Wolfgang Yourgrau Papers
Wolfgang H. J. Yourgrau (1908-1979) served as Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Denver, Denver, Colorado. He was associated with the University from 1963-1978. He also served as Chair of the Philosophy Department and was a member of the History Department. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany in 1932. During World War II, Yourgrau edited an anti-fascist German-language weekly, The Orient. He was editor of Foundations of Physics, an international periodical he founded with Henry Margenau, Yale physicist and spectroscopy expert. His papers include correspondence, journal articles, journals, speeches, newspaper clippings, press releases, classroom notes, lectures, manuscripts of articles, transcripts of radio broadcasts, photographs, framed paintings, inventory of personal library on slides, reel-to-reel tapes, and academic regalia.
- Yourgrau, Wolfgang (Person)
Language of Materials
12 Linear Feet (10 record boxes, 1 legal document box, 1 bag)
Scope and Contents
Biographical / Historical
Wolfgang Yourgrau (1908-1979) was born on November 14, 1908, in Kattawitz, Germany, near Berlin. He attended Berlin's Humboldt University, studying theoretical physics, mathematics, and biology. After graduating, Yourgrau stayed at Humboldt to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, which he earned in 1932. While in Berlin, he also studied under Albert Einstein.
With the Nazi rise to power in 1933, Yourgrau's staunchly anti-fascist position made him a target for harassment, so he fled Germany and was permitted to enter Palestine as a political refugee. In Palestine, Dr. Yourgrau lectured widely for the Jewish Federation of Labor while holding several teaching posts. In 1942 British authorities granted Yourgrau a license to publish The Orient, an independent German-language weekly that endeavored to quash ''every fascist movement, every attempt to restrict the right of free expression....'' The periodical was forced to cease operations when it encountered threats, boycotts, and the destruction of its office space. Undeterred by the violence, Yourgrau sought a more active role in the fight against the Axis powers, so he began editing German publications and broadcasts for the British government.
After the war, Yourgrau resumed his academic career as Head of the Department of Logic and Scientific Method at Jerusalem's School of Higher Studies. In 1948 he married Thella Garber and emigrated to South Africa, where he taught at several universities. The Yourgraus moved to the United States in 1959.
In 1963 Dr. Yourgrau left his position as Chair of the Department of History and Science at Smith College to accept a permanent post as Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Denver. He later served as the Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Denver and was with the School's History Department before retiring in 1978.
Dr. Yourgrau was prolific as a scholar, contributing dozens of journal articles and reviews, lecturing internationally, and producing several monographs. Among his best known books are Variational Principles in Dynamics and Quantum Theory (1961) and A Treatise on Irreversible and Statistical Thermophysics (1966). In 1969 Yourgrau, together with Henry Margenau, Yale physicist and spectroscopy expert, started the international journal entitled Foundations of Physics. Yourgrau continued to edit the journal until his death on July 18, 1979.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
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