Skip to Content

Edwin T. Jaynes Papers

 Collection
Identifier: WUA-03-wua00392
Edwin T. Jaynes
Edwin T. Jaynes

The Edwin T. Jaynes Papers mostly contain material from Jaynes’ time as a professor at Washington University, his research, and material from his research at other institutions. It also contains physics papers written by other authors, correspondence, and personal material.

The collection consists of correspondence, class notes, books, course material, class handouts, lecture notes, meeting minutes, research notes and notebooks, book drafts, publications by Jaynes and others, conference talk material, information on various topics, audiovisual material including floppy disks and reel to reel tape, etc.

A Topic Guide for material found in the collection is as follows:

Topic 1: Personal Material: Includes personal journals, notebooks, diaries, appointment books, and scrapbooks. Also includes biographical sketches, information concerning Jaynes’ home, payment and correspondence with Washington University regarding his job, articles and memorials, awards and plaques, memorabilia, photographs, and other information concerning Jaynes and his family.



Topic 2: Early Academic Materials: Includes high school, undergraduate, and graduate school materials including class notebooks, correspondence with teachers, and scholarship information.



Topic 3: Washington University Teaching Materials Arranged by Course Number: Includes class lecture notes, syllabi, lecture binders, mimeograph stencils, and handouts for Washington University classes unless otherwise noted.



Topic 4: Washington University Teaching Materials Arranged by Subject: Includes class lecture notes, outlines, generic worksheets, generic handout copies, transparent overheads for Washington University classes unless otherwise noted.



Topic 5: Jaynes Professional Material and Washington University Physics Department Material: Includes sabbatical information, contracts and funding, research proposals and reports, renewal applications and accompanying reports, budgets, correspondence, meeting minutes, faculty selection committees, etc.



Topic 6: Research Files and Notebooks: Includes research notebooks and miscellaneous material pertaining to Jaynes’ scientific research on numerous subjects. Materials are mostly handwritten in commercial spiral notebooks or “blue” exam-books often with page numbers and an index listed in the front of the book. Topics are sometimes identified on the spine or title page.



Topic 7: Publications by Jaynes: Includes scientific and non-scientific publications, miscellaneous manuscripts, book drafts, project working materials, and correspondence with publishers and reviewers.

Topic 8: Conferences and Professional Presentations: Includes materials related to professional meetings, professional organizations, lectures and symposiums. Material includes Jaynes’ presentations to various groups and organizations or general information if Jaynes did not present.



Topic 9: Personal and Professional Correspondence: Includes publications by others in addition to personal and professional correspondence. Correspondence concerns physics topics unless noted as personal. Also includes thesis or dissertations if Jaynes serviced on the committee. Not all files will contain correspondence.



Topic 10: Subject Files: Includes publications by others, general files by topic, correspondence, copies of notes, and other general information on various topics.



Topic 11: Audiovisual Materials: Includes floppy disks, reel to reel tape, etc.

Dates

  • Creation: 1946-1998

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies..

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or spec@wumail.wustl.edu. (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)

Extent

90 Boxes

73 linear feet

Biographical Note

Edwin Thompson Jaynes (July 5, 1922 – April 30, 1998) was the Wayman Crow Distinguished Professor of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis. Jaynes received a B.A. in Physics from the University of Iowa in 1942 and a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1950. A modified version of his thesis on ferroelectricity was published by Princeton University Press as the inaugural volume of the Investigations in Physics book series.

After graduation, Jaynes spent the next decade at Stanford in the Microwave Laboratory and the Department of Physics. In 1960, he accepted a senior faculty appointment at Washington University, where, with few interruptions, he remained for the rest of his career. Jaynes became Wayman Crow Professor of Physics in 1975. He spent sabbatical years at the University of Wyoming and at St. John's College, Cambridge University. Following a heart attack, Jaynes retired in 1992.

Jaynes wrote extensively on statistical mechanics and on foundations of probability and statistical inference, initiating in 1957 the maximum entropy interpretation of thermodynamics as being a particular application of more general Bayesian/information theory techniques. Jaynes strongly promoted the interpretation of probability theory as an extension of logic. In 1963, he modeled  with Fred Cummings the evolution of a two-level atom in an electromagnetic field, in a fully quantized way. This model is known as the Jaynes–Cummings model. Another particular focus of his work was the construction of logical principles for assigning prior probability distributions and the mind projection fallacy.

