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Edwin Powell Hubble Papers: Finding Aid
mssHUB 1-1098  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Edwin Powell Hubble Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1900-1989
    Collection Number: mssHUB 1-1098
    Creator: Hubble, Edwin, 1889-1953.
    Extent: 1300 pieces, plus ephemera in 34 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Edwin P. Hubble (1889-1953), an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory near Pasadena, California. as well as the diaries and biographical memoirs of his wife, Grace Burke Hubble.
    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]. Edwin Powell Hubble Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of the estate of Grace Burke Hubble, 1980.

    Alternative Form of Materials Available

    Visit the Huntington Digital Library   to view digitized items from this collection.

    Biographical Note

    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 use.
    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)

    Indexing Terms

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


    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.

    Additional Authors

    Hubble, Grace Burke, 1889-1980.