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Guide to the Bruce H. Rule Papers, 1933-1989
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Bruce H. Rule Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1933-1989
    Creator: Rule, Bruce H., 1908-1990
    Extent: Linear ft.: 11.75
    Repository: California Institute of Technology. Archives.
    Pasadena, California 91125
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, Box and file number], Bruce H. Rule Papers, Archives, California Institute of Technology.

    Biographical Sketch

    Bruce H. Rule was Director of Caltech's Central Shop and Engineering Facilities and Chief Engineer for Astrophysics and the Caltech Synchrotron. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 2, 1908, Rule attended Los Angeles high schools and graduated with a BS in engineering from Caltech in 1932. After a period of employment with the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light and the Vernon Department of Light and Power, he returned to Caltech in 1937 to work on the Palomar telescope project, becoming the chief project engineer in 1938. He retired from active service at Caltech in 1976.
    During World War II Rule worked with other Caltech scientists and engineers at Morris Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains on the development of underwater ballistics for the U.S. Navy. He also designed an aerial reconnaissance camera for the Air Force. After the war, he returned to his engineering work on the Palomar project, where he was largely responsible for the mechanical, electrical, and drive systems for the Hale telescopes. He was also active in the design of instruments for use with large optical telescopes, such as the coudé spectrograph for the Palomar 200-inch. He became chief engineer of the Hale Observatories (run jointly by Caltech and the Carnegie Institution of Washington) in 1966 and project officer for the Du Pont 100-inch telescope at Las Campanas, Chile. Widely sought after outside of Caltech, he was a consultant or adviser for the 236-inch Russian telescope, the 156-inch at Cerro Tololo in Chile, the 156-inch Anglo-Australian telescope in Australia, the 140-inch European Southern Observatory instrument in La Silla, Chile, the 150-inch Canadian-French-Hawaiian Telescope at Mauna Kea, and for the University of California Lick Observatory's 120-inch telescope.
    Rule became involved in radio astronomy in 1955 with the design and construction of the two 90-foot dishes at Caltech's Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), followed some years later with the first 130-foot mobile antenna. He also worked as a consultant on numerous radio astronomy projects.
    Rule organized and was director of Caltech's Central Engineering Services from 1943 to 1969. During this time, he, along with professors Robert V. Langmuir and Robert L. Walker, was in charge of getting Caltech's 1.2 billion-volt synchrotron built and in operation. He served as chief engineer of the Synchrotron Laboratory for twelve years.
    Rule is credited with a number of patents for magnetic recording and research devices.

    Scope and Content

    The papers of Bruce Rule, spanning the years 1933 to 1989, were received over a period of time from different sources. The initial collection, given by the Caltech Astrophysics Department, consists of six and a half linear feet of material related primarily to the 200-inch telescope project at Palomar. These papers include budget items, site and technical information, mostly from the 1930s, in addition to one box of material on the Morris Dam underwater ordnance project (World War II). In 1984, Professor Jesse Greenstein gave the Archives one linear foot of Rule's files from the time he was involved with the Caltech Synchrotron Laboratory. These papers contain reports, technical files and reprints. In 1986, four linear feet of papers were donated by Robert Brucato of the Palomar office. The majority of these papers are committee meetings, reports, proposals, blueprints and test data on various optical telescopes. Additionally, there are field notebooks, symposia papers and reprints. In 1989 Bruce Rule provided one file of biographical data to supplement the material in the collection.