William Edwards Stephens Papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center [Contact Us]3401 Market Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
William Edwards Stephens, noted nuclear physicist, was born in May 29, 1912 in St. Louis, Missouri. He received B.S. and M.A. degrees from St. Louis' Washington University in 1932 and 1934, respectively and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1938. From 1938 to 1940 he served as Research Fellow at the Westinghouse Research Laboratories in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and from 1940 to 1941 he was an Instructor in Physics at Stanford University.
In 1941 Dr. Stephens joined the University of Pennsylvania as an Instructor of Physics and was later promoted to Professor of Physics in 1948, a position he held until his death in 1980. From 1963 to 1969 he served as Chair of the Physics Department and from then as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences 1969 to 1974. Dr. Stephens authored many contributions to professional journals, including Physical Review and the Journal of American Physics, edited the textbook Nuclear Fission and Atomic Energy (1948), and, with President of the University of Pennsylvania Dr. Gaylord P. Harnwell, co-authored the textbook Atomic Physics: An Atomic Description of Physical Phenomena (1955).
During World War II, Dr. Stephens participated in research on behalf of the Office of Scientific Research and Defense (OSRD), a government agency that coordinated scientific research for military purposes. His efforts earned him the Army-Navy Certificate of Merit.
Dr. Stephens was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, the American Institute of Physics, and the American Astronomical Society, as well as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society, and a founding member of the Association of Philadelphia Scientists, a group that was opposed to government interference in scientific research. He was also an avid yachtsman, having participated in several Newport (Rhode Island) to Bermuda races.
The papers of William Edwards Stephen are all professional in nature and document his involvement with the University of Pennsylvania as a Professor of Physics (1941-1980), Chair of the Physics Department (1963-1969), and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences (1969-1974). This documentation includes research and notes pertaining to astrophysics and nuclear physics, notebooks and papers from students in his physics courses, working files pertaining to his appointment as dean, and a small amount of photographs and negatives associated with his research.
The William Edwards Stephens papers are organized into five series – Research and Writings, Dean File, Teaching Material, Students' Material, and Photographs – each of which are arranged alphabetically.
The William Edwards Stephens papers were donated to the University Archives by Dr. Walter D. Wales, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, in 1983 (accession number 87: 22).
- University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center
- Finding Aid Author
- Timothy H. Horning
- Finding Aid Date
- March 2014
- Access Restrictions
Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.