Guide to the Henry Crew (1859-1953) Papers

Collection Title: Henry Crew (1859-1953) Papers
Dates: 1833-1975
Identification: 11/3/21/1
Creator: Crew, Henry, 1859-1953
Extent: 7 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Henry Crew Papers are arranged in two main categories: correspondence and diaries. Three folders of biographical materials precede the correspondence. Four folders of notebooks and one folder of publications and bibliographies follow the diaries. The papers richly document Crew's career and personal life from his graduate school days in the 1880's to his death at age 93 in 1953. Crew was an important figure in the development of experimental physics in the United States, as well as an influential educator in the period of transition from classical to modern physics in American higher education. His contributions to the history of physics are equally significant and represent the basis of his current status in the scientific community. The papers illuminate Crew's multiple roles as an experimental scientist, an educator, and an historian of science.
Note: Other Information:Note: Because the bulk of the Henry Crew Papers were micro- filmed prior to their transfer to the University Archives, materials already held by the Archives were not interfiled into the body of the Papers. Those folders that are not part of the microfilm copy of the Papers are denoted by a asterisk note in the Container List.
Acquisition Information: The Henry Crew Papers (with the exception of five folders) were transferred to the University Archives by the American Institute of Physics, through the courtesy of Ms. Joan Warnow, Archivist for the Institute, on April 14, 1981 (Accession #81-80). The papers were originally donated to the Institute by Crew's children William and Mildred. As part of the transfer arrangements between the Institute and the University Archives, the Papers were microfilmed. The master negative is held by the University Archives, while the Institute retained a positive copy.
Processing Information: Thomas Dorst, June 1981
Separated Materials: 1. Certificate - “Fellow” of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.2. Certificate - R. Accademia di Scienze Lettere ed Arti di Padova.3. Certificate - American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia4. Certificate - National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.5. Certificate - Chicago Astronomical Society.6. Certificate of Examination - College of New Jersey, Honor Courses in Geology.7. Certificate - Societas Cliophica.8. Honorary Degree - Northwestern University.9. Honorary Degree - Princeton University.10. Honorary Degree - University of Michigan.11. Rowland Solar Spectrum.12. Microfilm - Master of the Henry Crew Papers (3 rolls).
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Henry Crew was born June 4, 1859 in Richmond, Ohio, the first son of William Henry and Deborah Ann Hargrave Crew. He had one brother, Charles, who died in childhood, and two sisters, Carolyn and Winona. In 1882 Crew received his A.B. from Princeton University, where he had been enrolled in the classical course.

Crew's training in physics began with a one year graduate fellowship at Princeton, commencing in 1682. In 1883 he obtained a fellowship to study in Berlin under Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholz. At that time all Americans who were interested in experimental physics were obliged to study abroad, and if possible in Germany. In 1884 Crew returned to the United States and entered the new experimental physics doctoral program begun by Professor Henry Rowland at The Johns Hopkins University. Crew received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1887. His dissertation topic was the “Doppler Determination of the Rotation Period of the Sun for Various Heliocentric Latitudes.”

Crew spent 1887 and 1888 as an Assistant in Physics at Johns Hopkins. From 1888 to 1891 he was an Instructor in Physics at Haverford College. In 1891 he accepted a position as an astrophysicist at the Lick Observatory in California.

In 1890 Crew married Helen C. Coale. They had three children: Alice, born in 1892; Mildred, born in 1894; and William Henry, born in 1899. Helen Crew died in 1941 at the age of 74.

In the fall of 1892 Crew took the position of Fayerweather Professor of Physics at Northwestern. He held that position, as well as the chairmanship of the physics department, until 1930, when he took a leave of absence to become the Chief of the Division of Basic Sciences at the Century of Progress Inter- national Exposition in Chicago. He was in charge of all scientific exhibits at the fair. On September 1, 1933 Crew's leave expired and he retired from the University.

