Henrietta Hill Swope Papers: Finding Aid

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Overview of the Collection

Title: Henrietta Hill Swope Papers
Dates (inclusive): 1923-1979
Collection Number: mssSwope papers
Creator: Swope, Henrietta Hill, 1902-
Extent: Approximately 2,400 items in 10 boxes and 1 oversize folder
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 astronomer Henrietta Swope (1902-1980), who spent most of her career developing techniques to measure distances in space.
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]. Henrietta Hill Swope Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


Deposit Carnegie Institution of Washington, 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.

Biographical Note

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.

Scope and Content

This collection contains correspondence (Parts 1 and 2), which has been grouped together alphabetically by correspondent. The correspondence includes letters from a variety of astronomers from around the world as well as general astronomy questions from members of the public. The correspondence also deals with women in astronomy and in the Beverly T. Lynds folder is a list of women members of the Astronomical Association of America. The majority of the letters written by Swope are retained copies. The arrangement of her astronomical working papers, however, mirrors that of the collection when it was obtained by the Huntington. The folder titles for the working papers are, for the most part, those of Henrietta Swope herself. The majority of the working papers deal with Swope's research and work on the Milky Way, M31 (Andromeda Galaxy), variable stars, cepheids, Magellanic Clouds, and the Draco System (these folders include notes, photographs and charts.) There are also four black and white photographs that may be of Swope receiving the Annie Jump Cannon Prize in 1968 and several miscellaneous manuscripts, reprints, articles by Swope and others, journals, bulletins, notes, pieces of ephemera and several hundred IBM cards. Notable participants include: Helmut Abt, Gonzalo Alcaino, Joseph Ashbrook, Robert Atkinson, Walter Baade, Horace W. Babcock, Ludwig Biermann, Bart J. Bok, Ira Sprague Bowen, Frederick Brasch, Laszlo Detre, Armin Deutsch, David H. DeVorkin, Laurence Fredrick, Cecilia and Sergei Gaposchkin, Helen Gilberts, Otto Heckmann, Arthur and Helen Hogg, Roberta Humphreys, Alfred H. Joy, Zdenek Kopal, Gerald E. Kron, Arlo U. Landolt, William Liller, Beverly T. Lynds, George C. McVittie, Donald H. Menzel, Delo Mook, Jan Hendrick Oort, L. Plaut, George Preston, Vera Rubin, Allan Sandage, Jan Schilt, T. Schmidt-Kaler, Martin Schwarzschild, Harlow Shapley, Elske Smith, Hyron Spinrad, Sidney Van den Bergh, Alexander Vyssotsky, Merle F. Walker, Sir Richard Woolley, American Institute of Physics, Astronomical Journal, Popular Astronomy, Royal Astronomical Society and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.


The Swope Papers have not yet been fully organized. The correspondence has been grouped together alphabetically by correspondent. The arrangement of her astronomical working papers, however, mirrors that of the collection when it was obtained by the Huntington. The folder titles for the working papers are, for the most part, those of Henrietta Swope herself.

Indexing Terms

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


Baade, Walter, 1893-1960.
Swope, Henrietta Hill, 1902-.
Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories -- History -- Sources.
Mount Wilson Observatory -- History -- Sources.
Astronomers -- United States -- Archives.
Astronomical observatories -- California -- Wilson, Mount (Mountain)
Astronomy -- Photographs.
Astronomy -- Research.
Astronomy -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
RR Lyrae stars.
Variable stars.
Women astronomers -- United States -- Archives.
Andromeda Galaxy.
Magellanic Clouds.
Milky Way.


Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.
Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th century.
Papers (document genres) -- United States -- 20th century.
Photographs -- United States -- 20th century.
Research (document genres) -- United States -- 20th century.

