William Wallace Campbell

William Wallace Campbell


Date of Birth
April 11, 1862
Date of Death
June 14, 1938

Wallace Campbell studied civil engineering at the University of Michigan, then taught astronomy there from 1888 to 1891. In 1890 he worked as a summer volunteer at Lick Observatory where he learned spectroscopy under James E. Keeler, whom he succeeded the following year. From 1900 to 1930 he was director of Lick, although for the last seven years he was actually at Berkeley as president of the University of California. After important spectroscopic studies of Mars, hot stars, nebulae and Nova Aurigae, he headed a vast program of photographically measuring radial velocities of stars. He founded the Lick southern station in Chile and designed the Mills spectrographs. He discovered numerous spectroscopic binaries, and he determined the motion of the solar system with respect to surrounding stars. He also led a number of eclipse expeditions, one of which (in 1922) confirmed the Einstein deflection of light by the sun.

Presentation of Bruce medal

Crawford, Russell Tracy, PASP 27, 153-60 (1915).

Other awards

French Academy of Sciences, Lalande Medal, 1903; Janssen Medal, 1910.
National Academy of Sciences, Henry Draper Medal, 1906.
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1906, presented by Maw, W.H., MNRAS 66, 245 (1906).

Some offices held

American Association for the Advancement of Science, President, 1915.
American Astronomical Society, President, 1922-25.
Astronomical Society of the Pacific, President, 1895, 1910, 1918.
International Astronomical Union, President, 1922-25.
National Academy of Sciences, President, 1931-35.

Biographical materials

Abrams, John W., Dictionary of Scientific Biography 3, 35-37.
Tenn, Joseph S., “W. Wallace Campbell: The Twelfth Bruce Medalist,” Mercury 21, 2, 62 (1992).
Tenn, Joseph S., Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (Springer, NY, 2007), pp. 195-97.
University of California History
Wright, W.H., Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences 25, 35-74.


Aitken, Robert G.PASP 50, 204-09 (1938).
Aitken, Robert G.Science 88, 25-28 (1938).
Dyson, F.W.Obituary Notices of the Fellows of the Royal Society 2, 613-19 (1939).
Merrill, P.W.MNRAS 99, 317-21 (1939).
Moore, J.H., Ap.J. 89, 143-51 (1939).
Schlesinger, FrankPopular Astronomy 47, 2-5 (1939).
More obituaries


Caltech Archives
University of California Bancroft Library

Named after him

Lunar crater Campbell (with astronomer Leon Campbell)
Martian crater Campbell (with physicist John W. Campbell)
Minor Planet #2751 Campbell
Campbell Hall, home of the astronomy department at the University of California at Berkeley (old Campbell Hall)


Papers, etc.

Campbell’s papers are at the Mary Lea Shane Archives of Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz library. See also the papers of his wife, Elizabeth Ballard Campbell.

Other References: Historical

Aitken, Robert G., “The Lick Observatory, Forty Years After,” PASP 40, 151 (1928).

Ashbrook, Joe, “W.W. Campbell and a Puzzling Object,” Sky & Telescope Jun 1971.

Campbell, W.W., “Work of the Lick Observatory,” Science 17, 607-16 (1903).

Campbell, W.W. & J. Stebbins, “Report on the Organization of the IAU,” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sciences 6, 349-396 (1920). See also PASP 31, 249-256 (1919).

Campbell, W.W., “The Lick Observatory Community in War Service,” PASP 30, 353-57 (1918).

Chant, C.A., “Work at the Lick Observatory and Improvements in Its Equipment,” JRASC 1, 246-63 (1907).

Crelinsten, Jeffrey, “William Wallace Campbell and the Einstein Problem: An Observational Astronomer Confronts the Theory of Relativity,” Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences 14, 1-91 (1984).

Crelinsten, Jeffrey, Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, 2006) [excerpts].

DeVorkin, David H., “W.W. Campbell’s Spectroscopic Study of the Martian Atmosphere,” QJRAS 18, 37-53 (1977).

