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Harold Boyd Maris Papers

Identifier: GTM-780301

Scope and Contents

The Harold Boyd Maris papers comprise the personal papers of physicist Harold Boyd Maris, who worked in various research fields at the Naval Historical Research Lab in Anacostia, Virginia from 1925-1942. His own research, however, concentrated on the study of photo-elastic stress analysis. The papers include correspondence, experimental and expeditionary data and material, daybooks, logbooks, publications, reprints, newspaper clippings, photographs, slides, and plates of a professional and non-professional nature. Note: Click on "External Documents" below for a link to the finding aid for the collection.


  • 1927 - 1949

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical Note

Harold Boyd Maris, physicist, was born in Kansas on December 4th in 1885. He attended Stockton High School, Kansas, graduating in 1904. From 1904-1906, he attended Kansas State University and in 1906 he transferred to the University of Michigan. Maris received his A.B. degree in 1910 and in 1911 an M.S. in forestry from the University of Michigan. In 1927, Maris received his Ph.D. in physics and mathematics from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. His dissertation dealt with the photo-elastic properties of transparent cubic crystals; work which would be put to use during his long association with the Navy Department.

Maris had a long and varied career with the U.S. government. He was involved in the field of timber mapping with the U.S. Forest Service stationed in Ogden, Utah from 1910-1916. From July 1918-April 1919, he served in the U.S. Army at Camp Abraham, Williamsburg, Virginia as an electrician/carpenter. He then became associated for a period with the Bethlehem Steel Company of Baltimore as an electrician/laboratory technician until August of 1922. In that year, Maris went on to teach at Birmingham Southern College in Alabama as an instructor in the fields of physics and mathematics. He held that position for one year when in September of 1923, Maris was engaged as a professor of physics, mathematics, and astronomy at Emory and Henry College in Virginia where he remained until June 1925. It was in that year that Maris began his long association with the Navy Department as a physicist stationed at the Naval Research Laboratory, Anacostia station. He remained with the Navy Department until 1942. In December of 1941 he was promoted to the rank of associate physicist. It was during this period that Maris earned his Ph.D. degree and also worked for a few months in 1929 with the Shell Oil Company in the field of geophysical prospecting. After leaving the Naval Research Laboratory in 1942, he undertook the position of general researcher in weather forecasting at the David Taylor Model Basin.

During his association with the Navy Department, Maris was in charge of photo-elastic studies much of which was of a confidential nature. He devised a new theory for meteoric paths as well as for the cause of magnetic storms and the relation of those storms to comet activity. Maris studied the relation of magnetic storms to the aurora and wireless transmission. He planned the scientific work for a Fort Conger polar expedition. In 1932, he took part in the International Polar Year Studies held at Fairbanks, Alaska as the Navy's representative. Maris devised and built much in the way of scientific equipment including the complete equipment for photo-elastic studies and designed a recognition signal for the Navy's use. Much of these experiments are in this collection. For a detailed account of the patents he created see Box 1 Folder 6 - resume.


7.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Unknown Provenance

Harold Boyd Maris Papers
Anna T. Zakarija
1981 July 14
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057