Jerome Kohl Papers 1942-1995

Creator
Kohl, Jerome
Size
22 linear feet
Location

For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Special Collections Research Center Reference Staff.

Call number
MC 00142

The Jerome Kohl Papers contains paper records, photographs, and video tapes from 1942 to 1995 that detail Kohl's long career in the evolving fields of nuclear energy and technology transfer. Reference and lecture materials show the intellectual milieu in which Kohl was immersed. His publications demonstrate the way he synthesized that information and his own research into the kinds of ideas that engineering and science education journals found publishable. Documents relating to the contracts and consultancy work he undertook reflect both his and the nuclear industry's research interests, as well as the manner in which a scientist went about obtaining money and support from the 1950s to the early 1990s. The collection also sheds light on the peacetime uses of nuclear power in general, as well as the people and state and federal agencies involved in its forward movement and regulation. In addition, it shows the development of North Carolina State University's Nuclear Engineering department and its extension program. Other items of interest include the large group of photographs and other materials from Tracerlab from the early 1950s through the 1960s; and an assortment of material on the Sierra Club on both the national and local levels, especially relating to its positions on energy policy.

Biographical/historical note

Jerome Kohl's career in nuclear applications--as a chemical engineer; nuclear instrument developer, salesperson, and marketer; nuclear engineering extension specialist; expert in energy conservation and hazardous waste management; and Sierra Club activist--spans over 50 years and mirrors the development of the peace-time/civilian nuclear industry.

Born in Montreal, Quebec on March 13, 1918, Kohl moved with his mother and three siblings to California in 1925. He graduated with a B.S. in Applied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1940, and immediately began working at the American Potash and Chemical Corporation as an analytical chemist and experimental plant operator. A year later, in 1941, he joined the Tide Water Oil Company, where in seven years he was promoted several times from Superintendent of Fluid Catalytic Cracker to Refinery Engineer. In 1945 he married Freeke Van Nouhuys. They have two children, Joyce Eileen and Adelle Patricia.

It was at Tracerlab, Inc., Western Division, where he worked from 1948 to 1960, that he began moving from a concentration in the chemical and petroleum industry to the emerging industrial applications of radioisotopes. From 1948 to 1951, as a chemical engineer, he designed and operated air sampler testing ducts and developed bulk density and concentration gauges, but as a section leader, from 1951 to 1953, he was the project engineer on Tracerlab's Mobile Radiochemical Laboratory. It was also in 1951 that he began teaching courses in radioisotopes and elementary nuclear reactor theory and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In that same year, he participated in (non-destructive) atomic weapons tests in the Marshall Islands. Throughout the next eight years, as he progressed to Chief Engineer and finally to Manager of Engineering Development, he continued his work with radioisotope application engineering while also concentrating on nuclear instrumentation. In particular, he developed the concepts and design engineering for a line of radiation monitoring instruments.

During this time Kohl continued to lecture on thermodynamics, process instrumentation, radioisotopes, nuclear radiation, and nuclear reactor theory and engineering at UC, Berkeley (1946-1952, 1957-1958). He spent the summer of 1956 as a guest lecturer at the Delft Institute of Technology in Delft, Holland and the French Petroleum Institute in Paris.

With twenty years of industrial and teaching experience under his belt, Kohl began to focus on working with the clients of the nuclear industry when he became Coordinator of Special Products for Gulf General Atomic Division of General Dynamic Corporation from 1960-1964. Here, his principal duties were to create and develop a marketing program in support of new products. A large part of this work involved communicating his marketing analyses and program evaluations to prospective customers, both within and outside Gulf General Atomic. He also continued to teach, at UC, San Diego, from 1962 to 1964.

Kohl moved even more fully to the marketing side of the industry when he became Manager of Marketing Services at ORTEC, Inc. in 1964. For five years, until 1969, he planned and carried out promotional activities including exhibits, advertising, and brochures; handled the statistical forecasting and reporting; and trained field salespeople in the US and Europe. During this time, he also was a lecturer at the University of Tennessee (1966, 1969).

In 1969, Kohl decided to deliberately get off the treadmill of the business world, take a big cut in salary, and enter a steady state job. In 1970, he joined the staff of North Carolina State University's Nuclear Engineering Department as a lecturer and its first nuclear extension specialist. He remained in that capacity, promoted to senior extension specialist, until 1988, when he retired. As he explained to the Raleigh Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in a 1974 lecture on the Immorality of Material Growth, he realized that the activities that gave him the greatest sense of reward were those that required time and freedom rather than money: being creative, being outdoors, and, primarily, helping others to learn. He also had grown increasingly concerned about energy waste and conspicuous consumption of resources and wanted to find ways to help people learn how to better take care of the earth.

