Henry Rowland papers
- Rowland, Henry Augustus, 1848-1901 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for use.
Conditions Governing Use
23.35 Cubic Feet (2 letter size document boxes, 45 legal size document boxes, 2 legal half-size document boxes, 3 flat boxes (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches))
Rowland's original work was extensive and his findings drew on numerous researches made under his supervision at Johns Hopkins. Among his many notable achievements were his discoveries in the determination of the mechanical equivalent of heat, and his determination of the standard Ohm. He gained a world-wide reputation by his large diffraction gratings. These were exhibited at the National Academy of Sciences in 1883 and subsequently at various international exhibitions. He served as an engineering consultant for the harnessing of the water power of Niagara Falls to create electricity. The last years of his life were devoted to refining and marketing his version of the multiplex telegraph.
Numerous degrees and honors were conferred upon Rowland for his scientific work. He received the degree of Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1880 and that of the LLD from Yale in 1895 and from Princeton in 1896. He became a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1881 for service on the jury of the electrical exhibition at the Electrical Congress in Paris that year, and in 1896 he was made an Officer of the Legion of Honor.
Scope and Contents
The collection is particularly strong in documenting Rowland's contributions to the history of technology. His student notebooks, writings and lab notes reveal much about the experimental processes of physics in the late nineteenth century.
The notebook series (Series 4) covers both Rowland's days as a student at RPI and his years as a professor at Hopkins. The RPI notebooks (Boxes 20-22) are useful for the information they provide about physics and engineering training in the late nineteenth century. Of particular interest are Rowland's notes on lectures he attended in mechanics and astronomy, and his technical drawing notebooks.
Three items in the writing series (Series 5) also illustrate Rowland's earliest work. They are "The Work Done on Unequal Masses by Equal Froces in Equal Times" (1868), "The Magnetic Electric Machine. Hints on the Improvement. September 1868," and his senior thesis, "Steam Engine with Variable Cut-off" (1870).
Before beginning his appointment at Hopkins, Rowland, at Daniel Coit Gilman's suggestion, took an extended trip to Europe. His aim was to study both experimental and teaching methods in university physics departments. He visited Kings College, Cambridge; University College, London; University of Edinburgh; University Glasgow; College of France; Leipzig and Gratz. Rowland kept a notebook with his impressions (Box 22). This, along with his letters to Gilman document the state of European science in the late nineteenth century.
Rowland depended on his graduate students to help him in his research. Two of the notebooks from the Hopkins period contain lab data collected by graduate fellows. An 1882 notebook (Box 25) contains experimental data on diffraction gratings compiled by Charles Herschel Koyl; "Experiments upon Roentgen's X-Rays" contains results obtained by other students.
The Johns Hopkins University series (Series 2) documents the codification of scientific research in the late nineteenth century. Rowland's reports on the work of the Physical Laboratory, lists of lab supplies and books purchased, and proposed floor plans indicate his desire to properly train a new generation of physicists. Rowland was interested in two significant scientific developments of the nineteenth century: the telegraph and hydroelectric power. He parlayed his expertise with electrical circuits into a business venture when he founded the Rowland Multiplex Printing Telegraph Company in 1898. Much of its success was due to the work of Joseph Penniman and Henry Wiegand. Former students of Rowland, the two set up and displayed the telegraph to the public. Letters from them to Rowland in the Rowland Multiplex Printing Telegraph Company series describe their efforts. The bulk of the correspondence covers public trials in Jersey City (1898-1899) and at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.
In 1892, the Cataract Construction Company of New York undertook a study to determine the best type of dynamo to use in the proposed hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls. They retained Henry Rowland as a consultant. Rowland reviewed proposals by competing companies: General Electric, Westinghouse, Atelier Oerlikon and Cie. l'Industrie; and evaluated the recommendations presented by another consulting engineer, George Forbes. When the company refused to pay Rowland's final bill, he sued. Correspondence, research notes, proposals and court transcripts form the Cataract Construction series.
