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William E. Gordon Papers

Identifier: MS 0408
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Scope and Contents

The William E. Gordon Papers range in date from 1947 to 1994, inclusive (bulk 1975-1990), and arranged in three series: Material in the collection includes publications and research reports (many of which concern findings from research conducted at the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory in Puerto Rico), talks and lectures, reprints, office files, and alphabetical subject files, which include records of professional organizations and activities in which Dr. Gordon participated.


  • 1947-1994


Access Restrictions

This material is open for research. Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the William E. Gordon Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Biographical Note

William E. Gordon, physicist and astronomer, was born January 8, 1918, at Patterson, New Jersey. He received B.A. and M. A. degrees from Montclair (New Jersey) State College in 1939 and 1942 respectively, an M.S. degree in Meteorology in 1946 from New York University, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University in 1953. He married Elva Freile in 1941 and they had two children, a son and a daughter.

Dr. Gordon served on the faculty of Cornell University from 1953 to 1966, first as Assistant Professor and ultimately as Professor of Engineering. He achieved international recognition for his design of a massive radar/radio, telescope to collect energy waves beyond Earth’s atmosphere, overseeing its construction at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and serving as the Director of the resultant Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory from 1960 to 1965. He became a member of the Rice University faculty in 1966, also serving as Dean of Science and Engineering (1966-75), Dean of Natural Sciences (1975-80), and Provost and Vice President (1980-85). He retired in 1986 and became Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Space Physics and Astronomy and of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University. He is a member of many learned societies, including the National Academy of Sciences (1968-), National Academy of Engineering (1975-), and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow (1986-).

Following his retirement from Rice University, Dr. Gordon returned to New York State, where he has continued work with professional organizations and also participates in philanthropic activities.


12 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Academic and professional papers of William E. Gordon, member of the faculty of Rice University 1966-1985, now Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Space Physics and Astronomy and of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with material related to his work in developing and administering the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory in Puerto Rico.


The William E. Gordon Papers are arranged in three series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Manuscripts/Works, 1947-1989 (Boxes 1-4)
  2. Series II: Office Records, 1985-1996 (Box 4)
  3. Series III: Alphabetical Subject Files, 1955-1992 (Boxes 4-11)

Acquisition Information

The William E. Gordon Papers were obtained from Dr. Gordon’s office by Melissa Kean and received in the Woodson Research Center July 23, 2003.

Related Material

See also Rice University Provost’s Office Records: William E. Gordon (a restricted collection; for access, contact Archivist).

General Physical Description note

(12 boxes)
Guide to the William E. Gordon Papers, 1947-1994 MS 408
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA