Physical Sciences, Division of (NMAH, Smithsonian Institution)
0.3 cu. ft.: 1 box; 1 oversize folder
Lawyer and astronomer. Rutherfurd, a native of New York, was a member of a prominent family and financially independent enough to pursue his scientific interests. After graduation from Williams College he practiced law for 10 years before devoting himself to amateur astronomy. Rutherfurd designed and made his own instruments for photography and spectroscopy in astrononical observations, often only demonstrating their capabilities before making them available to other scientists. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and numerous professional societies, Rutherfurd was awarded the Rumford Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1874 for his "Improvements in the processes and methods of Astronomical Photography."
Two papers by Rutherfurd published in the American Journal of Science; lecture notes apparently used by Rutherfurd in teaching; two letters from Benjamin A. Gould, an astronomer and close friend of Rutherfurd; and a draft letter by Rutherfurd to the editors of the American Journal of Science and Art. Most of the collection is comprised of notebooks and loose notes in which Rutherfurd recorded observations, calculations, and designs relating to his professional activities. Two bound notebooks record observations of stars, planets, and comets by telescope in 1846-1849 and 1859-1861. Other papers, loose and less formally recorded, concern astronomical observations and the design and calibration of cameras and spectroscopes used by Rutherfurd and cover the period 1858-1874. A number of photographs of the moon and other subjects related to his work are also included.
Lewis M. Rutherfurd Collection, 1846-1884, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of Dr. David Schmidling