Photographic views of the Harvard College Observatory, 1860-1964


1 cubic foot (207 photographs).
The Photographic views of the Harvard College Observatory provides a visual record of Harvard University's historically renowned research institution for astronomical research, as well as its grounds and surroundings, from 1860 to 1964. The 207 images include photograph prints and an instrument schematic. Print formats include albumen prints, collodion prints, collotype prints, gelatin silver prints, and cyanotype prints. Some photographs were taken by noted architectural photographer F. S. Lincoln and architecture historian Kenneth Conant, Jr.
The Harvard College Observatory was established in 1839 when, after decades of attempts to develop an observatory, when the Harvard Corporation hired William Cranch Bond, a Boston clockmaker, as the Astronomical Observer to the University. His personal astronomical equipment was transferred to the Dana House (now the Dana-Palmer House), where the observatory was housed until 1843. Scholars and students at Harvard University had studied astronomy since the seventeenth century, but it wasn't until a large comet sparked public interest in 1843 that donors began to give funds to build an observatory. A bequest from Edmund Phillips provided $100,000 toward the construction of a new observatory, and President Josiah Quincy secured $25,730 from ninety-four donors that year, with Daniel Sears pledging $5,500. That same year, Harvard placed an order for a fifteen-inch diameter lens from Merz and Mahler of Munich to build their own Great Refractor telescope. In 1844, the University moved the equipment to the main building at a site fifty feet higher in elevation than Cambridge, now known as Observatory Hill.
Open for research.
Photographic views of the Harvard College Observatory, 1860-1964. HUV 1210, Harvard University Archives.
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