A Guide to the Walter E. Millett Papers, 1923-1928, 1946-2003
Walter Elmer Millett was born in East Moline, Illinois on July 26, 1917. He received both a BS (1940) and an MS (1942) in physics and mathematics from the University of Florida. He then worked at the MIT Radiation Laboratory for the next three and a half years, where he researched improvements in the resolution of radar systems. After World War II, Millett pursued graduate study in physics at Harvard University, receiving his PhD in 1949. Following an Atomic Energy Commission Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cal Tech, he returned to the University of Florida as a lecturer in 1950, becoming an assistant professor in 1951.
In 1952, Millett became an assistant professor in the University of Texas physics department where he researched positron annihilation, pioneering the use of this technique to determine the momentum distributions of electrons in both solids and liquids. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1957, spent the summer of 1960 performing positron annihilation studies at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, and was promoted to professor in 1962. Millett was appointed professor emeritus in 1987, following a five-year period of modified service.
Millett's research spawned over fourteen MA and fifteen PhD students. Later in his academic career, he shared a laboratory with Professor Arthur Lockenvitz, with whom he participated in photon experiments. In his retirement he frequently worked on a problem regarding the creation of a photon model, which his family termed his "Yellow Pages" because of his prolific use of yellow legal tablets. Toward the last year of his life, he felt he was close to making these papers publishable.
Millett enjoyed growing flowers and hiked two miles daily. He married twice, first to Barbara Twigg in 1944 and then to Ethel Grant Long in 1972, both of whom preceded him in death.
At the age of 86 Millett suffered a stroke and died on August 24, 2003. A portion of his estate was dedicated as the Walter E. Millett Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship in Physics.
The Millett papers are primarily comprised of his "Yellow Pages," which in addition to his work on the photon model problem, also contain a number of personal papers, including correspondence, articles, and students' dissertations. The "Old," "Old Age," "Middle Age," and "Most Recent" designations were made by Millett's survivors and adhered to for sake of consistency. The general date ranges were determined during processing to be as follows:
These papers are stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Millett (Walter E.) Papers, 1923-1928, 1946-2003, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Detailed Description of the Papers