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American Association of Physics Teachers. Records of of David Locke Webster, 1930-1958

Description of Collection


American Institute of Physics. Center for History of Physics.

College Park, MD 20740

Papers created by

American Association of Physics Teachers.

Size of collection

3.25 linear feet in 6 boxes

Short description of collection

These papers document the career of David Locke Webster, who served at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, the U.S. Signal Corps, and the Ordnance Department. He had been a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers from its inception in 1930 and worked devotedly for the advancement of physics education. Webster served as Vice-President of the Association in 1933 and 1934 and as President in 1935 and 1936.

Language(s) of collection


Biography of David Locke Webster

David Locke Webster was born in Boston, Massachusetts on November 6, 1888. He attended Harvard University, receiving an A.B. in 1910 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1913.

He began his teaching career at Harvard (mathematics instructor, 1910-1911; physics assistant, 1911-15; and physics instructor, 1915-1917). During 1919-1920, Webster was a physics instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was professor of physics at Stanford University from 1920 until his retirement in 1954, when he became emeritus professor. During World War II, Webster served as head physicist in the United States Signal Corps (1942), chief physicist in the Ordnance Department (1942-45), and was a consultant to these units after 1945. Webster died December 17, 1976.

Webster was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Physical Society and the American Geophysical Society. He had been a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers from its inception in 1930 and worked devotedly for the advancement of physics education. Webster served as Vice-President of the Association in 1933 and 1934 and as President in 1935 and 1936.

Webster is most well known for his work on the physics of x-rays, ultra-high frequency radio work, airplane pilot training and rockets.

Scope and Contents of Collection

The Webster Papers consist of 3.25 feet of official AAPT correspondence files (1930-1958) kept by Webster in his various official positions, and five especially prepared binders of correspondence, manuscripts and other materials (1930-1936), documenting the organization of the AAPT and its journals, the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher.

Restrictions on Use and Access

Open to approved researchers without restrictions.

Use of primary source material in the Niels Bohr Library requires prior approval through an Application for Access, which includes a statement of research purpose and the names and addresses of two scholars as references. Access applications can be obtained by contacting the Library (telephone 301-209-3177; or e-mail The application can also be printed from our website.

Selected Search Terms

These papers have been indexed in the International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and Allied Sciences (ICOS) using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.


Cope, Thomas D. (Thomas Darlington)
Dodge, Homer Levi, 1887-
Klopsteg, Paul E. (Paul Ernest), 1889-
Lemon, Harvey Brace, 1885-
Palmer, Frederic, 1878-1967.
Richtmyer, F. K. (Floyd Karker), 1881-1939.
Roller, Duane Emerson, 1894-
Sutton, Richard Manliffe, 1900-
Taylor, Lloyd William, 1893-1948.
Webster, David Locke, 1888-1976.


American Association of Physics Teachers -- Administration.

Subject terms

Education -- Societies, etc.
Engineering -- Study and teaching.
Medical physics -- Study and teaching.
Physics -- Societies, etc.
Physics -- Study and teaching.

Genre terms


Provenance and Acquisition Information

Gift of David L. Webster in October 1963.

Administrative Information


Finding Aid to the American Association of Physics Teachers. Records of David Locke Webster, 1930-1958


This finding aid has been encoded by the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics as part of a collaborative project supported by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, an independent federal agency. Collaboration members in 1999 consisted of: American Institute of Physics, California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Rice University, University of Alaska, University of Illinois, and University of Texas.


American Institute of Physics.
Center for History of Physics.

One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740


Encoding Information

Machine-readable finding aid encoded in EAD v.1.0 by Clay Redding on November 28 2000 from an existing finding aid using NoteTab Pro and C++ scripts created by James P. Tranowski (provided by Elizabeth Dow, Special Collections, University of Vermont). Any revisions made to this finding aid occurred as part of the editing and encoding process.

