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COLLECTION Identifier: HUG 4458

Papers of Frederick V. Hunt, 1927-1970


Frederick Vinton Hunt (1905-1972) was a scientist and Harvard University professor who contributed substantially to acoustical engineering. His papers document his professional activities and date chiefly from after World War II.


  • 1927-1970


Language of Materials


Access to Collection

Open for research.

Restrictions on Use of Collection

Photoduplication is permitted. Permission is required for publication. Contact the Reference Staff of the Harvard University Archives for details.


10 cubic feet (29 containers)

These papers document Hunt's professional activities, and date chiefly from after World War II. Much of the material relates to professional societies, journals, and committee work. Documents include correspondence, laboratory notebooks, patents, memoranda, a project diary, minutes, reports, and medals.

Biography of Frederick V. Hunt

Frederick Vinton Hunt (1905-1972), an American educator and scientist, contributed substantially to numerous aspects of acoustics and communications. An inventor, Hunt also held 13 patents.

Hunt's early interest was in room acoustics, this was followed by an interest in phonograph recording and playback that continued throughout his career. (The interest in phonographs began in 1936. After developing sound recording equipment to document Harvard University's Tercentenary celebration, Vinton and his colleague J.A. Pierce were faced with the challenge of making equally impressive playback equipment; their researches led to the development of criteria that eventually made possible the long-playing record.) In 1941, Hunt founded the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory. During World War II, this laboratory developed anti-submarine devices, including torpedoes and efficient sonar systems. At its height during the war, the staff expanded to 450, and the laboratory facilities grew to include ships, field stations, and the Hemenway Gymnasium at Harvard.

Hunt's achievements as an educator are also notable. His teaching methods were Socratic. Thirty-five doctoral dissertations were written under his direction. He played a key role in establishing the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics, part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, at Harvard University.

Hunt earned an AB in 1924 and a B.E.E. in 1925 from Ohio State University. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard in 1934, submitted a second thesis to the Graduate School of Engineering for an S.D., but was refused because Harvard would not award two doctorates to the same individual. He remained at Harvard until his retirement in 1971. He was Instructor in Physics (1934-1937), Assistant Professor (1937-1940), Associate Professor (1940-1946), Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics (1946-1971); the additional title of Rumford Professor of Physics became his in 1953.

He received many honors, including an honorary S.D. from Harvard in 1945, the Presidential Medal of Merit from President Truman in 1947, and the Distinguished Service Medal by the U.S. Navy in 1970.

Organization of Collection

  1. Correspondence, subject file, 1940's-1960's
  2. General correspondence, 1932-1959
  3. General correspondence, alphabetical file
  4. Correspondence, special committees
  5. Research and Development Board. Panel on Acoustics, 1947-1949
  6. Notebooks, 1927-1929
  7. Patents
  8. Project diary, 1947-1970 and office memos, 1963
  9. Pioneers of Underwater Acoustics Medal, 1965
  10. Epistolae Pro Pioneers of Underwater Acoustics Medal, 1965
  11. Gold Medal, Acoustical Society, 1969
  12. Publications and presentations, a chronological list, 1933-1970
  13. Graduate School of Engineering

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Most material received from Prof. Hunt, 1971. Remainder from Division of Engineering and Applied Physics, August 1973 .

Inventory update

This document last updated 2018 November 7.

Hunt, Frederick V.   Papers of Frederick V. Hunt : an inventory
Harvard University Archives
Published in 2000
Language of description
This finding aid has been encoded by the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics as part of a collaborative project supported by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, an independent federal agency. Collaboration members in 1999 consisted of: American Institute of Physics, California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Rice University, University of Alaska, University of Illinois, and University of Texas.

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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