Safford, Truman Henry, 1836-1901

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Astronomer; Director, Dearborn Observatory, 1865-1874.

From the description of Truman H. Safford Papers, 1850-1871. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122401433

Safford graduated from Harvard in 1854 and was an observer at the Harvard College Observatory.

From the description of Papers of Truman Henry Safford, ca. 1865-1866 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76972870

Truman Henry Safford was born January 6, 1836 in Royalton, Vermont, the son of Louisa Parker and Truman Hopson Safford. A child mathematical prodigy known as "the Vermont boy-calculator," he performed remarkable feats of computation, often jerking and muttering as his mind raced. He entered Harvard College in 1852 and, at the age of 18, graduated with honors two years later. Safford soon went to work in the Nautical Almanac Office and the Harvard College Observatory. He was associated with the Observatory first as assistant observer and then as acting director, until late in 1865, when he took a joint position as professor of astronomy (and mathematics) at the old University of Chicago and as the first director of the Dearborn Observatory. Safford’s primary research interests at the Dearborn Observatory were the positions, motions, and orbits of stars. He discovered several nebulae and participated in the Astronomische Gesellschaft’s cooperative star mapping project.

The Chicago Fire in 1871 left the University of Chicago in financial disarray. Safford departed Chicago in 1871 or 1872 on a leave of absence to work for the Army Corps of Engineers and remained there until possibly as late as 1876 (in light of the sparse surviving records, however, this period in Safford's life must remain somewhat conjectural). It is certain that in fall, 1872, and spring, 1873, he assisted Lt. E. H. Ruffner in a reconnaissance of the Ute Territory in Colorado, while later in 1873 Safford was an astronomical observer assisting Lt. G. M. Wheeler overseeing the determination of coordinates at various astronomical stations in the West. Subsequently, Safford did consulting work for various government bureaus until as late as 1876, when he secured an appointment as Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College. He remained at Williams until his death in 1901, though disabled during the last three years of his life by a paralytic stroke.

From the guide to the Truman H. Safford (1836-1901) Papers, 1850-1871, (Northwestern University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Truman H. Safford (1836-1901) Papers, 1850-1871 Northwestern University Archives
referencedIn Herbert Govert Keppel Journals, 1892-1898 Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
referencedIn Cleveland Abbe Papers, 1850-1954, (bulk 1850-1916) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. Papers, 1862-1939 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. David Peck Todd papers, 1862-1939 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, ca. 1852-ca. 2004 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Keppel, Herbert Govert, 1866-1918. Journals, 1892-1898. University of Florida
referencedIn United States Naval Observatory Records, 1830-1900 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, oversize, ca. 1829-1985 Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Safford, Truman Henry, 1836-1901. Astronomical and mathematical memoranda : manuscript, [1846] Houghton Library
creatorOf Safford, Truman Henry, 1836-1901. Truman H. Safford Papers, 1850-1871. Northwestern University
referencedIn General information about Southworth and Hawes daguerreotype of Truman Henry Safford. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. David Peck Todd papers, 1862-1939 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Safford, Truman Henry, 1836-1901. Papers of Truman Henry Safford, ca. 1865-1866 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Safford, Truman Henry, 1836-1901. Almanacs : manuscript, 1845, 1846 Houghton Library
referencedIn Abbe, Cleveland, 1838-1916. Cleveland Abbe papers, 1850-1954 (bulk 1850-1916). Library of Congress
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Abbe, Cleveland, 1838-1916. person
associatedWith Dearborn Observatory corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College Observatory corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Keppel, Herbert Govert, 1866-1918. person
associatedWith Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Dearborn Observatory. corporateBody
associatedWith Safford, Truman H., person
associatedWith Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. person
correspondedWith United States Naval Observatory corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Astronomy--Observations
Mathematics--Study and teaching
Stars--Observations
Astronomy--Study and teaching (Higher)--Illinois
Astronomy--Study and teaching
Polestar--Observations
Astronomical observatories
Occupation
Collector
Activity

Person

Birth 1836-01-06

Death 1901-06-13

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