This collection contains the papers of American astronomer
Henrietta Swope (1902-1980), who spent most of her career developing techniques to measure distances in space.
Henrietta Hill Swope (1902-1980), the daughter of General Electric president Gerard Swope
and the niece of journalist Herbert Bayard Swope, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in October
1902 and raised in Ossining, New York, where she began stargazing in her backyard. After
receiving her A.B. in mathematics from Barnard College and her master's degree from
Radcliffe, she joined the staff of Dr. Harlow Shapley at the Harvard University Observatory.
Swope spent most of her career developing techniques to measure distances in space. During
WWII, Swope worked on radar experiments at MIT and at the Navy's Hydrographic Office. After
which she spent 16 years refining the cepheid measuring system at the Mount Wilson and
Palomar Observatories in California. In 1962 she announced that the distance between the
Milky Way and Andromeda, our nearest galactic neighbor, is 2.2 million light years. In 1962
she donated funds to the Carnegie Institute of Washington towards the construction of the
Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, which now contains a 40-inch telescope named in her
honor. She was awarded the Annie Jump Cannon Prize from the American Astronomy Society in
1968. She died in Pasadena, California in November 1980.
Approximately 2,400 items in 10 boxes and 1 oversize folder
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