Alternate Authors

Abt, Helmut A.
Alcaino, Gonzalo, 1936-
Ashbrook, Joseph, 1918-1980.
Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982.
Baade, Walter, 1893-1960.
Babcock, Horace W.
Biermann, Ludwig, 1907-1986.
Bok, Bart J. (Bart Jan), 1906-1983.
Bowen, Ira Sprague, 1898-1973.
Brasch, Frederick E. (Frederick Edward), 1875-1967.
Detre, László.
Deutsch, Armin J. (Armin Joseph), 1918-
DeVorkin, David H., 1944-
Fredrick, Laurence W.
Payne-Gaposchkin, Cecilia, 1900-1979.
Gaposchkin, Sergei, 1898-
Gilberts, Helen, 1909-
Heckmann, Otto, 1901-
Hoag, Arthur Allen, 1921-1999.
Hogg, Helen.
Humphreys, Roberta M.
Joy, Alfred H. (Alfred Harrison), 1882-1973.
Kopal, Zdeněk, 1914-1993.
Kron, Gerald E.
Landolt, Arlo U. (Arlo Udell), 1935-
Liller, William, 1927-
Lynds, Beverly T.
McVittie, George C. (George Cunliffe)
Menzel, Donald H. (Donald Howard), 1901-1976.
Mook, Delo E., 1942-
Oort, Jan Hendrik.
Plaut, L.
Preston, George Worrall, 1930-
Rubin, Vera C., 1928-
Sandage, Allan.
Schilt, Jan, 1893-
Schmidt-Kaler, Th. (Theodor), 1930-
Schwarzschild, Martin.
Shapley, Harlow, 1885-1972.
Smith, Elske v. P. (Elske van Panhuys), 1929-
Spinrad, Hyron, 1934-
Van den Bergh, Sidney, 1929-
Vyssotsky, A. N. (Alexander N.), 1888-
Walker, Merle F.
Woolley, Richard van der Riet, addressee.
Corp Author American Institute of Physics.
Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Popular astronomy.
Royal Astronomical Society.
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Astronomical journal.

Box 1

Correspondence, Manuscripts, Notes, and Bibliographies




American Institute of Physics


Astronomical Journal


Baade, Johanna "Muschi" Bohlmann


Baade, Wilhelm Heinrich Walter


Bok, Bart Jan


Bowen, Ira Sprague


Bretz, Marianne C.


Gascoigne, Sidney Charles Bartholomew


Heckmann, Otto


Hoag, Art


Joy, Alfred Harrison


Kinman, T. D.




Minkowski, Rudolph Leo Bernhard


Newell, E. B.


Oort, Jan Hendrik


Plaut, Lukas


Popular Astronomy


Royal Astronomical Society


Schilt, Jan


Schwarzschild, Martin




Manuscripts, Notes, and Bibliographies


Classical Cepheids within 12° of the Galactic Center, by H. H. Swope (ca. 1939).


Variable Stars Towards the Galactic Nucleus, by H. H. Swope. Unpublished, presented at Puebla, Mexico, Feb. 26, 1942.


A Study of the Magnitudes and Colors of the Globular Cluster NGC6397, by H. H. Swope & Irving Greenbaum. Published in Astronomical Journal 57 (1952): 83.


The Palomar Survey of Variables in M31 (First Results), by Walter Baade & H. H. Swope. Presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting, Princeton, New Jersey, Apr. 6, 1955.


The Draco System, by H. H. Swope. Presented at a colloquium, May, 1958.


Variables in the Andromeda Galaxy -- Fields I and III, by Walter Baade & H. H. Swope. Published in Astronomical Journal 70 (1965): 212.


Three Weeks of Symposia, by Bart Jan Bok (1953).


Future of Milky Way Research, part of the thesis, "A Variable Star Survey in an Intermediate Latitude Field -- M.W.F. 376," by Walter J. Miller, S.J., May 1, 1943.


Notes on Cepheids [including some by Otto Struve?].


Notes on the ellipsoidal distribution of light [by James Hopwood Jeans?].


Bibliography of the Magellanic Clouds, Jan. 20, 1948.


Bibliography of H. H. Swope.


Walter Baade's Papers -- list.


Astronomical Working Papers

Box 2

Variable stars; Globular clusters; Milky Way


Variable stars -- Cepheids & notes.


Variable stars -- Galactic Cepheids.


Variable stars -- Galactic Cepheids & reddening.


Variable stars -- Magellanic Clouds' Cepheids.


Variable stars -- Rotation of the apsides.


Variable stars -- Spurious periods.


Globular clusters.


Milky Way -- Miscellaneous.


Milky Way Fields -- Charts.


Milky Way Field 187 -- C (1943).


Milky Way Field 187 -- AK Sco.


Milky Way Field 187 -- BH Sco & Var C39


Milky Way Field 187 -- Excerpts.


Milky Way Field 187 -- EZ Oph & Var. 85.

Box 3

Milky Way Field 187; M31 Field I


Milky Way Field 187 -- Irregular variables.


