Oral History Transcript — Dr. Andrea Dupree
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Andrea Dupree; October 29, 2007
ABSTRACT: In this interview, Andrea Dupree discusses topics such as: her family background and childhood; doing her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College; Janet Guernsey; C. P. Snow; becoming interested in astronomy; what is was like being a woman and fitting into the physics profession and dealing with gender inequality; Sarah Hill; Allan Sandage; Hans Bethe; Phil Morrison; Otto Struve; going to the Royal Greenwich Observatory for a summer; Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin; Dorrit Hoffleit; variable star fields; deciding to go to Berkeley for graduate school; Ivan King; Hyron Spinrad; Lick Observatory; coming back to Harvard University after a year; George Wallerstein; William Liller; Leo Goldberg; her affiliation with the American Astronomical Society (AAS); Don Osterbrock; Simon "Pete" Worden; Owen Chamberlain; Alex Dalgarno; Harvard College Observatory; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Ed Lilley; solar physics; ionization rates; Herb Friedman; Dick Tousey; Henry Smith; stellar atmospheres; Fred Whipple; Donald Menzel; Margaret Burbidge; orbiting solar observatories (OSO); Skylab program; Lyman Spitzer; Robert Noyes; Henry Norris Russell; International Astronomical Union (IAU); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); George Field; Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO); Eric Chaisson; Jesse Greenstein; Celescope.
This is an oral history session with Andrea Kundsin Dupree. The interviewer is David DeVorkin, the auspice is the Smithsonian, and the funding is NSF and NASA. We’re here to start to talk about your personal profile. How you became Andrea Dupree, let us put it that way. For the record, this interview is subject to conditions you specify once you have seen the transcript and have had a chance to edit the transcript.
DeVorkin: Right. My purposes primarily are for the history of the Smithsonian during the Whipple years and the post-Whipple years through the Field years. So I’m a doing a history of the Smithsonian from the mid-‘50s through 1981, approximately. It’s really of the Smithsonian and Harvard as the emergence of the CFA, looking at this huge hybrid entity that is funded so heavily by federal funds. So that’s pretty much my take.
We can start out by simply asking you: Where were you born, when were you born, and who are your parents?
Dupree:Let’s see. I’m Andrea Dupree. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 17, 1939. My father, Edwin, was a lawyer, and he was a lawyer who worked for the Travelers Insurance Company as a litigator, I guess, is the term that would be used now. My mother, Ruth Kundsin, at the time was a housewife, I guess, but she later went on to graduate school both at Boston University and at Harvard, and ended up on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School running a microbiology laboratory. And she retired when she was 84, so even though I’m born in 1939, I have a long way to go from where I turn in my keys to the observatory, or something like that.
DeVorkin: Evidently! [Laughter]
DeVorkin: And what about your dad? How long did he live?
Dupree:My dad died about ten years ago, and he died when he was 84. My mother and father were separated by ten years. My mother’s still alive. She’s now 91. She just won eight medals in the Senior Swimming Olympics this past summer. So, all I know is, it’s setting a record that is going to be quite a challenge to beat. I have a younger brother named Dennis Edwin Kundsin. He went to Dartmouth, and went to Columbia Business School, and worked in business. Went out on the West Coast to Silicon Valley, where he was able to do clever things, retire early, and now he shares his life with a wife, his second wife, between Napa Valley and Lake Tahoe. So he’s working hard, or was working hard, and now he’s enjoying life. I guess I grew up my early years in Springfield, Massachusetts, where my father was working. Travelers was in Hartford, but they had an office, I guess, in Springfield. So he was in Springfield until I was, I think, about four or five years old because I went to kindergarten in Springfield. And then we moved to Quincy — actually, to Squantum, which is part of North Quincy — to a house that his father had built in 1906, so it was the first house in Squantum. And that’s where my brother, my father, my mother, and I moved.
DeVorkin: Are you the oldest child?
Dupree:I’m the oldest child, yes.
DeVorkin: How many generations was your family here?
Dupree:Oh, both my parents were born here. My mother’s parents came from Latvia. They’re both Latvian, so I’m pure Latvian or Scandinavian. It’s not clear where the border was at that time, whether it was Latvia, Denmark, or whether or there was some infiltration from Finland or something. I’m not quite sure. But my mother’s parents arrived here, at Ellis Island, I think around 1900, 1905, and 1906. So they met and married here, and my mother was born here. My father was also born here. I think his parents came also from Latvia, but I’m not sure of the date. I just don’t know.
DeVorkin: So the only language you heard at home was English.
Dupree:Oh, it was English. That’s right. I just heard English.
DeVorkin: And so, thoroughly American.
