George Washington Hough (1836-1909) Papers
Scope and Contents
The George Washington Hough Papers, spanning the years 1855 to 1909, comprise seven boxes and five Gaylord oversize folders. They are arranged in seven subseries: diaries and notebooks; correspondence; teaching material; research material; lectures; manuscripts and drafts; and published works. Included are diaries Hough kept as a student, lecture notes, professional and personal correspondence, class books, graded student exams, observational records, drawings of and data pertaining to scientific instruments, handwritten lectures, handwritten drafts of reports and articles, and offprint of scientific articles. The papers reflect the full range of Hough's interests from his student days until his death.
One folder of biographical material, consisting of Hough's Union College Master's degree certificate, miscellaneous notices of events, clippings, obituaries, lists of memberships and subscriptions, and an undated four page biographical sketch is filed in Box 1. Also included in the biographical folder is a draft of the agreement between Hough, his brother William and William Barclay that established the manufacturing firm of Barclay and Hough in August 1874. The agreement and several miscellaneous invoices provide the only information in the papers on Hough's business venture between 1874 and 1879.
Arrangement within folders is chronological.
1. Diaries and Notebooks: Two diaries cover the years 1855 to 1856. Although they include sporadic entries illuminating Hough's daily activities, they are filled mainly with lecture and reading notes; mathematical, physics, astronomical problems and their solutions; and an index to the solutions. The notebook includes lecture notes from Hough's undergraduate course work in 1855. Volume II of the diary was also used to record astronomical observations after Hough became Assistant Astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory in 1855. This data should be consulted in conjunction with related observational records in Box 4, Folder 6.
2. Correspondence: Eleven folders of correspondence span the period 1855 to 1900. The first ten folders, comprising the bulk of the correspondence, span Hough's student days and his early astronomical career from 1855 to 1867. The eleventh folder includes a relatively small amount of correspondence spanning Hough's career as the Director of the Dudley and Dearborn observatories from 1868 to 1900.
Included in the correspondence are professional and personal letters received by Hough, as well as a few copies or drafts of letters sent by him. Of particular interest is a series of letters from Major General O. M. Mitchel, Astronomer of the Dudley Observatory, responding to weekly reports sent to him during 1861-1862 by Hough, who had assumed the day to day operation of the Observatory in Mitchel's absence. Copies of Hough's reports are filed in Box 6, Folder 3. Also of interest is a letter dated December 11, 1862 (Box 1, Folder 8) from William H. Wells, on behalf of the Chicago Astronomical Society, seeking Hough's opinion on telescope lenses that might suit the needs of the newly formed Society.
Hough married in 1870 and in 1874 left his wife and children in Albany while he initiated a machinery manufacturing venture in Riverside (now part of Belvidere), Illinois with his brother William and William Barclay. The correspondence includes a number of letters from Emma Hough to her husband (Box 2, Folder 3) relating her feelings about their separation and her reluctance to follow him to Illinois.
The bulk of the correspondence details Hough's association with astronomers such as James Craig Watson of the Ann Arbor Observatory and Captain S. W. Gilliss of the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Hough participated in a number of cooperative star mapping projects, many of them under the direction of the staff of the Naval Observatory. There are also letters from Alvan Clark, America's foremost nineteenth century lens maker, and creator of the 18½ inch Dearborn refractor. The correspondence is arranged chronologically.
3. Teaching Material: One and one-half boxes of teaching material document Hough's teaching of astronomy at Northwestern from 1888 to 1909. There is also one class book for an astronomy course taught by Hough at the Dudley Observatory. Included are class books for astronomy and meteorology classes taught between 1891 and 1904 at Northwestern. Hough taught a sequence of two courses: general astronomy and astronomy and meteorology, which were offered as electives in the scientific course of study. The majority of the teaching material consists of graded student examinations from various astronomy and meteorology classes offered between 1892 and 1908.
4. Research Material: The research materials comprise more than one and one-half boxes. Two types of material are represented: the bulk consisting of observational data gathered by Hough between 1859 and 1906. Included are one notebook containing data compiled during Hough's brief tenure as Assistant Astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory and four folders of material from his directorship of the Dearborn Observatory. Data collected during the majority of his career at Dearborn has been retained with the records of the Dearborn Observatory (Series 29/2). The bulk of the data in the Hough Papers was compiled at the Dudley Observatory in Albany, New York between 1860 and 1874. Included are data on comets, asteroids, planetary motion, eclipses, and celestial mapping, and seven folders of unidentified data. The papers also include one Gaylord oversize folder (#1) containing miscellaneous observational data.
The other type of research material in the Hough Papers consists of nine folders of material relating to engineering problems, and the design and testing of scientific instruments. The material that reflects Hough's wide-ranging interest in the development and improvement of astronomical and meteorological instruments provides information documenting Hough's work on barometers, batteries, declinometers, thermometers, and star charters. One Gaylord oversize folder (#2) containing scientific instrument sketches is also included.
5. Lectures: Twenty-one of Hough's lectures comprising three folders reflect his multiple roles as observatory administrator, educator, scientist, and observer of human nature. Most observatories in the nineteenth century were supported by private societies, whose members considered the observatory to be a cultural and educational resource, as well as a scientific endeavor. Consequently, many professional astronomers were also accomplished platform speakers, able to expound upon their researches to non-professional audiences. Hough's lectures reveal his versatility as a popularizer of his vocation.
6. Manuscripts/Drafts: In addition to his extensive research, Hough was a prodigious author. The contents of eleven folders and three oversize folders reflect the breadth of his writings. Included are three folders of manuscript scientific articles, two folders of manuscript non-scientific articles, one folder of article fragments, and five folders of monographic manuscripts, including a complete draft of his book History of Planetary Astronomy. The Gaylord folders include manuscripts and typescripts of articles on Jupiter and other scientific topics.
7. Published Works: Two folders contain offprints of thirty-seven scientific publications authored by Hough. No definitive bibliography of Hough's work exists but he authored more than sixty-two articles. A short bibliographic essay on Hough is in Box 1, Folder l.
The bulk of the records documenting his astronomical observations at the Dearborn Observatory has been retained with the records of the Observatory (Series 29/2).
8. Oversize folders: The material in the Gaylord oversize folders had been stored in rolls and bundles for many years. After pressing, these materials were still not sufficiently flattened to allow interfiling. The oversized folders include research materials and manuscript drafts which should be consulted in conjunction with related materials in the main body of the papers.
Conditions Governing Access
Boxes 1-7 of this collection are stored off-site and require two business days advance notice for retrieval. This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at email@example.com or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.
Language of Materials
The George Washington Hough Papers, spanning the years 1855 to 1909, comprise seven boxes and five Gaylord oversize folders. They are arranged in seven subseries: diaries and notebooks; correspondence; teaching material; research material; lectures; manuscripts and drafts; and published works. Included are diaries Hough kept as a student, lecture notes, professional and personal correspondence, class books, graded student exams, observational records, drawings of and data pertaining to scientific instruments, handwritten lectures, handwritten drafts of reports and articles, and offprint of scientific articles.
Arrangement within folders is chronological.
Method of Acquisition
The George Washington Hough Papers were separated from the Records of the Dearborn Observatory (Series 29/2) in February, 1982 as Accession #82-36. The Dearborn Observatory records were transferred to the University Archives prior to June 1974 as Accession # 74-65.
Twelve linear inches of unrelated publications and War Department weather maps were separated from the Hough Papers. The publications were discarded and the maps were transferred to the Government Publications Department.
Thomas Dorst; March 1982.
- Guide to the George Washington Hough (1836-1909) Papers
- Thomas Dorst
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository
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