Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Mount Wilson Observatory Legal Papers: Finding Aid
mssMount Wilson legal papers  
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing: Added Entries
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Mount Wilson Observatory Legal Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1903-1938
    Collection Number: mssMount Wilson legal papers
    Creator: Mount Wilson Observatory.
    Extent: 84 items in 1 box
    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: The Mount Wilson Observatory Legal Papers comprise one box of material relating to the founding, construction, and operation of the institution dating from 1903 to 1939.
    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]. Mount Wilson Observatory Legal 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.

    Historical Note

    Founded in December 1904 by George Ellery Hale and funded by the Carnegie Institution, the Mount Wilson Observatory quickly became one of the 20th century’s major astronomical research centers. Located just north of Los Angeles high atop the San Gabriel Mountains, the observatory took full advantage of Southern California’s clear nights and uniquely steady air. The observatory’s 60” telescope completed in 1908 was the largest then in existence. In 1917, another Mount Wilson telescope, 100” in diameter, claimed that title.
    Hale was joined at Mount Wilson by a gifted group of earlier astrophysicists. Walter Adams, George Willis Ritchey, Francis Pease, Ferdinand Ellerman, and Edwin Hubble studied at the observatory, making important discoveries concerning sunspots, the composition of stars, and the architecture of the universe.

    Scope and Content

    The Mount Wilson Observatory Legal Papers comprise one box of material relating to the founding, construction, and operation of the institution dating from 1903 to 1939. The bulk of the papers are legal documents: deeds, leases, utility contracts, and permits. Two folders contain documents relating to legal actions taken against Mount Wilson and the Carnegie Institution. Also included are three letters from John D. Hooker, a Los Angeles industrialist, philanthropist, and founder of the California Academy of Science, announcing his donation to fund the 100” telescope that would bear his name. Other participants include George Ellery Hale, Walter S. Adams and Francis G. Pease.


    The papers are arranged alphabetically according to the person, company, or institution that created them.

    Indexing: Added Entries

    Adams, Walter S. (Walter Sydney), 1876-1956.
    • Author in George Ellery Hale, 1868-1938 and Evelina C. Hale items to Mount Wilson Observatory. Box 1 (8).
    Pease, F. G. (Francis Gladheim), b. 1881
    • Author in Mount Wilson Observatory letter to Strong & Dickenson. Box 1 (15).

    Indexing Terms

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


    Carnegie Institution of Washington.
    Mount Wilson Observatory.
    Mount Wilson Observatory -- History -- Sources.
    Astronomical observatories -- California -- Wilson, Mount (Mountain)
    Astronomy -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Telescopes -- Design and construction -- History -- Sources.
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.


    Legal documents -- United States -- 20th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.

    Additional Contributors

    Adams, Walter S. (Walter Sydney), 1876-1956.
    Hale, George Ellery, 1868-1938.
    Hooker, John D. (John Daggett), 1838-1911.
    Pease, F. G. (Francis Gladheim), b. 1881.
    Carnegie Institution of Washington.