James Hugh Pruett papers
Scope and Contents
The collection contains correspondence, articles and manuscripts of articles, Evergreen Observatory visitor register, Port Orford meteor information, clippings, scrapbooks that document his prolific radio essays, speeches, and newspaper articles, and also clippings of his father's newspaper writings and participation in the Baptist church, as well as photographs and negatives that document the activities of Evergreen Observatory and illustrate Pruett's writings and lectures.
Photographs consist of a photograph album, loose prints, and negatives. The album has family images, snapshots and Christmas photos from friends and prominent Eugeneans including Don Hunter, John & Alberta Caswell, Ethel Odell, the Onthanks; and astronomers and backyard observatories. The negatives and loose prints document the activities of Evergreen Observatory and illustrate Pruett's writings and lectures.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.
Conditions Governing Use
Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
James Hugh Pruett (1886-1955) was born June 20, 1886 in Weston, Oregon to William H. Pruett (1844-1902) and Barbara Harpole Pruett (1845-1920), pioneers who emigrated from Missouri in 1848. Pruett's father was a teacher and a Baptist minister who frequently contributed religious pieces to newspapers. The family had five children but only Hugh and one sister, Della, survived childhood. Pruett graduated from Linfield College in 1911 and began teaching high school at Newberg and then McMinnville. Pruett married Hope Sully (1885-1950) in McMinnville. He served as principal of Forest Grove High School about 1916, and worked as a science instructor at Walla Walla College. During World War I he served as a sergeant in the 309th field signal battalion. He pursued graduate work at the University of Chicago and the University of Oregon.
J. Hugh Pruett joined the University of Oregon faculty in 1920, teaching astronomy in the Extension Division past his retirement in 1950. In 1930 Pruett and his wife, Hope, built an observatory at their home on Longview Street in Eugene. Much of Evergreen Observatory's time was used by University of Oregon astronomy classes, but private citizens and groups were also invited on occasion. In addition to providing observation, the facility included a library of over 200 volumes and a collection of lantern slides. Equipment included a 4-inch refractor built by Raymond Berry Kennedy of Washington State University; a 3-inch Heller & Brightly, a 4-inch Bausch & Lomb, a 10-inch Mellish reflector, a 2-inch Mellish refractor, and a 4-inch Mogey refractor. Photographer and UO instructor Roy C. Andrews also taught classes. Pruett worked to establish a formal University of Oregon observatory, donating his cabin on the McKenzie River to provide financial incentive.
As Pacific Coast Director of the American Meteor Society J. Hugh Pruett tracked meteors in the western U.S. and Canada, and collected statements from eyewitnesses. Writing for the Pruett Astronomical Syndicate he furnished Western newspapers and radio stations with weekly astronomical articles to educate the American public about the skies; the Spokane Press called him "Astronomer for his Majesty The American Citizen.\" Among his many articles for the general public were illustrated investigations of the 1933 "Twilight Meteor\" over Portland and the 1935 "Eugene Meteor,\" and an essay about the purported "Port Orford meteor," a 10-ton meteorite allegedly found in 1856 on Bald Mountain by John Evans. Pruett's definition of "blue moon" as the second full moon appearing in a month was published in 1946 in Sky & Telescope and, although based on an apparent misunderstanding, confirmed that usage for the term. He was also quoted in reference to Velikovsky's controversial Worlds in Collision, and to evidence related to UFOs.
Pruett was cited by the Oregon Academy of Science in 1951 for outstanding work. He was also affiliated with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, The California Academy of Science, and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Pruett was a regular contributor to Sky & Telescope magazine, and wrote 127 astronomical articles for an encyclopedia published by Colliers. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Linfield College in 1946.
Hugh Pruett was eulogized by the Eugene Register-Guard as the "Friendly Astronomer." He was a member of the Baptists Church and the Foreign Legion. He created and managed the Eugene-Springfield "Halloween Cross" program, which used markers to protect the homes of elderly and ill people from Halloween pranks. J. Hugh Pruett died Sept. 25, 1955 in Eugene.
5 linear feet (9 containers) : 4 manuscript boxes; Photograph boxes: 1 8x10" box, 1 medium box, 3 small boxes.
Language of Materials
J. Hugh Pruett (1865-1955) was an educator and an amateur astronomer who passionately tracked Northwest meteors, built and operated the Evergreen Observatory in his home in Eugene, taught astronomy classes through the University of Oregon Extension for thirty years, served as Pacific Coast director for the American Meteor Society, and wrote articles for astronomy journals. The collection contains correspondence, articles and manuscripts of articles, an Evergreen Observatory visitor registration book, Port Orford meteor information, clippings, scrapbooks that document his prolific radio essays, speeches, and newspaper articles, and also clippings of his father's newspaper writings and participation in the Baptist church, as well as photographs and negatives that document the activities of Evergreen Observatory and illustrate Pruett's writings and lectures.
Material within this collection may have little to no intellectual or physical arrangement. Any arrangement may have derived from the records' creators or custodians. It may be necessary to look in multiple places for the same types of materials.
Collection processed by staff; Photographs processed by Normandy S. Helmer, 2006.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
This collection received a basic level of processing including minimal to no organization and rehousing.
Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents.
- Adult education teachers -- Oregon -- Eugene Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Astronomers -- Oregon -- Eugene Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Astronomical observatories -- Oregon -- Eugene Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Astronomy -- Oregon Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Astronomy -- Study and teaching -- Oregon -- Eugene Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Clippings Subject Source: TGM II, Genre and physical characteristic terms
- Correspondence Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Eugene (Or.) -- Photographs Subject Source: Lcnaf
- Evergreen Observatory
- Manuscripts for publication Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Photographs Subject Source: Archiveswest
- Port Orford meteorite Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Pruett, J. Hugh (James Hugh), 1886-1955
- Pruett, J. Hugh (James Hugh), 1886-1955
- Scrapbooks Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Guide to the James Hugh Pruett Papers
- Complete Description
- Tanya Parlet.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
- Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA