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The James Arthur Lecture Series Past Topics and Presenters
History of the James Arthur Lecture Series
James Arthur was born February 26, 1842, of Scottish parents at Crosscandley, Ireland. While he was still a child the family moved to Glasgow where he attended the technical school and trained in mechanics, metal and woodwork. At this early age he took an interest in horology and made sundials and started restoring and collecting clocks and watches. In November 1871 he came to the USA. His wife and the three older children followed in 1872. James Arthur was a skilled mechanic with knowledge of machinery and fine construction. Fourteen years after coming to the USA he established the Arthur Machine Works at 188-190 Front Street, New York, for the manufacture and repair of machinery in general and in particular for the construction of models for inventors. The business proved lucrative, as he was able to make a world tour in 1897, and added many interesting pieces to his collection throughout his lifetime. He continued working until he retired in 1912. He died at Winsted, Connecticut, April 27, 1930.
On December 1, 1925, he donated his horological collection together with a substantial endowment to New York University, specifying that part of the endowment should fund an annual lecture. Daniel W. Hering, Professor Emeritus of Physics, was appointed Curator. The original collection of 1,336 items was enlarged, principally by donation, so that by 1932 it amounted to 1,464 items made up of 224 clocks, 1,190 watches, and 50 books. Of particular interest are the original tallcase clocks he designed and made. His notebook No. 1 contains the original designs of 13 tallcase clocks built in his shop by himself or his workmen.
New York University never completed the reassembly and display of the items and, in 1964, they moved from University Heights to the present location in Greenwich Village. At that time they transferred most of the collection to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1982 New York University decided to dispose of the Arthur Collection, dividing the items between The Smithsonian Institution, the Time Museum at Rockford, and the NAWCC Museum at Columbia, Pennsylvania.
Ward Francillon was instrumental in making the James Arthur Lecture the keynote lecture of the Annual NAWCC Seminar, continuing that part of Arthur's original legacy which NYU had fulfilled only intermittently. The first NAWCC James Arthur Lecture was at the 1984 Seminar in Hartford, Conn. with Dana Blackwell as the speaker. Only the most eminent horologists are invited to give this lecture.
James Arthur Lecture Series
Presenter: Robert Andrews Millikan
1933 Time and Change in History
Presenter: John Campbell Merriam
1934 On the Life-time of a Galaxy
Presenter: Harlow Shapley
1935 The Beginnings of Time Measurement
and the Origins of Our Calendar
Presenter: James Henry Breasted
1936 The Time Concept and Time Sense
Among Cultured and Uncultured Peoples
Presenter: Daniel Webster Hering
1937 What is Time?
Presenter: William Francis Gray Swann
1938 Time and Individuality
Presenter: John Dewey
1939 Time and the Growth of Physics
Presenter: Arthur H. Compton
1940 The Astronomical Scale
Presenter: Henry Norris Russell
1941 The Geologic Records of Time
Presenter: Adolph Knopf
1946 Time and Historical Perspective
Presenter: James T. Shotwell
Time and Its Mysteries
1949 Developments in Portable Timepieces
1951 The Early American Clock Making Industry
1953 From Hours to Microseconds:
1969 The Hypothesis of Environmental Timing of the Clock
1972 Physics at the Origin of Time
1975 Time and the Atom:
1978 Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe
1980 Reality, Illusion and Time
NAWCC Sponsored James Arthur Series Lecture
1984 Horology and the Whole Man
1985 Paradigms and Clockmaking
1987 The Time of Our Lives
1988 The Importance of Horology in Our Lives
1989 The History of British Public Timekeeping
1990 The History of the Watch
1991 Horologists Oiled the Industrial Revolution
1992 Uses of the Atomic Clock
1993 The Mechanical Watch in the Twenty-first Century: The Renaissance of the Mechanic
1996 Running a Railroad on Time
1997 Bristol's Clock Museum in the Early Years - Who and What Made It Tick
1998 Modern Time, Old South
1999 Horological Gods and Heroes
2000 The Early Collectors
2001 American Wristwatches