Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Barbour) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Murphy)1

  • Subject:
  • Antarctic Phase of International Geophysical Year (IGY)


The National Science Foundation has requested an appointment with you on Tuesday, June 15, for:

Dr. Alan T. Waterman, Director, National Science Foundation

Dr. Detlev W. Bronk, President, National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Lawrence McK. Gould, President of Carleton College and Chairman, Antarctic Committee of IGY

Your letter of April 20 to the Bureau of the Budget2 (Tab A) gave the Department’s general support to the United States program of the IGY, 1957–58, consisting of a series of world-wide scientific observations coordinated through the International Council of [Page 1742] Scientific Unions. Budget Bureau consideration has now been completed and the request of the National Science Foundation for a supplemental appropriation is before the Congress.

Logistical costs for the Antarctic phase of the United States program (one station at Little America and two satellite stations inland), are not included in that request but have been estimated by Defense. In a letter of May 29, 19543 (Tab B) Assistant Secretary of Defense Quarles stated to the Budget Bureau that those estimates exceed the anticipated benefits to the military mission and could be assumed by Defense only if the program is justified on scientific or political grounds as well.

The National Science Foundation would like our appraisal of the Antarctic phase of the program from the scientific and political standpoints, for use in reply to Secretary Quarles and, more urgently, in the event that logistical costs are discussed in the forthcoming Congressional hearings.

Scientific considerations within the purview of the Department are covered in your letter at Tab A. As regards political considerations, it is believed that establishment of one or more permanent United States stations in the Antarctic will be necessary if our potential claims are to be preserved. The true worth of the region can be accurately assessed only through further exploration and observations. The draft NSC paper on Antarctica, submitted recently to the Planning Board by the Department,4 provides for a sustained program of American activities in the Antarctic, of which the IGY stations would be an important start. Moreover, Antarctic activities begun as part of the IGY program would leave the United States less vulnerable to charges of “imperialism” than activities started on our initiative alone.


That you grant the desired appointment and offer the Department’s support in the Antarctic program within the considerations outlined in the preceding paragraph.5

  1. Drafted by Hilliker; concurred in by Assistant Science Adviser Walter M. Rudolph, Henry Dearborn of the Office of South American Affairs, Samuel W. Boggs, Special Adviser on Geography, and Marjorie M. Whiteman, Assistant Legal Adviser for Inter-American Affairs.
  2. Not printed. (900.729/4–654)
  3. Supra.
  4. Reference is presumably to an early draft of NSC 5424 of June 28, 1954, infra.
  5. No record of the proposed meeting has been found.