonic Imaging System Using Digital Control” (1981). He was also the author of numerous journal articles and papers.


Weston Anderson Papers, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


2.8 Linear Feet (1 Record Box, 1 Hollinger Box, 1 Half Hollinger Box, 1 Videotape Box, and 1 Artifact Box)


Laboratory notebooks, printed materials, personal files, audio-visual materials, and photographic materials of American physicist and inventor Weston Anderson.

Acquisition Information

The Weston Anderson Papers were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Weston Anderson in two accessions: December 2007 and March 2016.

Related Materials

There are no other known archival collections created by Weston Anderson preserved at the date of processing.

The Varian Associates Records are preserved at the University of California-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library in Berkeley, California.

The Varian Associates Schematics are preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Processing Information

The Weston Anderson Papers were processed by Kenton G. Jaehnig in March 2018.

Weston Anderson Papers
Finding aid created and encoded into EAD by Kenton G. Jaehnig.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
215.873.5265 (Fax)