Jaynes' book, Probability Theory: The Logic of Science (2003) gathers various threads of modern thinking about Bayesian probability and statistical inference, develops the notion of probability theory as extended logic, and contrasts the advantages of Bayesian techniques with the results of other approaches. This book was published posthumously from an incomplete manuscript edited by Larry Bretthorst.

Source: Physics and Probability: Essays in Honor of Edwin T. Jaynes edited by Walter T. Grandy and Peter W. Milonni.

Arrangement

The Edwin T. Jaynes Papers have only been minimally processed. The collection is arranged by box number, which is the order it came to the Archive. The folder titles are from Jaynes unless otherwise noted. The Archivists determined the Topics and have noted these on boxes and some folders when it could be easily determined. So material from the same topic may be located in multiple boxes. Folders may belong to more Topics than noted on the folder or the box descriptions. Box UA71 does not exist . Box UA83 is restricted and contains material original located in other boxes. The Topic Guide is as follows:



Topic 1: Personal Material: Includes personal journals, notebooks, diaries, appointment books, and scrapbooks. Also includes biographical sketches, information concerning Jaynes’ home, payment and correspondence with Washington University regarding his job, articles and memorials, awards and plaques, memorabilia, photographs, and other information concerning Jaynes and his family.



Topic 2: Early Academic Materials: Includes high school, undergraduate, and graduate school materials including class notebooks, correspondence with teachers, and scholarship information.



Topic 3: Washington University Teaching Materials Arranged by Course Number: Includes class lecture notes, syllabi, lecture binders, mimeograph stencils, and handouts for Washington University classes unless otherwise noted.



Topic 4: Washington University Teaching Materials Arranged by Subject: Includes class lecture notes, outlines, generic worksheets, generic handout copies, transparent overheads for Washington University classes unless otherwise noted.



Topic 5: Jaynes Professional Material and Washington University Physics Department Material: Includes sabbatical information, contracts and funding, research proposals and reports, renewal applications and accompanying reports, budgets, correspondence, meeting minutes, faculty selection committees, etc.



Topic 6: Research Files and Notebooks: Includes research notebooks and miscellaneous material pertaining to Jaynes’ scientific research on numerous subjects. Materials are mostly handwritten in commercial spiral notebooks or “blue” exam-books often with page numbers and an index listed in the front of the book. Topics are sometimes identified on the spine or title page.



Topic 7: Publications by Jaynes: Includes scientific and non-scientific publications, miscellaneous manuscripts, book drafts, project working materials, and correspondence with publishers and reviewers.

Topic 8: Conferences and Professional Presentations: Includes materials related to professional meetings, professional organizations, lectures and symposiums. Material includes Jaynes’ presentations to various groups and organizations or general information if Jaynes did not present.



Topic 9: Personal and Professional Correspondence: Includes publications by others in addition to personal and professional correspondence. Correspondence concerns physics topics unless noted as personal. Also includes thesis or dissertations if Jaynes serviced on the committee. Not all files will contain correspondence.



Topic 10: Subject Files: Includes publications by others, general files by topic, correspondence, copies of notes, and other general information on various topics.



Topic 11: Audiovisual Materials: Includes floppy disks, reel to reel tape, etc.

Source of Acquisition

The original accession was willed to the University by Jaynes in 1997 and came to the archives in 1999. Accession number WUA-2020-028 is a transfer from John Walter Clark, Wayman Crow Professor Emeritus of Physics, January 27, 2020, and includes 0.25 linear feet of material: memorial symposium, key to publications, correspondence, will, Electromagnetic Theory publication by Jaynes.

Processing Information

Processed by Anna Lopatin, August-October 2023. Initial inventory prepared and Topics assigned by Sonya Rooney, Miranda Rectenwald, and Graduate Physics student Tim, in 2009-2010.

Title
Edwin T. Jaynes Papers
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
eng

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Contact:
Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495