These records are the official minutes of the Board. They are compiled at the direction of the Secretary of the Smithsonian, who is also secretary to the Board, after
approval by the Regents' Executive Committee and by the Regents themselves. The minutes are edited, not a verbatim account of proceedings. For reasons unknown, there are no
manuscript minutes for the period from 1857 through 1890; and researchers must rely on printed minutes published in the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution instead.
Minutes are transferred regularly from the Secretary's Office to the Archives. Minutes less than 15 years old are closed to researchers. Indexes exist for the period from
1907 to 1946 and can be useful.
The Smithsonian Institution was created by authority of an Act of Congress approved August 10, 1846. The Act entrusted direction of the Smithsonian to a body called
the Establishment, composed of the President; the Vice President; the Chief Justice of the United States; the secretaries of State, War, Navy, Interior, and Agriculture; the
Attorney General; and the Postmaster General. In fact, however, the Establishment last met in 1877, and control of the Smithsonian has always been exercised by its Board of
Regents. The membership of the Regents consists of the Vice President and the Chief Justice of the United States; three members each of the Senate and House of Representatives;
two citizens of the District of Columbia; and seven citizens of the several states, no two from the same state. (Prior to 1970 the category of Citizen Regents not residents
of Washington consisted of four members). By custom the Chief Justice is Chancellor. The office was at first held by the Vice President. However, when Millard Fillmore succeeded
to the presidency on the death of Zachary Taylor in 1851, Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney was chosen in his stead. The office has always been filled by the Chief Justice
since that time.
The Regents of the Smithsonian have included distinguished Americans from many walks of life. Ex officio members (Vice President) have been: Spiro T. Agnew, Chester A.
Arthur, Allen W. Barkley, John C. Breckenridge, George Bush, Schuyler Colfax, Calvin Coolidge, Charles Curtis, George M. Dallas, Charles G. Dawes, Charles W. Fairbanks, Millard
Fillmore, Gerald R. Ford, John N. Garner, Hannibal Hamlin, Thomas A. Hendricks, Garret A. Hobart, Hubert H. Humphrey, Andrew Johnson, Lyndon B. Johnson, William R. King, Thomas
R. Marshall, Walter F. Mondale, Levi P. Morton, Richard M. Nixon, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, James S. Sherman, Adlai E. Stevenson, Harry S. Truman, Henry A.
Wallace, William A. Wheeler, Henry Wilson.
Ex officio members (Chief Justice) have been: Roger B. Taney, Salmon P. Chase, Nathan Clifford, Morrison R. Waite, Samuel F. Miller, Melville W. Fuller, Edward D. White,
William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan F. Stone, Fred M. Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren E. Burger.
Regents on the part of the Senate have been: Clinton P. Anderson, Newton Booth, Sidney Breese, Lewis Cass, Robert Milledge Charlton, Bennet Champ Clark, Francis M. Cockrell,
Shelby Moore Cullom, Garrett Davis, Jefferson Davis, George Franklin Edmunds, George Evans, Edwin J. Garn, Walter F. George, Barry Goldwater, George Gray, Hannibal Hamlin,
Nathaniel Peter Hill, George Frisbie Hoar, Henry French Hollis, Henry M. Jackson, William Lindsay, Henry Cabot Lodge, Medill McCormick, James Murray Mason, Samuel Bell Maxey,
Robert B. Morgan, Frank E. Moss, Claiborne Pell, George Wharton Pepper, David A. Reed, Leverett Saltonstall, Hugh Scott, Alexander H. Smith, Robert A. Taft, Lyman Trumbull,
Wallace H. White, Jr., Robert Enoch Withers.
Regents on the part of the House of Representatives have included: Edward P. Boland, Frank T. Bow, William Campbell Breckenridge, Overton Brooks, Benjamin Butterworth,
Clarence Cannon, Lucius Cartrell, Hiester Clymer, William Colcock, William P. Cole, Jr., Maurice Connolly, Silvio O. Conte, Edward E. Cox, Edward H. Crump, John Dalzell, Nathaniel
Deering, Hugh A. Dinsmore, William English, John Farnsworth, Scott Ferris, Graham Fitch, James Garfield, Charles L. Gifford, T. Alan Goldsborough, Frank L. Greene, Gerry Hazleton,
Benjamin Hill, Henry Hilliard, Ebenezer Hoar, William Hough, William M. Howard, Albert Johnson, Leroy Johnson, Joseph Johnston, Michael Kirwan, James T. Lloyd, Robert Luce,
Robert McClelland, Samuel K. McConnell, Jr., George H. Mahon, George McCrary, Edward McPherson, James R. Mann, George Perkins Marsh, Norman Y. Mineta, A. J. Monteague, R.
