The Clarence J. Overbeck Papers fill one and one half boxes, spanning the years 1933 to 1997. The bulk of the records consist of biographical materials, speeches, and lectures from his many years as a physics professor.
Biographical materials, arranged in chronological order, span the years 1948 to 1997 and consist of Northwestern University faculty data forms, clippings, press releases, correspondence and obituaries. Much additional biographical material is supplied by two autobiographies—a 12-page work prepared in 1965 for inclusion in the “Project on the History of Recent Physics in the United States,” sponsored by The American Institute of Physics under a grant from the National Science Foundation, and a 100-page memoir of a more personal nature written between 1986 and 1994 and edited by Overbeck's daughter, Dr. Ann L. Overbeck.
The published proceedings from conferences on training lab assistants, on creating lab experiments, and on lecture demonstrations (held at Northwestern University, the University of Connecticut Wesleyan University in 1954, 1957, and 1959) reflect Overbeck's commitment to the teaching of science. He helped organize these conferences and served as chair on a number of the sessions.
Overbeck's service as Chairman of the Bachelor of Arts/General Studies Department at Northwestern University is documented by the annual reports (1948-1958) he submitted to Simon E. Leland, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, as well as some correspondence with the Dean. One 1946 physics lecture demonstrates his teaching style at Northwestern. The University of West Indies file holds the script for a movie based on Overbeck's 1964 lecture titled “Physics: Fact or Fiction.” The notes for that lecture, and six others, are also contained in the folder. Five of the lectures are in the form of handwritten index cards. A list of courses offered at the University of West Indies in 1964 is at the end of the folder.
Speeches and papers delivered by Overbeck between 1934 and 1968 include typed note cards and typed, printed, and handwritten speeches. Presented before a range of audiences, from college groups and national science honorary societies to science teaching organizations, topics include the future of physics, sound and ultrasonics, and the teaching of physics. A lecture delivered several times in different versions during 1958-60 was titled “Sputnik and the Tower of Babel.”
Overbeck's publications in scientific journals and popular magazines (such as the Rotarian) span the years 1933 to 1978 and are arranged chronologically. From 1940 through 1972, Overbeck contributed to the teaching series Selective Experiments in Physics published by the Central Scientific Company (Cenco). Included in this file are a signed agreement between Overbeck and the publisher, sales figures, and editorial comments by his co-authors. The British Journal of Scientific Instruments published a yearly report by Overbeck (1940 through 1951) about American advances in experimental physics. These issues are filed chronologically, along with some reprints.
Two files relate to Overbeck's inventions of apparatus for laboratory teaching. One folder contains a blueprint of Overbeck's Spectrometer, which he sold to Cenco in 1958. The Self-Adjusting Linear Air Track folder contains drawings and a photo of the apparatus, along with experiments and letters to a company to which he wished to sell the device.