Skip to main content

George V. McCauley Papers

Identifier: MS-0098

Scope and Contents

The papers of George V. McCauley, research physicist at Corning Glass Works accumulated at his workplace and were given to the Rakow Research Library by Corning Incorporated. The papers primarily document his work on the 200" disk and are divided into three series:

(1) Correspondence and Subject Files, 1913-1965

(2) Photographs and Drawings, Circa 1931-1996

(3) Artifacts, Circa 1925


  • 1913-1996
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1965


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for public research. Researchers must make an appointment to view this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.

Biographical / Historical

George V. McCauley was born in 1882 in Perryville, Missouri. McCauley received a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1908, and a master's degree and doctorate in physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1909 and 1911, respectively. McCauley married Hulda Hawkinson in 1911, and the couple had three children.

McCauley served as an instructor and professor of physics at Northwestern University from 1912 to 1917. During World War I, he held a position with the Bureau of Standards in Washington, DC. In 1918, he joined the staff of Corning Glass Works as a research physicist.

McCauley is best known for his supervision of the casting of the 200" disk for the Hale Observatory at Mount Palomar in 1934. In 1931, Corning Glass Works began to study the feasibility of creating the large glass disk that would serve as a telescope mirror. McCauley's previous work for Corning on improving annealing schedules led to his assignment to this important project.

McCauley approached the project by designing, casting, and studying smaller prototype disks. McCauley designed a ribbed structure for the disk to reduce weight without sacrificing rigidity. Although the first attempt to cast the 200" mirror blank in March 1934 failed, McCauley and his team achieved success on the second attempt in December 1934. The disk annealed for ten months and was transported to California by train in 1936. After grinding, polishing, and a significant delay caused by World War II, the 200" disk was installed in the telescope in 1948.

McCauley received many accolades for his work on the 200" disk, including an honorary doctorate from Northwestern University. He continued to work on telescope optics until his retirement from Corning Glass Works in 1947. McCauley was called back to Corning Glass Works in the late 1950s to oversee the production of the 84" disk for Kitt's Peak Observatory.

In 1965, McCauley wrote "Corning Glass Works and Astronomical Telescopes," an unpublished manuscript about the 200" disk project. He died in 1976.


8.7 Linear Feet (4 Hollinger boxes, 1 half Hollinger box, 7 lantern slide boxes, and 2 flat boxes)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Most materials received from Corning Incorporated. Drawing board and large photographic print received from Anne Price in 2011 and 2018.

George V. McCauley Papers, 1913-1996
A Guide to the Collection
Colleen McFarland Rademaker
September 10, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Rakow Research Library Manuscript Collection Repository

The Rakow Research Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
Five Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA