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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1271-1271.5

Abbott Lawrence Rotch papers


Notes and correspondence of American meteorologist Abbott Lawrence Rotch.


  • Creation: circa 1876-1912


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


4 linear feet (6 boxes, 4 volumes)

Includes mostly Rotch's notes, 1879-1884, from various classes and laboratories taken as an undergraduate at M.I.T. and from Harvard graduate courses in natural history, 1884; as well as seven volumes of research notebooks, 1877-1885, recording information about trains and train trips. Also professional correspondence, 1895-1912, with colleagues, European and American book dealers, and organizations, such as the Carnegie Foundation. Some of the correspondence, with related reports and notes, is about the Atlantic expedition. Other material includes manuscripts and notes about ballooning and Benjamin Franklin; manuscripts of lectures on ballooning and of the book, Conquest of the Air (1909); and notes, 1898-1900, on sunspot observations and kites.

Biographical / Historical

Rotch, a meteorologist, founded and was director of Blue Hill Observatory, near Boston, Mass. He took the earliest American measurements of cloud height and velocities. In 1906, Rotch became the first professor of meteorology at Harvard. In cooperation with Teisserenc de Bort, he sent an expedition to explore the atmosphere above the tropical ocean, 1905-1906; ascended Mont Blanc six times, reaching the summit thrice; and ballooned above Paris in 1889.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I. bMS Am 1271: Graduate and undergraduate notes
  2. II. MS Am 1271.1: Lanza's Strength of materials
  3. III. MS Am 1271.2: Lanza's Third year mechanics
  4. IV. MS Am 1271.3: Mechanical Engineering notes
  5. V. MS Am 1271.4: MIT thesis
  6. VI. bMS Am 1271.5: Miscellaneous papers

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

*42M-402, *42M-403, *42M-404, *42M-405, *42M-406, *42M-407, *42M-408, *42M-409, *42M-410, *42M-411, *42M-412, *42M-413, *42M-414, *42M-415, *42M-416, *42M-417, *42M-418, *42M-419, *42M-420, *42M-422, *42M-423, *42M-424, *42M-425, *42M-426, *42M-427, *42M-428, *42M-429, *42M-430.

Gift in Memory of Prof. A. Lawrence Rotch and Margaret Randolph (Anderson) Rotch; received: 1942.

Processing Information

In 2020-2021, as part of a conscious and inclusive re-description effort, entries) were updated to include a woman’s first name when identified.

Margaret Randolph (Anderson) Rotch formerly listed as Mrs. A. Lawrence Rotch.

Link to catalog
Rotch, Abbott Lawrence, 1861-1912. Abbott Lawrence Rotch papers: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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