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American Astronomers in Belgium, 1919: Snapshots from the Founding of the IAU

  • James M. Lattis (a1) and Anthony J. Lattis (a2)


The USA delegation to the July 1919 International Research Council meeting in Brussels included Joel Stebbins, then professor of astronomy and observatory director at the University of Illinois, as secretary of the executive committee appointed by the National Research Council. Stebbins, an avid photographer, documented the travels of their party as the American astronomers attended the meeting and later toured devastated towns, scarred countryside, and battlefields only recently abandoned. Published reports of the meeting afterward attest to the impression left on the American visitors, and the photographs by Stebbins give us a glimpse through their own eyes. Selected photographs, recently discovered in the University of Wisconsin Archives and never before publicly seen, will be presented along with some commentary on their significance for the International Astronomical Union, which took shape at that 1919 meeting.



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Blaauw, A. 1994, History of the IAU, Dordrecht, Boston, and London: Kluwer
Campbell, W. W. 1919, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 31, 24925610.1086/122868
Stebbins, J. 1919, Popular Astronomy, 27, 601612
Stebbins to Campbell, 4 Nov 1919, Stebbins Correspondence 1915–1959, Box 129, Shane Archives of the Lick Observatory
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