Scope and Content
Title: Helen Wright Collection on George Ellery Hale,
Date (inclusive): 1887-1972
Collection number: 10175-MS
Creator: Wright, Helen, 1914- ; Hale, George E., 1868-1938
6 linear feet
California Institute of Technology, Caltech Archives
Pasadena, California 91125
Abstract: The working papers, correspondence, publications, photos and biographical materials of George E. Hale (1868-1938) form the
collection known as the Helen Wright Collection on George Ellery Hale in the Archives of the California Institute of Technology.
Not only was Hale the foremost solar astronomer of his day, but he was also exceedingly energetic in the organization and
promotion of the enterprise of science, both at home and abroad. The materials in the collection reflect both aspects of his
career, as well as his other interests and personal life.
Physical location: California Institute of Technology, Institute Archives
Language of Material:
Languages represented in the collection:
English French German
The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.
Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish
or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the
California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission
of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], Helen Wright Collection on George Ellery Hale, 10175-MS, Caltech Archives, California Institute
Papers were compiled by Helen Wright, largely through transcription and the collection of published sources. The were acquired
from Christine Shirley, June 4, 1998.
Processed by Kevin C. Knox, Caltech Archives Staff, August 17, 2006
Some material transferred to the Caltech Archives rare book collection. No attempt has been made to correlate the remaining
materials with their original location.
The daughter of George Ellery Hale's colleague, Frederick Wright, Helen Wright was born in 1914. Following the death of George
Ellery Hale in 1938, the National Academy of Sciences urged that a comprehensive biography be written. However, it was not
until 1951 that Helen Wright was commisioned to pen the work. Although she worked industriously on the project, the biography
was not completed until 1966. Six years later, she co-authored
The Legacy of George Ellery Hale.
Born in Chicago in 1868, George Ellery Hale received his B.S. from M. I. T. in 1890. Active in the development of astrophysics,
he quickly established a distinguished scientific reputation for his invention of the spectroheliograph. He made important
contributions to the study of solar phenomena, organized and co-edited the Astrophysical Journal, and was the leading figure
in the design, funding and construction of the Kenwood, Yerkes, Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories.
Hale was also exceedingly energetic in the organization and promotion of the enterprise of science, both at home and abroad.
In the United States he played a highly influential role in the National Academy of Sciences. He revivified the Academy almost
single-handedly by organizing the National Research Council, obtaining substantial endowment for the NAS, and establishing
the critically important National Research Council Fellowships. A founder of the International Union of Cooperation in Solar
Research, Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, and a frequent delegate to the International Association
of Academies, he became deeply involved in the international relations of science before the First World War. Instrumental
in the establishment of the International Research Council after the war, he was president of its successor, the International
Council of Scientific Unions from 1931 to 1934.
Hale settled in Pasadena, California in 1904 to assume the duties of Director of the newly established Mount Wilson Observatory
and became deeply involved in the educational and cultural affairs of the area. Among his most important efforts were the
creation and development of the California Institute of Technology and the Huntington Library.
||appointed director of Kenwood Astrophysical Observatory
||appointed professor at Beloit College
||Mount Wilson Observatory established
||Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
||60 in. Hooker telescope at Mount Wilson
||100 in. Hooker telescope
||California Institute of Technology established
||retires from Mount Wilson Observatory
Scope and Content
The material from the Helen Wright collection was gathered by Wright over two decades from locations worldwide. Although most
of material can be found either on the microfilm version of the Hale collection or in the Hale Papers that are housed in the
Caltech Archives and Huntington Library, the collection is unique pricipally because the materials are arranged differently.
Wright organized the papers according to topic in accordance with the structure of her biography while she also transcribed
most of the hand-written correspondence. For these reasons, scholars researching the work of Hale may find the collection
The collection is organized into the following series:
- Series 1. Original Correspondence and Documents
- Series 2. Correspondence and Documents assembled by Helen Wright
- Series 3. Organizations
- Series 4. Publications
- Series 5. Biographical
The Papers of George Ellery Hale
The Papers of Robert A. Millikan
Records of the Palomar Observatory
Records of the Astronomy Department
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Brashear, John Alfred, 1840-1920
Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955
Larmour, Joseph, Sir, 1857-1942
Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953
Noyes, Arthur A. (Arthur Amos), 1866-1936
Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937
Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924