Milky Way Field 187 -- Photographs, etc.


Milky Way Field 187 -- Sequence; Star chart of Henry Draper stars.


Milky Way Field 187 -- Variables on SB plates.


Milky Way Field 187 -- YY Sgr.


M31 -- Cepheids, absolute and phase.


M31 -- Charts.


M31 -- "Odds and ends."


M31 -- Period-luminosity curve (Fields I-IV).


M31 -- Photometric scale in Fields I and III.


M31 -- Variable star light curves.


M31 Field I.

Box 4

M31 Field I-Field III


M31 Field I -- Amorphous field, south preceding nucleus.


M31 Field I -- Estimates and comparisons.


M31 Field I -- Light curves and graphs.


M31 Field I -- Magnitudes.


M31 Field II.


M31 Field III.

Box 5

M31 Field III-Field IV


M31 Field III -- Quadrant I, south following.


M31 Field III -- Quadrant II, south preceding.


M31 Field III -- Quadrant III, north following.


M31 Field III -- Quadrant IV, north preceding.


M31 Field III -- Summary and traces of quadrants; Running graphs; Mean light curve computations.


M31 Field IV -- B field corrections.


M31 Field IV -- B and V magnitudes.


M31 Field IV -- Color-magnitude diagram.


M31 Field IV -- Converting to intensities and back to magnitudes of mean I.


M31 Field IV -- Eclipsing binaries I.


M31 Field IV -- Eclipsing binaries II.


M31 Field IV -- Irregular variables.


M31 Field IV -- Irregular variables working sheets.

Box 6

M31 Field IV; Draco system


M31 Field IV -- Luminosity.


M31 Field IV -- Magnitudes.


M31 Field IV -- Miscellaneous.


M31 Field IV -- Paper.


M31 Field IV -- Period-luminosity relation.


M31 Field IV -- Photoelectric results.


M31 Field IV -- Plate material.


M31 Field IV -- Population II variables.


M31 Field IV -- Pseudo-cepheids.


M31 Field IV -- UBV results.


M31 Field IV -- Variable plots.


M31 Field IV -- Variables with photovisual l.c.


M31 Field IV -- Working sheets.


Draco system -- Arp: Period-luminosity relation for giants and gap stars.


Draco system -- Baade's material.


Draco system -- Color-magnitude chart.


Draco system -- Comparison to globular clusters, mostly in color-magnitude diagrams; Statistics.


Draco system -- Comparison to globular clusters in period frequency and spectra.


Draco system -- Composite color curves of variables.


Draco system -- Conversion of magnitudes to intensities and back.


Draco system -- Corresctions to plates for color-magnitude diagram.

Box 7

Draco system


Draco system -- Luminosity.


Draco system -- Magnitudes, 1957.


Draco system -- Magnitudes (Wallenquists's work).


Draco system -- Miscellanea.


Draco system -- Outer ring variables.


Draco system -- Paper; pertinent material.


Draco system -- Photovisual (V) and color index for variables.


Draco system -- Plate material and discovery record.


Draco system -- Revised magnitudes, 1959; Standard sequence.


Draco system -- Special variables (V134, V157).


Draco system -- Table for converting scale to magnitude.


Draco system -- Variables.


Draco system -- Variable V123.


Leo II system.

Box 8



Charts -- Information regarding IBM cards (in Box 10).


Charts -- Light curves for Type II cepheids.


Plates -- Baade's plate material.


Plates -- Baade's taken with the 48" Schmidt.


Plates -- On loan.


General -- Aids to find periods of cluster-type variables from running graphs.


General -- Combined light of two stars.


General -- Corrections to heliocentric time for Milky Way fields.


General -- Corrections for 200" radial distortions.


General -- Galactic charts of Right Ascension and declination.


General -- Intensities and magnitudes.


General -- International Astronomical Union (miscellaneous information).


General -- Julian Day tables.


General -- Photographs [Milky Way fields and solar eclipses].


General -- Photometers and blink comparators.


General -- Sensitivity curves of filters for Ross corrector.


General -- Wedge.



Box 9

Articles; Miscellaneous periodicals


Articles by Henrietta H. Swope (and co-authors).


Articles by others.


Miscellaneous journals and bulletins.

Box 10

IBM Cards

Oversize Folder



M31 Field IV. Reddening in M31 by method of Arp.