The records of the physics department are arranged in three subgroups: General Departmental Records, Organizations and Activities, and Faculty Papers.
The General Departmental Records provide information about the physics buildings and equipment, budgets, curriculum, faculty members, foundation and government grants, the planetarium, salaries, and staff meetings. Papers in this subgroup originate primarily with physics faculty members Lloyd W. Taylor, Carl E. Howe, and David L. Anderson. Comprised of correspondence and memoranda, budgets, course descriptions, a ledger of experiments, personnel evaluations, meeting minutes, vendors' promotional materials, and writings by various faculty members, the subgroup is arranged in five series. The bulk of these papers date between 1940 and 1984.
Items contained in subgroup II, Organizations and Activities, document the societies and events sponsored by the physics department. Included is a bound volume of minutes from the Physical Science Club from 1909 to 1922. The club invited both faculty members and students for membership. Presentations were given by members of the science departments and outside speakers. Professor Frank Fanning Jewett was the club's first president. Also included are calendars of events and memoranda to physics majors concerning the Physics Club, 1968-1977, and information about the visiting scientist programs, 1956-1971. Discontinuity in the records, made evident by the absence of papers between 1923 and 1956, creates an uneven character for this subgroup.
Subgroup III, the final subgroup, contains departmental papers and records attributable to specific staff and faculty members. The records series document the professional work of the individual creators. Currently there are five series of faculty papers: 1. Elisha Gray Papers; 2. Carl Ellis Howe Papers; 3. Lloyd William Taylor Papers; 4. Forest G. Tucker Papers; and, 5. Joseph Palmieri Papers. Until 2009 the College Archives received these records from the physics department, not from family members, when the individuals covered within the subgroup's series were deceased. The records are therefore classified as institutional rather than personal papers. An additional accession was recieved from Emeritus Professor Joseph Palmieri in 2009 of papers generated during his time in the department, which makes up series 5. For the personal papers of Lloyd William Taylor, David L. Anderson, and Robert Weinstock, the researcher may consult record groups 30/97, 30/65, and 30/336.
Subgroup I. General Departmental Records, 1881-1993, 1996-97, n.d. (6.0 l.f.)
This subgroup is an accretion of papers donated to the College Archives by David L. Anderson, physics professor (1948-1984) and departmental chairman (1963-1972), over many years. The General Departmental Records are arranged in six series: 1. Building and Equipment Files, 2. Departmental Meeting Minutes, 3. Financial Files, 4. Instructional Files, 5. General Files, and 6. Miscellaneous Correspondence.
Some papers predate the appointment of Anderson at Oberlin College; these items often originate with his predecessors as departmental chairmen, Carl E. Howe and Lloyd W. Taylor. Anderson probably acquired some of these files as part of his 1980s project to write a history of the physics department. Although "original order" is not discernible as such, these records have been largely maintained as a single body. Thus, some papers in this subgroup may have an intellectual home in subgroups 2 or 3, but were kept with the others in the same accession group in order to form subgroup I.
Series 1. Building and Equipment Files, 1931-1984, n.d. (1.0 l.f.)
The Building and Equipment Files series includes some early discussion of the Physics Building, information about the department's equipment, and shop, and more extensive files on the planetarium. The planetarium folders contain architectural drawings, correspondence, and vendors' promotional materials.
Series 2. Departmental Meeting Minutes, 1951 (1951-1973) -1988, n.d. (0.2 l.f.)
This series contains the minutes of physics department staff meetings. It is arranged chronologically.
Series 3. Financial Files, 1912-1979, n.d. (1.5 l.f.)
The financial files provide information about budgets, salaries, expenditures, funds, and grants. Although most items in this series are loose papers, a single account ledger of departmental expenditures from 1912 to 1928 is also included.
Series 4. Instructional Files, 1942-47, 1954-83, 1988, n.d. (1.0 l.f.)
Although far from comprehensive, this series provides course descriptions, syllabi, and exams, and materials relating to three departmental reviews. Grade books from various faculty members working with the V-12 Project from 1942 to 1947 document the influx of students. Also included is a book "A First Course in Physics" by Robert A. Millikan and Henry Gordan Gale (1906) that was used by Alice M. Knapp (1911). The grade books are restricted.
Series 5. General Files, 1881-1993, 1996-97, n.d. (1.5 l.f.)
