Bridgman, P. W. (Percy Williams), 1882-1961.
Papers of Percy Williams Bridgman : an inventory
Harvard University Archives
© President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2000
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Call No.: HUG 4234
Creator: Bridgman, P. W. (Percy Williams), 1882-1961.
Title: Papers of Percy Williams Bridgman, 1905-1982 (inclusive)
Quantity: 87 containers
Abstract: The collection contains the professional papers of Percy Williams
Bridgman (1882-1961), Nobel laureate in physics, whose chief contributions to physics
in the area of the effects of high pressures on materials and their thermodynamic
behavior. The papers consist chiefly of professional and research material.
Language of materials: English.
Percy Williams Bridgman (1882-1961), was a physicist. His contributions to the field
the effects of high pressures on materials and their thermodynamic behavior, contributions
not have been possible without the equipment, particularly a seal, that he invented
himself. He also
contributed to crystallography, electrical conduction in metals, and the philosophy
of modern physics.
He was a Nobel laureate in physics (1946) and recipient of many other honors. He
earned his Harvard
AB 1904, Harvard AM 1905, and Ph.D. 1908. He joined the Harvard Faculty in 1908,
Instructor (1910) and Assistant Professor (1919), before becoming Hollis Professor
and Natural Philosophy in 1926. He was appointed Higgins University Professor in
published more than 260 papers and 13 books. He took his own life in 1961, rather
than dying of the
cancer with which he had been diagnosed.
The papers consist chiefly of professional and research material. The documents
many aspects of Bridgman's work, including experiments, procurement of research materials
funding, writing and publication, involvement with scholarly societies, work for the
National Laboratory, and teaching. There is a small amount of material dating from
days, chiefly course notes. There are also small amounts of memorial, biographical,
material. Formats include correspondence, laboratory notebooks, manuscripts and notes
writings, research laboratory notebooks, card indices, bibliographies, reports, photographs,
Professor Bridgman destroyed much of his correspondence before he died.
The collection is open, but permission may be required for some uses. Contact the
University Archives Reference staff for details.
Gifts of Gerald Holton, Mrs. Bernard Koopman, and others; material found in books
to Geological Sciences Library by Prof. Francis Birch.
See also publications by and about Percy Williams Bridgman cataloged in Harvard's
library information system.
There are laboratory (specimen) samples relating to PWB in Harvard's Collection of
Historic Scientific Instruments.
- Series: General Folder (1 container) HUG 4234
- Series: Correspondence Regarding Research Materials and Funding, 1907-1916 (1 container) HUG 4234.5
Scope and Content: Includes correspondence regarding procurement of samples of metals and chemicals
for testing, and apparatus;
also correspondence regarding research grants (e.g., Bache fund of National Academy
of Sciences, and
Rumford Committee of American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Related
correspondence for years after 1916 is found in HUG 4234.8.5.
Arrangement: Note on arrangement: Letters are grouped in folders by first letter of alphabet,
not arranged within folders.
Accession number 8484 received from Mrs. Bernard Koopman.
- Series: General Correspondence, (1908) 1911-September 1930 (6 containers) HUG 4234.8
Scope and Content: Incoming and
outgoing letters, chiefly professional, with societies, journals, companies, individuals,
Some personal correspondence and related items such as receipts (e.g., regarding New
summer home). For the period beginning 1916, this series includes correspondence
manufacturers and others regarding procurement of specimens for testing; these apparently
earlier series found under series HUG 4234.5.
Arrangement: Note on arrangement: As received in the Archives, these papers were divided into
chronological periods; within each period the letters were grouped alphabetically.
The arrangement has
been re-ordered so that folders for each letter of the alphabet now are together,
with folders arranged
chronologically under each letter of the alphabet. Within individual folders, there
does not seem to be
any recognizable order. Filing of correspondence with particular individuals or organizations
necessarily consistent either within or between the various chronological divisions.
Accession number 8484 received from Mrs. Bernard Koopman.
- Series: Correspondence regarding The Logic of Modern Physics and Dimensional Analysis, 1921-1930, chiefly 1927-1930 (1 container) HUG 4234.12
Acquisition Information: Acession number 08484; received from Mrs. Bernard Koopman.
Scope and Content: Chiefly correspondence regarding The Logic of Modern Physics subsequent to its initial publication. Also includes copies of reviews and one folder
correspondence with Yale University Press concerning Dimensional Analysis, 1921-1926.
