Collection Number: 40084

Collection Title: Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1823-1974, 1985-1989, 2008

This collection has access restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.


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Size 3.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 500 items)
Abstract The Department of Physics was officially established in 1907, although courses in natural philosophy, as the subject was called through most of the nineteenth century, had been given as part of the mathematics curriculum since about 1820. In 1973, the name of the Department of Physics changed to Department of Physics and Astronomy. The collection is mainly files relating to the history of the department; a number of reports on and studies of the department, done at various times between 1938 and 1963; and several files relating to the National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974. Also included is a DVD of a 2008 departmental symposium titled "Physics and Astronomy at UNC-CH: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?"
Creator University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dept. of Physics and Astronomy.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Original media is not acessible to researchers.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40084, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1978-2009.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Historical Information

The Department of Physics was officially established in 1907, although courses in natural philosophy, as the subject was called through most of the nineteenth century, had been given as part of the mathematics curriculum since about 1820. In 1973, the name of the Department of Physics changed to Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Mainly files relating to the history of the department; also a number of reports on and studies of the department, done at various times between 1938 and 1963; and several files relating to the National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974. Also included is a DVD of a 2008 departmental symposium titled "Physics and Astronomy at UNC-CH: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?"

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963.

Various reports related to and a brief history of the Department of Physics. These records were transferred to the University Archives in September 1978. Information in the scope/content notes was prepared by Professor Paul E. Shearin and Professor Everett D. Palmatier on 5 September 1978.

Box 1

History of the Physics Department by Paul E. Shearin, 1944 #40084, Series: "1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963." Box 1, Box 1

This was written in 1944 by P. E. Shearin, chairman of the Department of Physics. The chancellor had requested that all chairmen prepare a short history of their respective departments as material for the Sesquicentennial celebration of the University. As noted in the document, in 1965, W. E. Haisley added the names of those who had earned the Ph.D. in the department.

Whyburn Report, 1950? #40084, Series: "1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963." Box 1

Sometime during the years 1949-1950, the university administration appointed a committee (Professor W. Whyburn of Mathematics, Professor D. Costello of Zoology, and Professor Crockford of Chemistry with Professor Whyburn as chairman) to study the needs and goals of the Physics department. This study led to a special appropriation to the department ($40,000) for the purchase of teaching and research equipment. This committee is referred to briefly near the bottom of the first page of the following report (at this later date, Arthur Roe, chairman of Chemistry, replaced H. Crockford)

Wheeler Report, 1954 #40084, Series: "1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963." Box 1

Owing to continuing pressure from the Physics department, President Gordon Gray, in 1953, appointed an outside committee of distinguished physicists to make an independent study of the state of the department. This committee was composed of Professor Lloyd P. Smith of Cornell University, Professor J. C. Street of Harvard University, and Professor John A. Wheeler of Princeton University (chairman). Their report, which became known as the Wheeler report, was submitted to President Gray during January 1954, and a special presentation by all three members of the committee was also made directly to Governor Luther Hodges in Raleigh. In fact, their first two recommendations out of a total of eleven (see page 26 of their report) bear directly on the foundation of what is now known as our present day Research Triangle. It should be noted that this presentation had the full blessing of the university administration as the committee, when it visited the governor, was accompanied by Mr. W. D. Carmichael, vice president of the university. A special legislative appropriation of $15,000 per year for two years was made shortly after this for further equipment to tide the department over until the university administration could launch a major effort to implement the recommendations of the Wheeler committee.

Status of the Department, 13 June 1957 #40084, Series: "1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963." Box 1

This summary of data pertaining to the status of the department relative to physics departments in surrounding universities of the southeastern United States was prepared by the chairman of the department and submitted to the chancellor.

Michael Saphier Report, 15 April 1957 #40084, Series: "1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963." Box 1

Item noted as missing in September 2016.

This study was performed, at the instigation of Governor Luther Hodges, by an independent consulting firm from New York. Its major purpose was to determine the space requirements of the department, both in amount and type of space. This study, which definitely assisted in the obtaining of legislative approval for funds for a new building and equipment, cost $25,000. This amount was taken from the money approved by the legislature for the new building! Note (1) Sometime in mid-1957, the legislature approved the construction and equipping of a Physics Building (75,000 square feet at a cost of $900,000 plus an additional $300,000 for equipment). The reference for this authorization is State of North Carolina: The Budget, Volume III: Capital Improvements, 1957-1959 (II-IV) pages 24-25 (On file in the North Carolina Collection as C336 N87gl). Note (2) Although the above approval strictly refers to a new building for the Physics Department, as it was the desire of all concerned to: (a) not split the mathematics and physics library; (b) keep the physics and mathematics departments in close proximity; and (c) have a university-wide computer facility in the physics building, it was agreed to add a new wing to Phillips Hall and have the various departments simply spread out horizontally, staying on the floors which they already occupied.

