McMath, Robert R. (Robert Raynolds), 1891-1962

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Detroit, Michigan industrialist and director of the McMath-Hulbert Observatory of University of Michigan (located on Lake Angelus near Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan.)

From the description of Robert R. McMath papers, 1916-1962. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 80631884

From the description of Robert R. McMath papers, 1916-1912. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34423627

The time has vanished when a man such as Isaac Newton could cultivate a knowledge of natural philosophy outside a formal institutional setting while, at the same time, restructuring man's understanding of the cosmos. For one thing, the specialization of knowledge has virtually extinguished the possibility of such an enterprise; for another, scientific investigation has been transformed from a primarily individual matter into one which is administered, financed and conceived within large institutions, such as the University of Michigan. This transformation from, what one author has called, "Little Science" to "Big Science" has been so complete that, in examining the past of history of science, it is apparent that a profound change has occurred in the etymology of the word "science."

Against this background the career of Robert R. McMath acquires both meaning and fascination. For he was probably one of few men to convert a personal hobby (astronomy) into a productive scientific career. McMath's background in engineering is very much reflected through his interests in, what he was fond of calling, "things astronomical." His innovations tend to be technical, rather than conceptual. Celestial photography was the area with which he was most concerned; and, consequently, many of the papers deal with motion picture techniques, the development of new instruments for studying and photographing spectra (e.g. spectrohelio-kinsmatograph, photometer), and necessary adaptations in the telescope. In addition to its value as a source in the history of astronomy, the collection may also be used profitably to study the financial and structural growth of a scientific organization; and, of course, the relationship of the University and the government to scientific endeavor.

Robert R. McMath was born May 11, 1891 in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan in 1913, then worked for his father's company and another firm before entering the army air service in 1917. After the war he became general manager of the Biltmore Forest Estates Company in North Carolina. He then returned to Detroit as assistant manager of the Motors Metal Manufacturing Co. He worked for this company (and the firms that merged from it) for the next forty years in a succession of responsible positions: general manager, president, and chairman of the board.

McMath's passion was astronomy which he shared with his father and with Detroit banker and judge Henry S. Hulbert. He was supportive of the work of astronomers at the University of Michigan and was able to make many gifts to his alma mater. On his property near Lake Angelus in Oakland County, the McMaths (father and son) and Judge Hulbert had been planning and building a telescope. In 1931, the property was deeded to the University of Michigan. Among the equipment designed and built at Lake Angelus were a 70-foot tower telescope, a 24-inch reflecting telescope, and a 50-foot solar tower. From 1939 to 1961, McMath was director of the McMath-Hulbert Observatory; and from 1945 to 1960, he was named professor of solar physics and astronomy at the University of Michigan.

McMath was the recipient of many awards and honors. He was a member of the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Philosophical Society, the American Astronomical Society, and the Royal Astronomical Society. In addition, he was director of Cranbrook School (1929-1946), and a trustee of the Cranbrook Institute of Science (chairman, 1946-1950). He died January 2, 1962.

