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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2805

William Cranch Bond correspondence


Correspondence of William Cranch Bond chiefly with prominent American scientists.


  • Creation: 1840-1852


Conditions Governing Access

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


.1 linear feet (1 box)

Science-related correspondence of William Cranch Bond concerning various astronomical, meteorological, and technological issues, often involving sharing of data between observatories and individual scientists. Includes a few letters written between others and printed items. All letters are autograph manuscript unless otherwise noted.

Biographical / Historical

William Cranch Bond (1789-1859) was an American astronomer born in Falmouth (Me.); he was the first director of the Harvard College Observatory.

Trained by his clockmaker father, Bond built his first clock when he was fifteen years old and eventually took over his father’s business. Inspired by a solar eclipse in 1806, Bond soon thereafter became an avid amateur astronomer; he rebuilt the parlor of his first house as an observatory. Bond traveled to Europe in 1815, commissioned by Harvard University to gather information on European observatories. In 1839, Bond was allowed to move his personal astronomical equipment to Harvard and serve as its (unpaid) "Astronomical Observer to the University." By 1843, a sun-grazing comet having aroused public interest in astronomy, Harvard was able to raise money for the construction of a state-of-the-art observatory. Bond designed the building and the observing chair, and Harvard bought a fifteen-inch German-built refracting telescope, equal in size to the largest in the world at the time. The telescope was first used in 1847 when it was pointed to the moon. Bond and his son, George Phillips Bond, discovered Saturn's moon Hyperion, were the first to observe the then innermost ring of Saturn in 1850, and helped pioneer astrophotography.

Bond married his first cousin, Selina Cranch, in 1819; they had four sons and two daughters. After Selina's death in 1831, Bond married her older sister, Mary Roope Cranch.


Arranged alphabetically by author.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

2011M-133. Purchased with funds from the Hermon Dunlap Smith Bequest; received: 2012 June 6.

Related Materials

Bond family papers and records of the Harvard College Observatory are held by the Harvard University Archives.

Processing Information

Processed by: Melanie Wisner.

Bond, William Cranch, 1789-1859. William Cranch Bond correspondence, 1840-1852: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
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Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

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