TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Restrictions

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Personal Correspondence from Duff to H. B. Smith, 1894-1899

Series 2: Departmental Correspondence between Duff and Smith, 1904-1909

Series 3: Correspondence between Duff and Hollis 1919-1923

Series 4: Duff's WPI Faculty folder, 1931-1951

Series 5: Published Journal Articles, 1896-1938

Series 6: Duff's lectures on recent advances in physics from WPI's Physics Colloquium, 1935

Series 7: Manuscript of "College Physics", Date unknown

Finding Guide to A. Wilmer Duff Collection



Overview of the Collection

Repository: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609
508-831-6612 / archives@wpi.edu
Creator: A. Wilmer Duff
Title: A. Wilmer Duff Collection
Dates: 1894-1951
Quantity: 2 mss. boxes; 2 linear feet
Abstract: Collection of papers relating to Dr. A. Wilmer Duff 1864-1951
Identification: MS 41
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Alexander Wilmer Duff was born in St. John, New Brunswick in 1864. He graduated from the University of St. John, and later studied at the Universities of London and Germany and in 1901 received his D. Sci. from the University of Edinburgh. Duff was professor of physics at the University of Madras, India from 1889-1890; the University of New Brunswick from 1890-1893; Purdue University from 1893-1899; and at WPI he was chair and professor of the physics department from 1893-1936. Robert Goddard was one his students from the class of 1908. Duff received a Degree of Science Honorary degree from WPI in 1943. Duff’s research areas included viscosity, acoustics, tidal phenomena, and cathode rays. He was the recipient of the Oersted Award in 1938 for Notable Contributions to the Teaching of Physics. During World War I, Duff was a consultant and experimental engineer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps where he worked on bomb sites, trajectories, and stabilizers. Duff wrote several books in the field of physics, but is most well known for his “A Textbook on Physics”. This book was first published in 1908 and had 8 subsequent editions published and was the leading textbook in physics for the next 30 years. Duff married Isabel Stewart McIntosh in 1894, Isabel died in 1907. They had one child, Ella Duff Good. Ella became head physician at the Grafton State Hospital. Duff died February 24, 1951 in Worcester, MA.

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Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence to and from Duff. Most of the correspondence is departmental in nature. One prominent correspondent is Harold B. Smith who was chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at WPI from 1896-1931. Smith and Duff worked at Purdue at the same time, and Smith was instrumental in getting Duff to take the position at WPI. Another prominent correspondent is Ira N. Hollis, President of WPI from 1913-1925, most of the 1919 ccorrespondence discusses Duff's return to WPI after his work for the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Washington, D.C. The rest of the Hollis/Duff correspondence is departmental in nature. The collection also includes reprints of Duff’s publications in scientific journals form 1896-1938. The collection also includes several death notice clippings from when Duff died in 1951. One half of the collection is the handwritten manuscript of a revision of College Physics. The book was first published by Duff in 1925, but due to advances in physics and a hope to improve the book’s teaching methods, a revised edition was written by Duff and Morton Masius in 1941.[From preface of 1941 edition] Masius was a professor in WPI’s physics department

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Permission from Archivist required.