Dupree:Thoroughly American. I think my mother may have spoken Latvian to her mother, and she still retains the knowledge because when she grew up in New York, which is where she went to Hunter College, they spoke Latvian at home. I know that. And then she went to school — kindergarten and Hunter High School and Hunter College — and learned English. I mean, there wasn’t any second language or anything. It was just immersion. You would go in and learn English.
So she graduated from Hunter. Well, see, it was free. They were both hardworking. You know, my grandmother was a seamstress. She was a designer seamstress, meaning that you make things from the designer. The designer would draw it on a piece of paper and then my grandmother would make the master pattern, which I guess is a big thing. That’s like the first step for creation or something.
Dupree:So I know my mother had an offer to go to Smith College because she graduated at, like, 16 or something from Hunter High School and graduated from college with Phi Beta Kappa, two majors — you know, the whole business. Had an opportunity to go to Smith when she graduated from high school, but in those days, that was very expensive. Sure, you got a scholarship to Smith, but still, Hunter was right on the subway. And that was when Hunter was an all-woman’s college. I think it’s now gone coeducational, I believe.
DeVorkin: So you come from completely educated, professional parents.
DeVorkin: How would you typify or characterize your home life? What was home life like for you?
Dupree:It was a normal home life. I went to school in sort of the Squantum School, which was half a block away. We could see the schoolhouse from our yard. And those were the days when you walked home for lunch. In other words, you went to school from 9 to 12, and then you had an hour for lunch, and then you came home. So I used to walk across the field and go home for lunch.
DeVorkin: And your mom was there.
Dupree:Well, most of the time except when I was in the fifth or sixth grade, which I’ll get to. But in the first grade, the other event that’s widely quoted in the family is how I went into school the first day in the first grade. The class was sitting there and the teacher wrote C-A-T in big letters on the board and said, “Okay, class. Who can read this?” I guess I put up my hand and I said, “Janitor, please wash the blackboards and clean out the wastebaskets before the class starts.” And the teacher said, “Wait a minute.” [Laughter] “That wasn’t what you’re supposed to be reading.”
DeVorkin: So clearly, in your family, you were reading before you went to school.
Dupree:Clearly I was reading before, see. So then the question came, well, what could I do in first grade if I already knew how to read?
DeVorkin: What about other kids?
Dupree:I guess the other kids couldn’t. The other kids, I don’t know whether they’d write “cat” or not.
DeVorkin: So, as far as your peers were concerned, that separated you.
Dupree:Oh, that separated me from my peers, so then they decided they would think about promoting me to the second grade. But in order to decide whether they did that, I remember I had to go to the child health clinic to make sure that I was mature enough or could handle being promoted from the first grade to the second grade.
DeVorkin: Do you remember how the other kids reacted when you did that?
Dupree:No, no. I don’t even remember the children in that class because, right away, I was put into the next class. I went to the child health clinic. I mean, this happened the first day of school, in the first two weeks or something, I guess. I don’t even know who the children were. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: So it wasn’t traumatic in any way.
Dupree:Oh, it wasn’t traumatic in any way at all. No, no. The only thing was I remember I couldn’t spell “squirrel.” Like the animal? You know, the squirrel? S-q-u-i-r-r-e-l. In spelling, we had that in the second grade, and I remember I wrote it on my desk and the teacher saw me and said, “[Gasp] You’re not supposed to write things like that on your desk,” you see. To pass the spelling test, I had written “squirrel”. Anyway, it was okay. So basically I skipped first grade, so I always a year younger. I was always the youngest one in every class, all the way through. But it was never really a problem.
DeVorkin: These were war years. Were you aware of the war at all?
Dupree:Not really. It was a little after. It was ’46, I think, was when we moved to Quincy.
DeVorkin: So your dad didn’t go.
Dupree:Well, see, my father had two children at that time, and all I remember about the war in Springfield — I remember three things. One is, my father was some sort of an emergency fire captain in case there were fires or something, and he had the most wonderful hand pump that would squirt water 50 feet. We used to use it all the time because you’d fill up this can, like a rubbish can with water, and put a top on it, and pump it up and down, and you could squirt. We never had any fires, but boy did we have fun with that can that was supposed to be for civil defense or something like that. And we had to pull our shades. See, this was Springfield, and I think they thought that we could be attacked or something. Yeah, who knows? I mean, whatever. And so, therefore, I remember we had to pull our shades down at night so that the lights wouldn’t go out.
What else do I remember? This tells you the difference between then and now: I remember walking home alone from kindergarten, and I must’ve been four years old or five years old. I walked home from the school, and it was a fair amount. There was one road I remember, and on the other side of the road was a forest. Not a forest; a woods, a small woods. And this was a residential neighborhood. I remember the rumor went out that there were Nazis hiding in the woods, and therefore, coming home, I took this long, roundabout route to get home because I was so afraid that there might be Nazis hiding in the woods, which, of course, was a total false alarm. I mean, it didn’t happen at all. I think many people remember the day Roosevelt died. I remember my father was standing, shaving in the bathroom, and he said, “Oh, my goodness. Roosevelt, the President, died.” You know, Roosevelt died, and that was ’45, was it?
Dupree:But that’s all I remember of the war. My husband was older. He remembers following battles and things like that when he was a boy. But I didn’t do that. I didn’t know anything about that. So, we moved to Squantum and lived a regular family life. We had family breakfast together. I came home for lunch. My family had dinner together. My father came home from work at 6:00 on the train and would take the bus and walk down the hill. You know, we’d all have dinner at 6.
DeVorkin: Your ability to read, though, before other kids, was this the same for your brother?
Dupree:No, no. I mean, he certainly could read, but he didn’t or maybe they didn’t double-promote people. I don’t know. He’s not a scholar. I think second children are sort of more fun. You have more fun with second children. [Laughs] But he wasn’t promoted, if you use that as a sign of advancement. And how I learned how to read, I have no clue. And I’ve never asked my mother. I should ask her. I don’t know.
DeVorkin: That is a question. There were books around the house.
DeVorkin: Were there magazines?
Dupree:Sure. There was Life Magazine and books. You know, the usual.
DeVorkin: So there was no regimen that you remember that your mother inflicted on you.
Dupree:I don’t remember any regimen. No, no, no, I don’t remember any regimen. Nothing. Somehow, it happened.
DeVorkin: So you got into a group that is older than you.
DeVorkin: And you’re going through school. How would you characterize, then, your early training?
Dupree:I enjoyed it. I guess I really had no problem excelling in school. In those high schools, they always did the first division. Our high school was divided to division classes. Like the seventh grade, there was a 7-1, a 7-2, a 7-3. There were, like, eight different classes. Like homerooms, for instance. And they were ranked. The “one” was always supposed to be the smart one. I was always in the ones all the way through.
But I should mention, we talked about home life. When I was in fifth grade or something, my mother decided she wanted to go back to work. My mother was very active and my father was very active in the community. My father was the first president of the Squantum Community Association, which started parades and races for kids, and all sorts of local things. My mother founded the Parent-Teacher Association in high school. We made a cookbook, and I still have a copy of the cookbook, which was wonderful with children’s drawings in it and recipes. I mean, these are the things that you did in the late ‘40s.
DeVorkin: Did your mother and father talk at the dinner table in front of you about schools and why the PTA had to be created?
Dupree:I don’t remember. They probably did, but I don’t remember.
DeVorkin: Did that single you out in any way, that your mother was this activist? At school, at least.
Dupree:It [was] like, “Oh, it’s her mother that’s doing these things.” Well, the other thing also is that my father had gone to the same school, because he had grown up in this house. We were in the house that my father grew up in. He went to the same school. As a matter of fact, we had the same teacher. I guess she was good, but I always thought she was a harsh, very unpleasant lady. But anyway, I ended up having her for two grades, fifth and sixth grade. She had taught my father, and she always used to remember that. So maybe in those ways, I was kind of singled out. The other thing, which is interesting, which I also remember, is that when I was in fourth or fifth grade, my mother decided she wanted to go back to work.
DeVorkin: Yeah, that’s really important.
Dupree:Yes. I think she was bored. And probably, your two incomes would have helped. You had two children. They had to go on to college. You know, all of that stuff. We were middle class — just middle class.
DeVorkin: No family money or anything like that.
Dupree:No family money. No, no, no. So, my mother decided she wanted to go back to work, and so she did. She went to the Quincy City Hospital as a bacteriologist. Somewhere along the line, she got a degree from Boston University, a master’s degree in bacteriology or microbiology. I could find out the date of what that was. I don’t remember exactly when. But anyway, she went back to work, and she worked at the Quincy City Hospital, which was fine. We had a housekeeper who then came in and made lunch when I came home from school and things like that. But the thing was, at that time, it was such a horrible thing. We’re not religious people, but somehow the minister from the church heard that my mother was going to work, and on top of that, we never really attended church regularly, if at all.
DeVorkin: What was your denomination then?
