February 10, 1938
Professor M. C. DeVane
Ithaca, New York
Dear Professor DeVane:
I wish to ask your pardon for my delay in writing to you in connection with our talk about Dr. DuMond. I did not find it possible to compose a letter before leaving Cornell and on arriving in Pasadena I thought it desirable to discuss the situation with Dr. DuMond himself. I have now done this and I am accordingly able to write to you more fully than would have been possible otherwise.
Dr. J. W. M. DuMond is of the American parentage and French ancestry. He was educated at the California Institute of Technology and the Union College, and worked for a few, years in electrical engineering before taking up physics as a profession. For about fifteen years Dr. DuMond has been intensively carrying on original researches in the x-ray field. He has done this with great success and is, I believe, generally recognized as one of the leading authorities in this field in the country. His principal contributions in recent years have been the design and construction of a multi-crystal x-ray spectrometer, the quantitative study of the Compton effect, the experimental determination of momentum distribution of electrons in atoms, and the accurate determination of physical constants by the inverse photo-electric effect in the x-ray region, he is a well balanced investigator with ability and training along both experimental and theoretical lines.
About eight years ago, Dr. DuMond was offered appointment as associate Professor at Stanford University. Instead of accepting this position he chose to remain at the Institute as Research Associate without stipend, his inheritance providing him with a satisfactory income. He has now been put on a different statue at the Institute: he now receives a salary and was offered the choice of professorial appointment or the retention of his title of Research Associate. He selected the latter alternative.
I learned from talking with him that he feels that it would be wise to leave the x-ray field and begin work in another field of physics in which rapid development is now occurring, that of the study of the structure of the nucleus. It is not possible for him to do this at the Institute because the nuclear field is being exploited here by other members of the physics department and Professor Millikan feels that DuMond should continue to devote his attention to experiments with the x-ray apparatus which he has built. I described to him the mastership at Yale as you had described it to me, and he said that he would without doubt accept the position if it were offered to him, providing that funds for support of his research project were made available.
Dr. DuMond is a man of pleasing personality and appearance with a charming wife, a native of France, and two children. He has broad interests, and I feel that he can be recommended to you strongly. I would not like to see him leave the Institute, but I agree with him that his work could probably be carried out more successfully in another institution, where he would have greater freedom of activity and greater scope for the exercise of his talents than he has here.
With best regards, I am