New Carl Sagan Archive Features His Digitized Home Movies, Student Journalism, Draft of His Pale Blue Dot & More

Sev­er­al days ago, we brought you a rare Carl Sagan sketch, where the young sci­en­tist depict­ed an imag­ined his­to­ry of inter­stel­lar space flight. In that post, we made brief men­tion of the Seth Mac­Far­lane Col­lec­tion of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, which mer­its to be high­light­ed in its own right: its arrival means that the Inter­net now has access to a vast repos­i­to­ry of the emi­nent sci­ence educator’s orig­i­nal papers and per­son­al arti­facts.

His­to­ri­ans, biog­ra­phers, and die-hard Sagan devo­tees will inevitably want to vis­it the Library of Con­gress in per­son to view the full archive, which con­tains over 1700 box­es of mate­r­i­al. The lay read­er curi­ous about Sagan’s life, how­ev­er, won’t need to make the trek to the U.S. cap­i­tal to sam­ple the archive’s con­tents. That’s because the Library of Con­gress has uploaded a por­tion of the col­lec­tion online, includ­ing sundry fas­ci­nat­ing bio­graph­i­cal pieces. Above, you can view a dig­i­tized set of the Sagan fam­i­ly’s silent home movies, where young Carl shows off his boy­hood box­ing prowess, rides horse­back, and plays piano (pre­cious­ly, we pre­sume).

It was dur­ing high school that Sagan began to fill out intel­lec­tu­al­ly. His senior year­book is tes­ti­mo­ny to both his inter­est in sci­ence and the human­i­ties: not only was Sagan pres­i­dent of both the sci­ence and chem­istry clubs, he also led the French club, served as an edi­tor on his school’s news­pa­per, debat­ed, took part in the­atre pro­duc­tions, and was a mem­ber of the pho­tog­ra­phy club.

sagan archive

Indeed, Sagan dis­played his uncan­ny abil­i­ty to merge sci­ence with the human­i­ties in Wawawhack, his high school news­pa­per, writ­ing a piece enti­tled “Space, Time, and The Poet.” He begins by say­ing, “it is an exhil­a­rat­ing expe­ri­ence to read poet­ry and observe its cor­re­la­tion with mod­ern sci­ence. Pro­found sci­en­tif­ic thought is hard­ly a rar­i­ty among the poets.” Through­out the piece, Sagan goes on to draw from vers­es by Alfred Lord Ten­nyson, T. S. Eliot, John Mil­ton, and Robert Frost.

Mix­ing sci­ence and lit­er­a­ture would remain one of Sagan’s spe­cial­ties, and would even­tu­al­ly lead to his writ­ing The Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of Human Future In Space (1994). The book dis­cuss­es humankind’s place in the uni­verse, past, present, and future, and a PDF ver­sion of the anno­tat­ed sec­ond draft, pic­tured below, is avail­able in the archive.

sagan archive 3

For more of the dig­i­tized col­lec­tion, vis­it Seth Mac­Far­lane Col­lec­tion of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive.

via Boing Boing

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Carl Sagan’s Under­grad Read­ing List: 40 Essen­tial Texts for a Well-Round­ed Thinker

Free Mini Course: Carl Sagan Presents Six Lec­tures on Earth, Mars & Our Solar Sys­tem … For Kids (1977)

Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawk­ing & Arthur C. Clarke Dis­cuss God, the Uni­verse, and Every­thing Else

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