From the guide to the Robert R. McMath Papers, 1916-1962, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf McMath, Robert R. (Robert Raynolds), 1891-1962. Robert R. McMath papers, 1916-1912. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Robert R. McMath Papers, 1916-1962 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Observatory (University of Michigan) records, 1855-1985 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Mohler, Orren C. (Orren Cuthbert), 1908-1985. Orren C. Mohler papers, 1928-1979. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf McMath, Robert R. (Robert Raynolds), 1891-1962. Robert R. McMath papers, 1916-1962. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf University of Michigan. Observatory. Observatory (University of Michigan) records, 1855-1977. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Alumni Association (University of Michigan), Individual Photographs, ca. 1880-ca. 1960s Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. Observatory. Observatory (University of Michigan) records, 1855-1985. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Mohler, Orren C. (Orren Cuthbert), 1908-1985. Orren C. Mohler transcript of oral history interview, 1979. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn News and Information Services (University of Michigan) Faculty and Staff Files, 1944-2005, 1960-1995 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy records, 1953-1974. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Records, 1953-1974 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Randolph Greenfield, 1892-1951. person
associatedWith Adams, Walter S. (Walter Sydney), 1876-1956. person
associatedWith Adel, Arthur, 1908- person
associatedWith Adel, Arthur, 1908-1994. person
associatedWith Allen, Irwin, 1916-1991. person
associatedWith Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. corporateBody
associatedWith Avila Camacho, Manuel, 1897-1955. person
associatedWith Barker, Ernest F. (Ernest Franklin), 1886-1970. person
associatedWith Beal, Junius E. (Junius Emery), 1860-1942. person
associatedWith Brown, Prentiss M. (Prentiss Marsh), 1889-1973. person
associatedWith Burns, Kevin, 1881-1958. person
associatedWith Burr, George L. (George Lindsley), 1889-1971. person
associatedWith Bush, Vannevar, 1890-1974 person
associatedWith Cisler, Walker L. (Walker Lee), 1897-1994. person
associatedWith Cranbrook Institute of Science. corporateBody
associatedWith Cranbrook School. corporateBody
associatedWith Cranbrook School (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) corporateBody
associatedWith Curtis, Heber Doust, 1872-1942. person
associatedWith Curtiss, R. H. (Ralph Hamilton), 1880-1929. person
associatedWith Dale, Albert E. (Albert Ennis), 1890-1954. person
associatedWith Davison, Frederick Trubee, b. 1896. person
associatedWith Dodson, Helen Walter, 1905- person
associatedWith Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969. person
associatedWith Dunham, Theodore J., 1897- person
associatedWith Dunham, Theodore J., 1897- person
associatedWith Eckart, Carl, 1902- person
associatedWith Eckart, Carl, 1902-1973. person
associatedWith Edmondson, Frank K. (Frank Kelly), 1912- person
associatedWith Effinger, John R. (John Robert), 1869-1933. person
associatedWith Fecker, J. W. person
associatedWith Fecker, J. W. person
associatedWith Fisher, Clyde, 1878-1949. person
associatedWith Gardner, Erle Stanley, 1889-1970. person
associatedWith Gilmore, William Steele, 1884- person
associatedWith Goldberg, Leo. person
associatedWith Goldberg, Leo. person
associatedWith Grosvenor, Gilbert Hovey, 1875-1966. person
associatedWith Grosvenor, Melville Bell, 1901-1982. person
associatedWith Heyns, Roger W. (Roger William), 1918-1995. person
associatedWith Hulbert, Henry Schoolcraft, 1869-1959. person
associatedWith Johnson, Nelson C. person
associatedWith Johnson, Nelson C. person
associatedWith Karpinski, Louis Charles, 1878-1956. person
associatedWith Keller, Kaufman Thuma, 1885-1966. person
associatedWith Kellogg, Remington, 1892-1969. person
associatedWith Keniston, Hayward, b. 1883. person
associatedWith Kraus, Edward Henry, 1875-1973. person
associatedWith Learer, F. H. person
associatedWith Learer, F. H. person
associatedWith Malesky, George. person
associatedWith Malesky, George. person
associatedWith McClure, Roy D. person
associatedWith McClure, Roy Donaldson, 1882-1951 person
associatedWith McDowell, C. S. person
associatedWith McDowell, C. S. person
associatedWith McGregor, Tracy W. (Tracy William), 1869-1936. person
associatedWith McMath, Francis C. (Francis Charles), 1867-1938. person
associatedWith McMath-Hulbert Observatory (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith McMath-Hulbert Observatory (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith McMath-Hulbert Observatory (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith Menzel, Donald H. (Donald Howard), 1901-1976. person
associatedWith Merrill, Paul W. (Paul Willard), 1887-1961. person
associatedWith Mohler, Orren, 1908- person
associatedWith Mohler, Orren C. (Orren Cuthbert), 1908-1985. person
associatedWith National Science Foundation (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Nicholson, Seth B. (Seth Barnes), 1891-1963. person
associatedWith Norton, William J. (William John), 1883-1975. person
associatedWith Odegaard, Charles E. person
associatedWith Odegaard, Charles E. person
associatedWith Ormondroyd, J. (Jesse), 1897- person
associatedWith Petrie, R. M. person
associatedWith Petrie, Robert Methven, 1906- person
associatedWith Pettit, Edison, 1889- person
associatedWith Pettit, Edison, 1889-1962. person
associatedWith Pyke, Alfred Joseph, 1880- person
associatedWith Quarles, Donald A. (Donald Aubrey), 1894-1959. person
associatedWith Reynolds, Harrison G. person
associatedWith Reynolds, Harrison G. person
associatedWith Rice, Warner Grenelle, 1899- person
associatedWith Russell, Henry Norris, 1877-1957. person
associatedWith Ruthven, Alexander Grant, 1882-1971. person
associatedWith Sass, Samuel, 1915- person
associatedWith Sawyer, H. E. person
associatedWith Sawyer, H. E. person
associatedWith Schauer, Charles Hawver, 1912- person
associatedWith Schriever, Bernard A. person
associatedWith Schriever, Bernard A. person
associatedWith Scripps, William E. (William Edmund), 1882-1952. person
associatedWith Shapley, Harlow, 1885-1972. person
associatedWith Shirley, Joseph W. person
associatedWith Smith, Shirley W. (Shirley Wheeler), 1875-1959. person
associatedWith Stason, E. Blythe (Edwin Blythe), 1891-1972. person
associatedWith Stebbins, Joel, 1878-1966. person
associatedWith Stetson, Harlan True, 1885-1964. person
associatedWith Stone, Julius F. (Julius Frederick), 1855-1947. person
associatedWith Struve, Otto, 1897-1963. person
associatedWith Tapping, Theodore Hawley, 1889-1969. person
associatedWith University of Michigan corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Alumni Association. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Astronomy Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Astronomy Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Dept. of Astronomy. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. News and Information Services. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Observatory. corporateBody
associatedWith Waterman, Alan Tower, 1892-1967. person
associatedWith Whipple, Fred L. (Fred Lawrence), 1906-2004. person
associatedWith White, Alfred H. (Alfred Holmes), b. 1873. person
associatedWith Wilson, Charles Erwin, 1890-1961. person
associatedWith Yoakum, Clarence Stone, 1879-1945. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Detroit (Mich.)
Detroit (Mich.)
Pontiac (Mich.)
Michigan
Detroit (Mich.)
Pontiac (Mich.)
Pontiac (Mich.)
Subject
Astronomy--Michigan
Astronomy
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1891-05-11

Death 1962-01-02

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w63r3n44

Ark ID: w63r3n44

SNAC ID: 30725009