Rutherfurd Diffraction Grating

Rutherfurd Diffraction Grating

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Lewis M. Rutherfurd (1816-1892) was an astronomer in New York City who began making diffraction gratings around 1871 and distributing them freely to astronomers and physicists in the United States and abroad. By 1875 he was producing gratings with 17,280 lines per inch. This example is a steel plate measuring 1.75 inches square overall, with the ruled area occupying the central 1 inch square. The plate is marked "Dec. 22, 1877" and a card in the box is marked "17,280 No. 1".
This diffraction grating may once have belonged to George Frederick Barker (1835-1910), a physical scientist who taught at University of Pennsylvania, and who was an active member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and other scientific organizations. Barker may have inherited it from John Christopher Draper (1835-1885), a New York scientist who used a grating of this description to observe, or so he thought, the dark lines of oxygen in the solar spectrum.
Ref. D. J. Warner, "Lewis M. Rutherfurd: Pioneer Astronomical Photographer and Spectroscopist," Technology and Culture 12 (1971): 190-216.
Elihu Thomson, “George Frederick Barker, M.D., Sc.D., LL.D.,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 50 (1911): xiii-xxix.
John Christopher Draper, “On the Presence of Dark Lines in the Solar Spectrum, which correspond closely to the lines of the Spectrum of Oxygen,” American Journal of Science 16 (1878): 256-265.
Currently not on view
Object Name
diffraction grating
date made
Rutherfurd, Lewis Morris
place made
United States: New York
overall: 7.4 cm x 6.1 cm x 2 cm; 2 29/32 in x 2 13/32 in x 25/32 in
overall; in case: 3/4 in x 3 in x 2 7/16 in; 1.905 cm x 7.62 cm x 6.19125 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Mrs. Russell Munroe
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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