Dupree:Well, “Protestant.” In our town, most everybody was Catholic. There was a Catholic church and a Protestant church. This area, this community we lived in was really isolated. It’s really a peninsula, so there’s a long road that gets flooded at high tide. And then you have this land. So there was basically a Protestant church and a Catholic church, and most everybody was Catholic. They all did whatever Catholics do, like going to confession and mass and all those things. I don’t think I ever went to Sunday school or went to the Protestant church at all, but for some reason, the Protestant minister had heard that: A) we were there and that we never went to church, and B) now my mother was working. He came to see her, and he told her that we were going to grow up to be heathens, that she was doing the worst thing in the world.
DeVorkin: Was this in front of you?
Dupree:No. I don’t know. No. She tells me this, that he came and made an appointment to come see her, and saw her at the house, and told her that she was doing [this].
DeVorkin: Around 1950?
Dupree:No, it must’ve been, like, late ‘40s.
DeVorkin: Late ‘40s.
Dupree:Late ‘40s. See, in 1950, I was in high school, I think, because I graduated ’56 in the six-year high school. So it must’ve been late ‘40s, like ’47 or ’48. They came to see her and said that what she was doing was terrible and that she should bring us to Sunday school and bring us to church and she should stop work and she should stay home with the children, and what she was doing was bad and we were all going to be heathens and go to hell, or something like that. Well, you can imagine how this went over with my mother. [Laughs] “Are you kidding?” [Laughs]
DeVorkin: But she spoke about this.
Dupree:She’s spoken about this afterwards, but later. I mean, only in the past 10, 20, 30 years.
DeVorkin: Oh, so you didn’t know about it at the time.
Dupree:I didn’t know this had happened at the time, no.
DeVorkin: Okay. So it wasn’t open conversation at dinner?
Dupree:It wasn’t an open conversation at dinner, no.
DeVorkin: Were your parents protective of you, do you think? In that way?
Dupree:I don’t know. I don’t think so. I had heard other things as we were growing up.
DeVorkin: Like what?
Dupree:Like what? What did I hear about? Well, I remember my father had some issues at work about a boss that he didn’t like, or something like that. And I remember sort of hearing bits and pieces of that. I think the focus was really on the children. I remember, growing up, we’d come to dinner and my mother would say, “Okay, everyone has to tell one happy thing and one sad thing that happened today.” [Laughs]
DeVorkin: That’s very organized.
Dupree:Oh, she was very organized, yes. And then we had the read the book Cheaper by the Dozen somehow. So that started us [placing the capitals of all the stars] onto the bathroom mirror. [Laughs] Have you read Cheaper by the Dozen?
Dupree:It’s an amusing book about raising 12 kids and the organization that they had. I know it’s mind-boggling. I have two children, and that was kind of “whoa!” [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Was there any reason why your mother didn’t have more than two children?
Dupree:No, I think so. Well, I think the reason was that they felt that they couldn’t do a good job raising children if you had more than two, and I think that’s from the beginning. Like, if you have four or five kids, you know. We also were living where there were a lot of Catholic families with very large families, and those kids tended to be the troublemakers. I don’t know that it was a religious thing. I think it was just that there were large families, and we had large families that were sort of lower middle income. You can’t control them all, at least, or give them the kind of upbringing that you’d like to.
DeVorkin: Did you always feel that way, do you think?
Dupree:Feel what way?
DeVorkin: That a small family was a virtue?
Dupree:Oh, yes. Definitely.
DeVorkin: Okay. Since you were the daughter and the older of the two children, did your mother ever talk to you early on about the place of the woman in the world?
Dupree:Oh, yes. And it was always, “Be a doctor. Don’t be a nurse.” I was a voracious reader. I loved to read. I’d go down to the library and finally had to get permission because you weren’t allowed to take out books beyond your age. Your library card said you were six years old or seven or eight or something, so you could only take out books with pink labels as opposed to any book. And I remember having to get special permission from my mother signed for the librarian that it was okay for me to take out other books other than the ones that were labeled for a five-year-old or six-year-old, or whatever the age was. So I was a big reader, and I remember reading the Sue Barton books, which is a series called, Sue Barton, Student Nurse. And I was just fascinated because I thought I was going to be a nurse. My mother kept saying, “No, no. Don’t think about being a nurse. Think about being a doctor. Why be a nurse when you can be a doctor?” So, aim high, I guess, was the message that came through. So that’s one thing that I do remember. Where am I now?
DeVorkin: Did your teachers have the same view in terms of channeling women as opposed to men, or boys as opposed to girls, into different activities?
Dupree:Well, certainly, the high school I went to did. I never took shop. I couldn’t take shop because I was a girl. I took cooking and sewing. I think in the seventh grade, you had something called home economics or home arts, or something like that. And in those days, I would’ve loved to learn how to do drilling and things like that. My father didn’t really get me into that. I was never really a tinkerer, a hands-on builder kind of thing. In schools, that certainly wasn’t encouraged because I took sewing and cooking, and the boys would take shop. You know, Shop 1, you learn mechanical drawing or whatever it was.
And then the question is, did the teachers always encourage it? Well, first of all, in going from elementary school to high school or junior high school, I remember the teachers had to write recommendations to determine what division you were placed in, like the college division, or which level of the classes. So, clearly, I was always put in the “one” level of the class — the first division. But I don’t think they were thinking much beyond that. In other words, they just took their students, look at the grades or something, and put them in the class as they saw it. I don’t think they thought, “Oh, well, these girls have to go down to the lower division and we’ll put the boys in the higher division.” I just don’t think that crossed their minds. I don’t know.
DeVorkin: Did you have counselors in high school who talked about college? Or was there ever any question that you would go to college?
Dupree:Oh, God, no. There was no question at all. Obviously, I was going to go to college. Actually, a fair amount of my class [did]. I went to a public high school, very large. There were maybe 400 in the graduating class. I mean, I don’t know that I got much help or advice because I got the advice from home. You know, “Where do I go to college?” At that time, in the mid-‘50s, women either went to the state university — the University of Massachusetts in our case, but I clearly knew that that wasn’t what I would aspire to — or I could go to another university. But the idea of going to Stanford or something like that across the country was just a huge, big step. I mean, there weren’t jet planes in those days. You had to get a train, I think, and go across the country. Or it took 13 hours or something like that. So then you had the women’s colleges, and you had the Seven Sisters. Basically, you had Radcliffe and Bryn Mawr and Mount Holyoke and Smith and Wellesley. It was always clear that I was going to apply to college and go to college, and that was no question. I remember coming for a tour of Harvard-Radcliffe and deciding that Radcliffe was in the city. There was no way I was going to go to Radcliffe, no matter what.
DeVorkin: Because it was too close?
Dupree:No, it was in the city. I dreamt that college should be a pastoral experience. You should be in the country. I mean, I lived in the city. I lived in Quincy, Massachusetts, which had 80,000 people at that time. But, you know, I got on the subway at Harvard Square and looked around and thought, “Wait a minute. This is like a commuting college. I don’t want to go here. I want to go to some place that’s in the country.” So I didn’t even apply to Radcliffe. I think I applied to the women’s college. Smith, Mount Holyoke, Wellesley, Vassar, and then, I think, Wheaton College, which was certainly my “insurance” school.
When I went down to Wheaton, I remember at the interview they would interview you together, parents and children together, I think, and then they interviewed the child alone. And then I remember the interviewer said to my mother, “Well, it won’t be a matter of whether we want her, but whether she decides to come to us.” So that was like, “Ooh, maybe I’ll get in there. That would be exciting.” It was especially interesting because I remember going to one of the Smith teas — they had teas for Smith College. We went to some alumnus house, which is a very elegant house, and they said, “We can only take one out of three of you, so look to the left and look to the right, and only one of you will be accepted.” [Laughs] Then I thought, “Oh, my goodness. Maybe I’m going to have to go to the University of Massachusetts after all.”
Well, on May 1st, which was the big day, all my envelopes were fat. I got in everywhere. I got scholarships offered everywhere. These were the days when you didn’t know your SAT scores. I have no idea what my SAT score is. You didn’t know those, and you also took the achievement exams on March 15 or March 17 for an acceptance in May. This just tells you times and scales are really quite different.
DeVorkin: Yes, very different.
Dupree:And I remember that because the exams were in Milton Academy, and there was a huge snowstorm. We had to walk, like, four miles through the snow because the buses weren’t running in order to get to the exams. But times were different.
DeVorkin: As you were going through the public schools, was there ever any question that you would go to private school, a prep school?
Dupree:Well, it’s funny; that never came up. My parents decided to send my brother to a prep school. It wasn’t clear why. My mother has said that that was because I had made such a mark on this high school that they didn’t want him to be known as my little brother. I mean, they wanted him to do his own separate thing, you see. But I did fairly well at this high school, and I did lots of activities. I did so many activities that by the time I got to college, I decided I really had to work. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: What kind of activities did you do?
Dupree:Oh, let’s see. I was the head drum majorette. That was great fun. I had the most marvelous time. Well, I went through the baton twirlers thing, and then you had to try out in front of the school committee, in front of the superintendent of schools, because there were three of us trying out to be the head drum majorette, and I got it. One of the great honors was you had to throw your wooden baton over the goalpost before every football game, and whether you caught it determined whether or not the team would win. I caught it every time, but we lost. [Laughter] Had nothing to do with it, see.