Walton Moore, Walter H. Newton, Robert Dale Owen, James Patterson, William Phelps, Luke Poland, John Van Schaick Lansing Pruyn, B. Carroll Reece, Ernest W. Roberts, Otho Robards
Singleton, Frank Thompson, Jr., John M. Vorys, Hiram Warner, Joseph Wheeler.
Citizen Regents have been: David C. Acheson, Louis Agassiz, James B. Angell, Anne L. Armstrong, William Backhouse Astor, J. Paul Austin, Alexander Dallas Bache, George
Edmund Badger, George Bancroft, Alexander Graham Bell, James Gabriel Berrett, John McPherson Berrien, Robert W. Bingham, Sayles Jenks Bowen, William G. Bowen, Robert S. Brookings,
John Nicholas Brown, William A. M. Burden, Vannevar Bush, Charles F. Choate, Jr., Rufus Choate, Arthur H. Compton, Henry David Cooke, Henry Coppee, Samuel Sullivan Cox, Edward
H. Crump, James Dwight Dana, Harvey N. Davis, William Lewis Dayton, Everette Lee Degolyer, Richard Delafield, Frederic A. Delano, Charles Devens, Matthew Gault Emery, Cornelius
Conway Felton, Robert V. Fleming, Murray Gell-Mann, Robert F. Goheen, Asa Gray, George Gray, Crawford Hallock Greenwalt, Nancy Hanks, Caryl Parker Haskins, Gideon Hawley,
John B. Henderson, John B. Henderson, Jr., A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Gardner Greene Hubbard, Charles Evans Hughes, Carlisle H. Humelsine, Jerome C. Hunsaker, William Preston
Johnston, Irwin B. Laughlin, Walter Lenox, Augustus P. Loring, John Maclean, William Beans Magruder, John Walker Maury, Montgomery Cunningham Meigs, John C. Merriam, R. Walton
Moore, Roland S. Morris, Dwight W. Morrow, Richard Olney, Peter Parker, Noah Porter, William Campbell Preston, Owen Josephus Roberts, Richard Rush, William Winston Seaton,
Alexander Roby Shepherd, William Tecumseh Sherman, Otho Robards Singleton, Joseph Gilbert Totten, John Thomas Towers, Frederic C. Walcott, Richard Wallach, Thomas J. Watson,
Jr., James E. Webb, James Clarke Welling, Andrew Dickson White, Henry White, Theodore Dwight Woolsey.
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Satellite Tracking Program Search this
79.59 cu. ft. (64 record storage boxes) (2 16x20 boxes) (30 blueprint storage boxes) (11 oversize folders)
This record unit consists mostly of records documenting the administration, operation and scientific work of the STP Baker-Nunn camera and laser-ranging stations. The
majority of the files were created after the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) reorganization in 1973 and maintained by the Radio and Geoastronomy Division. The
records include correspondence, memoranda, reports, drawings, blueprints, plans, schematics, charts, publications, manuals, maps, and data concerning station operations; station
personnel; the design of stations and facilities; satellites tracked; equipment development, especially the laser-ranging system; agreements with host nations, states, and
organizations; procurement requests and property inventories; weather at stations; and general administration. Also included is correspondence of STP Manager Michael R. Pearlman;
photographs and slides of stations, personnel, equipment, and facilities; and information on foreign countries where stations were located.
Whipple, Fred L. (Fred Lawrence), 1906-2004, interviewee Search this
4 audiotapes (Reference copies).
The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives'
record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program
staff conducts interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted
by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Whipple was interviewed for the Oral History Collection because of his central role in the modernization of the SAO and his outstanding contributions to science. For additional
information, see the following related collections in Smithsonian Archives: the records of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; the Fred Lawrence Whipple Papers; and
Record Unit 9542, Multiple Mirror Telescope videohistory interviews.
Whipple was interviewed on June 24 and 25, 1976 by Pamela M. Henson. The interviews cover his education; radar countermeasure work during World War II; role in the development
of national programs for astrophysics and space exploration; research program on comets, meteors, and interplanetary material; administration of SAO; development of Mt. Hopkins,
MMT, and optical tracking programs; and reminiscences of colleagues such as Imre G. Izsak, Craig M. Merrihue, and Carlton W. Tillinghast.
Fred Lawrence Whipple (1906-2004), received the B.A. in mathematics with a minor in physics and astronomy from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1927 and
the Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1931. His early training focused on comet orbits. After teaching for a year at Stanford University,
he joined the staff of the Harvard College Observatory in 1931 and remained in Cambridge throughout his career. During the 1930s his work focused on double station meteor
research. From 1943 to 1945, he developed radar countermeasures for the U. S. Army Radiation Laboratory of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. After World War
II he worked on development of the Super-Schmidt cameras to photograph meteors and continued research on the influx of material from comets into the interplanetary medium.
