Edwin Francis Carpenter papers

MS 332
Dr. Edwin Carpenter showing University of Arizona students a telescope at Steward Observatory

Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Dr Edwin Carpenter (center) shows Univeristy of Arizona students (standing left to right) Dave Engleman, Sherry Bennett, Beebe Rae Davenport, and Curtis Jennings a 36-inch telescope.

Collection area: History of Science

Collection dates: 1917-1963

About this collection

Papers, 1917-1963 (bulk 1930-1960), of astronomer Edwin F. Carpenter, 1898-1963. Includes biographical materials, correspondence, publications and appearances, printed materials, and photographs. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence documenting his professional activities, and photographs documenting the building and instrumentation of Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, and Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Quinan Mountains, west of Tucson, Arizona. Selected correspondents include Bart Bok, Raymund Dugan, Stuve Holm, Knut Lundmark, Otto Struve, Harlow Shapley, and Edwin Hubble.

Historical background

Born on 1 November 1898 in Boston, Massachusetts, Edwin Carpenter received the A.B. and A.M. degrees from Harvard and the Ph. D. from the University of California at Berkeley (1925). He began his teaching duties at the University of Arizona that year, and became head of the Astronomy Department (1936), director of Steward Observatory (1938), a member at large of the board of directors of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA).

His career brought considerable attention to The University of Arizona, and raised the research and instructional levels of its astronomy and observation programs. Mr. Carpenter’s research included investigations of characteristics of galaxies, the death of stars through supernovae, and white dwarf stars. He was active in campus affairs, and served as local president for several organizations, including the American Association of University Professors and Society of Sigma Xi. Nationally, he was vice-president and chairman of the Astronomical Divisions of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and council member of the American Astronomical Society. He published widely, and received support for his work from the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia. He died on 11 February 1963 at Tucson. He had nearly completed the two-year undertaking of relocating Steward Observatory’s 36 inch reflector to the new site at Kitt Peak National Observatory. He was survived by his wife, Ethel, and children Roger and Emily.

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