DeVorkin: What about the subjects you were getting interested in?
I took everything. I took the standard college courses. I took five years of languages and four years of mathematics, and I really liked mathematics. Loved algebra. Loved geometry. Thought that was just terrific. Liked that. Science, I had four years of science. The usual biology, chemistry, physics… and I remember what the other one was. But four years of maybe general science is what you’d take in the ninth grade. So I had that. I knew that I could do math. I guess I liked math. And I went to college thinking, “Maybe I’ll major in mathematics.” But I also felt that college was a time to explore and that you went to a liberal arts [college] with a clean slate. I was accepted everywhere, and decided to go to Wellesley. Never regretted it one minute. I can assay the strength of women’s schools and how and why. The chairman of our Visiting Committee today is a Wellesley graduate, okay? The only woman on the Visiting Committee.
DeVorkin: Who is that?
Dupree:I knew you were going to ask me. Cornell. She’s from Cornell. I forgot her name.
DeVorkin: We’ll get it.
Dupree:And I just saw her and I read her nametag. See, my mind is back in 1950. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Well, that’s where I want it to be.
DeVorkin: What about subjects that you did like?
Dupree:I liked mathematics and I did like the sciences. The science teaching I don’t think was very good. It was very poor science teaching. But I liked math.
DeVorkin: Did you feel that at the time?
Dupree:Yes, because it was a joke. We’d have lectures on how to clean out coffeepots and the chemistry of coffeepots. [Laughs] Don’t ask!
DeVorkin: Okay. Were there laboratories? Did you do experiments and things?
Dupree:Yeah, there were labs. We could do experiments.
DeVorkin: Were there science fairs?
Dupree:Yes, there were science fairs in the ninth grade and the tenth grade. We did science fairs. I remember doing several posters. But they weren’t organized in the sense that then you went to a state fair and a national fair and whatever. They were just local, little science fairs.
DeVorkin: Do you remember what you chose?
Dupree:I did one on blood, I remember. Something about hemoglobin and blood. This is for biology. And then the next year I did one on hydroponics, because I had heard about it and I didn’t know what it was. That’s where you grow things in water instead of in soil, and to me, that seemed so amazing, although I think I probably cheated. You had to measure your plants, and we had them sitting in glasses of water. You can just pull them out of the glass. [Laughs] Gross, I think.
DeVorkin: What were you reading at this time for pleasure?
Dupree:Oh, gosh. What was I reading for pleasure? Probably historical fiction. I think I sort of liked escape literature. But my English training wasn’t very good. If I had to say something, you know, in a public high school, we read the usual. I can’t remember. Silas Mariner and Shakespeare plays, and things like that. But our writing wasn’t well developed, and I found that when I got to Wellesley. I never did as well as in English classes. I would take them because I thought you should know about English and poetry and drama and things. I thought that was part of being a cultured person. But I always felt that I never really wrote very well. Not as well as the women coming from private schools. See, when I went to Wellesley, at the time, public schools were in the minority. I think that’s completely reversed now.
DeVorkin: At Wellesley.
Dupree:At Wellesley, yes. It’s completely reversed. But at that time, like 70% of the people were from private schools, where they had a lot of really good training in writing, and probably other things, too. I felt that there I didn’t quite know how to do all those things.
DeVorkin: Was Wellesley your first challenge? Was there anything that challenged you in high school?
Dupree:Not really, no. High school was just fun. I was editor of the yearbook, I was on the student council, I ran [stuff]. [Laughter]
DeVorkin: Did you get National Merit scholarships?
DeVorkin: Maybe they didn’t exist. I don’t know. [They started in 1955]
Dupree:I don’t know if they existed then, because, see, I never even knew my SAT score. Now you get them. You look at them and you get them. And I can’t remember where I graduated in my class. Third? Fourth? Second? No, it wasn’t second. There were two very studious people who were first and second.
DeVorkin: Very studious?
Dupree:Because I didn’t consider myself very studious. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: That’s very interesting. In other words, they were the bookworms.
Dupree:They were the bookworms, yes.
DeVorkin: And you were not.
Dupree:Yeah. Maybe people thought I was a bookworm.
DeVorkin: But you were the head drum majorette.
Dupree:I was the head drum majorette, and I was the editor-in-chief in the yearbook, and I was on the student council, and I was in the National Honor Society. We had a National Honor Society.
DeVorkin: That’s it. Yes, something like that.
Dupree:National Honor Society, yeah. We had that.
DeVorkin: Did you have any special role at graduation?
Dupree:No. We graduated together with Quincy High School, so it was a big graduation for the whole city in the school stadium.
