Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Zisfein, Melvin B.
Melvin B. Zisfein Papers, 1947-1995 and undated
Melvin B. Zisfein (1926-1995) received Aeronautical Engineering degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., 1948; M.S., 1948). He worked at various companies as a designer and aerodynamicist from 1948 to 1953, including Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. He joined Bell Aircraft Corporation in 1953 as the Chief of the Dynamics Department. In 1960 Zisfein became General Manager of the Astromechanics Research Division of Giannini Controls Corporation until 1966, when he became Associate Director of the Franklin Institute Research Laboratories. From 1971 to 1982 he was at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) as Deputy Director (1971-1982) and also as Acting Director (1978), where he was instrumental in the planning, construction and design of the new NASM building which opened in 1976. In 1982 Zisfein became the first Director of the Army Discovery Center at the National Science Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia. He retired in 1988 but continued to teach as Adjunct Professor at Augusta College (Georgia) until 1990.
Included in this collection are articles, reports, notebooks, photographs, slides, and certificates and awards. There is very little personal correspondence, but papers written by Zisfein contained in this collection seem to represent some of his major writings. Of special note are 15 notebooks kept by Zisfein at NASM, which contain notes concerning exhibition concepts, planning, budgets, and schedules; museum policy, meetings, and agendas; and other professional activities. Also of note are a large number of photographic slides which depict the new NASM building and exhibition installations. Zisfein organized the slides into nine books, but books four to seven are missing from this accession.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Zisfein, Melvin B.
- National Air and Space Museum (U.S.). Office of the Deputy Director
- Army Discovery Center (U.S.)
- Giannini Controls Corporation
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Bell Aircraft Corporation
- Franklin Institute (Philadelphia, Pa.). Research Laboratories
- National Air and Space Museum (U.S.). Office of the Director
- Augusta College (Augusta, Ga.)
- Aeronautical museums
- Aerospace engineers
- Aerospace engineering
- Museum buildings
- Architectural design
- Museum exhibits
- Fort Gordon (Ga.)
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 96-002, Melvin B. Zisfein Papers