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Christian Heinrich Friedrich (C.H.F.) Peters Papers

Identifier: yhm-arc-0000-123

Content Description

Divided into 5 boxes and 1 oversize folder. First box contains graphs, plates, and charts of specific meteorological events with specific names. Highlights include a thorough study of solar protuberances during the solar eclipse of August 1869 which includes drafts and final color prints of a series of 8 diagram plates; a set of 69 large star-charts from Paris in the late 1800s; correspondence between Peters and various international astronomy experts; Peters' collection of large photographs of other observatories. Boxes 2 and 3 contain an assortment of books with different astronomical observations and data. From Rare Book Room QB4 .P48 (removed from catalog): Observationes astronomicae originales, 26 Feb. 1844 to 6 Apr. 1886 (Manuscript notebooks; 15-19 cm.), v.1; v.11-v.13; v.16; v.19; v.21; v.24; v.26; v.30; v.32; v.35; v.38; v.40. Fourth box contains correspondence from a wide range of people from the astronomy community from the United States and abroad. correspondence, Computations relative to Io, 4 packets of personal correspondence -- Summary: notes, printed journals, charts, diagrams, photographs and letters pertaining to C.H.F. Peters' astronomy research at Litchfield Observatory. The fifth box contains large pictures, astronomical plates, and the book Observatoire de Nice. The oversized folder is a miscellaneous collection of graphs, newspaper clippings, pictures, blueprints, diplomas, et


  • Creation: 1845 - 1890


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing these materials.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions governing use of this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Christian Heinrich Friedrich Peters (1813-1890), born on September 19, 1813 in Koldenbüttel, Schleswig (present-day Schleswig-Holstein, Germany), was a mathematician, discoverer, inventor, geographer, soldier, linguist, and, most significantly, an astronomer. After earning his doctorate in mathematics and astronomy from the University of Berlin at the age of 23, Peters furthered his studies at Göttingen University, where he worked with the famous mathematician and astronomer, Carl Friedrich Gauss, who expanded Peters’ knowledge on mathematical predictions of planetary and other celestial orbits; it was in Göttingen that Peters also encountered and befriended geologist Baron Sartorius von Waltershaussen, with whom Peters ventured to Sicily to complete a typographical survey of Mount Etna, and later to Naples to observe and record sunspots and the comet of 1846. Peters’ scientific inquiries in Europe were suspended with the Sicilian Revolution of 1848, the Italian War of Independence, and later, the Crimean War, prompting his departure for the United States in 1854.

Landing in Massachusetts with esteemed recognition for his observation of the solar imperfections, Peters attended the 1855 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Providence, Rhode Island, which connected him with Benjamin Apthorp Gould who soon became the director of the newly founded Dudley Observatory in Albany, NY and brought along Peters as his assistant. Shortly after a fraught resignation, Peters accepted a call to become professor of astronomy and director of the Litchfield Observatory at Hamilton College in 1858.

At Hamilton, Peters journeyed on expeditions, his most noteworthy being to New Zealand to observe the Transit of Venus; toiled meticulously to complete and publish his 182 zodiac star charts covering the eclipse and other cosmic events; traveled to Paris to collaborate on the Carte du Ciel designed to develop a program of mapping the entire sky via photography; entered into an accreditation dissension with his student and protegee Charles A. Borst, leading to a a gruesome judicial battle in the Utica Supreme Court; and strove to amend star catalogues from accredited sources. With Peters’ many projects, scientific society memberships, and accomplishments, his legacy lies in his title as the most prolific “asteroid hunter” of his generation, achieving 48 discoveries before passing away on 1890.


5 Linear Feet (5 records center boxes and 1 oversized folder)

Language of Materials

Multiple languages






The papers are arrenged into four series: I.) Observation notes and general ephemera; II.) Journals; III.) Correspondence and records; and IV.) Oversized materials. Materials are arranged in alphabetical order by subject within each series and chronologically within each folder.

Separated Materials

Oversized materials moved to Oversized Collection in flat file. Photographs removed to Photograph Collection (yhm-arc-0000-092).

Separated Materials

Celestial charts made at the Litchfield Observatory of Hamilton College (Spec Coll Folio ; QB65 .P47 1882)

Separated Materials

Astronomical instruments from C.H.F. Peters (yhm-arc-2019-003)

Luis Colli
April 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hamilton College Archives Repository

198 College Hill Road
Clinton NY United States