DeVorkin: That’s enormous.
Dupree:Yeah. Quincy was always bigger than we were, a bigger high school. So, no, I didn’t do anything particular at graduation. Don’t remember. I don’t think I did.
DeVorkin: Did you engage in sports?
Dupree:Well, they didn’t have teams. I played basketball, and I was on the “bowling club”. But basketball, girls could only play half-court — we weren’t strong enough to run the full court. So we had three and three, and I think I was a guard or something. You just did it in gyms.
DeVorkin: In gym, what did you enjoy?
Dupree:What did I do? Basketball. We did basketball. And I was a member of the rifle club, and I was in bowling. [Laughs] These are the things. I shot a gun for the first time. Never done that before. There were rifles, and we used to take them down to the basement of an old school, I don’t know, once a week, and lie on your stomach and shoot these guns at targets.
Dupree:[Laughs] So there! That was kind of fun.
DeVorkin: Back to the idea about challenge, how would you describe the first time that you really met people who could challenge you?
Dupree:Oh, when I went to college. And I think that’s when I felt that there were people there — mainly, [who] were very verbal and they could write well in English, and they could sit and they could argue. One thing I regret that we never had at my high school is we never had a debating club. We never had an acting society.
DeVorkin: Oh, really?
Dupree:No. There was no acting. There was no play. No theatrical activities. No.
DeVorkin: That’s surprising for a large public school.
Dupree:Yes, well, they didn’t, they didn’t have it. And there was also no debating society. I really think I could’ve have benefited from that, if I had had some sort of debating training. I think that would’ve been good.
Were politics ever discussed at the dinner table? National politics, local politics?
Dupree:Not really. I think my parents were very liberal. I know they were. Everyone liked Ike and they liked Kefauver, I think. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Oh, yes. Senator Kefauver, sure.
Dupree:I think it was Ike/Kefauver, or something like that. Most of the kids at school liked Ike, but I was never really very political. I was at Berkeley in the ‘60s when there were all kinds of things going on. But remember, this is after the war. All the troops were coming home, families are gathering, you’re having a lot of children, church, families, and all that sort of thing. So that was sort of the society. I think, even when we get on Wellesley, we’ll find that I’m unusual even for my classmates in the sense of going on to graduate school and actually having a career.
DeVorkin: At that time.
Dupree:At that time. This is graduating in 1960. Very few — I mean, there are some. Diane Ravitch [Laughs] So was Ali MacGraw. I mean, I had everybody in my class. So I think Wellesley was sort of the real challenge in that there were people there who were very good, and I had to do my homework. You know, finally.
DeVorkin: How did you react to that?
Dupree:How did I react? I think I buckled down and tried to do my homework is what I did.
DeVorkin: You weren’t depressed about it?
Dupree:Yes, probably, I was a little taken aback and probably a little angry that I didn’t have the tools that I wanted to be able to do these. In some areas, I was fine. I went into an advanced mathematics class. Like I skipped the introductory or something. There was some intro class, and I sort of tested out of that. I had also tested out of the language requirement at Wellesley.
DeVorkin: Really? So you were still quite competitive.
DeVorkin: But for the first time, though, you were aware that there were other people.
Dupree:That there were other people who were just as good, sure, if not better. That’s right. And I think also Wellesley’s sciences weren’t really emphasized. The ideal was to be a well-rounded, articulate woman who has read well and so forth. I mean, I remember huge embarrassment as a freshman, sitting at the table at lunch. Someone said, “Oh, there’s a play on tonight.” “Oh, yeah. What’s the play? What’s the play that’s being done.” Well, I had seen it, and so I said, “Oh, it’s ‘Waiting for Godot.’” (Pronounced “God-it”) [Laughs] Oops! [Laughs]
DeVorkin: That’s wonderful. Of course, you could say that as a joke.
Dupree:Well, I didn’t say it as a joke, you see. So clearly, my literature background wasn’t as strong as theirs.
DeVorkin: But you had some language instruction? What foreign languages did you take?
Dupree:I had five years of language. I had three years of French and two years of Latin in high school. It’s just that we had read Sartre. We hadn’t read “Waiting for Godot.” [Laughs] —
DeVorkin: That’s great.
Dupree:I tested out of the requirement. They had a requirement that you test at a certain level if your SAT scores… or something, and obviously I had passed that, so I didn’t have to take a language at Wellesley.
DeVorkin: You entered Wellesley in…?
Dupree:Fall of ’56 until ‘60. Right. ’56, ’57, ’58, ’59. Yes, sir.
DeVorkin: Any focus at this point? Any focus in your interests?
