At the beginning of 1954, the Director of the Argonne National Laboratory, Walter Zinn, may well be one of the busiest scientists in America. Just weeks earlier, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his epochal “Atoms for Peace” speech and Zinn is the country’s point person for development of reactors for peaceful purposes. He is also crucial in a never-ending push to build more plutonium-producing reactors for nuclear weapons fuel. The several thousand people in his laboratory are heavily involved in myriad reactor designs and Zinn is not the hands-off kind of manager. Constantly on the move, shuttling between his laboratory campus near Chicago, the halls of Washington, and a new reactor testing site in remote Idaho, surely Zinn needs to prioritize his time.
On January 15, Zinn writes to J. T. Bobbitt, Assistant Laboratory Director:
I note certain stray dogs on our site. With the rabies problem in Cook County, I wonder if it would not be correct for the Laboratory to take action to rid itself of these creatures. Please look into this matter.
Archival work is tedious but one of its pleasures is unearthing small gems. I can’t use this morsel in my book but doesn’t it say so much about Zinn, his roving mind, his meticulousness? Isn’t this memo fascinating?
Zinn, Walter H. 1954. Zinn to Bobbitt, Jan. 15, 1954. Folder “Reading File, January 15, 1954″, Box 94, Laboratory Director’s Reading File, 1949-1957, RG 326, National Archives Building, Chicago, Illinois.