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Booker (Henry G.) papers
MSS 0093  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Languages: English
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: Henry G. Booker Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0093
    Physical Description: 20 Linear feet (50 archives boxes, 12 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1936-1988
    Abstract: Professional papers of Henry G. Booker, mathematician and physicist trained at Cambridge University in the 1930s. His research focused on radio wave propagation, during a long teaching career first at Cambridge University (1936-1947) and, subsequently, at Cornell University (1948-1964), and the University of California, San Diego where he founded the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (1965-1988).

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection documents Henry Booker's professional career as a scientist and instructor at Cambridge University (1936-1947), Cornell University (1948-1964), and the University of California, San Diego (1965-1988). The materials date from 1936 through 1988, with the bulk dating from 1970 through 1988, a time representing Booker's tenure as a professor in the Department of Engineering at UCSD. Correspondence, lecture notes, examinations, reprints, notebooks and loose research notes, reports, grants and contracts comprise the collection with teaching materials representing the greatest quantity. Teaching materials are in some cases simultaneously manuscript drafts for text books. The papers are arranged in nine series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL , 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) TEACHING, 4) WRITINGS, 5) CONTRACTS AND GRANTS, 6) SUBJECT FILES, 7) ORGANIZATIONS, 8) TRAVEL, and 9) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    This series contains miscellaneous biographical material such as curriculum vitae, a nomination for the Marconi Fellowship, and documentation from the Institute for Science Information identifying "A Theory of Radio Scattering in the Troposphere" by Booker as one of the most cited papers in its field.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is divided into two subseries: A) General and B) Reviews.
    A) The General Correspondence subseries spans the dates 1974-1988 and is arranged alphabetically by correspondent's name. Correspondents include Jack Ratcliffe, Barry Uscinski, Dallas K. Lankford, and Kenneth Budden. The Budden correspondence is notable for describing how Booker came to be interested in radio propagation as an undergraduate student at Cambridge. The letters describe Booker's first meeting and early tutelage under Jack Ratcliffe at Cambridge, Booker's early career, and some of his radio wave propagation research with Ratcliffe. Also notable in this series is a letter to Edward Stern discussing some of the problems encountered with setting up the UCSD engineering department.
    B) The Reviews subseries contains copies of formal reviews conducted by Booker of others' papers and proposals.
    This is the largest series in the Booker papers. It is divided into four subseries: A) Cornell, B) UCSD, C) Examinations, and D) Course and Professor Evaluations.
    A) The Cornell subseries is arranged in alphabetical order with material from 1957-1966. This subseries contains lecture notes and course texts for several undergraduate mathematics and calculus courses taught by Booker at Cornell. Included here are course notes later published as a textbook, "A Vector Approach to Oscillations" (1965).
    B) The UCSD subseries contains items that relate to undergraduate and graduate courses taught by Booker at UCSD from 1973 to 1988. The series is arranged alphabetically by course and contains lecture notes, texts, syllabi, and other miscellaneous materials for the various courses that Booker taught. Included in this subseries are course notes which were later published as textbooks, Energy in Electromagnetism (1982) and Cold Plasma Waves (1984).
    It is important to note that during Booker's tenure at UCSD, the Physics Department was renamed twice. The materials in this subseries reflect these changes. Within the files, the department and course titles will variously be labeled "APIS" (Applied Physics and Information Science) 1964-1979, "EECS" (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) 1980-1986, and "ECE" (Electrical and Computer Engineering) 1987-1988. Booker's file headings do not always reflect the changes. Course materials from a later year may be filed under an earlier heading, and vice versa (i.e. materials for EECS 131 may be filed under the file heading, and with materials, for ECE 131). This has been simplified on the container list by leaving department initials off altogether and organizing material according to course description (i.e. Electromagnetic fields in free space 131A).
    C) The Examinations subseries consists of midterm and final examinations for UCSD science and physics courses taught by Booker from 1970-1988. Exams are arranged by course number and filed chronologically. Some examinations include solutions to the problems.
    D) The Course and Professor Evaluations subseries contains student evaluations for course number 131 from Fall 1985 to Spring 1987. These files offer some interesting insight into students' perceptions of Booker's teaching ability and style.
    The WRITINGS series is divided into three subseries: A) Published, B) Unpublished, and C) Notebooks.
    A) The Published writings subseries is arranged chronologically by year of publication, from 1938-1987. Included in this subseries are books, journal articles and reprints written by Booker. This subseries contains primarily original typescripts with some drafts and edits included. Some files also contain correspondence with publishers, proofs, and originals of diagrams.
    B) The Unpublished writings subseries contains a variety of unpublished materials such as lecture notes, reports, notations, and calculations generated in Booker's career as an instructor and theorist. The material is organized chronologically with the undated material following in alphabetical order by title. The subseries includes handwritten and typed manuscripts and notes, transparencies, calculations, equations, and miscellaneous research data.
    C) The Notebooks subseries contains notebooks compiled by Booker which have been left intact. They house a variety of material including lecture notes, topical files, and bibliographies. Notebooks are arranged alphabetically by title.
    This series contains materials that relate to Booker's association with outside agencies for funding. The files are organized alphabetically by agency name and name of project. In most cases the files include a copy of the grant proposal or contract, correspondence, and some budgetary or accounting materials. The CONTRACTS AND GRANTS series primarily contains documentation of research funded by the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico from 1983 to 1987, the National Science Foundation from 1978 through 1988, and the Office of Naval Research, which funded Booker's research on extremely low frequency wave propagation from 1975-1980.
    This series is arranged alphabetically by title and includes material pertaining to such subjects as a debate Booker had with Kenneth Budden of Cambridge University regarding approximations of QL/QT. The controversy arose from Budden's review of Booker's manuscript for Cold Plasma Waves. Also of note is Booker's file on Jacov Alpert, a Soviet "refusnik" wishing to emigrate. Booker corresponded with Alpert from 1977 through 1988 and was successful in getting the UCSD physics department to offer Alpert a position should he be given permission to leave the Soviet Union.
    Other topics in the SUBJECT FILE series are found in the files "History of electromagnetic theory" and "History of ionosphere." These files contain materials that relate to Booker's correspondence with historians regarding the history of electromagnetic and ionospheric theory. Of special interest is his correspondence with Stewart Gillmor and others, regarding an unpublished 1926 manuscript by Austrian physicist Wilhelm Altar. Gillmor contends that the manuscript, along with correspondence between Altar and Nobel Prize winner E.V. Appleton, seems to suggest that Appleton and Altar had a significant collaboration that was never acknowledged by Appleton. Correspondence between Gillmor, Booker, Jack Ratcliffe and others debate this suggestion and its implication for the history of magneto-ionic theory.
    The file "Student victimization" explores the quality of undergraduate teaching in a research-oriented institution like UCSD by chronicling the 1973 student accusations of negligent teaching against physics Professor Keith Brueckner. Also of interest are the files which document turbulent events at UCSD during the Vietnam War era. Booker was particularly interested in the kind of education received by engineering students. This interest is evident in the subject files which contain collected articles pertaining to the quality and purpose of teaching university level physics and engineering.
    This series contains materials relating to two of the organizations in which Booker was an active member: The National Academy of Science (NAS) and the International Union of Radio Science (URSI). Of historical interest is the file "URSI Reorganization" which contains documents that relate to a formal reorganization of the Union in 1970-1971. The URSI materials contain copies of minutes, routine memos, group correspondence, and lecture notes for an assembly talk in 1981. The NAS material contains nomination and election correspondence for 1986-1988, regarding NAS Section 16 - the Atmospheric Group.
    The TRAVEL series contains materials on Booker's trip to China in 1981 and proposed trips to China, England, India and Israel. The proposed trips were canceled due to Booker's illness. The 1981 trip to China includes travel plans, itineraries, notes for lectures delivered by Booker, correspondence with Chinese colleagues and associates, reprints of Chinese scientists, and names and addresses of Chinese colleagues. Also included in this series is material related to a seminar in India commemorating S.K. Mitra which Booker did not actually attend, but he did contribute a paper.
    The ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES series contains the originals of brittle or high acid content documents that have been photocopied.


