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Guide to the William F. Durand Papers
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Collection Details
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  • Overview
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Access Terms

  • Overview

    Call Number: SC0381
    Creator: Durand, William Frederick, 1859-1958
    Title: William F. Durand papers
    Dates: 1893-1979
    Physical Description: 1.25 Linear feet
    Language(s): The materials are in English.
    Repository: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Green Library
    557 Escondido Mall
    Stanford, CA 94305-6064
    Email: specialcollections@stanford.edu
    Phone: (650) 725-1022
    URL: http://library.stanford.edu/spc

    Administrative Information

    Information about Access


    Ownership & Copyright

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.

    Cite As

    [Identification of item], William F. Durand Papers (SC0381). Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    William F. Durand, known as the Dean of American engineering, joined the Stanford University faculty in 1904, serving as professor and head of the Mechanical Engineering Department until his retirement at age 65 in 1924; he held the position of Professor Emeritus until 1958.
    Durand, a 1880 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, began his teaching career at Michigan State College in 1887; in 1891 he joined the Cornell University faculty, teaching in the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.
    Although his early research was in marine engineering, Durand was best known for his contributions to the science of aeronautics, specifically the development of the first variable pitch propeller. He was an original member of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, serving from 1915 to 1933, and again during World War II, when he helped organize the work being done on jet propulsion.
    Durand was professionally active well into his 80s. After his retirement from Stanford, he continued his research on airplane propellers, making use of Stanford's wind tunnel. He served several terms as president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Sigma Xi. He was a member of a federal advisory board concerned with the Colorado River and Hoover Dam; and he worked with the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics

    Scope and Content

    The papers of William F. Durand date from 1893 to 1958; included with them are some biographical and scientific writings by others that relate to Durand dating to 1979. the papers primarily concern his research in engineering and aeronautics. They include correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts, research notes, reports, reprints, clippings, photographs (including some of damage to Stanford buildings from the 1906 earthquake), memorabilia, and a copy of his published autobiography. The correspondence consists mostly of carbon copies of outgoing letters from 1943 1to 1945 concerning publications, aeronautical research, recommendations, professional affiliations, Stanford University affairs, and some personal news.
    Durand is also represented in three other collections within the Department of Special collections. Papers concerning design and construction of dams, M0144, contains one folder of Durand's papers concerning Boulder Dam, 1935. Science and scientists, M0133, contains several letters between Durand and R. Giacomelli, 1930. University records relating to Durand can be found in SC 064a, the presidential papers of Ray Lyman Wilbur.

    Access Terms

    Stanford University. Department of Mechanical Engineering. -- General subdivision--Faculty.;
    Marine engineering.