DuMond, Jesse W. M. (Jesse William Monroe), 1892-1976

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American physicist.

From the description of Papers. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 154302843


Jesse William Monroe DuMond, experimental physicist, was born in Paris on July 11, 1892, to expatriate American parents, Fredrick Melville DuMond and Louise Adele Kerr. After the death of his mother before he was two years old, DuMond was cared for by his maternal grandmother, Catherine E. Kerr, a resident of Paris, up to the age of seven. In 1899 young DuMond came to the U.S. to live with his paternal grandparents. From his grandfather, Alonzo Monroe DuMond, who had founded a sheet-metal business in Rochester, the young Jesse learned practical manual skills and a deep respect for craftsmanship. In 1905 the DuMond grandparents moved with their grandson to California, settling permanently in Monrovia, just east of Pasadena. Young Jesse graduated from Monrovia High School in 1911. He subsequently entered Throop College of Technology, the forerunner of the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena in September, 1912, from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1916. For his thesis, he designed and built a harmonic analyzer, a type of mechanical calculator.

After graduation DuMond accepted a position with General Electric at their testing facility in Schenectady, New York. In the spring of 1918 he joined the American Expeditionary Forces in France and served until the Armistice. In 1920 DuMond married Irene Gaebel, a Frenchwoman. The couple had three children, a son and two daughters. They were divorced in 1942, and DuMond married Louise Marie Baillet in that same year. Returning to the U.S. in 1920, DuMond took a year's job at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, DC. In September 1921 he returned to his alma mater, since 1920 called the California Institute of Technology, to undertake a Ph.D. in physics. DuMond received his doctorate in 1929 with the thesis, "Experimental and Theoretical Studies of the Breadth and Structure of the Compton Shifted Line." For this work, he designed and built, with the aid of his first graduate student Harry A. Kirkpatrick, a multi-crystal spectrograph. This apparatus housed fifty calcite crystals, each carefully regulated to focus spectral lines with high intensity and resolution. The results confirmed DuMond's interpretation of the broadening and structure of the Compton shifted line and provided support for the Rutherford-Bohr dynamic atomic model.

Although he accepted briefly a professorial position at Stanford in 1931, DuMond returned to Caltech, where he served on the faculty for thirty-four years, becoming associate professor in 1938, full professor in 1946, and emeritus in 1963. During the 1930s DuMond's research in spectroscopy was based on the ingenious design and careful construction of original apparatus. Much of the work was carried out by DuMond himself, with some help from students and from the gifted personnel of Caltech's machine shops. DuMond and his associates produced in these years a 30-kilowatt X-ray tube operating at 300 kilovolts, a precision two-crystal spectrometer, and the large curved crystal gamma-ray spectrometer. The latter instrument, whose development spanned World War II, opened the door to a whole family of spectrometers that were used all over the world in a variety of nuclear spectroscopy studies. The original curved crystal spectrometer, called the Mark I, was presented to the Smithsonian Institution by Caltech in 1990.

Beginning in the 1930s, DuMond and his students embarked upon a series of experiments on the fundamental atomic constants, particularly, the charge and mass of the electron and Planck's constant, h. With the work of R. T. Birge at Berkeley, DuMond's continuing investigation of the fundamental constants in the late 1930s and again after World War II in collaboration with E. Richard Cohen remained definitive until the late 1960s. With E. Richard Cohen and K. M. Crowe DuMond published the book, Fundamental Constants of Physics, in 1957.

DuMond was the author or coauthor of more than 175 papers on physical topics. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1953, and was also a member of Sigma Xi. He received two honorary doctorates, from the University of Uppsala in 1966 and the University of Manitoba in 1967. He also received a distinguished service award from Utah State University in 1974. He died in Pasadena on December 4, 1976, at the age of 84.

From the guide to the Jesse W. M. DuMond Papers, 1912-1976, (California Institute of Technology. Caltech Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Edward U. Condon Papers, Circa 1920-1974 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf DuMond, Jesse W. M. (Jesse William Monroe), 1892-1976. Autobiography of a physicist: Volumes I and II, 1972. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Darrow, Karl K. (Karl Kelchner), 1891-. Karl Kelchner Darrow Papers, 1872-1978, (bulk 1917-1972) American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf DuMond, Jesse W. M. (Jesse William Monroe), 1892-1976. Papers. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Archive for the History of Quantum Physics, 1898-1950 (bulk), 1898-1950 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Jesse W. M. DuMond Papers, 1912-1976 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
creatorOf DuMond, Jesse W. M. (Jesse William Monroe), b. 1892. Papers, 1912-1976. California Institute of Technology, Caltech Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abraham, Max, 1875-1922 person
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associatedWith American Physical Society. corporateBody
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associatedWith Andrade, E. N. da C., (Edward Neville da Costa), 1887-1971 person
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associatedWith Becquerel, Jean, 1878-1953 person
associatedWith Benedicks, Carl Axel Fredrik, 1875-1953 person
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associatedWith Birge, Raymond T. (Raymond Thayer), b. 1887. person
associatedWith Bohr, Niels Henrik David, 1885-1962 person
associatedWith Born, Max, 1882-1970 person
associatedWith Breit, Gregory, 1899-1981 person
associatedWith Broglie, Louis de, 1892-1987 person
associatedWith California Institute of Technology corporateBody
associatedWith Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967 person
associatedWith Compton, Arthur Holly, 1892-1962 person
associatedWith Condon, Edward Uhler, 1902-1974 person
associatedWith Coster, Dirk, 1889-1950 person
associatedWith Darrow, Karl K. (Karl Kelchner), 1891- person
associatedWith Darwin, Charles Galton, Sir, 1887-1962 person
associatedWith Debye, Peter J. W., (Peter Josef William), 1884-1966 person
associatedWith Dieke, Gerhard Heinrich, 1901-1965 person
associatedWith Dirac, P. A. M., (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-1984 person
associatedWith Eddington, Arthur Stanley, Sir, 1882-1944 person
associatedWith Ehrenfest, Paul, 1880-1933 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
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associatedWith Fokker, A. D., (Adriaan Daniel), 1887-1972 person
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associatedWith Goudsmit, Samuel Abraham, 1902-1978 person
associatedWith Haber, Fritz, 1868-1934 person
associatedWith Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Hilbert, David, 1862-1943 person
associatedWith Joliot-Curie, Frédéric person
associatedWith Jordan, Pascual, 1902-1980 person
associatedWith Kamerlingh Onnes, Heike, 1853-1926 person
associatedWith Kapitsa, P. L., (Petr Leonidovich), 1894-1984 person
associatedWith Kayser, H., (Heinrich), 1853-1940 person
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associatedWith Laue, Max von, 1879-1960 person
associatedWith London, Fritz, 1900-1954 person
associatedWith McLennan, J. C., (John Cunningham), 1867-1935 person
associatedWith Meitner, Lise, 1878-1968 person
associatedWith Mie, Gustav, 1868-1957 person
associatedWith Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953 person
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associatedWith Pauling, Linus, 1901-1994 person
associatedWith Pauli, Wolfgang, 1900-1958 person
associatedWith Planck, Max, 1858-1947 person
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associatedWith Stark, Johannes, 1874-1957 person
associatedWith Thomson, J. J., Sir, (Joseph John), 1856-1940 person
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associatedWith Weisskopf, Victor Frederick, 1908-2002 person
associatedWith Zeeman, Pieter, 1865-1943 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Nuclear spectroscopy
Physical instruments
Spectrum analysis
World War, 1939-1945


Birth 1892-07-11

Death 1976-12-04



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