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Cincinnati Observatory records

 Collection
Identifier: UA-79-43

Scope and Content

The collection contains records of the Cincinnati Observatory from it founding through 1970. The records include board minutes, reports, printed material, notebooks of observations and computations, correspondence, news clippings, and photographs of the Cincinnati Observatory as part of the University of Cincinnati, 1842-1970. Also includes minutes of the Observatory Club.

Dates

  • 1842-1970

Creator

Language of Materials

The records are in English

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

History of The Cincinnati Observatory

The Cincinnati Observatory began operation in April of 1845 under the directorship of Ormsby McKnight Mitchel. Mitchel was a professor of engineering and mathematics at Cincinnati College, a predecessor of the University of Cincinnati, and held a great interest in astronomy, which he shared with the people of Cincinnati through a series of public lectures. In 1841, Mitchel founded the Cincinnati Astronomical Society and sold shares in the society to raise money for the observatory. Mitchel also designed the observatory building and persuaded John Quincy Adams to lay the cornerstone for the building. Nicholas Longworth, a wealthy landowner in Cincinnati and member of the Cincinnati Astronomical Society, donated the original land for the observatory on Mt. Ida, which was later renamed as Mt. Adams in honor of John Quincy Adams.

The telescope was installed in the observatory on April 14, 1845. Mitchel, serving as the first director, quickly began to make important discoveries including finding stars, and developing a chronograph for accurately measuring and recording time. In the Spring of 1860, Mitchel accepted a position at the Dudley Observatory in Albany, New York, and the observatory was closed through the end of the Civil War.

In February of 1868, Cleveland Abbe was appointed as the new director and the observatory reopened. In 1871, the University of Cincinnati took possession of the observatory and began moving the observatory to the Mt. Lookout area. Upon the completion of the new observatory, Ormond Stone became director. The observatory had a succession of successful directors through the late twentieth century including Jermain G. Porter and Paul Herget, a Professor of Astronomy at UC . Upon Herget's retirement in 1977 and the loss of the observatory's major source of funding when the University of Cincinnati became part of the state university system, the observatory closed for a period of time. In 1979, the observatory became part of the Physics Department at the University of Cincinnati, and then in 1997, the Cincinnati Observatory Center was formed to revitalize and preserve the observatory. In 1999, the Cincinnati Observatory Center became a private, not-for-profit organization and was granted a long-term lease to the observatory by the University of Cincinnati.

Sources: "History." The Cincinnati Observatory n.d. http://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org/history.html (accessed January 8, 2009); Shoemaker, Philip S. "Mitchel, Ormsby Macknight." American National Biography Online. Feb. 2000 http://www.anb.org/articles/13/13-01147.html (accessed January 7, 2008); Stern, Joseph S., Jr. "Cincinnati's 'Lighthouse' of the Sky." Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin 39, no. 4 (1981): 230-249. http://library.cincymuseum.org/journals.htm (accessed January 8, 2009).

Extent

16.5 Linear Feet

Overview

Board minutes, reports, printed material, notebooks of observations and computations, correspondence, news clippings, and photographs of the Cincinnati Observatory as part of the University of Cincinnati, 1842-1970. Also includes minutes of the Observatory Club.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged by topic.
Title
Inventory of the Cincinnati Observatory Records, 1842-1970
Status
Edited Full Draft
Author
Finding aid prepared by Archives and Rare Books Library Staff
Date
2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding Aid Written In English, French And German

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Rare Books Library Repository

Contact:
8th Floor Blegen Library
2602 McMicken Circle
P.O. Box 210113
Cincinnati Ohio 45221-0113
513-556-1959