The AAVSOs "Old Guard"


From the beginning, the number of observations being sent to the AAVSO each year began to rise dramatically: from 4,900 in 1911; to 11,600 in 1912; 16,800 in 1914; 17,400 in 1917; 19,300 in 1921; and 26,900 in 1924.

Mt. Holyoke.jpg
Members of AAVSO at Mt. Holyoke College, Mass., Sept 2, 1920 At left are W. T. Olcott, Alice Farnsworth, Anne S. Young, and Helen Swartz; at right are Caroline Furness and Leon Campbell.

"Beginning only with a small band of enthusiasts," wrote Leon Campbell, "...their ranks have now been so swelled that their observers are to be found in nearly every quarter of the globe, and their stars abound in all parts of the heavens...."  Cumulatively, AAVSO activity during the years 1912-1923 comprised 146 observers, observing 450 variables, and recording 169,573 observations.

W. T. Olcott, William Henry, of Brooklyn, N. Y., and Leon Campbell at Charles Elmer's observatory on Long Island, N. Y.
With rapid growth from 1911 to 1925, the AAVSO membership quickly gained a sense of identity and personality. United by their love of astronomy, telescope making, and observing, their common interest was made stronger by their sharing a common purpose and a scientifically important goal of providing researchers with long-term variable star measurements in a reliable and efficient way.

What manifested itself the most in meetings and correspondence, was the personal side of this group. The AAVSO was dedicated, yet informal, industrious, yet full of mirth and conviviality. These early members became known as the AAVSO's "Old Guard." Their occupations ranged widely: medicos, farmers, draftsmen, machinists, teachers, printers,

David B. Pickering, East Orange, N. J., and Morgan Cilley, Lewisburg, W. Va., at the Post Memorial Telescope, Harvard College Observatory.
plumbers, accountants, and so on. Writing about them in 1924, AAVSO President David B. Pickering mentions: Prof. Anne S. Young, J. H. Skaggs, Issei Yamamoto, C. Y. MacAteer, D. F. Brocchi, Ralph Buckstaff, Radha Chandra, Leslie Peltier, Giovanni Lacchini, J. E. G. Yalden, Charles Godfrey, Charles Elmer, William Henry, Eugene Jones, Leon Campbell, and others. Also included in this group of dedicated members in the AAVSO's earliest years were Leah Allen, Rev. Tilton Bouton, Alan Burbeck, John J. Crane, Prof. Caroline Furness, Edward Gray, Margaret Harwood, Stephen Hunter, Louise Jenkins, Susan Raymond, Edwin Saywer, Helen Swartz, Ida Woods, and Paul Yendell.
J. E. G. Yalden at his observatory in Leonia, New Jersey.
This diversity of membership--united by the common bond of a love of astronomy and a desire to make a meaningful contribution to the furthering of scientific knowledge--expanded and strengthened as the AAVSO's reputation grew. In the coming decades the AAVSO would see an increase in international membership, and a broadening of scientific purposes to which their variable star observations were put.

Profile of one AAVSO "Old Guard": Charles Y. McAteer 1865-1924

Continue on to Part Four of AAVSO History:
The AAVSO and International Cooperation