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

13 - In search of a home

from PART IV - THE SERVICE BUREAU – THE MARGARET MAYALL ERA

Summary

Don't let the good work of the AAVSO cease! Nothing, no nothing, can take the place of a lot of well-established facts.

– Paul W. Merrill, 1953

The 1953 Annual meeting of the AAVSO brought heavy demands on Margaret Mayall, the Association's director, and other officers for making arrangements for the usual Council business, the reports from committees and her recorder's reports, and the technical sessions with their scientific papers. Perhaps even more stressful for the Council were events looming in the Association's future – moving from its headquarters at Harvard College Observatory and finding the necessary funds for its continuance.

The Council meeting with Harvard University's Dean McGeorge Bundy brought no other hope that the Harvard Corporation's decision would be rescinded. Mayall's position would only be supported for 1 year, up to June 1, 1954, from the Pickering Memorial Endowment. After that date, Harvard College Observatory would divert the money to other programs. Even more prominent was the date June 1, 1953, when all other assistance from Harvard would be discontinued.

Not only did Mayall and the officers face these dates, but there was urgency in obtaining funds from other grant agencies, particularly the National Science Foundation. They approached fundraising with trepidation, not knowing if their disagreements with Harvard University would bring a cloud over their heads. The prospects of moving their offices to Boston University seemed hopeful, but they were still waiting a final approval from the Boston University officers.

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