Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Willard L. Severinghaus Papers, 1895-1947

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1150
Bib ID 4078449 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Severinghaus, Willard L (Willard Lesly), 1882-1947
Title Willard L. Severinghaus Papers, 1895-1947
Physical Description 4.5 linear feet (9 boxes)
Language(s) English .

The following boxes are located off-site: 2-9. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



Selected materials cataloged; remainder arranged. This collection is arranged in two series.


Scope and Contents

The Willard L. Severinghaus Papers include the personal and professional papers of Columbia University Physics professor Willard Lesly Severinghaus, as well as a small amount of material related to the extended Severinghaus family. There are also record books from the Terre Haute, Indiana German Methodist Episcopal Church where Severinghaus's father, John F. Severinghaus, was pastor.

Manuscript files include teaching notes and student lists; notebooks on physics, experiments, etc.; college notebook on biology and Willard Lesly Severinghaus notebooks and Frances Orr Severinghaus diary of their trip to Europe in 1927. Teaching materials; American Physical Society, 1939-1941; lightning; Moores Hill College, Moores Hill, Indiana; and telephotographs are included in the subject files. Biographical information includes the wedding announcement of Willard Leslie Severinghaus and Frances Orr; his obituary and letters relevant to his wife's teaching appointments. There are photographs of Severinghaus, his family, other scientists, laboratory equipment, the "Leonardo da Vinci Aircraft" exhibit, one identified group photograph of the "Cavendish Research" in 1926, 24 lantern slides (3 1/4 x 4 inches, glass) produced by the McAllister-Keller Company of New York, which appear to be a specially ordered lecture set on lightning & six slides for a lecture on thermodynamics. There is also a 75 item, A-Z student name and quiz grade card file, and 17 books from his library.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

The following boxes are located off-site: 2-9. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Willard L. Severinghaus papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

Severinghaus family papers: Papers of Willard L. Severinghaus' nephew, Leslie Severinghaus, and family. Includes other papers of John F., Aura E., and Charles E. Severinghaus. At Cornell University.

Aura E. Severinghaus Papers: Papers of Willard L. Severinghaus' nephew, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Professor of Anatomy Aura E. Severinghaus. At the Columbia University Medical Center Archives.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of Mrs J. Walter Severinghaus, 1988.

Gift of Helen Severinghaus, 1990.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed 08/04/88.

Papers Processed JHR 08/29/90.

Revision Description

2020-03-17 PDF finding aid converted to EAD, and scope and content and biographical notes revised by CLB.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Examinations Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Glass phototransparencies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Itineraries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lantern slides Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Leases Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Receipts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wills Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
American Physical Society Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bentley, Richard, 1662-1742 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College teachers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Electricity Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Halifax, Charles Montagu, Earl of, 1661-1715 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Methodist Episcopal Church. Central German Conference Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Michelson, Albert A (Albert Abraham), 1852-1931 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Moores Hill College Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Physicists -- United States -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Physics Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rayleigh, John William Strutt, Baron, 1842-1919 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Thermodynamics Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Weismann, August, 1834-1914 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical note

Willard Lesly Severinghaus (1882-1947) was a professor of Physics at Columbia University, 1919-1941, and secretary of the American Physical Society, 1929-1940.

Severinghaus was born in Terre Haute, Indiana on January 28, 1882, to the Reverend John Frederick Severinghaus and Maria Albers Severinghaus. He was the youngest of nine children. He earned an A.B. and master's degree in Physics from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1904 and 1905, respectively. From 1904 to 1907, Severinghaus was a professor of Physics at Moores Hill College. He then began working as an assistant in the Columbia University Physics department.

Severinghaus earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1914. His research specialized in thermodynamics and electricity. He taught Physics at the university for the rest of his career, until his retirement in 1941.

Severinghaus married Frances Orr, a former graduate student of his and a Physics teacher at Brooklyn College, on August 26, 1920. They had no children. He died in New York City on August 28, 1947.