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Collection Overview

Stewart, John Quincy, 1894-1972
John Q. Stewart Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
59 boxes and 29.8 linear feet
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-50 ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 51-59


The John Q. Stewart Papers consists of articles, correspondence, conference material, printed material, student papers, and other miscellanea of the American astrophysicist and educator John Quincy Stewart (1894-1972).

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists of articles written by Stewart and others, correspondence, financial material, photoprints, maps, conference material, printed material, and student papers. The collection reflects Stewart's interest in the development of social physics and the many scientific areas that he investigated. The correspondence includes letters with professional colleagues and learned societies, such as Stuart C. Dodd, Ralph E. Himstead, George Webber Mixter, G. Edward Pendray, the American Association of University Professors, the Social Research Council, and the Institute of Navigation; in addition, there is correspondence and reports of conferences on the natural sciences applied to social theory and social physics. Furthermore, there are printing plates for area and population maps of various countries, and nine record center cartons of unprocessed additional material.

Collection Creator Biography:

Stewart, John Quincy, 1894-1972

John Quincy Stewart was born on 10 September 1894, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to John Q. and Mary (Liebendorfer) Stewart. He received two degrees from Princeton University, a B.S. in 1915 and a Ph.D. (physics) in 1919.

During World War I, Stewart was first a civilian aeronautical engineer (July-August 1917), and then entered the Army as a 1st Lieutenant S.C. (September 1917). He later served as a chief instructor in sound ranging at the Army Engineering School until his discharge (March 1919). Following the service, Stewart worked for two years (1919-1921) as a research engineer in the Development and Research Department of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in New York. In 1921, he began teaching at Princeton in the Department of Astrophysics, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1963. Beginning in 1946, Stewart became interested in social physics, a field inaugurated by the astronomer Edmund Halley in 1693 which demonstrates the use of physical laws in the realm of the social sciences.

Stewart was a member of many professional organizations and societies, including the American Association for Advancement of Science, American Association of University Professors (serving as first national Vice-President, 1940-1941), American Astronomical Society, American Geographical Society (Honorary Fellow, 1963), American Physical Society, American Statistical Society, Geophysical Union, International Astronomical Union, Phi Beta Kappa, Population Association, and Sigma Xi.

His published books include Astronomy: A Revision of Young's Manual of Astronomy (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1926), co-authored with Henry Norris Russell and Raymond Smith Dugan, Marine and Air Navigation (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1944), co-authored with Newton L. Pierce, and Coasts, Waves, and Weather for Navigators (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1945). Stewart was a prolific writer of articles documenting his investigations in the areas of astronomy, astrophysics, cartography, demography, demography in relation to geography, gyromagnetic effect, hurricanes, ionized gases, lunar craters, meteorology, navigational methods, philosophy of science, physics, sociology, solar eclipses, space travel, speech and hearing, stellar atmospheres, sunspots, and weather cycles. He also participated in taking the first motion picture of the Moon, and in radar studies of meteor showers.

On 17 June 1925, Stewart married Lillian Vaughan Westcott. Their son, John Westcott Stewart, was born 15 November 1926, and followed his father's path to become an associate professor of physics at the University of Virginia.

After leaving Princeton, Stewart moved to Sedona, Arizona. He died in Cottonwood, Arizona, on 19 March 1972, at the age of 77 years.

The following standard abbreviation is used to identify materials in this collection: Ms = manuscript.

Collection History


The majority of the collection was a gift to the Library by Stewart's son, John Westcott Stewart, in 1972. Additional materials were donated by the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming in 2003.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Karla J. Vecchia in 2004. Finding aid written by Karla J. Vecchia in 2004.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

John Q. Stewart Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-50 ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 51-59