Crew's academic career had two phases. Upon the receipt of his Ph.D. he began work in the relatively new field of spectroscopy, and especially its applications to astrophysics. At the turn of the twentieth century physicists were just beginning to develop instruments sufficiently sophisticated to make the creation and analysis of spectra worthwhile. Crew contributed to the growth of the new field by constructing a number of new instruments for the creation and elucidation of solar spectra.

Crew continued to be an active research physicist during the first two decades of the twentieth century. However, his primary interest began to shift to the history of physics. In 1914 he published a translation of Galileo's Two New Sciences with Albert De Salvio and in 1928 he published The Rise of Modern Physics.

Crew also devoted a great deal of time to his classroom work. Throughout his career at Northwestern he taught the introductory physics course. In addition, he published a number of widely used textbooks; including A Laboratory Manual of Physics (1902), General Physics (1908), and The Elements of Physics (1909).

After his wife's death in 1941 Crew abandoned his post-retirement research. He did write several articles for encyclopedaea and worked on a number of translation projects. He continued to live in his home on Library Place in Evanston until his death at the age of 93 on February 17, 1953.

In 1941 Crew was awarded the Oersted Medal for his contributions to teaching by the American Association of Physics Teachers. He was made a Chevalier of the Order of the Crown of Italy for his many translations. Crew also received honorary degrees from the University of Michigan (1914), Princeton (1922), and Northwestern (1937).

Crew held memberships in numerous scientific and intellectual organizations. He was president of the American Physical Society (1909-l0), the History of Science Society (1930), the American Association of University Professors (1929), and the Illinois State Academy of Science (1913). He was a member of the Optical Society of America, American Astronomical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Philosophical Society, and the Padua Club. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Science in 1909. Crew served as the Associate editor of the Astrophysical Journal for over thirty years. He published one hundred twenty three articles and twelve books during his career.

Scope and Content

The Henry Crew Papers, comprising seven boxes, are arranged in two main categories: correspondence and diaries. Three folders of biographical materials precede the correspondence. Four folders of notebooks and one folder of publications and bibliographies follow the diaries. The papers richly document Crew's career and personal life from his graduate school days in the 1880's to his death at age 93 in 1953. Crew was an important figure in the development of experimental physics in the United States, as well as an influential educator in the period of transition from classical to modern physics in American higher education. His contributions to the history of physics are equally significant and represent the basis of his current status in the scientific community. The papers illuminate Crew's multiple roles as an experimental scientist, an educator, and an historian of science.

Correspondence

Crew's correspondence, comprising the first two and three quarters boxes of his papers, cover the years 1882 to 1953. The correspondence folders, with a few exceptions, are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the correspondent. Within each folder the correspondence is, for the most part, arranged chronologically. Variations from this scheme of arrangement were retained by the University Archives in order to preserve the congruence between the order of the hard copy and the microfilm copy of Crew's Papers, and thus to facilitate access to both formats. Variations in the chronological arrangement of correspondence within folders most often occurs in the event of a series of letters being exchanged on the same topic. Exceptions to the alphabetical surname arrangement of folders consists of four folders of correspondence received from the American Institute of Physics and two folders of correspondence added to the Papers as received from the Institute out of the biographical file of the Northwestern University Archives. These aberrant files pertain to specific subjects: a position with The Bureau of Weights and Measures, a fellowship to Johns Hopkins, recommendations to the Nobel Committee, participation in the Physics Club of Chicago, Northwestern physics department files, and miscellaneous correspondence. They often contain correspondence with individuals represented in the alphabetical correspondence folders. Some correspondence folders of well-known individuals, such as A.A. Michelson and George Ellery Hale, contain clippings and publications in addition to correspondence. These materials are filed after the correspondence.

