Overview of the Collection
Scope and Content
Overview of the Collection
Title: Edwin Powell Hubble Papers
Dates (inclusive): 1900-1989
Collection Number: mssHUB 1-1098
Hubble, Edwin, 1889-1953.
1300 pieces, plus ephemera in 34 boxes
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Edwin P. Hubble (1889-1953), an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory near Pasadena,
as well as the diaries and biographical memoirs of his wife, Grace Burke Hubble.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader
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
[Identification of item]. Edwin Powell Hubble Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Gift of the estate of Grace Burke Hubble, 1980.
Alternative Form of Materials Available
Edwin Powell Hubble, an observational astronomer, was born November 20, 1889, in
Marshfield Missouri. He attended the University of Chicago (1906-1910), where he studied
physics and astronomy, and at Queen's College, Oxford University, where, as a Rhodes
Scholar, he received a B.A. in Jurisprudence in 1912. After a year as a high school
teacher in New Albany, Indiana, Hubble returned to the University of Chicago in 1914 to
do graduate work in astronomy under Edwin Brant Frost at the Yerkes Observatory.
Completing his Ph.D. in 1917, Hubble immediately joined the U.S. Army, serving as an
officer in the infantry from 1917 to 1919. In 1919, Hubble joined the staff of the Mount
Wilson Observatory, a position he held until his death on September 28, 1953. Hubble
married Grace Burke, a graduate of Stanford University, on February 26, 1924.
Although Hubble's earliest astronomical observations concerned galactic nebulae, from
1922 on Hubble began to use the 100-inch reflector at the Mount Wilson Observatory to
view what are now called galaxies (Hubble used the term "extragalactic nebulae"). In
1924, Hubble published "Cepheids in Spiral Nebulae," which contained the first
observational evidence that the nebulae were beyond our own stellar system. In 1926,
Hubble presented a system for the classification of galaxies (elliptical, spiral, barred
spiral, or irregular). The classification system still in use is based upon the scheme
proposed by Hubble. By the late 1920s Hubble began to focus his attention on the
determination of an extragalactic distance scale. Combining twenty-four distances he had
calculated with the corresponding redshifts, Hubble discovered a linear relation between
the distance of distant galaxies and their speeds of recession from us. This relation,
known as Hubble's Law, provided the first observational evidence of the expansion of the
universe and supported what others had predicted on the basis of Einstein's theory of
general relativity. In the 1930s, Hubble studied the distribution of galaxies in the sky
and discovered that their distribution was uniform, a conclusion which supported the
argument that galaxies are the framework of the universe.
Hubble's astronomical career was interrupted by World War II. From 1942 to 1946 he served
as Chief of Ballistics and Director of the Supersonic Wind Tunnels Laboratory at the
Ballistics Resarch Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. For this service,
Hubble was awarded the Medal of Merit.
After the war, Hubble returned to the Mount Wilson Observatory where he became Chairman
of the Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories Research Committee. Hubble spent much of
his time on plans for the use of the 200-inch Hale Telescope, which he was the first to
In addition to his observational astronomy, Hubble pursued other interests. An avid
student of the history of science and philosophy as well as an ardent Anglophile, Hubble
was elected Trustee of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery upon the death of
George Ellery Hale in 1938. In the 1930s, Hubble recognized the inevitability of war with
Germany and in the months before the U.S. entered the war he used his notoriety and
powers as a public speaker to urge U.S. participation on the side of the United Kingdom.
Also an ardent and skilled dry fly fisherman, Hubble spent many vacations in the Rocky
Mountains and on the banks of the River Test in England.
Scope and Content
This collection contains the papers of Edwin P. Hubble and includes manuscripts and reprints of his articles, papers, public
lectures, addresses, etc., scientific documentation for his papers,
logbooks of photographic plates taken by Hubble at Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories, diaries and biographical memoirs
of his wife Grace Burke Hubble, professional, personal, and
social correspondence, photographs, medals and awards, a scrapbook assembled by Grace Hubble, newspaper clippings, etc.
The collection is arranged in the following 6 series:
- Manuscripts (Boxes 1-8) (HUB 1-90, 1097)
- Correspondence (Boxes 9-20) (HUB 91-1031, 1083-88)
- Photographs (Boxes 21-22A and oversize folder) (HUB 1032-1082, 1089-1096, 1098)
- Ephemera (Boxes 23-27)
- Logbooks (Box 29)
- Astronomical Working Papers (Addenda Boxes 1-5)
Hubble, Edwin, 1889-1953 -- Archives.
Hubble, Grace Burke, 1889-1980 -- Archives.
Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery -- Officials and employees -- Archives.
Mount Wilson Observatory -- History -- Sources.
Palomar Observatory -- History -- Sources.
Astronomers -- United States -- Archives.
Astronomy -- Research.
Scientists -- United States -- Archives.
Space sciences -- Research -- United States.
United States -- Intellectual life -- 20th century -- Sources.
Diaries United States 20th century.
Family papers United States 20th century.
Letters (correspondence) United States 20th century.
Logs (records) United States 20th century.
Personal papers United States 20th century.
Professional papers United States 20th century.
Research (document genres) United States 20th century.
Hubble, Grace Burke, 1889-1980.