    Henry George Booker was born in England in 1910 and became a U.S. citizen in 1952. He earned his degrees from Cambridge University (B.A. 1933, pure and applied mathematics; Ph.D. 1936, ionospheric physics). Booker became a Fellow of Christ's College in 1935, where he studied radio wave propagation. He later took a leave of absence to continue this research as a Visiting Scientist at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.
    During World War II, Booker conducted theoretical research for the Royal Air Force that led to developments in the understanding of antennas and radio wave propagation. After the war he returned to Christ's College to teach until 1948 when he became a professor of electrical engineering and engineering physics at Cornell University. After serving as director of Cornell's School of Electrical Engineering and associate director of the Cornell Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, he moved on to the University of California, San Diego to start the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences in 1965. He became emeritus professor of applied physics in 1978 and died in 1988.
    His research throughout his years at UCSD was concerned with electromagnetism, cold plasma waves, and radio waves. Booker had a great interest in the quality of both undergraduate teaching of physics and in the graduate curriculum. He also advised many graduate students. He was equally active in his own theoretical research, receiving grants from the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Among his many honors, Booker was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1954 and made a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1960. In 1978 the Union of Radio Science elected Booker honorary president. He was named an honorary professor at Wuhan University in China in 1981. Booker authored four books: An Approach to Electrical Science (1959), A Vector Approach to Oscillations (1965), Energy in Electromagnetism (1982), and Cold Plasma Waves (1984, also translated into Chinese).

    Preferred Citation

    Henry G. Booker Papers, MSS 93. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1989.



    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Radio wave propagation
    Electrical engineering -- Study and teaching
    Low temperature plasmas
    Booker, Henry G. -- Archives
    Uscinski, B. J. -- Correspondence
    University of California, San Diego. Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department -- Archives
    University of California, San Diego -- Faculty
    University of California, San Diego -- History
    International Union of Radio Science
    Budden, K. G. -- Correspondence
    Ratcliffe, J. A. (John Ashworth) -- Correspondence
    Lankford, Dallas K. -- Correspondence
    Alʹpert, IA. L. (IAkov L'vovich)