H[ale], G.E., “Appointment of Professor W.W. Campbell as Director of the Lick Observatory,” Ap.J. 12, 381-82 (1900).

Hearnshaw, J. B., The Analysis of Starlight (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1986).

Hetherington, Norriss S., “The Measurement of Radial Velocities of Spiral Nebulae,” Isis 62, 309-313 (1971).

Kevles, Daniel J., “Into Hostile Political Camps": The Reorganization of International Science in World War I,” Isis 62, 47-60 (1971).

Menzel, Donald H., “In Honor of William Wallace Campbell,” The Telescope, May/June 1938, p. 57.

Mikhailov, A.A., “One Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of William Wallace Campbell,” Priroda, Nov. 1962, translated by Leo Goldberg (unpublished),

Moore, J.H., “Fifty Years of Research at the Lick Observatory,” PASP 50, 189-203 (1938).

Osterbrock, D.E., J. Gustafson, & J. S. Unruh, Eye on the Sky: Lick Observatory’s First Century (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1988).

Osterbrock, D.E., “To Climb the Highest Mountain: W.W. Campbell’s 1909 Mars Expedition to Mount Whitney ,” JHA 20, 2, 77-97 (1989).

Osterbrock, D.E.Astron. Quarterly 3, 67 (1980).

Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim, “Gender, Culture, and Astrophysical Fieldwork: Elizabeth Campbell and the Lick Observatory—Crocker Eclipse Expeditions,” Osiris11, 17-43 (1996).

Sheehan, William, The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery. (The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1996).

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Other References: Scientific

Campbell, W.W., “Definitive Determination of the Orbit of Comet 1885 III,” Astr. Nach. 120, 49-60 (1889).

H[olden], E.S. & W.W. C[ampbell], “Photographs of Venus, Mercury and Alpha Lyræ in Daylight,” PASP 2, 249-50 (1890).

Schaeberle, J.M. & W.W. Campbell, “The Forms of Jupiter’s Satellites,” PASP 3, 355-58 (1891).

Campbell, W.W., “The Spectrum of Nova Aurigae in February and March, 1892,” Astronomy and Astro-physics 11, 799-811 (1892).

Campbell, W.W., “Recent observations of Nova Aurigae, Sept. 8 to Oct. 13, 1892,” Astronomy and Astro-physics 11, 820-21 (1892).

Campbell, W.W., “The Motion of Nova Aurigae,” Astronomy and Astro-physics 11, 881-82 (1892).

Holden, Edward S. & W.W. Campbell, “Negatives of Jupiter made with the Great Telescope of the Lick Observatory during 1891,” MNRAS 52, 499-500 (1892).

Campbell, W.W., “Classification of Stellar Spectra,” PASP 5, 102-03 (1893).

Campbell, W.W., “Comparison of the New Star Spectrum with the Spectra of Five well known Nebulæ,” PASP 5, 147-52 (1893).

Campbell, W.W., “The Wolf-Rayet Stars, ” Astron. & Astrophys. 13, 448 (1894).

Campbell, W.W., “Spectra of the Great Nebula in Orion and Other Well-known Nebulae, ” Astronomy and Astro-physics 13, 384 (1894).

Campbell, W.W., “The Spectrum of Mars, ” PASP 6, 228-36 (1894).

Campbell, W.W., “Concerning an Atmosphere on Mars, ” PASP 6, 273-83 (1894).

Campbell, W.W., “Recent Changes in the Spectrum of Nova Aurigae, ” Ap.J. 1, 49-51 (1895).

Campbell, W.W., “A Spectrographic Determination of Velocities in the System of Saturn, ” Ap.J. 2, 127-35 (1895).

Campbell, W.W., “Stars whose Spectra Contain Both Bright and Dark Hydrogen Lines, ” Ap.J. 2, 177-83 (1895).

Campbell, W.W., “A Determination of the Polar Diameter of Mars, ” Astronomical Journal 15, 145-49 (1895).

Campbell, W.W., “Mars ,” Science 4, 231-38 (1896).

Campbell, W.W., “Recent Observations of the Spectrum of Mars,” PASP 9, 109-12 (1897).

