Astronomical Journal

The Records of the Astronomical Journal, 1896-1941

The Records of the Astronomical Journal were found among the institutional archives of the Dudley Observatory. Lewis Boss, director of the Observatory became editor in 1912, and his son, Benjamin Boss, became editor upon his death, shortly thereafter. Part of the series had been received by bequest from the estate of Seth C. Chandler, editor from 1896 to 1912. Chandler had inherited the editorship from Benjamin A. Gould, Jr., founder of this, the oldest technical astronomical periodical in the United States. Researchers should also review the Records of the Dudley Observatory and the Papers of Benjamin A. Gould, Jr. and Seth C. Chandler for additional materials on the Astronomical Journal.

Restrictions: None. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws, and laws pertaining to libel.

Content Note

The Records of the Astronomical Journal include correspondence, mailing lists, journals, memorandums, proofs, financial records, manuscripts and ledgers. They have been arranged chronologically into subseries by form. The correspondence, although originally in considerable disorder, has been arranged according to an order recognized in some of the records upon pre-inventory. Therefore, the correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Within this alphabetical arrangement, the correspondence is in chronological order. This seems to be the filing system used most often, and the processing archivist has attempted to reconstruct this system. The other major subseries, financial records and manuscripts/proofs, have been arranged at the discretion of the processing archivist, as no previous order was recognizable.

History Note

The Astronomical Journal was established by Benjamin A. Gould, Jr. in 1849. It was the first technical astronomical periodical in the United States. Eventually, funding for the journal was furnished partly by the Dudley Observatory. Gould had become the observatory director in 1856. Printing of the journal had been done in Cambridge, MA and then, after Gould’s move, in Albany. Later, at the end of Volume VII, Thomas P. Nichols of Lynn, MA, became the printer. Gould remained as editor until his death in 1896, after which Seth C. Chandler, a longtime associate and friend of Gould’s, took over the editorship. In 1909, in ill health, Chandler persuaded assistant editor, Lewis Boss to become editor of the journal. The Dudley Observatory agreed to become the publisher. When Boss took over the helm, transferred to him were boxes of mail which had been unopened for 4-5 years. Much of the first few years as editor were spent sorting out the subscription records of the journal and either publishing or returning manuscripts which had never been seen. When Benjamin Boss became editor upon his father’s death, in 1912, he too continued to have to sort out the problems which had been forced upon the periodical by the unfortunate ill health of Seth Chandler. After a few years, the journal was restored to its original status and Benjamin Boss continued as editor until 1941, when he arranged for the transfer of responsibility of the Astronomical Journal to the American Astronomical Society, where it rests today.

Discover the Astronomical Journal Container List here.