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Francis S. Chafee Barometric Pressure Readings, 1929-1990

Scope & content

In the summer of 1929, Francis H. Chafee purchased a Negretti and Zambra model R/5669 recording barometer from the manufacturer in London. The barometer produced graphs of barometric pressure readings on paper charts representing a single week. Chafee began recording with the barometer on the week of September 22, 1929 and, except for a period from 1943 to 1946 when he was in Europe during World War II, continued taking recordings until the week of February 17, 1990. There is a single sheet in the collection from the period of the war: on the week of September 14, 1944, Chafee’s wife, Jane, operated the barometer to record the barometric pressure for an Atlantic hurricane. Readings of barometric pressure for several other hurricanes are also contained in the collection, including the hurricane of September 24, 1938, as well as Hurricanes Edna (September 1954), Hazel (October 1954), Donna (September 1960), and Agnes (June 1972).

For each of the years 1929 through 1981, Chafee glued the weekly charts together to make a continuous graph representing an entire year’s readings. Each year’s graphs were rolled up and marked with the year, or partial year, and location of the readings. From 1929 to 1931 the barometer was used in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Chafee was studying medicine at Harvard Medical School. From 1931 to 1933 the readings were taken in New York City during Chafee’s internship at Presbyterian Hospital. From 1933 until 1981 the barometer kept readings in Providence at four separate locations: 20 Young Orchard Avenue (1933-1936), 454 Angell St. (1936), 12 Humboldt Avenue (1936-April 1978), and 8 Roger Williams Green (November 1978-1981). There is also a small roll representing January and February of 1990.

Charts representing the readings from 1982 through the first week of 1990 have not been glued together or stored in rolls, but have been kept as single sheets in chronological order. There are no locations noted on the loose sheets. The entire collection consists of fifty rolls and the loose sheets. There are various annotations on the sheets representing weather events, changes in location, or notes on servicing of the barometer. The glue on some of the older rolls in the collection has become brittle, and unrolling them causes the sheets to separate.