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© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: HUM 294
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Mayall, Margaret W. (Margaret Walton)
Title: Margaret Mayall personal archive
Date(s): 1932, 1957, and 1970
Quantity: 0.17 cubic feet (1 half-document box)
Quantity: 35 photographs
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Margaret Walton Mayall (1902-1995) was an American astronomer. After receiving her MA from Radcliffe College in 1928, she began working at the Harvard College Observatory. This collection contains 35 black and white photographs, which depict the Harvard College Observatory staff camping in southeastern Maine to watch the total solar eclipse on August 31, 1932. Also includes Mayall's 1957 G. Bruce Blair Award and a copy of Mayall's 1970 Manual for Observing Variable Stars, revised edition.
The Harvard University Archives also holds the Margaret Mayall collection of material related to Annie Jump Cannon [accessions], 1927-1993 (13494), as well as several collections related to the Harvard College Observatory, including General information by and about the Harvard College Observatory, 1839- (HUF 165.2, HUB 1630) Photographic views of the Harvard College Observatory, 1860-1964 (HUV 1210), and Records relating to solar eclipses, 1869, 1870, 1889 and 1932 (UAV 630.432.10).
Margaret Walton Mayall (1902-1995) was an American astronomer. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 1925, and received her MA from Radcliffe College in 1928. Soon after graduation, she began working at the Harvard College Observatory, under the direction of Annie Jump Cannon. During World War II, her work at the Observatory was interrupted to participate in a Special Weapons Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Throughout her career at Harvard, she published approximately twenty papers on the photometry and spectral classes of variable stars; in 1949, Harlow Shapley offered her the job of Recorder for the American Association of Variable Star Observers to Mayall, a position she held until her retirement in 1973. In 1958, she won the Annie J. Cannon Award in Astronomy. Mayall died on December 6, 1995 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A total solar eclipse occurred on August 31, 1932. Totality was visible from the Canadian Northwest Territories (today's Northwest Territories and Nunavut) and Quebec, as well as in parts of the United States, including northeastern Vermont, New Hampshire, southwestern Maine, the northeastern tip of Massachusetts, and northeastern Cape Cod.
The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) was founded in 1911, and is responsible for coordinating, collecting, evaluating, analyzing, publishing, and archiving variable star observations made largely by amateur astronomers, which are then made available to professional astronomers, researchers, and educators. Originally located in Connecticut, After AAVSO's incorporation in 1918 it de facto moved to the Harvard College Observatory, which later officially provided an office as the AAVSO headquarters (1931–1953).
This collection was arranged in chronological order by the archivist.
The collection contains 35 black and white photographs, which depict the Harvard College Observatory staff camping in southeastern Maine to watch the total solar eclipse on August 31, 1932. The photographs, which are pasted onto index cards and include typewritten captions on the back of each card, show staff members; views of the campsite and surrounding areas in Gray, Maine; telescopes and other equipment; and the United States Naval Observatory camera in Limerick, Maine. The photographs show several Harvard College Observatory staff members, including Fred Whipple, Leland and Eloise Barnes, Bill and Dorothy Calder, Ray Boyd, Annie Jump Cannon, and Mayall herself, among others. Because Mayall is not in most of the photographs, it is possible that she was the photographer.The collection also includes a Western Amateur Astronomers' G. Bruce Blair Award, which was given to Mayall for achievement in amateur astronomy in 1957; the medal is housed in its original blue velvet box. There is also a copy of Mayall's Manual for Observing Variable Stars, revised edition, which was published in April 1970.