Correspondence, 1930-1958

Box 1 Folder 1 Correspondence 1957-1958, and manuscript and reprints of "Reminiscences of the Early Years of the Association"
Folder 2 Correspondence 1956, Northern California Section, American Journal of Physics
Folder 3 Rough draft and notes for "Reminiscences on the early years of the AAPT"
Folder 4 Coulomb's Law Committee, reprints and notes
Folder 5 Correspondence, 1949-1953 and AAPT Nominating Committee, 1952
Folder 6 Correspondence, 1947
Folder 7 American Journal of Physics, 1946
Folder 8 Correspondence, 1946
Folder 9 Correspondence, 1941-42
Folder 10 Correspondence, 1941-42
Folder 11 Richtmyer Lecture, 1942
Folder 12 Civilian Pilot Training Program, Ground School, Seattle, June 1940
Folder 13 AAPT miscellaneous, 1940
Folder 14 Annual Meeting, 1940
Folder 15 AAAS; Business and program of Annual Meeting, Seattle, 1940
Folder 16 Committee on Award, 1940
Folder 17 Council on Physics Education, 1940
Folder 18 Dodge, Homer L., 1940
Folder 19 Lemon, Harvey B., 1940
Folder 20 Sutton, Richard M., 1940
Folder 21 Executive Committee, 1940
Folder 22 Committee on Award, Richtmyer, 1939
Folder 23 Executive Committee, 1939
Folder 24 American Physics Teacher, 1939
Folder 25 June 1939
Folder 26 Lemon, Harvey B., 1939
Box 2 Folder 27 Committee on Award, 1938
Folder 28 San Diego Meeting, June 24, 1938
Folder 29 Medal Design, 1938
Folder 30 Annual Meeting, December, 1938
Folder 31 Executive Committee, 1938
Folder 32 Richtmyer, 1938
Folder 33 Award Recommendation for Alexander W. Duff, 1938
Folder 34 Committee on Units, 1938
Folder 35 Richtmyer, F.K., 1937
Folder 36 Roller, D., 1937
Folder 37 Executive Committee, 1937
Folder 38 Dodge, Homer L., 1937
Folder 39 Meeting, February 1937
Folder 40 Meeting, June 1937
Folder 41 Committee on Units, 1937
Folder 42 Committee on Pre-Medical Physics, 1933-1937
Folder 43 December meeting, 1937
Folder 44 Committee on Award for notable contributions to the teaching of physics, 1937
Folder 45 Trip East; itinerary, costs, etc. December 1937
Folder 46 Committee on Physics for Engineers, 1937
Box 3 Folder 47 Committee on Award, 1937: Notes and letters to be used in preparing the speech
Folder 48 Committee on Tests, 1937
Folder 49 Committee on Training of Physicists for Industry, 1936
Folder 50 Committee on Films, 1936
Folder 51 Committee on Examinations for the Profession of Physicists, 1936
Folder 52 Committee on Terminology, 1936
Folder 53 Richtmyer, F.K., 1936
Folder 54 AAPT stationary, 1936
Folder 55 Speech on the notable contributions award, 1936
Folder 56 Programs, December 1936
Folder 57 Executive Committee, 1936
Folder 58 Meeting, December 1936
Folder 59 Meeting with American Institute of Physics, October 1936
Folder 60 Committee on Units (includes reports), 1936
Folder 61 Committee on Units, 1936
Folder 62 American Institute of Physics, 1935-1936
Folder 63 Palmer, F., 1935-1936
Folder 64 Committee on Awards for meritorious service to teaching, 1935-1936
Folder 65 Dodge, H., and Roller, D., 1935-1936
Folder 66 American Physics Teacher, 1935-1936
Folder 67 Klopsteg, P., 1936-1936
Folder 68 Committee on Ideal Curriculum in Liberal Arts Colleges, 1935-1936
Folder 69 Committee on Geometrical Optics, 1935-1936
Folder 70 Committee on Nominations, 1935-1936
Folder 71 Webb, W.S., 1935-1936
Folder 72 Plans for the December meeting, 1935
Folder 73 Committee on Papers, 1935
Folder 74 Taylor, L.W., 1935
Folder 75 Executive Committee, 1935
Folder 76 American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1935
Folder 77 AAPT conferences, April and May, 1935
Folder 78 Committee on preparation in Math, 1935
Folder 79 Lists of members of AAPT, Who's Who, and History and Constitution, 1934-1935
Folder 80 Committee on Physics in a liberal arts education, 1935
Folder 81 Films and the American Films Institute, 1935
Folder 82 Executive Committee and related papers, 1934
Folder 83 Circulars, 1933-1936
Folder 84 Committee on membership, 1935-1936
Folder 85 Executive Committee meeting, letters and minutes, December 1935
Folder 86 Committee on tests (first year physics), 1933-1937
Folder 87 Sutton, R.M., book on demonstration experiments, 1935-1936

Binders of materials on the organization of the AAPT, 1930-1936. (These materials were especially prepared for the Center by David Webster.)

Box 5 Binder 1 AAPT 1930-1933, organization, plans for the journals, Webster's work as associate editor of the American Physics Teacher, 1933 and correspondence with the Committee on Tests, 1933-1934.
Binder 2 AAPT Pre-Medical Physics Committee, 1933 and 1934. Afterthoughts on the report published in 1934.
Binder 3 Teaching on magnetism, papers and letters, 1932-1933, including correspondence with Warburton and Birge; Barnett's reprints, 1933; Warburton and Cleveland on Ampere's Law and Newton's 3rd, 1933-1936.
Box 6 Binder 4 "Unscrambling the Dielectric Constant", and correspondence as an associate editor of the American Physics Teacher, 1934.
Binder 5 Committee on Units, 1934-1935.