A Guide to the Walter Harrington Papers, 1941-1963
Walter J. Harrington was born in 1916. His undergraduate and graduate education took place at Cornell University, where he received his bachelor’s (1937), master's (1939) and doctoral (1941) degrees, all in mathematics. His doctoral thesis was entitled A Study of Certain Functions Auxiliary to Brun’s Method in Number Theory, which he completed under J. Barkley Rosser. While completing his doctoral work, he also worked as a part-time instructor in math at Cornell. After his graduation, Harrington moved to Pennsylvania State University to teach mathematics.
During WWII, Harrington worked for the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory, a project of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development, in Cumberland, NC. He became involved through his relationship with Rosser, who supervised all mathematical work for the laboratory’s rocket development project. Harrington worked at the ballistics laboratory from 1944 until 1946, after which he returned to teaching at Pennsylvania State. In 1952, Harrington was recruited by John Cell, whom he had met at Allegany, to become a part-time investigator for the Rocket Research Group at North Carolina State College (NCSC). He continued teaching at Penn State, but worked on rocket science research and published with the NCSC research group. In 1957, Harrington moved to North Carolina State College to become a full professor, where he stayed until his retirement in 1982. While there, he continued to work on rocket science research, including as project director for an Air Force project on fracture mechanics.
Walter Harrington married Hazel Cheney in 1941, and they had two children, Rachel and John. Harrington passed away in 2008.
The Walter Harrington Papers, 1941-1963, document Harrington’s professional career as a mathematician and rocket science researcher. The bulk of the materials deal with his work with the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory and Rocket Research Group at North Carolina State College. The collection emphasizes Harrington’s rocket science research; almost no material is included from Harrington’s teaching or other academic work. Materials include reports, notes, correspondence, printed material, and other material.
Harrington’s Professional records (1944-1963) are divided into two sub-series: Allegany Ballistics Laboratory and North Carolina State College. The Allegany Ballistics Laboratory records (1944-1955) concern his work for the Office of Scientific Research and Development during WWII.
The North Carolina State College records (1946-1963) document Harrington’s work with the Rocket Research Group and other rocket science projects at NCSC, including his time as both a part-time investigator for the research group and a full professor at NCSC. Included in both Professional sub-series are reports, correspondence, technical memoranda, and notes. Harrington frequently inserted notes and letters in the pages of published reports, and this arrangement has been retained.
The Personal files (1941-1947, undated) include Harrington’s dissertation and related notes.
Forms part of the Archives of American Mathematics.
The bulk of these papers are stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Walter Harrington Papers, 1941-1963, Archives of American Mathematics, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Elliot Williams, October 2012.
Detailed Description of the Papers