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.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only CU affiliates may view materials on-site. YOU MUST REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT BEFORE PLACING REQUESTS. Email rbml@library.columbia.edu to request an appointment. You may submit a request for materials once your appointment is confirmed. Affiliates will login with their uni and password, and need to register the first time they make a request.

Series I: Cataloged correspondence and documents

Box 1 Bentley, Richard, (1662-1742) correspondence

Box 1 Butler, Nicholas Murray correspondence

Box 1 Einstein, Albert correspondence

Box 1 Michelson, Albert Abraham correspondence

Box 1 Montague, Charles, 1st Earl of Halifax correspondence

Box 1 Oppenheimer, Robert correspondence

Box 1 Strutt, John William, 3rd Baron Rayleigh correspondence

Box 1 Weismann, August correspondence

Box 1 Butler, Nicholas Murray photograph

Box 1 American Physical Society correspondence, 1929-1941

Box 1 Columbia University correspondence


Box 1 Columbia University correspondence

Regarding leave of absence/disability/retirement.

Box 1 Teacher's College correspondence, 1940-1941

Regarding lease of apartment

Box 1 Correspondence with Frances Orr

Box 1 European trip correspondence, 1927

Mentions various eminent physicists.

Box 1 Letters to family from Europe, 1927

Box 1 Letters of condolence to Frances Orr Severinghaus, 1947, 2 folders

Box 1 General correspondence, 19 folders

Arranged alphabetically.

Box 1 Willard Severinghaus's last will and testament, 1927 January 28

Series II: Arranged materials

Box 2 Examinations, circa 1901-1903

Box 2 Memorabilia

Box 2 Notes

On physics, travel, financial affairs, and other topics.

Box 2 Notebook from biology study at Baldwin-Wallace College, 1903-1904

Box 2 High school notebooks

Box 2 Notebooks on mathematics, science, and zoology

Box 2 Notebook and travel diary, 1927

Box 2 Notebook on physics, student lists, etc.

Box 2 Receipts for equipment and lab supplies

Box 2 "Scientific Laboratories the Length and Breadth of North America"

Box 2 Travel Itinerary, 1940

Box 2 "Trial and Error", 1932

Box 3 Subject file: American Physical Society, 1939-1940

Box 3 Subject file: Lightning

Box 3 Subject file: Miller, Dayton C. "The Spirit and Service of Science", 1936

Box 3 Moores Hill College Teaching Materials

Box 3 Moores Hill - Glee Club, Activities, etc.

Box 3 Telephotographs

Box 3 Biographical files, 2 folders

Box 3 Frances Orr Severinghaus biographical file

Box 3 Newspaper clippings - Physics, etc., circa 1928-1940

Box 3 Willard Leslie Severinghaus photographs, 2 folders

Box 3 Photographs of Severinghaus and family (some from childhood)

Box 3 Photographs of Frances Orr Severinghaus

Box 3 Photographs of Cavendish research, 1926

Box 3 Photographs of home and family, including painting

Box 3 Photographs of laboratory equipment

Box 3 Photographs of "Leonardo da Vinci Aircraft" exhibit

Box 3 Photographs of scientists and laboratory equipment (Leyden)

Box 3 Miscellaneous photographs

Box 4 Books from Severinghaus's library, 12 Volumes

Box 4 Lantern slides for a lecture on lightning, 24 items

Box 4 Card files: student names and quiz grades, 1905-1906

Box 5 Books from Severinghaus's childhood library, 5 Volumes

Box 5 Glass slides for a lecture on thermodynamics, 6 items

Box 5 Notebooks, mostly from childhood and college, 7 items

Box 6 Central German Methodist Episcopal Church: Book of disbursement records, 1930-1933

Box 6 Central German Methodist Episcopal Church: Minutes of the Central German Conference, 1929

Box 6 Central German Methodist Episcopal Church: Record Book: Baptisms and Marriages, 1889-1938

Baptism records, 1889-1938; Marriage records, 1890-1938.

Box 6 Severinghaus, A. E.: Biographical material

Box 6 Severinghaus, A. E.: Alpha Epsilon Delta award material

Box 6 Severinghaus, C. E.: correspondence regarding Central German Methodist Episcopal Church

Box 6 Severinghaus family correspondence

Box 6 Severinghaus family printed material

Box 7 Severinghaus, C. E.: diaries, datebooks, and memoranda, 1902-1979

Box 7 Severinghaus, J. F.: diaries, datebooks, and memoranda, 1902-1979

J. F. Severinghaus was the father of Willard L. Severinghaus.

Box 8 Severinghaus, C. E. last will and testament

Box 8 Central German Methodist Episcopal Church Conference photograph, 1911

Box 8 Tomkinson, Laura E. Twenty Years' History of the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Cincinnati: The woman's home missionary society of the Methodist Episcopal Church., 1903, 1 Volumes

Box 8 Book of Psalms

Box 9 Diplomas and awards