Campbell, W.W., “On the Variations Observed in the Spectrum of the Orion Nebula, ” Ap.J. 6, 32 (1897).

Campbell, W.W., “The Mills Spectrograph of the Lick Observatory, ” Ap.J. 8, 123-56 (1898).

Campbell, W.W., “Some Stars with Great Velocities in the Line of Sight, ” Ap.J. 8, 157-58 (1898).

Campbell, W.W., “A Comparison of the Visual Hydrogen Spectra of the Orion Nebula and of a Geissler tube, ” Ap.J. 9, 312-16 (1899).

Campbell, W.W., The Elements of Practical Astronomy (Macmillan, NY, 1899).

Campbell, W.W., “The Wave-Length of the Green Coronal Line, and Other Data Resulting from an Attempt to Determine the Law of Rotation of the Solar Corona,” Ap.J. 10, 186-92 (1899).

Campbell, W.W. & W.H. Wright, “A List of Nine Stars Whose Velocities in the Line of Sight are Variable.,” Ap.J. 12, 254-572 (1900).

Campbell, W.W., “A Preliminary Determination of the Motion of the Solar System,” PASP 13, 51-60 (1901).

Campbell, W.W., “Determination of the Sun’s Distance from Observations of Eros,” Science 13, 176-79 (1901).

Campbell, W.W., R.G. Aitken, C.D. Perrine, Sebastian Albrecht, E.P. Lewis, “The Crocker Eclipse Expedition of 1908,” Lick Obs. Bull. 5, 1-14 (1908).

Campbell, W.W., “The Spectrum of Mars as Observed by the Crocker Expedition to Mt. Whitney; A Review of the Spectroscopic Observations of Mars,” Lick Obs. Bull. 5, 149-64A (1909).

Campbell, W.W., “On the Spectrum of Mars as Photographed with High Dispersion,” Lick Obs. Bull. 6, 11-16 (1910).

Campbell, W.W., “Second Catalogue of Spectroscopic Binary Stars,” Lick Obs. Bull. 6, 17-54 (1910).

Campbell, W.W., “A Study of Spectroscopic Binary Stars,” PASP 22, 47-62 (1910).

Campbell, W.W. & Sebastian Albrecht, “On the Spectrum of Mars as Photographed with High Dispersion,” Science 31, 990-92 (1910).

Campbell, W.W., “Some Peculiarities in the Motions of the Stars,” Lick Obs. Bull. 6, 125-33 (1911).

Campbell, W.W., J.H. Moore, W.H. Wright, & J.C. Duncan, “Sixty-eight Stars whose Radial Velocities Vary,” Lick Obs. Bull. 6, 140-54 (1911).

Wright, W.H., H.K. Palmer, S. Albrecht, & W.W. Campbell, “Radial Velocities of 150 Stars South of Declination –20 degrees,” Publ. Lick Obs. 9, 71-343 (1911).

Campbell, W.W., “Theoretical Astronomy,” Science 36, 557 (1912) [Letter regarding a book review].

Campbell, W.W., “Preliminary Radial Velocities of 212 Brighter Class A Stars,” Lick Obs. Bull. 7, 19-29 (1912).

Campbell, W.W., “The Radial Velocities of 915 Stars,” Lick Obs. Bull. 7, 113-28 (1913).

Campbell, W.W., Stellar Motions: With Special Reference to Motions Determined by Means of the Spectrograph (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1913).

Campbell, W.W., “On the Radial Velocities of Nebulae,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1, 8-10 (1915).

Campbell, W.W., “ The Nebulæ: Address of the Retiring President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,” Science 45, 513-48 (1917).

Campbell, W.W. & J.H. Moore, “The Spectrographic Velocities of the Bright-line Nebulae,” Publ. Lick Obs. 13, 75-186 (1918).

Campbell, W.W., “The Problem of Mars,” PASP 30, 133-46 (1918).

Campbell, W.W., “The Problem of Mars,” PASP 30, 133-46 (1918).

