Guide to the Russell Tracy Crawford papers MS.265

Maureen Carey and Alix Norton
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz 95064

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Title: Russell Tracy Crawford papers
creator: Crawford, R. T. (Russell Tracy), 1876-
Identifier/Call Number: MS.265
Physical Description: 2.45 Linear Feet 3 boxes, 1 oversize box
Date (inclusive): 1897-1960


Collection is open for research.


This collection is organized into five series:
  • 1. Biographical
  • 2. Correspondence
  • 3. Notes and notebooks
  • 4. Observations and charts
  • 5. Writings
Materials within each series are arranged in chronological order.

Biographical / Historical

Russell Tracy Crawford was an astronomer and professor who was associated with the University of California for over 50 years. Earning his degrees in astronomy in 1897 and 1901, he then worked as a professor and astronomer for the university in various capacities until his retirement in 1946. Crawford earned one of the first fellowships granted by the Lick Observatory in 1897, and finished his doctoral work there using the meridian circle with astronomer R.H. Tucker. Crawford is well known for his work in theoretical astronomy, and his observations and computations of comet orbits. He published over a hundred articles and a book entitled The Determination of Orbits of Comets and Asteroids.
Crawford was born on March 26, 1876, in Davis, California. In 1893 he enrolled at the University of California in Berkeley and began his career in astronomy, graduating in 1897 and earning a fellowship at the Lick Observatory. There he studied for four years under Lick astronomer Dr. R.H. Tucker, writing his dissertation entitled “Determination of the Constant of Refraction from Observations with the Repsold Meridian Circle.” In 1901, Crawford was one of the first two students to earn a Ph.D. degree in astronomy from the University of California, along with Frank E. Ross. After working with the U.S. Civil Service in Washington, D.C., in 1903 he returned to the University of California for a position as instructor of astronomy. In 1911, Crawford took a two-year sabbatical to pursue advanced studies at the University of Berlin, and during World War I he worked in Nebraska as the head of the Balloon School of Air Service Military Aeronautics. He married Helen Alice Young in 1913. Continuing his service to the University of California after the war, Crawford became a full professor of astronomy in 1919, the chair of the department in 1936, and began directing the university’s Students’ Observatory (now the Leuschner Observatory) in 1939. Dr. Crawford passed away in 1958 in Berkeley, California.

Preferred Citation

Russell Tracy Crawford papers. MS 265. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the papers of Russell Tracy Crawford, an astronomer and professor at the University of California for several decades in the 20th century. Materials include personal and professional correspondence, research notes and charts related to his extensive work on comet orbits, travel diaries and photographs, and published writings. Also included are some collected clippings pertaining to Crawford's early academic career at the University of California, and biographical information written after his death in 1958.

Publication Rights

Property rights for this collection reside with the University of California. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. The publication or use of any work protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use for research or educational purposes requires written permission from the copyright owner. Responsibility for obtaining permissions, and for any use rests exclusively with the user. For more information on copyright or to order a reproduction, please visit .

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Crawford, R. T. (Russell Tracy), 1876-
Lick Observatory
Crawford, R. T. (Russell Tracy), 1876-


Biographical 1900-1960

Scope and Contents

This series contains clippings and commencement materials from Crawford's early academic career, as well as an obituary written by Maud W. Makemson and a University of California In Memoriam article by C.D. Shane, S. Einarsson, and H.M. Jeffers.
box 1, folder 1

Clippings 1900-1904

box 1, folder 2

Obituaries, In Memoriam 1958-1960


Correspondence 1898-1956

Scope and Contents

This series contains letters written by and to Crawford, including correspondence with directors of the Lick Observatory. Telegrams and observation notes and reports are also included.
box 1, folder 3


box 1, folder 4


box 1, folder 5


box 1, folder 6



Notes and notebooks 1897-1931

Scope and Contents

This series contains bound notebooks and loose notes written by Crawford pertaining to his research, both as a student at the University of California and later as an astronomer. Also included are diaries, notes, and photographs from Crawford's trip to Europe in 1911 and 1912, as well as some collected documents and notes that were annotated by Crawford.
box 1, folder 7

"Examples in differential equations" circa 1897

box 1, folder 8

"Differential & integral calculus" 1897

box 1, folder 9

"Mechanical quadratures" circa 1897

box 1, folder 10

"Notes on mechanics" 1897

box 2, folder 1

"Theoretical astronomy" 1897

box 2, folder 2

Untitled holograph notebook 1897

box 2, folder 3

Untitled holograph notes circa 1897-1900

box 2, folder 4

"Queer answers found in examination papers" circa 1903

box 2, folder 5

Outline of Lectures in General Science 1 1910

Scope and Contents

Annotated copy of University of California Syllabus Series pamphlet.
box 2, folder 6

Notes, lectures, quotes & articles to ponder circa 1910-1928

box 4

"Notes from my trip abroad" 1911-1912

box 2, folder 7

"Continuation of my trip abroad" 1911-1912

Scope and Contents

Includes some loose photographs and letters.
box 4

"My trip abroad" photo album 1911-1912

Scope and Contents

Includes photographs of Crawford's trip abroad to Europe which correspond to the preceding notebooks.
box 2, folder 8

"Notes on observatories visited during my sabbatical leave" 1911-1912

box 2, folder 9

Struve, Otto - "Einleitung in die Theorie der Satelliten" 1911-1912

box 2, folder 10

Astronomy 1 teaching notes, UCLA summer session 1929

box 3, folder 1

Portratgallerie der Astronomischen Gesellschaft 1931

Scope and Contents

Annotated copy of astronomers' portrait pamphlet.
box 3, folder 2

"Notes on observations and solar coordinates" undated


Observations and charts 1898-1928

Scope and Contents

This series contains reductions, computations, notes, and charts from Crawford's observations of comets and satellites throughout his career. Some related correspondence is also included.
box 3, folder 3

Orbit of X Draconis 1898-1928

box 3, folder 4

Orbit of Comet a 1909 (Daniel) by Merton's Method 1909

box 3, folder 5

Comet a 1915 (Mellish) 1915

Scope and Contents

Computed with Miss Jessica M. Young, second orbit computed with Miss Young, third orbit computed alone
box 3, folder 6

Comet b 1922 (Skjellerup), v.3 1922

box 3, folder 7

Satellite of Neptune observation charts ("Astronomical papers...v.9 pt.3" - "The orbit of Neptune's satellite and the pole of Neptune's equator") 1926

box 3, folder 8

Comet j 1927 (Schwassman-Wachmann) 1927

box 3, folder 9

Comet d 1927 (Streams) - Observations [Lick] 1927

box 3, folder 10

Comet a 1928 (Reinmuth) - Reductions of Plate Measurements 1928


Writings 1901-1926

Scope and Contents

This series contains typescripts and reprints of Crawford's published writings, including journal articles and his doctoral dissertation from the University of California.
box 3, folder 11

"Determination of the Constant of Refraction from Observations made with the Repsold Meridian Circle of the Lick Observatory", dissertation 1901

box 3, folder 12

"On Computing" 1907

box 3, folder 12

"Astronomy of the Pacific Coast" 1915

box 3, folder 12

"Note on Merton's Method for the Determination of Orbits" 1926

box 3, folder 12

"A Convenient Method for Computing, from Elements, the Daily Motion in Geocentric Right Ascension and Declination" undated

box 3, folder 13

"History of Astronomy" - typescript extracted from William's "History of Sciences" undated