His comet research culminated in publication of the Icy Comet Model in 1950. During the forties he also conducted studies of meteor hazards to spacecraft, inventing the meteor
bumper, and served on the Rocket and Satellite Research Panel. In the early fifties, with Wernher von Braun and Cornelius J. Ryan, he coauthored a series of popular articles
on the conquest of the space frontier.
His teaching career at Harvard University progressed from Instructor, 1932-1938; Lecturer, 1938-1945; Associate Professor, 1945-1950; Professor, 1950-1970; Chairman of
the Department of Astronomy, 1949-1956; to Phillips Professor of Astronomy, 1970-1977. Thus when Whipple was appointed Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
(SAO) in July 1955, he moved its headquarters to the Cambridge campus and continued as Professor and member of the Harvard College Observatory staff. He reorganized the Smithsonian's
observatory and reoriented its research program. Under his directorship, the staff grew from a handful to more than five hundred, including over sixty scientists.
At the request of the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, Whipple began development of Baker-Nunn cameras to track artificial satellites during
the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958). With the help of Armand N. Spitz, he also developed the Moonwatch optical tracking program, which utilized teams of volunteers
observing satellites with hand-held telescopes. When Sputnik was launched in October of 1957, the Moonwatch teams were the only U. S. mechanism available to track the Russian
satellite. The SAO subsequently received large contracts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to operate the Satellite Tracking Program (STP), an optical
tracking system with Baker-Nunn camera stations located all over the globe. Whipple's satellite tracking work earned him the 1963 Distinguished Civilian Service Award from
President John F. Kennedy.
The Prairie Network, an optical tracking system designed to photograph meteorites and fireballs in order to calculate their orbits, created by Whipple and Richard E. McCrosky,
began observations in 1964. Coordination of STP camera observations with Jodrell Bank Observatory radio data on flare stars led to the first identification of radio noise
from any star besides the sun.
SAO relied on early computers such as the Mark IV, IBM 7090, and CDC 6400 for rapid processing of massive quantities of data. Baker-Nunn and Super-Schmidt camera data were
directly processed by automated means, which made possible the 1966 SAO Star Catalog, coordinated by Katherine L. Haramundanis. Whipple required direct publication from computer
tapes, a first for the U. S. Government Printing Office. Observations from the STP were progressively refined during the sixties through new laser tracking techniques and
advances in automated data processing, to provide improved geodetic and geophysical data. In the early sixties, stellar atmosphere models were developed with the aid of an
IBM 7090 and after 1966 a CDC 6400, in anticipation of far ultraviolet light data from orbiting observatories. Based on this experience in upper atmosphere research, Whipple
was appointed project director for the orbiting astronomical observatories from 1958 to 1972.
The telegraph service of the International Astronomical Union came to the SAO in 1965 under the coordination of Owen J. Gingerich and later Brian G. Marsden. It utilized
SAO's sophisticated communications network and led eventually to the creation of the Center for Short-Lived Phenomena by Robert A. Citron.
Development of an observatory site at Mt. Hopkins, Arizona, began in 1966. Chosen by Whipple for its altitude and seeing conditions, the site was dedicated in 1981 as the
Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory. On this site, in conjunction with the U. S. Air Force and University of Arizona, he developed the technically innovative Multiple Mirror
Telescope (MMT), which commenced observations in May of 1979.
In addition to his own research program on comets, meteors, and interplanetary materials, Whipple coordinated the SAO research programs in celestial mechanics, geodesy,
meteoritics, radio astronomy, neutrino searches, stellar atmosphere models, and the atomic clock project to test the theory of relativity. He encouraged NASA's lunar program
and development of the space telescope.
Whipple was distinguished both for his theoretical work in astrophysics and his technical innovations in such areas as tracking cameras, multiple mirror telescopes, and
meteor bumpers. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Whipple received the Academy's J. Lawrence Smith Medal in 1949 for his meteor research. He was awarded the Kepler
Medal by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1971 and the Joseph Henry Medal of the Smithsonian Institution in 1973. Through his work on numerous federal
and private boards, panels, and commissions, Whipple was influential in the development of national programs for research in astrophysics and creation of a space exploration
Whipple retired from administration of SAO in 1973 but continued active research as a Senior Scientist from 1973 to 1977. Upon his retirement in 1977, he was appointed
Emeritus Phillips Professor of Astronomy at Harvard.
4.43 cu. ft. (4 record storage boxes) (1 12x17 box)
1932, 1946, 1957-1989
This accession consists of records created and maintained by James C. Cornell, Jr., a public information specialist and publications manager for the Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory (SAO) for nearly 40 years. SAO jointly administers the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) with the Harvard College Observatory. Materials primarily
consist of photographs used in the production of newsletters (such as "SAO News" and CfA's "Centerline") and other publications as well as those documenting the construction
of Satellite Tracking Program stations around the world. In addition, materials include handbooks, news clippings, station notes, and publications chronicling the history
of both SAO and the Harvard College Observatory.