Consultant's Report, March 1958 #40084, Series: "1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963." Box 1

This is a study of the elementary physics courses made for the department by an outside consultant, Professor G. E. Grantham of Cornell University.

Commentary on Consultant's Report, 1958 #40084, Series: "1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963." Box 1

This is a commentary on Professor Grantham's report and on the state of our elementary physics teaching. It was prepared by Professor J. W. Straley of the Physics department, who at the time was beginning an extensive development program for the elementary classes.

Self-Study, January 1963 #40084, Series: "1. Department of Physics, 1944-1963." Box 1

This is a departmental self-study, prepared at the request of Chancellor Aycock.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974.

Files of Professor Everett D. Palmatier, chairman of the department's National Science Foundation Science Development Program Study Committee.

Box 1

NSF Science Development Program Study Committee: Correspondence, 1964 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

NSF Science Development Proposal: Physics Department Program, 1964-1973 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

NSF Science Development Program: Proposal No. 1, 30 July 1966 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

NSF Science Development Program: Proposal No. 2, 15 November 1966 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

Includes 10 May 1967 letter from NSF approving funding for three-year program.

NSF Science Development Program: First Annual Report, 10 May 1968 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

NSF Science Development Program: Second Annual Report, 10 May 1969 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

NSF Science Development Program: Third Annual Report, 10 May 1970 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

NSF Science Development Program: Proposal for Two-Year Extension, 1 June 1970 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

With separate appendix.

NSF Science Development Program: Final Report, 1 July 1974 #40084, Series: "2. National Science Foundation Science Development Program, 1964-1974." Box 1

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989.

Chiefly notes, source materials, and typed manuscript of Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946) by Professor Waldo E. Haisley. Source materials include copies of some of the items in Series 1 and photocopies of pages from University of North Carolina course catalogs, 1823-1918.

Box 2

Manuscript, 1989 #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Rose McAllister's Scrapbook #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Paul Shearin's History of the Physics Department, 1944 #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Paul Shearin's History: Notes #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Arthur Ruark's "Research Program and Facilities, Department of Physics," 1938 #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Everett Palmatier's "History of the Physics Department, 1949-1986": Notes and Drafts #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: A. H. Patterson Biographical Materials #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: E. K. Plyler Interview #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Staff Biographies and Obituaries #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Haisley's Notes/Copies from University Archives #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Copies from University Course Catalogs, 1823-1918 #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Publications #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Haisley's History: Correspondence, 1986-1988 #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

Sources: Haisley's History: Notes, 1985-1988 #40084, Series: "3. Waldo E. Haisley's Physics and Astronomy at Chapel Hill (1795-1946), 1823-1989." Box 2

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Other Materials, 1883, 1938, 1960, 2008.

4 items.

Box 2

Letter from J. E. Hilgard to Kemp P. Battle, 24 April 1883 #40084, Series: "4. Other Materials, 1883, 1938, 1960, 2008." Box 2

Letter from J. E. Hilgard, Superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, to Kemp P. Battle, President of the University of North Carolina, enclosing copy of a 27 January 1883 letter to the Governor of North Carolina concerning delivery of the state's set of standard weights and measures.

Physics Instrument Shop Study, March 1960 #40084, Series: "4. Other Materials, 1883, 1938, 1960, 2008." Box 2

Prepared for Dr. E. D. Palmatier, chairman of the Physics department, by Lewis W. Pifer, P.E.

"Research Program and Facilities, Department of Physics, UNC," by Arthur Ruark, December 1938 #40084, Series: "4. Other Materials, 1883, 1938, 1960, 2008." Box 2

Digital Folder DF-40084/1

"Physics and Astronomy at UNC-CH: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?" departmental symposium, 10 October 2008 #40084, Series: "4. Other Materials, 1883, 1938, 1960, 2008." DF-40084/1

Video files

Migrated from DVD-40084/1.

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Processing Information

Processed by: University Archives Staff

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated for born digital processing by Amanda Loeb, February 2015.

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