Dennison, David M. (David Mathias), 1900-1976

Alternative names
Birth 1900-04-26
Death 1976-04-03

Biographical notes:

Professor of physics at the University of Michigan.

From the description of David M. Dennison papers, ca. 1927-1976. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34421604

Died 1976.

From the description of Oral history interview with David Mathias Dennison, 1964 January 27 to 30. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81273636

From the description of Informal moments, Summer Symposia at the University of Michigan [motion picture] / taken by David Dennison ; 1933-1937. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83660440

Dennison died in 1976.

From the description of Physics and the [University of Michigan] Department of Physics since 1900--Definitions and Reflections, 1967. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 84429977

David Mathias Dennison was born in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1900 to Walter Dennison and Anna L. Green. He attended Swarthmore College and graduated with a BA in 1921 before starting graduate work at the University of Michigan. In 1924 Dennison received his Ph. D. from Michigan, married his wife Helen Lenette Johnson, and began a three-year study of physics in Europe. While studying at Cambridge, Dennison began theoretical work on the heat and temperature of hydrogen with his experiments yielding some of the first quantitative evidence for nuclear spin.

After returning to the United States in 1927 Dennison joined the University of Michigan’s Physics Department as part of a number of new hires with a background in theoretical physics; he was made a full professor in 1935. While working at Michigan, Dennison began to diversify his interest in physics making important discoveries about microwave spectroscopy, and the stability of particle orbits in the racetrack synchrotron. His work on the performance of the radio proximity fuse during World War II earned him a Certificate for Exceptional Service from the United States Navy. In addition Dennison helped organize and participated in international symposia of physicists held during the summer at the University of Michigan from 1929 to 1940.

During his 44 years at the University of Michigan Dennison earned many honors. In 1952 he was selected as the Henry Russel Lecturer, a high honor bestowed on senior faculty, he received a distinguished faculty award in 1962, and was appointed the Harrison M. Randall Distinguished Faculty Professor in 1966. Dennison retired in 1971. His important contributions to science and his dedication to the University of Michigan lead to the renaming of the Physics-Astronomy Building on the university campus to the David M. Dennison Building following his death in 1976.

From the guide to the David M. Dennison papers, 1894-1976, 1927-1976, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Nuclear physics
  • Quantum theory
  • Science--History
  • Physics--Study and teaching--History
  • Atomic theory
  • Universities and colleges--History
  • Physics


  • Physicists--Interviews
  • Physicists


  • United States--Michigan (as recorded)