Restrictions on Use

May be copied with the consent of the WPI Archivist.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Personal Correspondence from Duff to H. B. Smith, 1894-1899
Box 1 Folder 1 1894: [2 sides/1 folded sheet]
Folder 1 1897:[4 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 2 Written after the recent death of Prof. Alonzo Kimball, chair of WPI’s Physics Department, the letter discusses the possibility of Duff coming to Worcester from Purdue to be chair of the physics department., 1897: [2 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 3 Letter discusses Duff taking the chair position, mentions his correspondence with President Mendalhall. (President 1894-1901 January 1898: [4 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 4 Letter discusses Duff family move to Worcester, 1899: [4 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 5 June 1899: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 6 Discusses Duff’s arrival to Worcester, August 1899: [4 sides/2 folded sheets]
Series 2: Departmental Correspondence between Duff and Smith, 1904-1909
Box 1 Folder 1 June 11, 1904: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 February 6, 1906: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 February 14, 1907: [3 sides/3 sheets]
Folder 1 March 22, 1907: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 June 21, 1907: [1 side/1/2 sheet]
Folder 1 February 12, 1908: [2 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 1 February 24, 1908: [2 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 1 April 30, 1908: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 April 30, 1908: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 May 4, 1908: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 Duff's letter to Smith in defense of Prof. George Olshausen [handwritten on Physics Dept. stationary] , August 27, 1910: [4 sides/4 sheets]
Folder 1 Smith's response to Duff's letter regarding Prof. Olshausen, September 3 or 30, 1910: [2 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 1 January 17, 1911: [2 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 1 March 15, 1911: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Requistion forms from Duff to the Electrical Engineering Dept. at WPI, 1905-1907: [7 sides/7 sheets][post card size paper]
Folder 2 Interdepartmental correspondence between Duff and Smith, 1906-1909: [22 sides/22 sheets][post card size paper and smaller]
Series 3: Correspondence between Duff and Hollis 1919-1923
Box 1 Folder 1 Hollis to Duff, January 29, 1919: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 Hollis to Duff, February 1, 1919: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 Duff to Hollis, February 3, 1919: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 Duff to Hollis, February 28, 1919: [2 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 1 Duff to Hollis, March 6, 1919: [4 sides/4 sheets]
Folder 1 Hollis to Duff, March 9, 1919: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 Hollis to Duff, March 31, 1919: [3 sides/3 sheets]
Folder 1 Hollis to Duff, April 9, 1919: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 Duff to Hollis, April 14, 1919: [4 sides/4 sheets]
Folder 1 Hollis to Duff, July 7, 1919: [1 side/1/2 sheet]
Folder 1 Hollis to Duff, August 2, 1919: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 1 Duff to Hollis, August 5, 1919: [2 sides/1/2 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, November 25, 1919: [1 side/1/2 sheet]
Folder 2 Duff to Hollis, April 29, 1920: [2 sides/2 sheets]
Folder 2 Duff to Hollis, December 1, 1920: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, March 22, 1921: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff/French/Bird/Smith, April 5, 1921: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, April 25, 1921: [1 side/1/2 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, June 9, 1921: [1 side/1/2 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, September 16, 1921: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, October 5, 1921: [1 side/1/2 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, October 13, 1921: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, March 11, 1922: [1 side/3/4 sheet]
Folder 2 Duff to Hollis, Discussing plans for beginning a popular lecture series on physics topics to be held on Saturdays and open to the local community, April 2, 1922: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, June 6, 1922: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, September 14, 1922: [1 side/3/4 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis (Secretary) to Duff, September 28, 1923: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, October 3, 1923: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, October 17, 1923: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, November 21, 1923: [1 side/3/4 sheet]
Folder 2 Hollis to Duff, December 10, 1923: [1 side/3/4 sheet]
Folder 2 Minutes of the Committe on Courses and Degrees, Duff was secretary of the committee, September 1923 (?)
Series 4: Duff's WPI Faculty folder, 1931-1951
Box 1 Folder 1 Portrait style photographs of Duff , 1936
Folder 1 Alumni association biographical form completed by Duff., Approximately 1908
Folder 1 WPI ID card with photograph dated 1935,
Folder 2 Speech to Sigma Xi and Tau Beta Pi, 1942: [3 sides/3/1/2 sheets]
Folder 3 Correspondence: Duff and George H. Haynes to Members of the Faculty, January 19, 1905: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 3 Correspondence: Duff to F.E.R. Johnson (of Harvard University). Discusses technology schools and the need to set standards for entrance exams, May 28, 1931: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 3 Correspondence: Unknown to Duff regarding entrance requirements for technical colleges, March 8, 1932: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 3 Correspondence: Duff to Taylor, August 26, 1938: [1 side/1/2 sheet]
Folder 3 Correspondence: Duff to Prof. Howe, written in response to Howe's questions/concerns regarding Duff's speech to Sigma Xi and Tau Beti Pi (see Series 3, Folder 1), April 23, 1942: [1 side/1 sheet]
Folder 4 Articles about Duff ,
Folder 4 Duff's "Smoke Talk" announcement card,
Folder 5 Photocopies of Duff obituary clippings from newspapers in New England and New York, 1951
Folder 5 Questionnaire from German language publication regarding life and accomplishments of Duff, Date Unknown
Series 5: Published Journal Articles, 1896-1938
Box 1 Folder 1 "The Viscosity of Polarized Dielectrics" from Physical Review, 1896
Folder 2 "Empirical Formulae for Viscosity as a Function of Temperature" from Physical Review, 1897
Folder 3 "Seiches on the Bay of Fundy" from The American Journal of Science, 1897
Folder 4 "Tidal Phenomena of the St. John River at Low Summer Level" from The Bulletin of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick (reprint of speech given by Duff on March 2, 1897), 1897
Folder 5 "The Attenuation of Sound and the Constant of Radiation of Air" from Physical Review, 1898
Folder 6 "The Attenuation of Sound" from Physical Review, 1900
Folder 7 "Poiseville’s Law at Very Low Rates of Shear" from Philosophical Magazine (2 copies), 1905
Folder 8 "The Teaching of Physics: with Especial Reference to the Teaching of Physics to Students of Engineering" Report from the Educational Committee of the American Physical Society (Duff was chairman of the committee), 1922
Folder 9 "The Problem of Choosing a Textbook-An Approximate Solution" from The American Physics Teacher, 1938
Folder 10 Essay in honor of Arthur Gordon Webster written by Duff from The American Physics Teacher (2 copies), 1938
Series 6: Duff's lectures on recent advances in physics from WPI's Physics Colloquium, 1935
Box 1 Folder 1 "The Particles of which Matter Consists" (Positive and negative electrons and protons; neutrons), February 12, 1935
Folder 1 "Are the Ultimate Particles of Matter Wave-motions?" (Wave mechanics in general terms. Experimental evidence), April 2, 1935
Series 7: Manuscript of "College Physics", Date unknown
Box 2 Manuscript of College Physics . The manuscript is divided into 54 chapters (1-53, 57). The chapters seem to be mainly diagrams and problems for illustrations and exercises in the book. Each chapter is handwritten and on several different pieces and types of paper. There is a collection of miscellaneous notes, illustrations and problems at the end of the manuscript that do not indicate which chapter they belong to., Date Unknown