Introduction

George Ellery Hale was an influential astrophysicist and scientific administrator. Born in Chicago in 1868, George Ellery Hale received his B.S. from MIT in 1890. He quickly established a distinguished scientific reputation for his invention of the spectroheliograph, then made important contributions to the study of solar phenomena, organized and coedited the Astrophysical Journal, and was the leading figure in the design, funding and construction of the Kenwood, Yerkes, Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories.

Hale was also exceedingly energetic in the organization and promotion of the enterprise of science, both at home and abroad. In the United States he played a highly influential role in the National Academy of Sciences. He revivified the Academy almost single-handedly by organizing the National Research Council, obtaining substantial endowment for the NAS, and establishing the critically important National Research Council Fellowships. A founder of the International Union of Cooperation in Solar Research, Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, and a frequent delegate to the International Association of Academies, he became deeply involved in the international relations of science before the First World War. Instrumental in the establishment of the International Research Council after the war, he was president of its successor, the International Council of Scientific Unions from 1931 to 1934.

Hale settled in Pasadena, California in 1904 to assume the duties of director of the newly established Mount Wilson Observatory and became deeply involved in the educational and cultural affairs of the area. Among his most important efforts were the creation and development of the California Institute of Technology and the Huntington Library.

This digital edition of the George Ellery Hale Papers, published by the Caltech Archives in collaboration with the Huntington Library and Carnegie Institution on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Hale’s birth, provides a thorough record of Hale’s activities. A prolific correspondent, Hale kept copies of most of his letters. The collection contains significant material relating to the theoretical and instrumental development of astrophysics, the history of the Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories, and the early history of the California Institute of Technology. It is also of importance for the study of science and government, particularly with respect to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council. Finally, the collection contains substantial material on the general affairs of the scientific community in the United States and Europe.

In this digital edition, you may either navigate the collection guide and select an individual folder of the papers to view, or search the full text of all of the typed material in the collection using the search box above. This search function omits handwritten text, which has not been transcribed.