Correspondence concerning The Logic of Modern Physics is with Arthur F. Bentley,
May Cline (?), P.A. Constantinides, Scudder Klyce, Alfred Korzybski, K.F. Lijegren,
Company, L.A. Redman, Henry Schultz, Walter J. Young, and others.
- Series: Material relating to Dimensional Analysis,, ca. 1919-1920, and Letter to PWB from
Warren Weaver, 1925 HUG 4234.13
Acquisition Information: Acession number 10739; received from the Geological Sciences Library.
Scope and Content: This is material found in books given to Geological Sciences Library by Prof. Francis
- Series: Experiments on Crystal Cylinders-correspondence, data and computations,
manuscripts, 1914-1918 (1 container) HUG 4234.16
Acquisition Information: Accession number 8484 received from Mrs. Bernard Koopman
Scope and Content: Includes correspondence with George F. Becker (U.S.
Geological Survey) and William H. Hobbs (Department of Geology, Univ. of Michigan
related manuscripts of articles (apparently published
- Series: Personal Card File-writings by various authors on scientific subjects (1 container) HUG 4234.20
Acquisition Information: Received August 1966 from Prof. Gerald Holton.
Arrangement: Arranged by author, title, and subject.
- Series: Reference Bibliography of Writings by Various Authors. (5 containers) HUG 4234.22
Arrangement: Card file,
arranged with the following main divisions or box labels: Current References; Pressure
Pressure Effects, Volumes-Technique, Therm.; Reprint Addresses, Problems, etc.; An
- Series: Expressions of Appreciation at memorial meeting for P.W.B. October 24,
1961. (1 container) HUG 4234.25 A, B
- Series: Notes on Lectures and Course Exercises as Harvard Student, 1902-1906 (1909/10) (1
container) HUG 4234.35
Acquisition Information: Accession number 8484 received from Mrs. Bernard Koopman.
Scope and Content: Includes material as follows: Special problems of B.O. Peirce, n.d.; Mathematics
(1903- 1904), Professors W. Byerly and B.O. Peirce lecture notes; Mathematics 33 (1905-1906),
B.O. Peirce problems; Physics 9 (1904-1905), Prof. B.O. Peirce lecture notes and problems;
(1905-1906), Prof. B.O. Peirce lecture notes and problems; Physics 12 (1902-1903),
Prof. T. Lyman
lecture notes; Reading notes? (n.d.). Also manuscripts of Louis Brand (PhD 1919) which
problems or lecture notes for Mathematics 10, which Brand took in 1909/10.
- Series: Manuscripts of Papers on Relativity etc., 1957-1960 (1 container) HUG 4234.50
Acquisition Information: Accession number 8484 received from Mrs. Bernard Koopman.
Scope and Content: Typescripts,
with handwritten annotations. The papers were accompanied by a handwritten "List
of MSS dealing
with Relativity etc. 2/2/61;" the list contains some titles not found here.
- Series: Materials Relating to Bridgman's Writings, 1930, 1950-1958 (1 container) HUG 4234.52
Acquisition Information: (August 1966 received from Prof. Gerald Holton.
Processing Information: Note: These papers as originally accessioned were filed under the Archives' shelf
4234.95 and were in six document cases. In this final processing, they were taken
out of the original
boxes and put in folders which are now numbered sequentially (1-30). It was not until
was nearly completed that it became obvious that items in some of the boxes were in
by title within the box. While the original sequence has been maintained, the divisions
alphabetical groups no longer are readily apparent.
Scope and Content: Manuscripts and notes (handwritten and typescript) containing reflections on philosophical
comments or thoughts on readings and speeches, and the like. Many have titles, and
most are carefully
dated; collection as a whole has some qualities of philosophical journal. Manuscripts
vary in length
from a paragraph to a 73 page manuscript. At least some items (and perhaps most)
related to PBW's book, The Way Things Are (1959). Includes letter from B.F. Skinner to PWB (May
The following list of manuscripts, prepared by the Archives, includes only items
clearly titled or
otherwise identifiable. Those in parentheses are for manuscripts without titles,
and are descriptions or
paraphrasings from the text.
- Box 1 Probability [3 note cards]. 1958.
- Box 1 Notes made in Berkeley Jan. 58.
