Overview of the Collection
Scope and Content
Overview of the Collection
Title: Henrietta Hill Swope Papers
Dates (inclusive): 1923-1979
Collection Number: mssSwope papers
Swope, Henrietta Hill,
Approximately 2,400 items in 10 boxes and 1 oversize folder
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2129
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of American astronomer
Henrietta Swope (1902-1980), who spent most of her career developing techniques to measure distances in space.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department.
For more information, contact Reader Services.
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from
or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The
responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining
necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
[Identification of item]. Henrietta Hill Swope Papers, The Huntington Library, San
Deposit Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1988.
Approximately fifty additional separate collections form the Mount Wilson Papers of the Observatories of the Carnegie
Institution of Washington and are available for research.
Henrietta Hill Swope (1902-1980), the daughter of General Electric president Gerard Swope
and the niece of journalist Herbert Bayard Swope, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in October
1902 and raised in Ossining, New York, where she began stargazing in her backyard. After
receiving her A.B. in mathematics from Barnard College and her master's degree from
Radcliffe, she joined the staff of Dr. Harlow Shapley at the Harvard University Observatory.
Swope spent most of her career developing techniques to measure distances in space. During
WWII, Swope worked on radar experiments at MIT and at the Navy's Hydrographic Office. After
which she spent 16 years refining the cepheid measuring system at the Mount Wilson and
Palomar Observatories in California. In 1962 she announced that the distance between the
Milky Way and Andromeda, our nearest galactic neighbor, is 2.2 million light years. In 1962
she donated funds to the Carnegie Institute of Washington towards the construction of the
Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, which now contains a 40-inch telescope named in her
honor. She was awarded the Annie Jump Cannon Prize from the American Astronomy Society in
1968. She died in Pasadena, California in November 1980.
Scope and Content
This collection contains correspondence (Parts 1 and 2), which has been grouped together
alphabetically by correspondent. The correspondence includes letters from a variety of
astronomers from around the world as well as general astronomy questions from members of the
public. The correspondence also deals with women in astronomy and in the Beverly T. Lynds
folder is a list of women members of the Astronomical Association of America. The majority
of the letters written by Swope are retained copies. The arrangement of her astronomical
working papers, however, mirrors that of the collection when it was obtained by the
Huntington. The folder titles for the working papers are, for the most part, those of
Henrietta Swope herself. The majority of the working papers deal with Swope's research and
work on the Milky Way, M31 (Andromeda Galaxy), variable stars, cepheids, Magellanic Clouds,
and the Draco System (these folders include notes, photographs and charts.) There are also
four black and white photographs that may be of Swope receiving the Annie Jump Cannon Prize
in 1968 and several miscellaneous manuscripts, reprints, articles by Swope and others,
journals, bulletins, notes, pieces of ephemera and several hundred IBM cards. Notable
participants include: Helmut Abt, Gonzalo Alcaino, Joseph Ashbrook, Robert Atkinson, Walter
Baade, Horace W. Babcock, Ludwig Biermann, Bart J. Bok, Ira Sprague Bowen, Frederick Brasch,
Laszlo Detre, Armin Deutsch, David H. DeVorkin, Laurence Fredrick, Cecilia and Sergei
Gaposchkin, Helen Gilberts, Otto Heckmann, Arthur and Helen Hogg, Roberta Humphreys, Alfred
H. Joy, Zdenek Kopal, Gerald E. Kron, Arlo U. Landolt, William Liller, Beverly T. Lynds,
George C. McVittie, Donald H. Menzel, Delo Mook, Jan Hendrick Oort, L. Plaut, George
Preston, Vera Rubin, Allan Sandage, Jan Schilt, T. Schmidt-Kaler, Martin Schwarzschild,
Harlow Shapley, Elske Smith, Hyron Spinrad, Sidney Van den Bergh, Alexander Vyssotsky, Merle
F. Walker, Sir Richard Woolley, American Institute of Physics, Astronomical Journal, Popular
Astronomy, Royal Astronomical Society and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
The Swope Papers have not yet been fully organized. The correspondence has been grouped
together alphabetically by correspondent. The arrangement of her astronomical working
papers, however, mirrors that of the collection when it was obtained by the Huntington. The
folder titles for the working papers are, for the most part, those of Henrietta Swope
Swope, Henrietta Hill,
Carnegie Institution of
Mount Wilson and Palomar
Observatories -- History -- Sources.
Mount Wilson Observatory --
History -- Sources.
Astronomers -- United States --
Astronomical observatories -- California --
Wilson, Mount (Mountain)
Astronomy -- Photographs.
Astronomy -- Research.
Astronomy -- United States -- History -- 20th
century -- Sources.
RR Lyrae stars.
Women astronomers -- United States --
Letters (correspondence) -- United States --
Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th
Papers (document genres) -- United States --
Photographs -- United States -- 20th
Research (document genres) -- United States --
Abt, Helmut A.
Alcaino, Gonzalo, 1936-
Ashbrook, Joseph, 1918-1980.
Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt,
Baade, Walter, 1893-1960.
Babcock, Horace W.
Biermann, Ludwig, 1907-1986.
Bok, Bart J. (Bart Jan),
Bowen, Ira Sprague, 1898-1973.
Brasch, Frederick E. (Frederick Edward),
Deutsch, Armin J. (Armin Joseph),
DeVorkin, David H., 1944-
Fredrick, Laurence W.
Gaposchkin, Sergei, 1898-
Gilberts, Helen, 1909-
Heckmann, Otto, 1901-
Hoag, Arthur Allen, 1921-1999.
Humphreys, Roberta M.
Joy, Alfred H. (Alfred Harrison),
Kopal, Zdeněk, 1914-1993.
Kron, Gerald E.
Landolt, Arlo U. (Arlo Udell),
Liller, William, 1927-
Lynds, Beverly T.
McVittie, George C. (George
Menzel, Donald H. (Donald Howard),
Mook, Delo E., 1942-
Oort, Jan Hendrik.
Preston, George Worrall, 1930-
Rubin, Vera C., 1928-
Schilt, Jan, 1893-
Schmidt-Kaler, Th. (Theodor),
Shapley, Harlow, 1885-1972.
Smith, Elske v. P. (Elske van Panhuys),
Spinrad, Hyron, 1934-
Van den Bergh, Sidney, 1929-
Vyssotsky, A. N. (Alexander N.),
Walker, Merle F.
Woolley, Richard van der Riet,
Corp Author American Institute of
Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Royal Astronomical Society.