Sidney Dean Townley (April 10, 1867 – March 18, 1946) was an American astronomer and geodeticist.
He was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin to Reverend Robert Townley and his wife Mary Wilkinson. After the equivalent of a high school education, he gained a job as a clerk in the local town bank. A year and a half later he was admitted to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He would graduate four years later with distinction, and become a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
During his second year at the university he took a course in astronomy. He was also given a room at the Washburn Observatory and worked nights as an assistant. These would serve to shape his interest in astronomy.
In his second year as a graduate student he was offered a Hearst fellowship at the Lick Observatory, which he accepted, arriving in 1892. In 1893, however, the fellowship funds were re-committed to an eclipse expedition to Chile, so he had to depart.
He became an instructor of astronomy, first at the University of Michigan, followed by the University of California. From 1893 until 1898 he worked at the Detroit Observatory, where he studied variable stars and comets.
By 1897 he gained his Sc.D. from the University of Michigan with a thesis on the "Orbit of Psyche". In 1898 he spent a year on leave to travel through Germany, visiting major observatories in Berlin, Liepzig, and Munich. After his return he began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, and was appointed director of the International Latitude Station at Ukiah, California. While there he developed an interest in geodesy, particularly seismology.
Townley was a member of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and served as its president in 1916, and also spent time as director and on the publication committee. He also joined the Seismological Society, and served at various times as president, secretary-treasurer, and editor of the society journal.
In 1911 he became an assistant professor at Stanford University. In a short time he became full professor, and would remain in that position until his retirement in 1932, thereafter becoming professor emeritus. Toward the end of his life he became an invalid, although he remained mentally alert until he died in Stanford, California.
During his career he published roughly 100 academic papers, and edited the contributions of many others. He was widely recognized for his editorial skills.
Townley crater on the Moon was named after him.
Sidney Dean Townley and Maxwell Wilford Allen, "Descriptive catalogue of earthquakes of the Pacific Coast of the United States, 1769 to 1928", 1939, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 29.
Sidney Dean Townley, Annie Jump Cannon, and Leon Campbell, "Harvard catalogue of long period variable stars", 1928, The Observatory, Cambridge, Mass.
Robert G. Aitken, "Sidney Dean Townley, 1867-1946", 1946, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 58, No. 342.
Patricia S. Whitesell, "Detroit Observatory: nineteenth-century training ground for astronomers", 2003, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 6(2). (Wikipedia)
MEMORIAL RESOULTION SIDNEY DEAN TOWNLEY
(1867 – 1946)
In the death of Sidney Dean Townley, Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, on March 16, the University lost one of the most conscientious and public-spirited members of its early faculty. Professor Townley was born on April 10, 1867, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and began his academic career in the University of Wisconsin. His first degree there, the B. Sc. in 1890, was followed by a fellowship in astronomy, then an assistantship in astronomy and mathematics, and the M.Sc. in 1892. For the next year he was Hearst Fellow in Astronomy at the University of California. Then he became Instructor in Astronomy at the University of Michigan, leaving to study for two years in Berlin and Munich, returning to Michigan in 1896, and receiving the degree of Doctor of Science in 1897. In 1898 he went to the University of California again, this time as Instructor in Practical Astronomy. While there he took charge of the International Latitude Observatory at Ukiah in 1903 and became Lecturer in Astronomy in 1904. In 1907 he came to Stanford, where he has remained except for the year 1925-26, when he was visiting Lecturer in Astronomy at Harvard. Professor Townley's astronomical interests included not only practical astronomy and variations of latitude, already mentioned, but also asteroids, comets, and variable stars. In variable stars, an especially notable contribution was the "Harvard Catalogue of Long Period Variable Stars," published in 1928 by Professor Townley in collaboration with Miss Annie J. Cannon and Mr. Leon Campbell. Concurrently with his astronomical work, at least from 1911 onward, Professor Townley conducted researches in seismology. This work included the management of the Branner Seismometer Station, from 1928 until his death. In 1939, seven years after his retirement, his series of more than one hundred research papers culminated in a monumental work, prepared in collaboration with Mr. Maxwell Wallen entitled "A Descriptive Catalogue of the Earthquakes of the Pacific Coast of the United States, 1769 to 1928." This last work is made especially valuable by a quality, characteristic of all of Professor Townley's work, namely, extreme thoroughness and conscientiousness. Files of old newspapers were searched for every shred of information; witnesses to earthquakes were interviewed whenever possible; and the accounts from all sources were critically examined and appraised. In short, the work is described by one of the most eminent of living seismologists as "just as complete and just as good as it can possibly be made," so that in it the study of Pacific Coast earthquakes up to 1928 is "done, once for all."
The same conscientious thoroughness was shown by Professor Townley as Chief Editor of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, from 1911 to 1930, during which time the Bulletin was noted for its good editorial work. He also served this society as Secretary-Treasurer for the same period, and as President 1935. Other scientific societies of which he was a member included the Astronomical Society, the Astronomische Gesellschaft, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Wisconsin Academy; and he was especially active in the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, of which he was President in 1916. As a teacher, Professor Townley kept astronomy alive at Stanford, despite the lack of an observatory, and not only alive but vitally interesting to large classes, year after year. Among students he was noted, not only for this achievement, but also for his kindliness and at the same time for the unswerving justice of his grades. Other educational work by Professor Townley included twenty years of service on the local school boards, both for the Palo Alto Union High School, for which he became President of the 'Board., and the Stanford Elementary School. In both schools the present fine buildings were constructed largely under his guidance. Throughout all these activities Professor Townley was modest and unassuming, never asserting himself in his own interest, though always ready to stand up vigorously for the rights of the University or the scientific societies and schools whose interests he was obligated to protect. These qualities, with his kindliness and high ideals, won him, the admiration and respect of his many friends. Be it resolved, therefore, that with a deep sense of appreciation of his loyalty and service to the University, the community, and science, this memorial of Professor Townley's achievements be recorded in the minutes of the Academic Council and a copy be transmitted to his family.
D. L. Webster J. Uspensky
Diary of a
student of the University of Wisconsin, 1886 to 1892
The diary frcn which these extracts have
been made was started for
no particular reason and without any particular occasion, on October 1,
1885w The recorder was at that time a clerk in the Waukesha National
Bank at Waukesha, Wisconsin. The record is made in a book obtained from
the Waukesha National Bank. This bank was established in 1855 as the
Waukesha County Bank. Sone years later the name was changed to the Wau-
ke-,ha Fational Bank, and when this was done. it became necessary to pur-
chase new stationary, books, etc. In 188v, during a house cleaning at
the bank, the recorder rescued an old unused book of blank certificates
of deposit of the former Waukesha County Bank. There are four blank
certificates and stubs to the page, and the pages are not per:orate:do
The book is 11 by 15 inches in size and contains 420 leaves. The Diary
is recorded on the backs of these certificates and the book is known affec-
tionately in the recorder's family as the "little book".
ansed himself at times by filling out some of these blank certificates
of deposit, mostly made payable to himself. The largest amount is for
$100,O00. A very modest youth.
Of course we are collecting here only extracts from the Diary. It
is hoped to have these prepared by June, -1940, when tho fiftieth reunion
of the Class of Ninety takes place. It is thought that thoy may be of in-
tarest to members of the clas4, and that they may be of some small histor-
ical valueo Thaso two poasibilitios soom to be sufficiont justification
for the publictation.
The Diary contains many references to members of the recorder's fam-
ily, whieh of course cannot be of interest except to them. These refer-
ences in general will be omitted.
A considerable number of clippings from newspapers have been pasted
in the Diary* Some of them are on the question of free trade versus pro-
tection, which was a favorite subject of debate fifty years ago. The re-
corder's father was an ardent advocate of free trade*
During part of the time of his residence at the University of 'Wiscon-
sin, the recorder was Madison correspondent for The Wiaukesha World, a
weekly newspaper published during the late 1880's. Some of these contri-.
butions are pasted in the Diary a~nd are considered a part of it. They are
Introduction, pp. [unnumbered]-4 ff.
Chapter I. Diary of a freshman: 1886 - 1887, pp. [unnumbered]-24 ff.
Chapter II. Diary of a sophomore: 1887 - 1888, pp. [unnumbered]-48 ff.
Chapter III. Diary of a junior: 1888 - 1889, pp. [unnumbered]-64
Chapter IV. Diary of a senior: 1889 - 1890, pp. [unnumbered]-86 ff.