- Box 1 Comments on Skinner's "Verbal Behavior". 1958.
- Box 1 (Exploration of realization that we can never get away from ourselves). 1957.
- Box 1 On the Fitness of Society for the Individual. 1958.
- Box 1 (Intellectual tools). 1958.
- Box 1 On Basic Research and Self-Government. 1958.
- Box 1 Thinking of the Human Race. 1952.
- Box 1 TWTA [The Way Things Are] - original Winter 54-55.
- Box 1 Dichotomy Public vs. Private. 1950.
- Box 1 On the principle of contradiction. 1957.
- Box 1 Wly (sic) not sloppy verbalism? 1956.
- Box 1 Remarks on Logic. 1955.
- Box 1 On Certain Aspects of Logic. 1956.
- Box 1 Susanne Langer's Introduction to Symbolic Logic. 1957.
- Box 1 On Counting. 1955/56/57.
- Box 1 On Essential Correlations, Physical Instruments and Biology. 1953.
- Box 1 Probability. For Chap. II. 5/3/57.
- Box 1 Probability and Induction. 1957.
- Box 1 On the Fundamental Notions of Probability. 1930.
- Box 1 Quine's "From a Logical Point of View." 1956.
- Box 1 Tarski and Truth. 1956.
- Box 1 Logic/On Unique Events. 1951.
- Box 1 Morris & Value Operations. 1951.
- Box 1 On Verification. 1951.
- Box 1 On Verification. 1951.
- Box 1 With regard to verification. 1952.
- Box 1 (Outline, and lists of chapter contents). 1957. [Note: Some of the same types of
items are scattered through other folders but have not been separately listed here.]
- Box 1 Backward Time. 1958.
- Box 1 Dingle, on Relativity and Space Travel. 1957.
- Box 1 Differential Equations. 1957.
- Box 1 (Experiments). 1956.
- Box 1 On Experiment. 1957.
- Box 1 Philipp Frank's LePrinciple de causalité at ses limites. 1956.
- Box 1 On Einstein's Future. 1956.
- Box 1 Elementary Discussion of Elementary Things. 1930.
- Box 1 Reflections suggested by Galileo. 1954.
- Box 1 Instruments and Velocity. 1953.
- Box 1 Landé quantum mechanics. 1957.
- Box 1 MLMT [Minimum Length, Minimum Time, etc.]. 1928.
- Box 1 Measurement, again. 1957.
- Box 1 Margenau's The Nature of Physical Reality. 1950.
- Box 1 On the Meaning of Physical Concepts when applied to Open Systems. 1932, 1957.
- Box 1 The Observer and Instruments. 1953, 1954.
- Box 1 Remains of Particles and Probability. 1957.
- Box 1 On Physical Instruments. 1953.
- Box 1 On Cause & Effect & Freedom. 1957.
- Box 1 Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method and Philosophy. 1958.
- Box 1 The Information Concept and Biology (processed copy), by Walter M. Elsasser (?).
- Box 1 Information Transfer and the Definition of an Organism (processed copy), by
Walter M. Elsasser. n.d.
- Box 1 On Consciousness. 1953.
- Box 1 Dreams and Operations. 1956.
- Box 1 On a difference between external and internal events. 1951.
- Box 1 Motion, Change & Brain Function. 1951.
- Box 1 On the Two Uses of "Meaning." 1953.
- Box 1 Public, Private, Consciousness. Boring & Skinner. 1953.
- Box 1 (Letter from B.F. Skinner to PWB. May 10, 1956).
- Box 1 (Reflections on first Unity of Science meeting especially on Skinner). 1952.
- Box 1 Reflections on Skinner. 1953.
- Box 1 (Notes and reflections on Skinner's discussion of privacy at Unity of Science
- Box 1 On the Various Meanings of "Public" and "Private." 1953.
- Box 1 Consensus & Isolatability. 1957.
- Box 1 Reflections on the Logic of Agreement. 1957.
- Box 1 On Moral Responsibility. 1957.
- Box 1 The Golden Rule. 1957.
