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Theodore Dunham papers
mssDunham papers  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography/Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Additional collection guides

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Theodore Dunham papers
    Dates: 1926-1977
    Collection Number: mssDunham papers
    Creator/Collector: Dunham, Theodore, 1897-
    Extent: 387 items; 2 boxes.
    Repository: Huntington Library. Manuscripts Department
    Abstract: Papers of physicist, astronomer, and physician Theodore Dunham.
    Language of Material: English


    Collection is open to qualified scholars.

    Preferred Citation

    Theodore Dunham papers. Huntington Library. Manuscripts Department

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Mary H. Thompson, February 5, 2013.

    Biography/Administrative History

    Theodore Dunham, Jr. was Scientific Director of the Fund for Astrophysical Research from its founding in 1936 until his death in 1984. Dunham was born in 1897 in New York City. He attended higher education at Harvard (Bachelor’s degree, chemistry), Cornell (M.D.) and Princeton (A.M. and Ph.D., physics). He was a staff member of the Mount Wilson Observatory from 1928 to 1947. Along with Walter S. Adams, he discovered the strong presence of carbon dioxide in the infrared spectrum of Venus. During World War II from 1942 to 1946, he was Chief of the Optical Instrument Section of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. He then spent several years applying physical methods to medical research, first from 1946 to 1948 as a Warren Fellow in Surgery at Harvard Medical School, and then from 1948 to 1957 at the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. In 1957 he joined the faculty of the Australian National University and from 1965 to 1970 he was a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania. After returning to the United States in 1970, he resumed his earlier association with Harvard College Observatory.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The majority of the collection (364 items) is made up of correspondence between Theodore Dunham and various astronomers throughout the United States and England (and a couple other countries). Dunham and the other astronomers’ research and work are the main topics of the letters. These subjects include: Dunham’s work on stars (including our sun) and planets (Jupiter, Venus); biophysics; telescopes and lenses; and the Fund for Astrophysical Research. There is a folder with correspondence between Dunham, Harry Plaskett (Dunham’s closest friend and astronomer at Oxford), and others regarding Dunham’s attempt at doing his part during World War II. He contacts several people and institutions in England and Canada including the National Research Council in Ottawa looking for a position somewhere. This folder includes a copy of a letter by Dunham to Winston Churchill offering any assistance he can give to the war effort as well as copies of Dunham’s “Summary of Scientific Work” (resume). The majority of the letters by Dunham are copies that he kept for his own records. There are nine photographs mostly astronomical machinery, probably for illustrations for an article by Dunham, including a transparency of the telescope at the Mount Stromlo Observatory. The publications include a copy of Engineering and Science Monthly which is published by California Institute of Technology Alumni Association. The issue contains an article about George Ellery Hale and an article by Edwin Hubble; as well as several reprints of articles by Theodore Dunham alone and articles he co-wrote with Walter S. Adams.

    Indexing Terms

    Astronomers -- United States -- Archives
    Astronomical observatories -- California -- Wilson, Mount (Mountain)
    Astronomy -- Photographs
    Astronomy -- United States -- 20th century -- Sources
    Astrophysics -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
    Stars -- Spectra
    Telescopes -- Design and construction -- History -- Sources
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Civilian relief
    Adams, Walter S. (Walter Sydney), 1876-1956
    Fowler, R. H. (Ralph Howard), 1889-1944
    Hale, George Ellery, 1868-1938
    Hubble, Edwin Powell, 1889-1953
    Ingalls, Albert G. (Albert Graham)
    Jones, H. Spencer (Harold Spencer), 1890-1960
    Kurth, Edward Houghton, 1898-
    La Gorce, John Oliver, 1880-1959
    Lampland, C. O. (Carl Otto), 1873-1951
    Marshak, Robert E. (Robert Eugene), 1916-1992
    Means, James Howard, 1885-1967
    Mees, C. E. Kenneth (Charles Edward Kenneth), 1882-1960
    Menzel, Donald H. (Donald Howard), 1901-1976
    Moffat, Jay Pierrepont, 1896-1943
    Monk, George Spencer, 1884-
    Morey, G. W. (George Washington), 1888-1965
    Pauling, Linus, 1901-1994
    Plaskett, Harry Hemley, 1893-
    Plaskett, John Stanley, 1865-1941
    Redman, Roderick Oliver
    Rhoads, Cornelius P. (Cornelius Packard), 1898-1959
    Roach, F. E. (Franklin Evans), 1905-1993
    Rule, Bruce H.
    Russell, Henry Norris, 1877-1957
    Sadler, Donald, 1908-1987
    Shane, Charles Donald, 1895-1983
    Shapley, Harlow, 1885-1972
    Sheppard, S. E. (Samuel Edward)
    Slipher, Vesto Melvin, 1875-1969
    Smith, James H. C., 1895-1970
    Spitzer, Lyman, 1914-1997
    Spoehr, H. A. (Herman Augustus), 1885-1954
    Stebbins, Joel, 1878-1966
    Stewart, John Quincy, 1894-1972
    Stratton, Frederick John Marrian, 1881-1960
    Struve, Otto, 1897-1963
    Swings, P. (Polydore), 1906-1983
    Unsold, Albrecht, 1905-
    Van Maanen, Adriaan, 1884-1946
    Weaver, Warren, 1894-1978
    Williams, Evan Gwyn, 1905-1940
    Wilson, Albert George, 1918-
    Wood, Robert Williams, 1868-1955
    Woolley, Richard van der Riet
    Wright, F. E. (Frederick Eugene), 1877-1953
    Wylie, C. C. (Charles Clayton), 1886-
    California Institute of Technology
    Carnegie Institution of Washington
    Eastman Kodak Company
    Fund for Astrophysical Research
    Harvard College Observatory
    Lick Observatory
    Lowell Observatory
    Mount Stromlo Observatory
    Mount Wilson Observatory -- History -- Sources
    National Research Council (U.S.)
    National Research Council Canada
    Princeton University. Observatory
    Royal Astronomical Society
    Spencer Lens Company
    Thermal Syndicate (Firm)
    University of Cambridge. Solar Physics Observatory
    University of Oxford. Observatory
    Yerkes Observatory
    Jupiter (Planet)
    Venus (Planet)
    Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century
    Photographs -- United States -- 20th century
    Reprints -- United States -- 20th century

    Additional collection guides