A new archive in the Stanford Library documents the efforts of Stephen H. Schneider, a leader in science communication and a world expert on interdisciplinary climate science, to call attention to human impacts on our planet during his entire academic career. At the time of his death in 2010, he was the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and a senior fellow with the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Schneider played a key role in the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and was part of the four groups of IPCC authors who shared (equally with Al Gore) the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He founded the interdisciplinary journal Climatic Change and continued to serve as its editor in chief until his death. He consulted with federal agencies and/or White House staff in every U.S. presidential administration since the Nixon era.

“He was basically the grandfather of climate change science,” said his widow, Terry Root, a Stanford biology professor (by courtesy) who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute. His records are quite thorough, Root noted, because “he saved everything. He was a packrat and his assistants did a really good job of keeping everything organized.”

Schneider’s collection in the Stanford University Archives traces the history of the climate change debate before the IPCC started, the period when Schneider was working to create the organization and developments after the IPCC was formed. One doctoral student who did his thesis on the beginning of Climatic Change told Root, “This archive is going to be as important as [Edward] Teller’s.” Teller was the father of the hydrogen bomb.

The records document Schneider’s work since 1965, including a paper written with S.I. Rasool that was published in the journal Science in 1971; it predicted the world was cooling. “Rasool wasn’t gregarious, so Steve did most of the publicity,” Root said. “Then they got more data and realized they had it wrong – that the earth was warming – and Steve published a paper saying why they were wrong.”

The 250 boxes include records from Schneider’s mechanical engineering doctoral thesis in 1971, which concerned plasma physics; research papers he wrote or reviewed; books, articles and websites about his work; course materials; video and audio recordings; photos; correspondence and personal papers; awards; and documents from his many speeches, presentations and travels.

“He traveled a lot,” Root recalled. “He used to joke that he drove a hybrid but probably logged more air miles than anyone in the room. He didn’t slow down even when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. When he was told he didn’t have much time left, he actually sped up.”

About 75 boxes are corporate records of Climatic Change . Nearly all of the boxes are stored in a Stanford archive facility in Livermore, where they may be retrieved upon request. One box that contains fragile glass plate negatives from Schneider’s thesis is being stored on campus.

Stanford project archivist Pennington Ahlstrand said cataloguing Schneider’s records was a yearlong project. Another librarian in Special Collections, Joseph Geller, processed them for the first six months, then she took over, finishing just in time for Earth Day (April 22). Geller and Ahlstrand were assisted by Larry Scott, intern Kiri Petersen and student Anna Nagy.

Ahlstrand, said it was an honor to work on the collection.“ I got really excited because his papers document that he was a great person, and he was also on the cutting edge of science. He never let down. He kept going all the time, doing everything that was possible.”

A description of the Stephen H. Schneider Collection is available here . Researchers may request access to the collection at the Service Desk in the Reading Room in the Bing Wing of the Green Library, by calling (650) 725-1022 or by emailing speccollref@stanford.edu. A few items are already available online .