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Willard P. Gerrish papers

Scope & content

The Gerrish papers are a collection of personal and scientific writings that cover a period of about twenty-five years. The lengthiest document is Gerrish's handwritten manuscript account of an 1896 voyage to Japan to view a total eclipse of the sun, titled "Journal of [the] voyage of Yacht Coronet: San Francisco to Hawaiian Islands and Japan." It is a detailed personal journal of his trans-Pacific crossing; among his party were Prof. David Todd, an astronomer from Amherst, Massachusetts, and his wife Mabel Loomis Todd, also known as a champion of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Although the Journal itself ends with the party's arrival in Japan, it is accompanied by the handwritten draft of a letter from Gerrish to Todd describing technical details of the actual observation.

Two copies of the "Telegraphic Cipher Code: Gerrish System" (1906) along with several short studies are included in the collection. There are also photographs of various telescopes and mounts, along with related specifications and informal notes in Gerrish's hand.

Also included are household receipts for the period from 1907 to 1920, and personal as well as professional correspondence from the years 1874 to 1919. Much of the correspondence regards Willard Gerrish's technical work, but there are also examples of the overlap of personal and professional, such as an 1896 letter from fellow-astronomer George Hale congratulating him on his recent marriage.

Series 2 of the papers is a collection of high school copy books belonging to Gerrish's sisters Isabel and Mary. There is also a folder of correspondence, inventories and legal papers that concern the estate of William H. Gerrish, Willard's father.