|Columbia University Archives|
At a Glance
808 glass-plate negatives and ten black-and-white telescopic photographic prints of astronomical subjects.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
Series I, Glass Plate Negatives, is CLOSED pending conservation and digitization. Series II has no restrictions. kws 02-28-2023
This collection is located on-site.
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.
Identification of specific item; date (if known); Lewis Morris Rutherfurd Photographs, University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York.
The Department of Astronomy records (https://findingaids.library.columbia.edu/ead/nnc-ua/ldpd_5804362/dsc/5), in particular Series V, contain material related Rutherfurd and his calucations.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
According to the 1891 Columbia University Annual Report, Lewis Morris Rutherfurd gave his entire collection of photographic plates, dating from 1858 to 1878, to the University in November, 1890. These plates numbered approximately 1,500 and included with them were measurements of many of the star plates. The reduction of these measurements was carried out in the preceding years by professors John K. Rees and Harold Jacoby with financial support from Rutherfurd himself, and after his death, by his son, Rutherfurd Stuyvesant. According to an 1892 article found in the Rees biographical file in the University Archives, a number of the moon photographs were sent to Prof. L. Weinek of the Imperial Observatory in Prague, who was in the process of making a large map of the moon. A complete set of similar photographs was sent to the Lick Observatory as well. The photographic plates are now located in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, along with several large prints. The plates were found in a storage closet when the Astronomy Department was renovated.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Lewis Morris Rutherfurd (1816-1892) was born in Morrisania, New York. His great grandfather, Lewis Morris, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Rutherfurd enrolled at Williams College at the age of fifteen, where he studied chemistry and physics. After graduation, Rutherfurd studied law under William H. Seward and was admitted to the bar in 1837. He practiced law for several years before giving it up in 1849, due to his wife's poor health. For the next seven years, Rutherfurd and his family lived in Europe. In 1856, Rutherfurd returned to New York and built an observatory where he began working with astronomical photography and spectroscopy. He worked for years on converting the telescope into a photographic instrument and succeeded in 1868.
Rutherfurd was a trustee of Columbia University for twenty-six years (1858-1884). He was instrumental in the establishment of the School of Mines, and later, in the departments of Geodesy and Practical Astronomy in 1881. In 1883, Rutherfurd made a gift of his observatory instruments to the University, and seven years later, he gave Columbia his collection of glass-plate negatives and twenty folio volumes of plate measurements.
Rutherfurd was one of the original members named in the act of Congress that created the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. He was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1857, and was made a fellow in 1875. He was the member of several associations, including the Royal Astronomical Society. Lewis Morris Rutherfurd died on May 30, 1892.
The observatory located on top of Pupin Hall is named after Rutherfurd. There is also a professorship in Rutherfurd's name. John K. Rees, Harold Jacoby, Jan Schilt, Charles Lane Poor and Samuel Alfred Mitchell are some of those instructors who have held the Rutherfurd Professorship.