With the exception of two folders of Crew family correspondence, the vast bulk of Crew's correspondence is with other physicists, astronomers, and scientists. Opinions were solicited and given about the qualifications of colleagues for various academic and administrative positions. For example, in 1907 the astronomer George Ellery Hale was engaged in a search for a new president of the Throop Institute. He wrote asking Crew's opinion of several men and any suggestions Crew might have. A number of letters were exchanged on the subject. Experimental physics was relatively new in the United States and the pool of capable manpower was limited and well known to everyone in the field, making the process of filling vacant positions a major task at institutions attempting to upgrade their programs in physics.

Another frequent topic of Crew's correspondence was the current state of a particular scientific inquiry. Crew wrote to ask Hale about some telescopic modifications he was considering. Nobel laureate A.A. Michelson wrote asking to borrow a quantity of chemicals from Crew for his investigations. It is evident that a science in its formative stages required a great deal of cooperation among its practitioners.

The topic that occupied the largest portion of Crew's correspondence were his professional social obligations. These obligations included notes recognizing the accomplishments of others and thanks for their recognition of his achievements. Many letters introduced scientists visiting the area and asking Crew to provide some form of hospitality. Crew's correspondence include many invitations to participate in conferences, seminars, and meetings, as in 1909 when he was asked, in his capacity as president of the American Physical Society, to attend an international meeting of physicists in Canada. Crew also wrote letters acknowledging and commenting upon the lectures and publications of colleagues.

One folder of miscellaneous correspondence has been added to the Papers from the University Archives biographical files. This folder contains photocopies of letterbook copies of Crew correspondence rewritten between 1904 and 1906 in the University Club. The family correspondence is mainly between Crew and his sister Carolyn and Crew and his son William Henry. It covers a wide range of domestic and family matters.

Diaries

Crew was a dedicated diarist and his diaries provide a splendid record of his daily professional and personal life. The papers contain two and one quarter boxes of diaries. The first fourteen folders contain forty seven daily diaries covering the years 1876 to 1953. The diaries become progressively more detailed, philosophical, and insightful. They include such mundane occurrences as weather reports and such deeply moving personal events as the period of illness leading to his wife's death. The diaries detail Crew's activities on the Northwestern campus with notes about committees and students and in the larger scientific community in entries concerning professional meetings, papers given and responses to new ideas and theories. The diaries provide Crew's perceptions of the events of the day and about himself, as when he recorded every detail or his learning to drive in the years after his retirement in 1933. In addition to the daily diaries Crew kept special diaries on those trips to Europe in 1895, 1921, and 1927.

The daily diaries are indexed for the years 1930 to 1952. Diary pages are numbered from 1 to 5166 and Crew indexed entries by individual names, events, and organizations. There are two forms of the index. The first is an alphabetically arranged looseleaf notebook and the second is an alphabetically arranged 3″X5″ card file.

Prominent Correspondents

Crew corresponded with a number of men notable in the history of science. There are folders of correspondence with Nobel laureates Albert A. Michelson (Box 2, Folder 14) and Robert Millikan (Box 2, Folder 15). There is also some Michel- son correspondence in the Physics Club of Chicago folder (Box 2, Folder 21). Correspondence with pioneer physics educator Henry Rowland is filed in Box 2, Folder 24. Correspondence between Crew and astronomer George Ellery Hale can be found in Box 1, Folder 27 and Box 2, Folder 1. In Box 1, Folder 11 is Crew's correspondence with early astrophysicist Alfred Brashear. In addition, the papers contain one folder of correspondence between Crew's son, William, and the distinguished English physicist Ernest Rutherford (Box 3, Folder 1).