Although both the Cataract Construction Company and the Rowland Multiplex Telegraphic Company series contain most of the correspondence relevent to their contents, additional material may be found in the general correspondence series. For example, Louis de Goll's (president of the Printing Telegraph Company) letters to Rowland and correspondence from William Marbury, who represented Rowland in the Cataract case, are filed alphabetically in the correspondence series. De Goll's letters illustrate the legal issues and increasing bureaucratization of the patent process.
The letters in the correspondence series comment mostly on scientific developments. John Brashear, the manufacturer in charge of the production of plates for Rowland's diffraction gratings, wrote extensively to Rowland. Colleagues and former students updated him on the status of their work.
The correspondence series also contains Rowland's letters to his family. Begun when he was a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic (1874), and continuing through his tenure at Hopkins, they illustrate academic and family life in the late nineteenth century.
Rowland kept informed of other scientific research through several collections of reprints. Among his papers were the first of three reprint collections. This was Rowland's personal reprint collection and is Series 8 of Rowland's papers.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
In July 1991, Mrs. Elizabeth Rowland Mayor, Henry Rowland's granddaughter, donated approximately 100 items including correspondence, awards, reprints, and a diary.
Rowland also owned a separate reprint collection which had been gathered by George G. Stokes of the Royal Society. These reprints were bound topically as were Rowland's and were cataloged in the Eisenhower general stacks. The largest number of the Stokes Collection volumes have the call number QC 3 S87 vol. 1-52. There are other volumes of Stokes reprints under other call numbers.
The third collection of reprints formed the Henry A. Rowland Memorial Library. These too were bound topically and have various call numbers beginning QC 3 in the Eisenhower general stacks. There are 128 volumes on topics such as absorption, metallic reflection, electrical discharges in gases, ionization, magneto-optics, spectra of the elements, spectrum memoirs, physics of the stars, and the papers of William Wallace Campbell, A. Crova, Elster, Julius Geitel, Julius Fenyi, George Hale, W.N. Hartley, Angelo Secchi, Samuel Pierpont Langley, Eugen Cornelius Joseph von Lommel, Ch. Montigny, Henri Poincare, Charles Piazzi Smyth, George G. Stokes, Peter Guthrie Tait, Emilio Villari, H.C. Vogel, F.L.O. Wadsworth, Weidemann and Schmidt, R. Wolf, and R.W. Wood.
2,000 reprints, which were bound by Rowland into topics, were removed from MS.0006 in November 1995 and processed as a separate collection (MS.0377). Photocopies of the titles of the reprints in each volume are in Box 44.
Twenty additional volumes of this Reprint Series have been alienated from the collection. These volumes are labeled "Light" and are in the Eisenhower Stacks (call # QC3.L72v.1-20).
- Abbe, Cleveland, 1838-1916
- Carhart, Henry S. (Henry Smith), 1844-1920
- Diffraction gratings
- Dunér, N. C. (Nils Christofer), 1839-1914
- Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931
- Electrical engineering
- Electrical engineers
- General Electric Company
- Hale, George Ellery, 1868-1938
- Hall effect
- Hasselberg, B. (Bernhard), 1848-1922
- Hastings, Charles S. (Charles Sheldon), 1849-1932
- Helmholtz, Hermann von, 1821-1894
- Hydroelectric generators
- Langley, S. P. (Samuel Pierpont), 1834-1906
- Marsh, Othniel Charles, 1831-1899
- Maxwell, James Clerk, 1831-1879
- Mendenhall, Thomas C. (Thomas Corwin), 1841-1924
- Michelson, Albert A. (Albert Abraham), 1852-1931
- Nichols, E. L. (Edward Leamington), 1854-1937
- Northrup, Edwin F. (Edwin Fitch), 1866-1940
- Reactance (Electricity)
- Remsen, Ira, 1846-1927
- Rowland, Henry Augustus, 1848-1901
- Silliman, Justus M. (Justus Mitchell), 1842-1896
- Stokes, George Gabriel, 1819-1903
- Trowbridge, John, 1843-1923
- United States
- Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company
- Wiegand, Henry Hazlehurst, 1858-1943
- X-ray optics
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