- Series: Notes on Physics Courses, ca. 1923-1931 (1 container) HUG 4234.60
- Series: Research Laboratory Notebooks HUG 4234.65
- Record of Experimental Work, Books I - X September 27, 1906 - November 22,
1927 (2 containers) HUG 4234.65.2
Scope and Content: (First book: "Record of Experiment on the Effect of Pressure on Molecular
Rotation, beginning Sept. 27, 1906, and not containing an account of much of the preliminary
- Note Books A-Y. ca. 1905-1924 (2 containers) HUG 4234.65.4
Scope and Content
: Books B-G called Data Books. Some earlier volumes have tables of contents.
"Physics 5. Also research work. Calibration of glass tubes, 1905."
Book L title page note: "Contains data for melting and transitions solid - solid
Book N title page note: "Chiefly Pressure on Resistance (Liquid metal etc.) And pressure
Book S title page: "Contents most effect of pressure on thermal conductivity of metal,
and of tension
on electrical resistances of wires."
Book V title page note: "Almost entirely compressibility of metals."
- (Data) Books Navy A-Navy B. 1945-1946, and (Data) Books XA-XJ. 1941-1944 (2
containers) HUG 4234.65.16
Scope and Content: For (Data) Books Navy A-Navy B, research data relating to Navy contract, and tables
of contents in
each book. For (Data) Books XA-XJ, tables of contents in each book. Books XA and
XB have note
referring to G.C.I; books XE-XJ (except XI) have subtitle N.D.R.C. These are probably
all relating to
work done under government contract.
- (Data) Books YA-YF. 1942-1942, and (Data) Book ZA. 1945 (1 container) HUG 4234.65.18
Scope and Content: For (Data) Books YA-YF, research data relating to work done for the Watertown Arsenal.
contents in each book. Dates of volumes overlap. For (Data) Book ZA, "Special series
and phase changes of Plutonium for Los Alamos."
- Computation Books D1-D6. 1927-ca. 1956 (2 containers) HUG 4234.65.22
Scope and Content: Book D1 labeled "Compressibility Computations. T.E.M.P." Makes references to Books
etc. C, D
- Computation Books GCI-GCII. 1942-1943, and Computation Books Wat I-Wat II.
1942-1943 (1 container) HUG 4234.65.24
Scope and Content
: For computation Books GCI-GCII, computations in connection with Government Contract
OEMsr-201 (NDRC). Table of contents in each book.
For Computation Books Wat I-Wat II.
1942-1943, Watertown Arsenal Computations. Tables of contents in each book.
- Notebooks (Miscellaneous) (2 containers) HUG 4234.65.26
- Notebook: "Stuff", 1907(?).
- Notebook: Diagrams and notes re. apparatus, other material. Dated pages range from
- Calibration Book. Ca. 1916-ca. 1949.
- Notebook of data a computations. December 1918. (Page 4: "Records of Shell Stretching
Bartlett Hayward Co., Baltimore."; this apparently relates to entire book.)
- Notebook VIII: "Gun and Mathematical. New London." 1918-1919. (Printed label on
Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co. Engineering Dept. Figuring Book.) In
notebook, there are loose papers including blueprints of machinery, correspondence
- U.S. Navy,
National Research Council; and others.
- Notebook: Crushing of Crystals. 1915-1917. (Data and notes).
- Notebook: Crystallizing Data. 1924-1934.
- Record of Crystallizing Room. Also pump packing. ca. 1926-ca. 1928.
- Computation Book. Tests for Watertown Arsenal. 1921.
- "Book 2" notebook of data. 1923-1924. Includes also a paperbook notebook inside
includes notes, comments, etc. apparently relating to a trip to Europe ca. 1926. (Written
- Series: Drawings and Graphs (1 container) HUG 4234.67pf
- Series: "Substance File" (1 container) HUG 4234.72
Scope and Content: A file of 3" x 5" cards in a long wooden box. Mainly
(laboratory) notes and drafts; also, reading notes and references to journal articles.
Arrangement: Main file arranged alphabetically by name of "substance".
- Series: Research Data, Computations, Manuscripts and Drafts, (Miscellaneous),
1906-1925 (11 containers) HUG 4234.74
Scope and Content: Includes handwritten graphs, tables and charts, notes, manuscripts and
drafts (relatively few). Many items have specific dates, and much of the material
is reasonably well
identified as to substance being tested.
