Guide to the William F. Durand Papers

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Stanford University. Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Stanford, California
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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
Phone: (650) 725-1022

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.

Collection Contents


Series 1 Correspondence

Box 1, Folder 1

Correspondence 1917-1943

Box 1, Folder 2

Correspondence, January - June, 1944

Box 1, Folder 3

Correspondence, July - December, 1944

Box 1, Folder 4

Correspondence, and fragment 1945-1946


Series 2 Research and Writings

Box 1, Folder 5


Box 1, Folder 6

"An Average Instrument for Polar Diagrams," JOURNAL OF THE ASME, reprint undated;

Box 1, Folder 7

"Biographical Memoir of Harris Joseph Ryan, 1866-1934," NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, 1938

Box 1, Folder 8

Chimney formula; typescript paper, undated

Box 1, Folder 9

Dynamics of the Flow of Gases and Vapors; typescript paper, undated

Box 1, Folder 10

Dynamics of the Flow of Gases and Vapors; mimeographed paper, undated

Box 1, Folder 11

EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH ON AIR PROPELLERS; National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, Report No. 14; prepreint issued November, 1917

Box 1, Folder 12

"Experimental Researches on the Performance of Screw Propellers," paper read before the society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, 1905

Box 1, Folder 13

"Flow Data for Fluids in Pipe Lines," Stanford Oil Company, typescript report [possibly not by Durand] 1922;

Box 1, Folder 14

"Flow of Steam in a Long Pipe," report prepared under supervision of Dr. Durand; typescript

Box 1, Folder 15

"The Flow of Wate in Channels Under Steep Gradients," TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME, Vol. 62, no. 1 (January, 1940)

Box 1, Folder 16

Historical Sketch of the Development of Aerodynamci Theory, typescript paper, circa 1929

Box 1, Folder 17

"The Hydraulics of Oil Pipe Lines," JOURNAL OF ELECTRICITY, May 1, 1920

Box 1, Folder 18

"Improved Transmission Dynamometer," TRANSACTIONS OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS, Vol. 28; reprint

Box 1, Folder 19

"The Interpretation of Electric Current Flow in Terms of the Electron Theory," THE JOURNAL OF ELECTRICTY, POWER AND GAS, reprint Feb 28, 1914;

Box 1, Folder 20

"Investigation of Surge Phenomena by Means of Model Experiments," WESTERN ENGINEERING, reprint December, 1913;

Box 1, Folder 21

Long pipes, research notes, undated

Box 2, Folder 1

"Marine Engineering," TRANSACTIONS OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS, Vol. 54, Part C, reprint 1905;

Box 2, Folder 2

"Note on a Theorem in Mechanics," SIBLEY JOURNAL, reprint Jan 1918;

Box 2, Folder 3

"The Number of Longitudinal Intervals in Ship computation, as Affecting the Accuracy of Integration for Displacement," paper read before the Society of Nal Architects and marine Engineers, preprint 1895;

Box 2, Folder 4

"On the Control of Surges in Water Conduits," JOURNAL OF THE ASME, reprint circa 1912;

Box 2, Folder 5

"Proposed Form of Seismograph Intended to Give a Direct Indication of the Forces in Play," [abstract], BULLETIN OF THE GEOLOGOICAL SOCIETY OF AMERCA, Vol. 20, reprint 1908;

Box 2, Folder 6

"Science and Civilization," SCIENCE, August 20, 1926

Box 2, Folder 7

"The Screw Propeller: With Special Reference to Aeroplane Propulsion," JOURNAL OF THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE, reprint September 1914;

Box 2, Folder 8

Some Outstanding Problems in Aeronautics, typescript paper circa 1918;

Box 2, Folder 9

Steam jets; manuscript draft and notes

Box 2, Folder 10

"The uses of Logarithmic Cross-Section Paper," ENGINEERING NEWS, reprint Sep 28, 1893;


