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George Russell Harrison papers

Identifier: MC-0060

Scope and Contents

Records about the MIT Centennial and the Spectroscopy Laboratory document Harrison's years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Technical notebooks, information about Wavelength Tables, correspondence about consulting projects and with professional organizations, working notes, and other material concerning ruling engines for diffraction gratings document Harrison's research. There are copies of his publications and his scientific and popular speeches (1935-1972). Also included are first and second carbon copies of Harrison's unpublished biography of Karl Taylor Compton, president of MIT from 1930 to 1949, and biographical material, correspondence, transcripts of recorded interviews, and other background material. Personal and biographical papers of Harrison include family correspondence and nine scrapbooks (1916-1956) containing photographs, correspondence, memorabilia, and news clippings about professional as well as personal activities.


  • 1916 - 1973


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Biographical Note

George Russell Harrison, 1898-1979, BS 1919, PhD in physics, 1922, Stanford University, taught at Stanford until 1930 when he came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as professor of physics. He was director of the Research Laboratory of Experimental Physics from 1930 to 1942, and the first director of the Spectroscopy Laboratory. He was dean of the School of Science from 1942 until his retirement in 1964. During World War II Harrison served in a variety of posts including chair of the Instruments Section and later chief of the Optics Division of the National Defense Research Committee's Office of Scientific Research and Development; later he was chief of the Research Division at General Douglas MacArthur's headquarters in the southwest Pacific. Harrison's research focused on spectroscopy, studies of atomic structure, and the design of automatic instruments for making measurements and computations concerning the structure of atoms. A number of instruments he designed made possible his compilation of the MIT Wavelength Tables (1939, 1969). Harrison wrote over 100 scientific articles and a number of books including Atoms in Action (1939), a popular interpretation of physics, and coauthored Practical Spectroscopy (1948) with Richard Lord and John Loofbourow.


10 Cubic Feet (10 record cartons)

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Physical Location

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Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Guide to the Papers of George Russell Harrison
Ready For Review
Karen Temple Lynch and Joan Haas
Copyright 1981
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

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