- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- Spitzer, Lyman, 1914-1997
- Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
- Lyman Spitzer Papers
- Manuscripts Division
- Permanent URL:
- 1936-1997 (mostly 1960-1979)
- 72 boxes, 2 items, and 30.6 linear feet
- Storage Note:
- Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-72
Princeton professor of astronomy (1947-1982), chairman of the Dept. of Astrophysical Sciences, and director of the Princeton University Observatory, Lyman Spitzer was also primarily responsible for founding the University's Plasma Physics Laboratory. His papers include design studies, technical plans and programs, various reports, correspondence, notes, and observations relating to his involvement in the development of the study of space astronomy at Princeton.
Collection Description & Creator Information
The collection consists of selected papers of Spitzer. Included are design studies, technical plans and programs, various reports, correspondence, notes, and observations relating to Spitzer's involvement in the development of the study of space astronomy at Princeton. The papers primarily concern space telescopes and the design of the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO-3), the COPERNICUS satellite, which was launched by NASA in 1972. Also present are lectures, articles, and studies concerning interstellar matter, stellar atmospheres, ionized gases (plasma), and underwater sound research, as well as correspondence with fellow scientists, students, the American Astronomical Society, and other scientific societies. Included in additional papers is a letter, dated 1 November 1962, from John A. Wheeler, thanking Spitzer for his work on the first hydrogen bomb ten years earlier.
- Collection Creator Biography:
Spitzer, Lyman, 1914-1997
Lyman Spitzer was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1914. Educated at Phillips Academy, Yale University, and Cambridge, he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1938. During World War II he participated in underwater warfare research. In 1947 he was appointed chairman of the Astrophysics Department at Princeton University, beginning a long and fruitful tenure. In 1952 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He was primarily responsible for the creation of the Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University.
In his theoretical work, Professor Spitzer focused on the formation of stars from interstellar matter. His work in this area, with its concern with ionized gases, led him into the area of plasma physics. Spitzer was one of the first to point out that a magnetic field might be used to control plasma in a laboratory environment. In the area of observatory astronomy, Spitzer helped push forward the use of telescopes in satellites, and was an early advocate of the Hubble Telescope. He wrote several books, including Physics of Ionized Gases (1962), Dynamical Evolution of Globular Clusters (1987), and Searching Between the Stars (1982), a collection of lectures. He died in 1997.
Gift of the author. Prepared by Matthew Robb '1994. Research files transferred from the Astronomy Department. Files transferred from the Office of the Provost. Files of correspondence transferred from Spitzer's old office.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No appraisal information is available.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed by Matthew Robb, Class of 1994 and Gena Bursan in 1991 and 2000. Finding aid written by Matthew Robb, Class of 1994 and Gena Bursan in 1991 and 2000.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
Collection is open for research use.
- Conditions for Reproduction and 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:
Lyman Spitzer Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Firestone LibraryOne Washington RoadPrinceton, NJ 08544, USA(609) 258-3184
- Subject Terms:
- Artificial satellites.
Astronautics in astronomy.
Astronomers -- United States -- 20th century.
Astronomical observatories -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century.
Astronomical research -- United States -- 20th century.
Astronomy -- Study and teaching -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century.
Astrophysicists -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
Orbiting astronomical observatories.
Plasma (Ionized gases)
Stars -- Observations -- 20th century.
- Genre Terms:
- Copernicus (Artificial satellite).
American astronomical society
Princeton University. Plasma Physics Laboratory