Working in extension meant an increase in his already public orientation to the world of nuclear energy, although the public now expanded outward from industry to high school and college students to community groups. He served as a public relations liaison between the Nuclear Engineering Department and firms that were planning or had existing nuclear facilities; he sought funding for and designed educational programs (manuals, short courses, conferences, demonstrations, video tapes) on cogeneration and hazardous waste minimization and management for various industries; he gave lectures on nuclear and alternate sources of energy, energy conservation, and hazardous waste management; he obtained funding for a Regional Reactor Sharing Program that made full use of NCSU's PULSTAR reactor; he produced brochures advertising the reactor and the department to potential users and students; and he testified before a number of state and federal energy committees.

That Kohl was successful in reaching a wide number of people with information that they could use can be seen in the number of letters of appreciation he received and in how much in demand he was as a speaker. For example, his lecture Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow on power generation for the NC Attorney General's Staff Conference on the Environment in 1972 blossomed into a three-part lecture circuit in 1972-1973 that took Kohl to the NC Attorney General's Conference of Attorneys, to the Southern Regional Conference of Attorneys General, and to the National Association of Attorneys General. He also received several NCSU service awards. In 1979, he won the school-wide Outstanding Extension Award from the NCSU Alumni Association. He was awarded the 1984-1985 and the 1987-1988 School of Engineering, Fairchild Industries Outstanding Extension Service Award. The commendation for the latter remarked that the leadership of North Carolina in waste minimization is in part directly related to the extension activities of Jerry Kohl.

While he was at NCSU, he also taught a variety of courses not only for the Engineering School, but also for the Department of Economics and Business and the Division of Continuing Education. As well as lecturing on applications of radiation and radioisotopes, measurement of nuclear radiation, and management of hazardous chemical and low level radioactive waste, he introduced new classes such as Venture Management, Environmental Consequences of Nuclear Power, The Energy Crisis, and Technology Assessment.

Kohl also earned an M.S. in Marine Science from NCSU in 1975 and was heavily involved with the local and national Sierra Club as President of the LeConte chapter and as a member of their Energy Policy committee and chair of the Energy Conservation sub-committee. He combined work and pleasure by traveling across the United States and overseas, observing nuclear reactors, power plants, and hazardous waste handling facilities and speaking to various groups. In addition, he pursued his photography avocation, becoming an exhibiting member and officer of the Carolina Designer Craftsmen.

After retirement, Kohl continued to work as a speaker and consultant. In particular, he was hired by the World Bank and the National Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a series of lectures and lead a five-day workshop on environmental protection and waste reduction at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Studies in Nanjing, China. In May 1991, he spent two weeks in China giving the workshop and visiting various manufacturing plants around the country.

Scope/content

The Jerome Kohl Papers contain paper records, photographs, and video tapes from 1942 to 1995 that detail Kohl's long career in the evolving fields of nuclear energy and technology transfer. Reference and lecture materials show the intellectual milieu in which Kohl was immersed. His publications demonstrate the way he synthesized that information and his own research into the kinds of ideas that engineering and science education journals found publishable. Documents relating to the contracts and consultancy work he undertook reflect both his and the nuclear industry's research interests, as well as the manner in which a scientist went about obtaining money and support from the 1950s to the early 1990s. The collection also sheds light on the peacetime uses of nuclear power in general, as well as the people and state and federal agencies involved in its forward movement and regulation. In addition, it shows the development of North Carolina State University's Nuclear Engineering department and its extension program. Other items of interest include the large group of photographs and other materials from Tracerlab from the early 1950s through the 1960s; and an assortment of material on the Sierra Club on both the national and local levels, especially relating to its positions on energy policy.

This collection provides very little personal information about Jerome Kohl, beyond the names and some birth dates of family members. However, his resumes and plans of work do give an overview of his activities. The letters of approval he received offer insight into how colleagues, administrators, and workshop participants evaluated him and his work. Some of the lectures he gave to his church in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, give users of the collection a view into his opinions on nuclear energy, hazardous waste, and energy conservation. His involvement with the Carolina Designer Craftsmen as a photographer and with the NCSU International Folk Dance Club as their advisor illustrate some of his leisure pursuits.

The Slides, 1972-1988, comprise boxes 142.48-142.52 and consist of close to 1000 color slides, mostly taken by Kohl. Originally, the slides had also been arranged by Kohl himself into subject categories and then placed into four, three-ring binders, or books. This order has been kept, and thus the series includes four subseries, each of which correspond to one of the four original three-ring binders, as follows: Book 1, Energy Alternatives; Book 2, Nuclear Energy; Book 3, Hazardous Waste; Book 4, Hazardous Waste.

Only half of the collection, however, was formally ordered in this way. The other half included lecture and reference material loosely categorized by Kohl into subject headings or into three-ring binders by NCSU course. To better show the way in which Kohl worked and the references he relied upon, these documents have been integrated into the Subject Files series, in the appropriate subseries and folder. The original Subject Files already contained this kind of reference and lecture material, so Kohl himself had established the precedent for this arrangement decision.