Arrangement of Materials

The correspondence folders, with a few exceptions, are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the correspondent. Within each folder the correspondence is, for the most part, arranged chronologically. Variations from this scheme of arrangement were retained by the University Archives in order to preserve the congruence between the order of the hard copy and the microfilm copy of Crew's Papers, and thus to facilitate access to both formats. The daily diaries are indexed for the years 1930 to 1952. Diary pages are numbered from 1 to 5166 and Crew indexed entries by individual names, events, and organizations. There are two forms of the index. The first is an alphabetically arranged looseleaf notebook and the second is an alphabetically arranged 3″X5″ card file.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of Physics--Faculty

Personal Name

Crew, Henry, 1859-1953--Correspondence

Crew, Henry, 1859-1953--Diaries

Hale, G. E. (George Ellery), 1913- --Correspondence

Michelson, Albert A. (Albert Abraham), 1852-1931--Correspondence

Subjects

Physics--Study and teaching (Higher)--United States


Container List / Contents

  • Correspondence
    • A Abbe-Aston, 1893-1933Box 1, Folder 4
    • Ames, Joseph Sweetman, 1889-1900Box 1, Folder 5
    • Ames, Joseph Sweetman, 1901-1918Box 1, Folder 6
    • Ames, Joseph Sweetman, 1920-1944Box 1, Folder 7
    • B Baly-Burnham, 1883-1948Box 1, Folder 8
    • Barnard, Edward E., 1907-1922Box 1, Folder 9
    • Bell, Louis, 1894-1927Box 1, Folder 10
    • Brashear, John Alfred, 1901-1908Box 1, Folder 11
    • Briggs, Lyman James, 1925-1928Box 1, Folder 12
    • Bucherer, Alfred Heinrich, 1907-1925Box 1, Folder 13
    • Bureau of Weights and Measures, 1889Box 1, Folder 14
    • C Cajori-Curme, 1887-1933Box 1, Folder 15
    • Chamberlin, Thomas C., 1906-1928Box 1, Folder 16
    • Compton, Karl T., 1912-1929Box 1, Folder 17
    • D Deering-Dyche, 1887-1926Box 1, Folder 18
    • Department Correspondence Northwestern Physics Department, 1893-1945Box 1, Folder 19
        Note:  Folder not part of the microfilm copy of the Papers.
    • E Eccles-Eve, 1913-1933Box 1, Folder 20
    • F Fabry-Frost, 1900-1938Box 1, Folder 21
    • Fauaro, Antonio, 1912-1923Box 1, Folder 22
    • Fellowship to Johns Hopkins, 1882-1885Box 1, Folder 23
    • Fields, John Charles, 1909-1932Box 1, Folder 24
    • G Gaillard-Guyot, 1882-1933Box 1, Folder 25
    • H Hagen-Hibben, 1894-1933Box 1, Folder 26
    • Hale, George Ellery, 1892-1906Box 1, Folder 27
    • Hale, George Ellery, 1907-1967Box 2, Folder 1
    • Hall, Edwin Herbert, 1894-1939Box 2, Folder 2
    • Hallock, William, 1909Box 2, Folder 3
    • Hulbert, Edward 0., 1926-1936Box 2, Folder 4
    • Hutchinson, Cary T., 1923-1933Box 2, Folder 5
    • J Janssen-Julius, 1887-1932Box 2, Folder 6
    • K Kayser-Knudsen, 1913-1932, n.d.Box 2, Folder 7
    • Keeler, James E., 1896Box 2, Folder 8
    • Kimball, Arthur Lelane, 1883-1929Box 2, Folder 9
    • L Laing-Lyman, 1904-1937, n.d.Box 2, Folder 10
    • M MacFarlane-Munsterberg, 1887-1952, n.d.Box 2, Folder 11
    • Magie, William Francis, 1900-1914Box 2, Folder 12
    • McCormack, Thomas Joseph, 1897-1932Box 2, Folder 13
    • Michelson, Albert Abraham, 1894-1954Box 2, Folder 14
    • Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1904-1954Box 2, Folder 15
