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Frederick E. Wright

Photo of Frederick E. Wright

1918 OSA President Frederick Wright was born 17 October 1877 in Marquette, Mich. He received a doctorate from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He taught briefly at the Michigan College of Mines and became the state’s assistant geologist. In 1904 he moved to Washington, D.C. and joined the U.S. Geological Survey. For the next two years he made geologic studies of southeastern Alaska.

In 1906 he moved to the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C. where he specialized in mineralogy, crystallography and petrology. He developed various optical instruments, chiefly for petrology, and also wrote on the manufacture of optical glass. Wright remained at Carnegie until his retirement in 1944.

In 1917 at the request of the War Department Wright took over supervision of the Bausch & Lomb optical glass factories in Rochester, N.Y. In just a year and a half, more than 600,000 lbs. of glass were produced to meet wartime needs. Since that time, the U.S. has imported very little glass. When war broke out in 1941 Wright again was asked to oversee glass productions.

Wright took a special interest in studying the Moon. He charted all aspects of the orb from its chemical and mineralogical content to the characteristics of its craters and seas and its temperatures. So extensive and detailed was his work that the Moon’s Wright Crater is named after him and two other astronomers.

Of his 140 published reports, 16 articles appeared in JOSA on such topics as polarization photometry, ray tracing through prisms, dispersion in optical glass and a petrographic microscope. He also published a study of lava flow from Mount Bohemia, Michigan and wrote an article on peculiar stone industries of the Argentine coast.

Wright was a member of the National Academy of Sciences serving as vice president and home secretary. He was president of the Mineralogical Society of America and received that society’s Roebling Award for outstanding original research. He also received the Exceptional Service Medal of the U.S. Army.

Frederick E. Wright died in 25 August 1953.

Document Created: 26 Jul 2023
Last Updated: 6 Mar 2024

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