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Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9500

Abbot, C. G. (Charles Greeley), 1872-1973 interviewee.

Charles G. Abbot Interviews, 1973

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: Abbot, C. G. (Charles Greeley), 1872-1973 interviewee.
Title: Charles G. Abbot Interviews
Dates: 1973
Quantity: 3 audiotapes (Reference copies). 3 digital .mp3 files (Reference copies).
Collection: Record Unit 9500
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

These interviews of Abbot by Miriam S. Freilicher cover his scientific career, inventions, and role as a Smithsonian administrator, and include reminiscences of colleagues, notably Joseph G. Cannon, Robert H. Goddard, and Samuel P. Langley.

Historical Note

Charles Greeley Abbot graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1894 and came to work as an assistant to Samuel P. Langley at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory on June 19, 1895. The following year he was placed in charge of the Observatory and in 1907 was made director of the Observatory, a position he held until 1944. He served as Assistant Secretary from 1918 to 1928 and as Secretary of the Smithsonian from 1928 to 1944. He continued as a Research Associate of the Institution until his death in 1973. Abbot pioneered solar observation and meteorological prediction and refined the bolometer.

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Introduction

The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Dr. Abbot was interviewed for the Oral History Program because he made significant scholarly and administrative contributions to the Smithsonian during 78 years of service.

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Descriptive Entry

Abbot was interviewed on October 5 and 12 and November 16, 1973, by Miriam S. Freilicher, shortly before his death at 101 years of age. The interviews consist of reminiscences of Samuel P. Langley and the Astrophysical Observatory, Robert H. Goddard's early work in rocketry, and Joseph G. Cannon of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Abbot discussed his philosophy of life and his work in solar observations, meteorological predictions and inventions.

Note: For additional Charles G. Abbot interview, see Record Unit 7005, Charles G. Abbot Papers, Box 209.

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This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.

Name

Subject

Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9500, Abbot, C. G. (Charles Greeley), 1872-1973 interviewee., Charles G. Abbot Interviews

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Container List

Box 1

Transcripts of Interviews

Interview 1: 5 October 1973

Box 1 of 1
Includes Dr. Abbot's reminiscences of his education, early years at the Smithsonian, inventions, Astrophysical Observatory, c. 1894-1915.
Transcript, pp. 1-15, of audio recording, 0.5 hour.

Interview 2: 12 October 1973

Box 1 of 1
Includes Dr. Abbot's parable of "The Gate," reminiscences about the Astrophysical Observatory and his scientific work, c. 1902-1952.
Transcript, pp. 16-37, of audio recording, 1 hour.

Interview 3: 16 November 1973

Box 1 of 1
Includes Dr. Abbot's reminiscences about Robert H. Goddard, attitude toward astronautics, his book, Adventures in the World of Science, and awards, c. 1915-1973.
Transcript, pp. 38-46, of audio recording, 0.5 hour.

Audio Recordings of Interviews

Interview 1: 5 October 1973

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 0.5 hour
Original Masters: 1 3" reel-to-reel analog audiotape
Preservation Masters: 1 7" reel-to-reel analog audiotape; 1 digital .wav file
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape; 1 digital .mp3 file.

Interview 2: 12 October 1973

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 1 hour
Original Masters: 2 3" reel-to-reel analog audiotapes
Preservation Masters: 2 7" reel-to-reel analog audiotapes; 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape; 2 digital .mp3 files.

Interview 3: 16 November 1973

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 0.5 hour
Original Masters: 1 3" reel-to-reel analog audiotape
Preservation Masters: 1 7" reel-to-reel analog audiotape; 1 digital .wav file
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape; 1 digital .mp3 file.