New Valentine Telegdi Photo Collection

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By Savannah Gignac, Assistant Photo Librarian

This May, the Emilio Segrè Visual Archives received a generous donation from Judith Goodstein. This donation includes slides, photographic prints, and negatives from the Hungarian-American physicist, Valentine Telegdi’s personal photographic collection. Goodstein served as the archivist at the California Institute of Technology for 41 years, and during that time, Telegdi was a frequent visitor to the archives.  Over the years, Goodstein became friends with Dr. Telegdi and his wife, Lia. Mrs. Telegdi gifted the collection to Goodstein several years ago.

Dr. Valentine Telegdi was the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago before moving to ETH Zürich University. After retiring from ETH he divided his time between CERN and the California Institute of Technology. From 1981 to 1983, Telegdi chaired CERN's scientific policy committee. In 1991 he shared the Wolf prize with Maurice Goldhaber.

The images in the Telegdi collection share Telegdi’s home life and world travels. At the celebration of Val’s 65th birthday at CERN in Geneva, Victor Weisskopf shared this story:

One day he asked me whether my wife and I would like to have dinner with him. ... The dinner was better than we ever expected. I do not know whether this event was a kind of test, but the fact is that his marriage was a great success. ... All of us who are acquainted with Lia know about her intelligence, charm, and other qualities, but all of us who are acquainted with Val know that her great art of cooking did not play a secondary role.*

It is fitting that many of the pictures in the collection include the Telegdis hosting a dinner party for friends and family; with their two cats not too far away.


Telegdi Valentine G10 - Lia Telegdi, wife of Val Telegdi, lounges in the sun on a deck chair.Telegdi Valentine C16 - Lia (left) and Val (right) Telegdi aboard the CGT French Line ship the SS Liberte.Telegdi Valentine G8 - Lia Telegdi, sits at their dining table holding a handmade dinner menu, December 26, 1966.Telegdi Valentine B23 - Val Telegdi celebrates Christmas in Chicago with two Siamese cats and a tiny decorated tree.