Letter From Tappan to Palmer, November 5th, 1853

This post is by Alec Hall

Henry Philip Tappan Papers 1840-1863

Page 1 of a letter Page 2 page 3

This project is based upon the Henry Philip Tappan Papers, dating back to the time period of 1840-1863. These dates are cited on the Bentley Historical Library Website.

Location of the Original: The call number of the artifact is 86101 Aa 2; Ac; UAm. The box number is Box 1.

Date of creation: The particular document I selected is from November 5th, 1853.

The piece I have selected is a document citing a call to meeting for the board of regents of the University. Two things in particular from this document apply directly to the astronomy department here. The first is that the University planned to hire new science faculty. This means that there were new astronomy professors being hired during this time. These professors likely had a great impact on the department, and helped define the precedent moving forward. The second part was the mention of a telescope. This is the Meridian Circle Telescope, and the mention of an observatory is the Detroit Observatory. These documents detail the purchase and planned shipment of the Meridian Circle Telescope from Germany, and say that it will be “the largest transit in this country.” The Meridian Circle was a massively important telescope for the department and top of the line at the time of purchase. This document displays a lot of history not just about the Department of Astronomy, but the University as a whole.

editor’s note: the notes from the subsequent Regent’s meeting begin on page 552 of the  Proceedings of the Board of Regents (1837-1864). The Professor of Astronomy to be hired was Brünnow. The “Great Telescope” would prove unsatisfactory, and would not be completed until 1857. The Transit instrument is the Meridian Circle, and was in place by the end of 1854.