Campbell, W.W., “The Crocker Eclipse Expedition from the Lick Observatory, June 8, 1918. Some Eclipse Problems,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 58, 241-54 (1919).

Campbell, W.W., “Stars Whose Radial Velocities Vary,” PASP 34, 167-69 (1922).

Campbell, W.W. & R. Trumpler, “Search for Intramercurial Bodies,” PASP 35, 214-16 (1923).

Campbell, W.W., “Do We Live In a Spiral Nebula?” PASP 38, 75-85 (1926).

Campbell, W.W. & R. Trumpler, “Observations Made with a Pair of Five-Foot Cameras on the Light-Deflections in the Sun’s Gravitational Field at the Total Solar Eclipse of September 21, 1922,” Lick Obs. Bull. 13, 130-60 (1928).

Campbell, W.W., “Catalogue of Observed Velocities,” Publ. Lick Obs. 16, 1-346 (1928).

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Other Works: Popularizations, History, etc.

Campbell, W.W., “Address of the Retiring President of the A.S.P.,” PASP 7, 81-88 (1895).

Campbell, W.W., “Review of Mr. Lowell’s book on Mars” PASP 8, 207-20 (1896).

Campbell, W.W., “A General Account of the Lick Observatory Eclipse Expedition to India,” PASP 10,127-40 (1898).

Campbell, W.W., “A Brief Account of the D.O. Mills Expedition to Chile,” PASP 15,70 (1903).

Campbell, W.W., “The Nature of an Astronomer’s Work,” PASP 20, 251-60 (1908).

Campbell, W.W., “The Closing of a Famous Astronomical Problem,” PASP 21, 103-115 (1909).

Campbell, W.W., “Historical Quotations,” PASP 26, 87-89 (1914).

Campbell, William Wallace, “The Evolution of the Stars and the Formation of the Earth” Popular Science Monthly 87, 209-34 (1915)The Scientific Monthly 1, 1-17 (1915)1, 177-94 (1915); and 1, 238-55 (1915).

Campbell, W.W., “Science and Civilization,” Science 42, 227-38 (1915).

Campbell, W.W., “Terrestrial Magnetism,” JRASC 23, 406-10 (1915).

Campbell, William Wallace, “What We Know About Comets” The Scientific Monthly 3, 521-46 (1916)

Campbell, W.W., “Two Great Problems of the Universe,” JRASC 11, 281-91 (1917).

Campbell, W.W., “Observations on the Solar Eclipse Made by the Crocker Expedition of the Lick Observatory,” Science 48, 34-35 (1918).

Campbell, W.W., “Shall We Reform the Calendar?” PASP 31, 150-57 (1919).

Campbell, W.W., “Report of the Meetings of the International Research Council and of the Affiliated Unions Held at Brussels, July 18-28, 1919,” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sciences 6, 340-48 (1920).

Campbell, W.W., “Concerning Our Relations with Teutonic Scientists,” Science 52, 109 (1920).

Campbell, W.W., “The Daily Influences Of Astronomy,” Science 52, 543-52 (1920) and also Popular Astronomy 29, 456-68 (1921).

Campbell, W.W., “The Total Eclipse of the Sun, September 21, 1922,” PASP 35, 11-44 (1923). [popular account of the eclipse expedition that confirmed Einstein’s prediction of the deflection of light by the sun].

Campbell, W.W., “Do We Live In a Spiral Nebula?” PASP 38, 75-85 (1926).

Campbell, W.W., “Sale of the Chile Station of the Lick Observatory,” PASP 40, 249 (1928).

Campbell, W.W., “Terrestrial Magnetism,” JRASC 23, 406-10 (1929).

Campbell, W.W., “Address of the President of the National Academy of Sciences,” Science 79, 391-96 (1934).

Campbell, W.W., “Address of the President of the AAAS,” Science 80, 535-37 (1934).

Campbell, W.W., “Address of the President of the National Academy of Sciences,” Science 81, 409-14 (1935).

Campbell, W.W., “Ambrose Swasey, 1846-1937,” PASP 49, 179-85 (1937).