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AbstractImportant DatesOccupationPlacesSubjects




Archival as AuthorArchival as SubjectPublished as Subject

John Zeleny



March 26, 1872 – June 19, 1951

Authorized Form of Name

Zeleny, John, 1872-



John Zeleny was Emeritus Professor of Physics at Yale University (1940-1951). Other institutional affiliations included the University of Minnesota. He is best known for his work on electrical conduction through gases.

Important Dates

March 26, 1872Birth, Racine (Wis.).

1892Obtained BS, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Minn.).

1892 – 1915Instructor in Physis (1892-1896); Assistant Professor of Physics (1896-1900); Associate Professor of Physics (1900-1908); Professor of Physics (1908-1915); and Acting Dean, Graduate School (1912-1913), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Minn.).

1897Studied at University of Berlin, Berlin (Germany).

1899Obtained BA, Cambridge University, Cambridge (England).

1906Obtained PhD in Physics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Minn.).

1911 – 1914Member, Council, American Physical Society.

1915 – 1951Professor of Physics (1915-1940); Emeritus Professor of Physics (1940-1951); and Lecturer in Physics (1941-1943), Yale University, New Haven (Conn.).

1940President, American Physical Society.

June 19, 1951Death, New Haven (Conn.).





Racine (Wis.)

Undergraduate Education

Minneapolis (Minn.)

Berlin (Germany)

Cambridge (England)

Graduate Education

Minneapolis (Minn.)


Minneapolis (Minn.)

New Haven (Conn.)


New Haven (Conn.)


Electric conductivity.




Zeleny, Charles


Advisors & Collaborators

McKeehan, L. W. (Louis Williams), 1887-1975

Advised by Zeleny at University of Minnesota, "The terminal velocity of fall of small spheres in air at reduced pressures."

Thomson, J. J. (Joseph John), 1856-1940

Research advisor at Cambridge University, B.A. thesis: "The Velocity of the Ions produced in Gases by Röntgen Rays."


Beams, Jesse W. (Jesse Wakefield), 1898-1977

Both employed at Yale University.

Klopsteg, Paul E. (Paul Ernest), 1889-

Both employed at University of Minnesota.

Lawrence, Ernest Orlando, 1901-1958

Both employed at Yale University.

Montroll, E. W.

Both employed at Yale University.

Spitzer, Lyman, 1914-1997

Both employed at Yale University.

Waterman, Alan Tower, 1892-1967

Both employed at Yale University.

Wightman, A. S. (Arthur Strong), 1922-2013

Both employed at Yale University.


Compton, Betty Charity McCloskey, 1916-


Major Positions

University of Minnesota. Department of Physics and Astronomy

Obtained BS (1892) and PhD (1906). Instructor in Physics; Assistant Professor of Physics; Associate Professor of Physics; and Professor of Physics.

Yale University. Physics Department

Professor of Physics; Emeritus Professor of Physics; and Lecturer in Physics.

Professional Activities & Affiliations

American Physical Society

President and Member, Council.

Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin

Attended in 1897.

University of Cambridge. Department of Physics

Obtained BA (1899).

University of Minnesota. Graduate School

Acting Dean.


Archival Resources


John Zeleny papers, 1897-1951.

Manuscript and Archives.

Yale University Library

Box 208240, New Haven, CT 06520, USA


American Association of Physics Teachers records of Richard M. Sutton, 1934-1949.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Charles Zeleny papers, 1890-1944.

University Archives

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

1408 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Oral history interview with Betty Compton, 1968 April 11 and 15.

Niels Bohr Library & Archives

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA

Published Resources


John Zeleny Physics Today obituary.