Frederic Eugene Wright (1877-1953) was an eminent optician and geophysicist. His various specialties included the physical features of the surface of the moon, and in 1925, he was appointed the chair of the "Committee on Study of Surface Feature of Moon" of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. In addition to Wright, the committee consisted of W. S. Adams and F. G. Pease (Mt. Wilson Observatory), A. L. Day (Geophysical Laboratory of the Institution), John P. Buwalda and Paul S. Epstein (California Institute of Technology), and W. W. Campbell (Lick Observatory). Wright remained at the Carnegie Institution until his retirement in 1944. At the time of his death, he was considered the foremost authority on the Moon.
Scope and Content
The collection contains material ranging from correspondence to various types of research materials to clippings and reprints of articles of newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. The majority of the collection deals with the history of science and Wright's research of the physical features of the moon. The collection is composed of four sections in accordance with the types of sources: correspondence, manuscripts, research materials, and ephemera. The correspondence is contained in Box 1, while the manuscripts are housed in Boxes 1 and 2. Research materials occupy Boxes 2-5, divided into five sub-sections: unbound research materials, research materials in folders, bound research materials, photographs, and negatives. The Ephemera section is contained in Boxes 5 and 6. The items in each section and sub-section are placed in chronological order. Correspondence indicates the ways in which Wright advanced the research project of the Committee on Study of Surface Feature of Moon as well as in which he shaped his ideas and conducted his research in relation to other scholars; he asked other scholars research questions and was asked by them. Wright regularly corresponded with administrators at the Carnegie Institution, such as W. M. Gilbert and John Merriam, and the committee members in California, updating each other on the project. Also he communicated with other scholars in the field including R. A. Daly at Harvard, W. H. Pickering at an observatory in Jamaica, George Hale at the California Institute of Technology, Harlow Shapley at the Harvard College Observatory, C. P. Oliver at the University of Pennsylvania, Ernest Brown at Yale, Jesse L. Greenstein at the Harvard College Observatory, Otto Struve at the University of California, Berkeley, and Henry Norris Russell at Princeton. Manuscripts and research materials tell us exactly what Wright thought and did in terms of his research project. Manuscripts include the reports of the committee and drafts of talks he gave to various audiences. Research materials are a nice collection of research data (graphs and tables), research notes, and visual sources such as photographs and negatives. The ephemera section also contributes to tracing the trajectory of Wright's ideas, composed of clippings of articles regarding the moon from newspapers and magazines and reprints of his own published papers.