    • Moore, Eliakim Hastings, 1902-1917Box 2, Folder 16.10
    • Mulliken, Robert. S., 1924-1928Box 2, Folder 16.20
    • N Newall-Nutting, 1904-1929, n.d.Box 2, Folder 17
    • Nobel CommitteeBox 2, Folder 18
    • 0 Oersted-Osborn, 1915-1931Box 2, Folder 19
    • P Page-pupin, 1883-1929Box 2, Folder 20
    • Physics Club of Chicago, 1912-1953Box 2, Folder 21
    • Q, 1904Box 2, Folder 22
    • R Remson-Rosa, 1901-1929Box 2, Folder 23
    • Rowland, Henry Augustus, 1883-1966Box 2, Folder 24
    • Runge, Carl, 1896-1910Box 2, Folder 25
    • Rutherford, Ernest, 1914-1935Box 3, Folder 1
    • S Salrine-Swann, 1888-1936Box 3, Folder 2
    • Saunders, Fredrick A., 1924-1929Box 3, Folder 3
    • T Tacchissi-Trowbridge, 189?-1941Box 3, Folder 4
    • Vincent, J.H., 1900Box 3, Folder 5
    • W Watteville-Woodward, 1897-1928Box 3, Folder 6
    • Wadsworth, Frank L.O., 1896-1926Box 3, Folder 7
    • Walcott, Charles 0., 1904-1921Box 3, Folder 8
    • Webster, Arthur Gordon, 1900-1923Box 3, Folder 9
    • Winston, George, 1896Box 3, Folder 10
    • Wood, Robert William, 1897-1949Box 3, Folder 11
    • XYZ Young-Zeeman, 1904-1922Box 3, Folder 12
    • Young, Charles Augustus, 1895-1904Box 3, Folder 13
    • Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1904-1906Box 3, Folder 14
        Note:  Folder not part of the microfilm copy of the Papers.
    • Crew Family Correspondence, 1833, 1883-1906Box 3, Folder 15
    • Crew Family Correspondence, 1910-1952Box 3, Folder 16
    • Miscellaneous Correspondence, n.d.Box 3, Folder 17
  • Diaries
      Note:  Several of Crew's daily diaries, with entries dating from January 1, 1917 through December 31, 1939, were microfilmed in June, 1985. The master negatives for these films, on two reels, are held by the University Archives.
    • Diaries, 1876-1877Box 3, Folder 18
    • Diaries, 1878-1881Box 3, Folder 19
    • Diaries, 1882-1885Box 4, Folder 1
    • Diaries, 1886-1889Box 4, Folder 2
    • Diaries, 1904, 1907-1909Box 4, Folder 3
    • Diaries, 1910-1912Box 4, Folder 4
    • Diaries, 1913-1915, 1917-1921Box 4, Folder 5
    • Diaries, 1922-1926, 1930-1932Box 5, Folder 1
    • Diaries, 1933-1936Box 5, Folder 2
    • Diaries, 1937-1940Box 5, Folder 3
    • Diaries, 1941-1944Box 5, Folder 4
    • Diaries, 1945-1948Box 5, Folder 5
    • Diaries, 1949-1952Box 6, Folder 1
    • Diary, 1953Box 6, Folder 2
    • Diaries-European Trips, 1895, 1921, 1927Box 6, Folder 3
    • Daily Engagement Books, 1906-1909, 1935-1953Box 6, Folder 4
    • Debate Notes, 1881Box 6, Folder 5
    • Memoranda Books, 1900(2), 1901(2), 1903Box 6, Folder 6
    • Notebooks-Physics, 1880-1940Box 6, Folder 7
    • Publications and BibliographiesBox 6, Folder 8
        Note:  Several of Crew's daily diaries, with entries dating from January 1, 1917 through December 31, 1939, were microfilmed in June, 1985. The master negatives for these films, on two reels, are held by the University Archives.
    • Index to Crew Diaries (Notebook), 1930-1953Box 6, Item 9
  • Biographical Material, 1964-1975Box 1, Folder 1
      Note:  Folder not part of the microfilm copy of the Papers.
  • Northwestern Faculty Bio. Forms, 1939-n.d.Box 1, Folder 2
      Note:  Folder not part of the microfilm copy of the Papers.
  • Clippings and Obituaries, 1936-1953Box 1, Folder 3
      Note:  Folder not part of the microfilm copy of the Papers.