Series 3 Biographical and Professional Papers

Box 2, Folder 11

Clippings, 1937-1958

Box 2, Folder 12

Conferences, 1936, 1959

Box 2, Folder 13

John Fritz Medal, 1936

Box 2, Folder 14

Paths into the Blue, honorary dinner, 1937

Box 2, Folder 15


Box 2, Folder 16

Professional associations, 1917-1956

Box 2, Folder 17

Quote, photocopy of typescript, 1945

Box 2, Folder 18

Sigmi Xi, 1936

Box 2, Folder 19

Student lab reports: report on flow of steam-sharp edge orifice by Lynn Reynolds, , LSJU Laboratory of Mechanical Engineering, M. E. 30 1915

Box 2, Folder 20

Student lab reports: report on man power experiments by Lynn Reynolds, LSJU Laboratory of Mechanical Engineering, M. E. 37 1915,


Series 4 Writings about Durand

Box 2, Folder 21

Correspondence of Muriel T. McKinney and Dr. J. E. Wallace Sterling regarding Dr. Durand, 1964

Box 2, Folder 22

Munk, Max W., "Analysis of Dr. W. F. Durand's and E. P. Lesley's Propeller Tests," National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, typescript paper 1923;

Box 2, Folder 23

Terman, F. E., "William Frederick Durand," YEARBOOK OF THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, 1958

Box 2, Folder 24

Terman, F. E., "William Frederick Durand," typescript biography, circa 1958

Box 2, Folder 25

Vincenti, Walter G., "The Air-Propeller Tests fo W. F. Durand and E. P. Lesley: A Case Study in Technological Methodology," TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE, photocopy 1979;

Box 2, Folder 26

"William F. Durand: Tributes on His 85th Birthday," AMERICAN SCIENTIST, Vol. 32, No. 2 (April, 1944)


Series 5 1906 Earthquake

Box 3, Folder 1

Photocopy of relevant pages from Durand's autobiography

Box 3, Folder 2

Photographs of earthquake damage at Stanford: statue of Agassiz in the concrete, collapsed entrance gates

Box 3, Folder 3

Photographs of earthquake damage at Stanford: fraternity house, Quad corner, new library and gymnasium, Memorial Church, museum

Box 3, Folder 4

Photographs of earthquake damage at Stanford: power house and chimney, chemistry building, Memorial Church, Memorial Arch

Box 3, Folder 5

Photographs of earthquake damage at Stanford: back of Quad, Memorial Church, Encina; and one photograph of fire in San Francisco


Series 6 Additional Papers 1876-1939

Box 4, Folder 1

Note Book No. 1 Cadet Engr. W. F. Durand: mimeographed sheets of algebra problems and Durand’s work solving them, 1876-77; also includes a geometry exam, 1877

Box 4, Folder 2

Note Book No. 2 Cadet Engr. W. F. Durand: continuation of geometry problems and exams, 1877-78

Box 5, Folder 1

Reprints: America's Air Service; Application of the Law of Kinematic Similitude to the Surge-Chamber Problem; Applications of Science; and Approximate Methods for the Treatment of Differential Equations 1917-1921

Box 5, Folder 2

Reprints: Determination of the Current Curve Corresponding to Any Form of Alternating Electro-Motive-Force in a Circuit without Iron; Electrical Propulsion for Torpedo Boats; The Engineer and Civilization; and Entropy and Temperture-Entropy Diagrams 1898-1925

Box 5, Folder 3

Reprints: The Graduate School: its New Duties; Graphical Chart for the Solution of Valve-Gear Problems; Historical Sketch of the Development of Aerodynamic Theory; and Mechanical Aspects of Aeronautics 1917-1928

Box 5, Folder 4

Reprints: Note on Different Forms of the Entropy Function; On the Action of the Rudder; On the Influence of Surface on the Performance of Screw Propellers; and The Pelton Water Wheel 1897-1939

Box 5, Folder 5

Reprints: A Planimeter for Averaging Radial Ordinates; A Problem Connected with the Screw Propeller; The Problem of the Colorado River; and The Problem of the Connecting Rod 1901-1925

Box 5, Folder 6

Reprints: Special Methods of Determining Groups of Curves Representing Engineering Formulae; Sur un Type Special de Navires Destine au Transport des Grains ou du Minerai de Fer; Treatment of Non-Algebraic Curves for Maxima and Minima by the Use of Ordinates; and Water Hammer in Pipe Lines 1903-1920