Note: All the material in this series was received together in the Archives. It was
not always well
organized, but certain subdivisions or groupings were available. Much of the content
is similar in
format and there appears to be a certain degree of overlap between the various groupings.
groupings have been maintained during archival processing by placing apparently related
together in boxes separate from others in this series. These divisions are characterized
- Data and Computations, 1907-1911, 1923-1924
Identifiable materials deal especially with water and mercury, although many are
characterized. These papers originally were in one box, and most were loose. In so
far as possible,
they have been kept in their original order, and the archival folders have been numbered
1-28; however, the exact order was difficult to establish since one group of papers
was placed in the
opposite direction from the others. The contents of individual folders are what seemed
to be natural
groupings observed during archival processing, but should not always be interpreted
A number of the folder headings and dates listed below were provided by the
Archives during processing:
- Box 1A 1. Data and Computations
- Box 1A 2. Data and Computations - Water. 1910.
- Box 1A 3. Data and Computations - Water. Jan.-Feb. 1911.
- Box 1A 4. Data and Computations - Water, March-June 1911.
- Box 1A 5. Data and Computations - Mercury. 1911.
- Box 1A 6. Data and Computations - Mercury. 1910.
- Box 1A 7. Data and Computations - Mercury. 1911.
- Box 1A 8. Data and Computations - Mercury. 1910.
- Box 1A 9. Data and Computations - Water and Mercury? 1910.
- Box 1A 10. Misc. 1924 Notes Crystal Rods. Elas Consts. 4 Pt Resin.
- Box 1A 11. Data and Computation - Mercury. 1908
- Box 1A 12. Data and Computations - Experimental Results... 1907.
- Box 1A 13. Data and Computations - 1908, 1909.
- Box 1A 14. Data and Computations.
- Box 1A 15. Data and Computations - Lead? 1909.
- Box 1A 16. Data and Computations - 1910.
- Box 1A 17. Data and Computations - 1907, 1908.
- Box 1B 18. Data and Computations - Thermal Expansion Crystals. 1924-1924.
- Box 1B 19. Data and Computations - Calculations Compressibility of Hg and H20 at 0° to 22°.
- Box 1B 20. Data and Computations - 1911.
- Box 1B 21. Data and Computations.
- Box 1B 22. Data and Computations. 1910-1911.
- Box 1B 23. Data and Computations. - Corrections for Kerosene & Gasoline Hg & H20. 1910.
- Box 1B 24. Data and Computations. - Stretching of Thick Cylinders. 1909.
- Box 1B 26. Data and Computations. - 1908, 1909.
- Box 1B 27. Data and Computations. - 1910.
- Box 1B 28. Data and Computations. 1910 (1911)
- Data, Computations, Manuscripts apparently related to PWB's paper, "Thermodynamic
Properties of Twelve Liquids...", Proc. Am. Acad. Arts Scis.. (1913)
These papers were received in a box separate from the other manuscripts in this series,
but the papers
were not in folders. The folders are numbered sequentially, but not otherwise individually
- Series: Reprints not listed in collected papers of P.W. Bridgman. (1 container) HUG 4234.78
- Series: Sophisticate's Primer of Relativity outlines, notes, and drafts. 1960, 1961 (1 container) HUG 4234.80
Scope and Content: Typescripts, with handwritten annotations. The papers were accompanied by a handwritten
"List of MSS dealing with Relativity etc. 2/2/61;" the list contains some titles not
Accession number 9510 received from Mrs. Bernard Koopman.
- Sophisticate's Primer of Relativity correspondence regarding its publication.
1959-1964 (1 container) HUG 4234.80.5
Scope and Content: Photocopies from the files of Adolf Grünbaum (University of Pittsburgh)
including correspondence of P.W. Bridgman, and correspondence of Grünbaum, W.A. Lockwood
(director of Wesleyan University Press), Edwin C. Kemble, W.H. Furry, and E. Hill.
Accession number 9479 - Albert Moyer/Adolf Grünbaum
- Series: Kemble, E.C. and Birch, F. Percy Williams Bridgman: A biographical memoir. N.Y.
etc., 1970. (1 container) HUG 4234.90
- Series: Papers Presented at 'Reflections on P.W. Bridgman: A Centenary Symposium,' April
23 and 24, 1982. (1 container) HUG 4234.92
Scope and Content: Includes copy of program outline, manuscripts (some are photocopies)
of nine of the papers presented, and four cassette tape recordings of the proceedings.
was sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Physics Department,
Boston University Center for Philosophy and History of Science.
Acession numbers 9463 and 9532 received from Prof. Gerald Holton.