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The Charles Greeley Abbot Papers

Kelvin Smith Library: Special Collections Research Center

(1918 - 1920)

Biography | Scope and Content Note | Boxlist

Quantity: .42 linear feet

Restrictions: The Special Collections Research Center is open to any interested researcher upon presentation of a valid CASE ID or other valid official identification card. The Center is open to other researchers by appointment only.

Acquisition: This Collection was donated to the Case Archive of Contemporary Science and Technology by F. L. Johnson, Consulting Engineer at General Electric Company, in May, 1966.

Biography: Charles Greeley Abbot (1872-1973)

Charles Greeley Abbott was born in Wilton, NH on May 31, 1872 and was educated at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S. 1894, M.S. 1895). He served as assistant in the Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Laboratory in Washington, D.C. (1895-1906), as acting director in 1906 and director from 1907-1944. From 1928-1944, he also served as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Abbott devoted himself to a study of the sun's and the earth's radiation, successfully measuring the solar constant of radiation in 1903 and performed early research into the phenomena of sun spots. He founded observatories for the study of solar radiation at Mt. Wilson, CA, Mt. Harqua Hala, AZ., and Mt. Montezuma, Chile.

Abbott invented a gyroscopic apparatus used as an inertial navigation instrument by the United States military forces in World War 1. He retired from the Smithsonian Institution in 1944.  Abbot was the recipient of the Henry Draper Medal (1910) and the Rumford Prize (1915). He was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1921. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1973.

Scope and Content Note

The papers relate to the development of gyroscopic apparatus (or early inertial navigation instrument) by General Electric Co. as a war measure. This instrument was invented by Charles G. Abbot, then director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The papers are arranged chronologically in folders 2, 3 and 4, and their span is from February, 1918 to January, 1920. The letter of transmittal and preliminary descriptive finding aids are included in folder 1. Microfilm copy made available to the Smithsonian Institution.

Box Folder

Folder Title

1 1 Letter of transmittal; finding aids
1 2 Correspondence and drawings. February 1918-June 1918
1 3 Correspondence and drawings. July 1918-October 1918
1 4 Correspondence and drawings. November 1918-January 1920


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