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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2011

8 - Fading of the Old Guard



… A fellow ought to be thankful to have anything these parlous times.

– William Tyler Olcott, 1934

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) enjoyed a decade of organizational prosperity in the midst of the Depression after the firming of relationships with the Harvard College Observatory and the new ties established by its director, Harlow Shapley. The Association settled into a routine of annual meetings, increased observing, and a continued growth in its membership.

After Campbell was appointed Pickering Memorial Astronomer and AAVSO Recorder, he still remained in his offices at Harvard College Observatory (HCO). Even though Campbell had been performing tasks for the AAVSO in previous years, and even though he shared his space in the HCO library with the AAVSO space granted by Solon I. Bailey in 1919, his office had never been identified as the organization's headquarters because of his anomalous position with the AAVSO. By 1932, with formalization of the several relationships, Campbell's office and AAVSO Headquarters became firmly identified as being one and the same.

In following the long process to complete the Pickering Memorial Endowment, which funded Campbell's staff position at HCO, little notice has been taken of the other circumstances that confronted those endeavors. The national impact of the financial crash of October 1929 is well understood and documented. From a peak in September 1929, the stock market lost over half its value by the middle of November.

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