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Papers of Edwin Crawford Kemble, 1913-1983


The Papers of Edwin Crawford Kemble (1889-1984) document the professional activities of Kemble, an American physicist and professor at Harvard University.


  • 1913-1983


Language of Materials


Access to Collection

Most of the collection is open for research. The Records of the Academic Year Institute may be restricted.  


24.5 cubic feet (74 containers)

These papers document Edwin C. Kemble's professional activities.  They record Kemble as student, as researcher, as physicist, as philosopher, and as teacher.  Contains material relating to research problems and physical science matters, University affairs, education and teaching, science and religion, science and human values, and professional associations.  Formats include correspondence, manuscripts, reports, essays, student notes, lecture notes, and computations.  Related publications and reference material are available in the repository.

Biography of Edwin Crawford Kemble

Edwin Crawford Kemble (1889-1984), an American physicist, made contributions in several areas including band spectra, atomic structure, mathematics of quantum theory, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, analytical dynamics, theory of superchargers, and the philosophical aspects of quantum theory.  In addition, he was deeply religious and concerned with the influence of science on religious ideas and on the central values of the Christian tradition.

Kemble earned an S.B. from the Case School of Applied Science in 1911 and his A.M and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard in 1914 and 1917, respectively.  His dissertation on quantum theory was the first American doctoral thesis on theoretical physics.

In 1919 he returned to Harvard as an Instructor.  He introduced the first course on quantum theory to the Harvard physics curriculum.  He became a Professor in 1930 and chaired the Department of Physics from 1940-1945.  During this period, he was also director of physics instruction at Harvard for Army and Navy officer training programs and helped design torpedo propellers.  In 1950 he published Introduction to Physical Science, a volume written for his Natural Sciences 2 course.  By the time he retired from the department in 1957, his teaching had encompassed quantum theory, thermodynamics, analytical mechanics, statistical mechanics, optics, electricity and magnetism, x-rays and crystal structure, and atomic physics.  From 1957 to 1960, he directed Harvard's institute for training high school science and math teachers.

Provenance and Acquisition Information

Accession number 10235; received 26 September 1984 from Jean Kemble.

Alternate Formats of this Collection

Portions of this collection have been microfilmed and are available as parts of the publication entitled Sources for History of Quantum Physics.  These include: Correspondence, 1921-1937; Lectures, 1919-1930; and Manuscripts, 1919-1928.  Described in: Sources for History of Quantum Physics: An Inventory and Report (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1967), p. 127-129.

Related Materials

Publications by and about Edwin Kemble cataloged in Harvard's on-line library information system.

General note

See below for information on access and restrictions.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2018 November 7.

Kemble, Edwin C. (Edwin Crawford), 1889-  Papers of Edwin Crawford Kemble : 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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