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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 1144-1144.1

Sir William Herschel astronomical papers


Astronomical papers of German-born British astronomer Sir William Herschel.


  • 1796-1805

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


.5 linear feet (1 box)

Includes six manuscript catalogs concerning the comparative brightness of stars, two of Flamsteed's catalogs, observations on the rotations of planets with diagrams, notes on the properties of light in four packets, among other documents. Most of these documents are in the hand of Caroline Lucretia Herschel, who acted as her brother's amanuensis and co-observer.

Biographical / Historical

Herschel was a German-born British astronomer.


Organized into two series:

  1. bMS Eng 1144
  2. bMS Eng 1144.1

Physical Location


Other Finding Aids

Additional inventory available on-site at Houghton Library upon request.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

59M-243 and 67M-41. Received: 1953-1967.

Manuscripts of Sir William Herschel and Caroline Lucretia Herschel acquired at various times and from several sources. Note: Some of the following MSS. have been previously accessioned, but they have been noted again for the convenience of making a unified list. The precise date and manner of the acquisition of most of these MSS. by Harvard has not been determined. Some were available to C. S. Peirce in 1876-1877 (Annals of the Harvard College Observatory, IX, 56). Another group was discovered in the Herschel family papers in 1883 and published by E. C. Pickering in 1884-1885 (Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, XIX, 269; Annals, XIV, 345). It is not clear from these publications that the MSS. were then actually at Harvard.

A group of four documents was transferred to the Houghton Library in 1953 by the Observatory Library (53M-24-27); the folder in which it came was marked "Received in 1918," but with no indication of source. A single document (54M-193) was transferred in 1955 from the Observatory via the University Archives; it was originally presented in 1936 by Miss Annie Jump Cannon. The remainder, including those used by Peirce and Pickering, were transferred from the Observatory ca. 1958.

Additional items received in September 1967 as 67M-41, as transfer from the Harvard College Observatory. See photostats of the letters in this series, bMS Eng 1144.1 (2), for information about acquistion.

Herschel, William, Sir, 1738-1822. Sir William Herschel astronomical papers, 1796-1805: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

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