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Webster (David Locke) Papers
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  • Scope and Content
  • Biographical Note
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  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: David Locke Webster papers
    creator: Webster, David Locke
    Identifier/Call Number: SC0131
    Physical Description: 14.25 Linear Feet
    Date (inclusive): 1914-1970

    Scope and Content

    The papers of David Locke Webster document his career as a professor and physicist and include course material from physics classes taught at Stanford (1946-1954); notes and notebooks from his earlier teaching career at Harvard, Michigan and M.I.T.; correspondence and subject files on Army research projects; budget material for the Stanford physics department (1924-1943); reprints of articles; research data; photographs of apparatus used in experiments; and manuscripts.

    Biographical Note

    Born in Boston, November 6, 1888, David Locke Webster attended Harvard University, receiving his bachelor's in 1910 and his doctorate three years later, both in physics. While studying at Harvard, Webster also taught as an instructor in mathematics (1909-12) and as an assistant in physics (1911-14). After receiving his advanced degree, he held an instructorship in physics until 1917.
    In the autumn of that year, Webster assumed the position of Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. This appointment was short-lived, as the American entry into the First World War intervened and Webster was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Air Service of the Army. By October of 1918, he had been promoted to captain, the rank he would hold in the air reserves from Armistice until 1924. Webster returned to Michigan, but within the year accepted another offer of an assistant professorship, this one at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    After a single year at M.I.T., Webster came to Stanford, where he had been offered full professorial status and the position of executive department head. He remained Professor of Physics at Stanford until 1954, when he retired. He functioned as department head until 1942, when he took an official leave of absence to serve in World War II. During the subsequent three years he held the posts of head Signal Service physicist, head physicist at large for the Ordnance Department, and chief Army physicist.
    Webster married Anna Cutler Woodman in June, 1912, with whom he had two daughters (Nancy, Helen) and two sons (David Locke Jr., Cutler). In September of 1951, he married his second wife, Olive Durbin Ross. Webster's long-standing avocation was flying. He coordinated the civilian pilot training program at Stanford (1939-41) and co-authored two pilot training manuals.
    Working with H.W. Farwell and E.R. Drew, Webster produced General Physics for Colleges in 1923. He was a member of the board of editors for the Review of Modern Physics from 1929 to 1948, and of the American Physics Teacher from 1933 to 1935. He also contributed to the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
    Webster belonged to a number of professional societies, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, American Physical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, and Phi Beta Kappa. He listed his religious preference as agnostic.
    [Information obtained from Who's Who in America, Volume 32, 1962-63.]

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item], David Locke Webster Papers, SC 131, Stanford University Archives, Stanford, Calif.


    Gift of David Locke Webster 1974, 1976 and Dr. and Mrs. Sergius Bryer, 1979; and transfer from the Stanford University Dept. of Physics, 1987.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections and Univeristy Archives.

    Access Restrictions


    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    World War, 1939-1945
    Physics -- History.
    Webster, David Locke
    Stanford University. Department of Physics
    Webster, David Locke
    United States.. Army.