Series 117 - Richard van der Riet Woolley's correspondence files

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Richard van der Riet Woolley's correspondence files


  • 1925 - 1956 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

1.0 m (5 type 1 boxes)

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Name of creator

(1906 - 1986)

Biographical history

Sir Richard van der Riet Woolley was born at Weymouth, Dorset, England on 24 April 1906. He was educated at the Universities of Cape Town (MSc) and Cambridge (BA 1928, PhD 1931, ScD 1951). He held a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship, Mt Wilson Observatory, California 1929-1931; Isaac Newton Student, Cambridge 1931-1933; and appointed to Chief Assistant, Royal Observatory, Greenwich 1933-1937; John Couch Adams Astronomer, University of Cambridge 1937-1939. Woolley was Director, Commonwealth Solar Observatory at Mount Stromlo (later renamed Mount Stromlo Observatory) from December 1939 to December 1955, and appointed Professor of Astronomy, Australian National University from 5 July 1950 to 31 December 1955. In 1957 the Commonwealth Observatory was renamed the Mount Stromlo Observatory and joined the ANU as a department within the Research School of Physical Sciences. From 1 January 1957, Woolley was appointed Honorary Professor. His fellowships and awards included President, Royal Astronomical Society 1963-1965; President, ANZAAS 1955; Fellow, Royal Society 1953; and Foundation Fellow, Australian Academy of Science 1954. Woolley was appointed as Astronomer Royal, United Kingdom 1956-1971 and Director of the South African Astronomical Observatory 1972-1976. He died on 24 December 1986.

Name of creator

(1924 - 1957)

Biographical history

The Commonwealth Solar Observatory was established in January 1924, one of its purposes being the study of solar phenomena. By 1950 the Observatory's name had changed, becoming the Commonwealth Observatory. In 1957 the observatory located at Mount Stromlo became part of the Australian National University as the Department of Astronomy in the Research School of Physical Sciences.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The correspondence files are organised into an alphanumeric subject system and cover addresses and visits by the Commonwealth Astronomer, visits to the Observatory, meetings of the Board of Visitors (Advisory Board) and annual reports. There are some staff files and photographs of observations, eg comets, on some files.


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Researchers must sign an access agreement

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Related units of description

National Archives of Australia: A9103, Files of Commonwealth Solar Observatory

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Prepared by Maggie Shapley on 5 October 2007




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