Chapter V. Diary of a graduate student and fellow: 1890 - 1891, pp. [unnumbered]-106
Chapter VI. Diary of a graduate student and assistant: 1891 - 1892, pp. [unnumbered]-117
Appendix, pp. [unnumbered]-120
Roscoe Townley Nichols, the leading physician and popular mayor of Liberal, Kan., is one of the men of the medical profession endowed by nature with marked mental powers, a comprehensive knowledge of medicine and sympathy as wide as the universe, thus meeting all the requirements of the ideal doctor, and today is the respected and loved family physician of many homes in his city and surrounding country. He was born in Wayne county, Iowa, February 20, 1881, the son of Herman Vedder and Alice Townley Nichols. Dr. Nichols's paternal grandparents were of German stock, a race that has furnished this country so many excellent citizens. His father was born in New York State April 6, 1851. He chose medicine as his profession and while still a young man removed to Wisconsin, practicing a few years in Waukesha. In 1872 he located in Wayne county, Iowa, where he was engaged in professional work nine years, and then opened an office at Trenton, Mo., living there until 1889. That year the doctor and his family came to Seward county to settle on government land near Liberal. Dr. Nichols gave up medicine and engaged in farming until 1895, when, with his family, he went to Manhattan, Kan., to place his five children in the State agricultural college. Three years later, in 1898, he returned to Liberal and resumed the practice of medicine. In the meantime he read law and was admitted to the bar in Seward county, but never practiced. Dr. Nichols ever took an active part in the life of his community and politics, representing his district in the State legislature. He was a stanch member of the Republican party, being elected on that ticket. In 1901 he went to Alaska, where he was engaged in the active practice of his profession until November 3, 1907, when he died of heart failure, and was buried at Fairbanks. During his life the doctor was a member of the Masonic order. On June 25, 1872, Dr. Herman Nichols married Alice Townley at Waukesha, Wis. She was the daughter of Robert and Mary Townley, residents of Wisconsin. Mrs. Nichols was born near Boston, Mass., March 23, 1851, and became the mother of seven children: Schuyler, born November 14, 1875, a graduate of the Kansas State Agricultural College, with the class of 1898, a graduate of the Barnes Medical College of St. Louis in 1901, and now practices medicine at Herrington; Harriet Grace, born December 22, 1878, a graduate of the Kansas Agricultural College in 1898, now the wife of Rome P. Donahoo, a prominent Democrat of Tucumcari, N. M.; Roscoe; Lillian, born February 5, 1886, died on December 14, 1888; Gladys Irene, born April 23, 1888, a graduate of the Kansas Agricultural College in 1910, now the wife of Edward Dearborn, an electrical engineer who lives in Kansas City, Mo.; Jessie, born December 8, 1891, a graduate of the Kansas Agricultural College with the class of 1912, and Victor, born May 16, 1896, who died January 30, 1901.
Roscoe Nichols received his elementary education in the public schools of Liberal, and in 1895 entered the State agricultural college, graduating there in 1899, with the degree of Bachelor of Science. Having determined to become a physician he entered Barnes Medical College, at St. Louis, where he studied two years before entering the medical department of Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill., graduating there in 1902. Upon leaving college the young doctor returned to Liberal, forming a partnership with his brother, Schuyler, who removed to Herrington in 1905, since which time Dr. Roscoe Nichols has assumed sole charge of their practice, which has increased in a flattering and satisfactory manner. Today Dr. Nichols is recognized as one of the leading members of the medical fraternity in the Southwest. He is a man of great mental ability, which was recognized by the people of Liberal when they elected him mayor of the city in April, 1911, an office he has filled with merit. In addition to his practice, the doctor is also the local physician of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad. He is a Knight Templar Mason, and belongs to the Wichita Consistory, No. 2. On May 3, 1903, Dr. Nichols married Osa, the daughter of L. F. Clark, of Seward county. Mrs. Nichols was born at Unionville, Mo., October 12, 1881. She has three children: Harry Dale, born March 15, 1904; Alice Cecelia, born August 22, 1905, and Roscoe Townley, Jr., born December 14, 1907. November 5, 1912, Dr. Nichols was elected representative from Seward county to the State legislature on the Democratic ticket, in a county normally Republican.
Pages 586-588 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM467. It is a single volume 3.