The Publication Files, 1959-1990, are located in one box, 142.47. It grew out of the remaining, again loosely ordered, material. One of the boxes received from Kohl contained reprints or copies of, and sometimes documentation relating to, his published books, articles, and essays. Because most of these works do not have a direct connection to any of the material in the Subject Files, the Publication Files series was created to provide an intellectual home for them. The series is arranged in three subseries as follows: Books/Manuals; Articles/Essays; and Other. Many additional articles, lectures, manuals, and reports produced by Kohl do link directly to a folder in the Subject Files. These publications have been arranged in tandem with the folder to which they relate.

From the outset it was clear that Kohl's original order did not provide the level of intellectual control which a user of the collection would require and this realization prompted several arrangement decisions. First, Kohl's original order within each of his categories was idiosyncratic--neither chronological nor alphabetical. These folders have been rearranged chronologically (except for the four cases already described). Second, all materials that relate to a specific workshop, lecture, conference, class, or project have been placed in the same physical and intellectual location. These materials include any reference and teaching materials not written by Kohl but which he compiled for that particular topic; any of his own publications that resulted from the event; as well as the documents he kept which reflect the process of conceptualizing, organizing, and finally carrying out that event. The user of the collection can count on the fact that all the records that link to each other in some way will be located together. This principle operates on both a folder and a subseries level. Thus, all folders which contain documents relating to the conference on Energy from the Oceans (three of them) will be found side by side. All folders that relate in some way to Kohl's participation in the Sierra Club, even though they may also be lectures or conferences, are grouped under Sierra Club in the Societies subseries.

Third, as much data as possible about the content of each folder has been supplied in its title. The format for each subseries varies slightly, but most folders include the date; the name of the workshop, lecture, or conference; where it took place; the organization that provided funding for the contracts; the corporation that paid for the consulting; or the title of the publication. Fourth, cross-references--bracketed and in italics--are included in the container list, which directs users to other folders in other subseries with similar content. Fifth, another cross-reference tool is a bibliography of all of the manuals, lectures, and articles that Kohl wrote, published, or spoke and of which the collection includes a written copy. Since the publications themselves are sprinkled throughout the collection, the bibliography includes the box and folder number where the publication can be found.

Finally, the photographs in the collection (but at this point not the slides) have been kept with the paper documents to which they relate. Whether they were taken by Kohl or not, they are listed individually and identified by a unique number that allows users to locate the photograph by box and by folder. For example, photograph 142.2.5.I3 is the third photograph (I3) in the 5th folder (5) of the second box (2) of the Kohl papers (142). Whenever possible, the original captions have been written in quotes. The type of photograph and its maker, if known, have also been included.

Physical description

47 archival boxes and 5 slide boxes

Arrangement

The collection has been arranged into three series:

  • Subject Files
  • ,
  • Publication Files
  • , and
  • Slides
.

Special Collections received the Subject Files and Slides in the order Kohl imposed on the documents. This organization -- by category of event rather than straight chronological order or order by topic -- has been kept to show the way in which Kohl worked. Thus, the subseries within each of the Subject Files series generally retain the titles that Kohl gave to his folder categories, although some have been revised to provide a more accurate description of their content.

  • Adult education--North Carolina.
  • Nuclear energy--North Carolina.
  • Conservation of natural resources
  • Energy conservation
  • Energy consumption
  • Energy development
  • Hazardous waste disposal
  • Hazardous wastes
  • Kohl, Jerome
  • United States. Environmental Protection Agency
  • North Carolina
  • North Carolina State University
  • North Carolina State University--Department of Nuclear Engineering
  • Nuclear counter industry
  • Nuclear energy
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Nuclear facilities
  • Nuclear reactors
  • Oak Ridge Associated Universities
  • ORTEC, Inc.
  • Sierra Club--Joseph LeConte Chapter
  • Photographers
  • Radioactive wastes
  • Radioisotopes
  • Tracerlab, Inc., Western Division
  • World Bank

Use of these materials

The nature of the NCSU Libraries' Special Collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The NCSU Libraries claims only physical ownership of most Special Collections materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Jerome Kohl Papers, MC 00142, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Source of acquisition

Received from Jerome Kohl in five installments in 1982, 1985, 1986, and 1997. The majority of the materials are from the fifth installment.

The collection is organized into three principal series:

Access to the collection

This collection is open for research; access requires at least 48 hours advance notice.

For more information contact us via mail, phone, or our web form.

Mailing address:
Special Collections Research Center
Box 7111
Raleigh, NC, 27695-7111

Phone: (919) 515-2273

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Jerome Kohl Papers, MC 00142, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Use of these materials

The nature of the NCSU Libraries' Special Collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The NCSU Libraries claims only physical ownership of most Special Collections materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.