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Frederick Eugene Wright Papers: Finding Aid
mssWright papers  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Frederick Eugene Wright Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1924-1961
    Collection Number: mssWright papers
    Creator: Wright, F. E. (Frederic Eugene), 1877-1953.
    Extent: 865 items in 6 boxes and 3 oversize folders.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of American optician and geophysicist Frederic Eugene Wright (1877-1953), who served as the chair of the "Committee on Study of Surface Feature of Moon" of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The majority of the collection deals with the history of science and Wright's research of the physical features of the moon.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Frederick Eugene Wright Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Deposit, Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington Collection, 1988. Approximately fifty additional separate collections form the Mount Wilson Papers of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and are available for research in the Manuscripts Department of the Huntington Library.

    Biographical Note

    Frederic Eugene Wright (1877-1953) was an eminent optician and geophysicist. His various specialties included the physical features of the surface of the moon, and in 1925, he was appointed the chair of the "Committee on Study of Surface Feature of Moon" of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. In addition to Wright, the committee consisted of W. S. Adams and F. G. Pease (Mt. Wilson Observatory), A. L. Day (Geophysical Laboratory of the Institution), John P. Buwalda and Paul S. Epstein (California Institute of Technology), and W. W. Campbell (Lick Observatory). Wright remained at the Carnegie Institution until his retirement in 1944. At the time of his death, he was considered the foremost authority on the Moon.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains material ranging from correspondence to various types of research materials to clippings and reprints of articles of newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. The majority of the collection deals with the history of science and Wright’s research of the physical features of the moon.
    The collection is composed of four sections in accordance with the types of sources: correspondence, manuscripts, research materials, and ephemera. The correspondence is contained in Box 1, while the manuscripts are housed in Boxes 1 and 2. Research materials occupy Boxes 2-5, divided into five sub-sections: unbound research materials, research materials in folders, bound research materials, photographs, and negatives. The Ephemera section is contained in Boxes 5 and 6. The items in each section and sub-section are placed in chronological order.
    Correspondence indicates the ways in which Wright advanced the research project of the Committee on Study of Surface Feature of Moon as well as in which he shaped his ideas and conducted his research in relation to other scholars; he asked other scholars research questions and was asked by them. Wright regularly corresponded with administrators at the Carnegie Institution, such as W. M. Gilbert and John Merriam, and the committee members in California, updating each other on the project. Also he communicated with other scholars in the field including R. A. Daly at Harvard, W. H. Pickering at an observatory in Jamaica, George Hale at the California Institute of Technology, Harlow Shapley at the Harvard College Observatory, C. P. Oliver at the University of Pennsylvania, Ernest Brown at Yale, Jesse L. Greenstein at the Harvard College Observatory, Otto Struve at the University of California, Berkeley, and Henry Norris Russell at Princeton.
    Manuscripts and research materials tell us exactly what Wright thought and did in terms of his research project. Manuscripts include the reports of the committee and drafts of talks he gave to various audiences. Research materials are a nice collection of research data (graphs and tables), research notes, and visual sources such as photographs and negatives.
    The ephemera section also contributes to tracing the trajectory of Wright’s ideas, composed of clippings of articles regarding the moon from newspapers and magazines and reprints of his own published papers.


    The collection is arranged in four series: correspondence, manuscripts, research materials, and ephemera.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Wright, F. E. (Frederic Eugene), 1877-1953 -- Archives.
    Carnegie Institution of Washington.
    Mount Wilson Observatory. Committee on Study of the Surface Features of the Moon.
    Mount Wilson Observatory -- History -- Sources.
    Astronomers -- Correspondence.
    Astronomical observatories -- California -- Wilson, Mount (Mountain)
    Astronomy -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Astronomy -- Research.
    Lunar geology.
    Moon -- Photographs.
    Moon -- Surface.


    Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century.
    Photographs -- 20th century.
    Research (document genres) -- 20th century.

    Additional Contributors

    Adams, Walter S. (Walter Sydney), 1876-1956.
    Brown, Ernest W. (Ernest William), 1866-1938.
    Daly, Reginald Aldworth, 1871-1957.
    Greenstein, Jesse L. (Jesse Leonard), 1909-2002.
    Hale, George Ellery, 1868-1938.
    Merriam, John C. (John Campbell), 1869-1945.
    Oliver, Charles P.
    Pickering, William H. (William Henry), b. 1858.
    Russell, Henry Norris, 1877-1957.
    Shapley, Harlow, 1885-1972.
    Struve, Otto, 1897-1963.
    Mount Wilson Observatory. Committee on Study of the Surface Features of the Moon.