Inside the Sally K. Ride Papers – Now Open for Research

Posted on Wed, June 15, 2016
  • by: Patti Williams, Archivist

Last October, we announced that we had acquired the collection of Sally K. Ride, the first American woman in space. Now, we can share that the archival portion of the collection has been processed and is available for research! See our finding aid for more detailed information.

<p>A signed portrait of astronaut Sally Ride from the Sally K. Ride Papers. </p>

The Sally K. Ride collection consists of more than 23 cubic feet of papers, photographs, certificates, and film created or collected by Ride chronicling her career from the 1970s through the 2010s. The papers document Ride’s lifetime of professional achievements and include material relating to her astronaut training and duties; her contributions to space policy; her work as a physicist; and her work as an educator.

A significant portion of the collection highlights her iconic role as a NASA astronaut from 1978 to 1987. Ride spent 343 hours in space, as a mission specialist on space shuttle missions STS-7 and STS-41G, where she operated a variety of orbiter systems and experiment payloads. She also operated the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) arm to maneuver, release, and retrieve a free-flying satellite.

<p>View of Sally Ride's Space Shuttle Mission STS-7 Ascent Checklist. </p>

<p>The inside of one of Sally Ride's manuals. </p>

But Ride’s NASA’s career and legacy extend well beyond her missions in space. Ride was training for her third flight when the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred and she was named to the Rogers Commission, the presidential commission investigating the accident. Ride later served on the Columbia Accident Board as well. She was the only person assigned to both shuttle disaster committees that investigated the causes and recommended remedies after the tragic losses.

<p>A notebook from the Sally K. Ride Papers. Inside are Ride's notes from the Rogers Commission meetings to investigate the Space Shuttle Mission STS-51L Challenger accident. </p>

In 1987, Ride left NASA to become a full-time educator. The collection mirrors those professional changes with material relating to her work as a physics professor at University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and later endeavors to improve science education for elementary and middle school students, with a special focus on science education for girls.

The Museum is proud to play a role in securing Ride’s legacy by making this collection available to researchers for years to come. And, on a personal note, it was a wonderful honor to process the papers. I leave you with my favorite image from the collection. It shows a very young Sally Ride looking at a book. A “thought bubble” caption has been adhered to the photo as though Ride is reading a technical manual. I found this image attached on the inside cover of one of her STS-7 manuals.

<p>An image of a very young Sally K. Ride looking at a book, circa 1954. </p>

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