The General Files series contains physics department records that do not belong to any of the above categories. It includes items ranging from a directory of physics majors to personnel matters. Files of employment and graduate possibilities illustrate the nature of opportunities available in physics during the 1930s and 1940s. Some departmental research is discussed in the "Nuclear Reactions Research" folder and in the Physics Experiment Ledger, which includes hand-written descriptions of experiments complete with sources consulted and sketches of apparatus. Limited personnel information, reports to the president of the college, and a report on the department made by David L. Anderson are also located in this series. Finally, this series contains files on the departmental interaction with the municipal power plant on the purchase of a frequency control system and time error correction control. The grade books are restricted.
Series 6. Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1921-1978, 1987, n.d. (0.4 l.f.)
This series consists of internal and external departmental correspondence and memoranda.
Series 7. Miscellaneous Non-Textual Files, n.d. (0.4 l.f.)
Consists of glass plates and negatives of astronomical views (i.e. moon, comet) and physics machinery and laboratory apparatus. Also included are illustrations such as sounds waves, and the early form of the telephone.
Subgroup II. Activities and Organizations, 1909-1922, 1956-1977, 2001-02 (0.4 l.f.)
Contains records of the department's activities, programs and organizations. Included is a volume of minutes from the Physical Science Club, formed in 1909 by chemistry professor Frank Fanning Jewett. The minutes continue through 1922 and detail the Club's events, listing programs and speakers as well as membership lists. Calendars of events and memoranda to all physics majors document the activities of the Physics Club between 1965 and 1977. The physics department’s participation in various visiting scientist programs is also documented, largely through correspondence with guest lecturers, 1956-1971.
Subgroup III. Faculty Papers, 1871-1964, n.d. (5.6 l.f.)
Includes general papers of individual faculty members, which are not directly attributable to the department as a whole. These materials lack the depth to stand alone as separate collections by virtue of their range or scope. Four series comprise the subgroup: 1. Elisha Gray; 2. Carl Ellis Howe; 3. Lloyd William Taylor; 4. Forest G. Tucker, and 5. Joseph Palmieri.
Series 1. Elisha Gray, 1871-1946, n.d. (1.0 l.f.)
The Elisha Gray series contains correspondence and general background files related to the inventor who attended and taught at Oberlin College. Gray's papers include incoming and outgoing correspondence from 1873 to 1900, and miscellaneous printed works about Gray and the invention of the telephone. The primary correspondent is Charles H. Churchill. A copy of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Telephone Appeals Proceedings, October 1886 (2 vol.), is also contained in this series.
Series 2. Carl Ellis Howe, 1924-1964, n.d. (2.1 l.f.)
Included are Howe's X-ray research files and related correspondence, notebooks, student papers and notes, and printed works authored by Howe. The bulk of the research files is from the 1930s and 1940s, and relate to Howe's interest in X-ray technology, particularly crystal piezo technology. Among the notebooks are records kept by Howe and students working under him. Notebooks date from 1929 to 1964. Student papers illustrate the topics studied in the department and include papers done for Howe and other professors. The student papers, ranging from 1926 to 1960, include examples of M.A. theses. Reprints of several of Howe's articles are included under printed material. The series is arranged into four subseries: 1. research files; 2. laboratory notebooks; 3. student papers; and 4. printed material. The grade books are restricted.
Series 3. Lloyd William Taylor, 1924-c. 1940s, n.d. (1.9 l.f.)
Contains the departmental records of Lloyd William Taylor, consisting of five subseries: 1. memoranda; 2. class records; 3. demonstration outlines and manuals; 4. Oberlin physics majors; and 5. writings. Memoranda covers both inter-office and college-wide topics including budget, personnel, students and honors programs. Class records are comprised of Taylor's grade books from 1924 to 1948. Demonstration outlines consist of published guides adapted for use at Oberlin ca. 1940; writings include a typescript of Taylor's textbook, Natural Philosophy: A Textbook of Physics. Part 1. Mechanics, and reprints of journal articles.
Series 3. Lloyd William Taylor, 1924-c. 1940s, n.d. (1.9 l.f.) (cont.)
Information on Oberlin physics majors was compiled by Taylor for two purposes: a survey of war activity during World War II, and a drive to solicit pictures for the new physics building in 1942 (Wright Laboratory of Physics). Much of the information was recorded in an annotated copy of the 1936 Oberlin College Alumni Register. The register highlights physics instructors and students including names omitted from the printed list.
Series 4. Forest G. Tucker, 1931-1958, n.d. (0.2 l.f.)
Consists of correspondence relating to Tucker's work with the American Association of Physics Teachers, to the hiring of Dean Blair Stewart, and to other topics.
Series 5. Joseph Palmieri, 1962-69, 1971-77, 1980-83, 1985, 1990-91, 2009, n.d. (0.4 l.f.) [2009/42]
Consists of correspondence regarding a department chair applicant, files of correspondence with department faculty, and two reports of the Committee on Retention.