Dupree:Oh, yes. I loved astronomy. I came onto astronomy by complete accident. This is my standard story, which I will relate, which is that, in the summer before entering, we were asked to make a selection of courses so they know how many instructors to have and sections to have and things like that.
DeVorkin: So, in your graduating summer of high school…
Dupree:’56. Right. After I graduated and I had said, “Yes, I’m going to Wellesley,” they sent you, in August, a big package saying, “Okay, what courses are you going to take?”
DeVorkin: There was not a rigid, required curriculum?
Dupree:No, we had a distribution requirement. This is a liberal arts school. You didn’t have to declare a major until, I believe, the end of your sophomore year. You had distribution. There were categories of courses. Division 1, I think, was English and languages, and Division 2 might have been economics and social studies, and Division 3 were sciences, including a lab science. And before you finished Wellesley, you had to have fulfilled these distribution requirements — so many courses at so many levels in these various areas. I thought, “Well, okay, I’ll start with a laboratory science.” I looked at what was offered, and my goal in college was to explore things and to learn things that I don’t know and that I didn’t know. And I looked at the lab courses and I thought, “Well, you know, I had chemistry and I had biology and I had zoology and I had physics, so I want something completely different.” I mean, why not? And the two things that I knew nothing about were geology and astronomy. I flipped a coin and it came out astronomy, so I said, “Okay, I’ll take astronomy.” [Laughs] But yet it turned out that it was really a perfect combination of everything that I liked. In other words, it had mathematics in it, it had physics in it, and yet it was real. You could see a star. Well, mathematics, I like mathematics because there were answers. You could work on problems. It was very clean. I liked that much better than writing history papers or English papers. Physics I liked too because you could do the problem. I mean, here’s the answer to the problem, and you know that you’ve got it. You’ve got the bottom line. You know you’ve got the answer. But something like English or history? You’re never finished. You never know if you have the right answer or the right interpretation.
DeVorkin: Only too true.
Dupree:Yeah. I knew the sciences I liked, and so I thought, “Well, I’ll try either astronomy or geology.” I’m sure I would’ve been a geologist if the coin had ended up heads instead of tails.
DeVorkin: Do you think it was that determinate at that time?
Dupree:Well, no. I took it out of complete intellectual interest. “This is going to be fun.” And I wanted to take it and see what it was about. But it turned out, as I said, that it had mathematics in it, it had physics in it, it was real, and it was also a very small department. It was a wonderful department, and there was a very influential teacher there: Sally [Sarah] Hill. Very influential teacher who thought everyone could do anything. You could do the sciences. She supported all her women, and her women were her charges. She watched out for them and helped them and took care of them. She used to drive us into the Harvard colloquia on Thursday afternoons from Wellesley. We’d come in if there was an interesting colloquium. She’d take her car, and we’d get in the car, and we’d come in and come to the colloquium. And also to the observatory. It was really nice. Whitin Observatory at Wellesley was isolated, all by itself, and there was this wonderful study room in the library where they’d build a fire in the afternoon, and there was a round table, and you could sit there in the snow and do your homework and check your reference books if you needed to do that. It was just very nice and a very comfortable, intimate feeling. It was fun. And it was also a perfect combination of things that I liked. I actually sort of minored in physics. I toyed between being a physics major or an astronomy major and went back and forth. I took enough courses to qualify as a physics major, but I chose to do astronomy because it was just more interesting. I did a senior honors thesis in that and everything.
DeVorkin: Did you ever take any geology?
Dupree:No. Never went back. No, I never went back to try it. I took astronomy, I liked that, and then I explored other things. I took Russian, lots of Russian. Well, I knew that in graduate school, you had to have two languages at that time. So I started studying Russian, loved that, and really learned because I had learned how to study by that time, and we had a language laboratory. And right before my Russian class, I wouldn’t eat lunch, and I would spend an hour in the language lab so that I would get my ears attuned to hearing Russian and my tongue around all those long, complicated verbs and words. So then I would blow into Russian class, and I was already in Russia and could speak. So I did very well in Russian. Loved it. Thought it was good.
DeVorkin: You mentioned that you learned how to study. What do you mean?
Dupree:Well, I learned how to be organized. I thought this was the first time I had to study when I went to college. It was really the first time, and so you figure out ways of dealing with it.
DeVorkin: Was there somebody who helped you?
Dupree:No. You just did it by yourself.
DeVorkin: You didn’t come home on a weekend to your mom or dad and say, “What the heck do I do?”
Dupree:No, no. I didn’t know. I learned about the language lab and then discovered that that was just wonderful, at least for English. The other area that I explored was music. I started taking a lot of music courses. I even went back to piano lessons and started taking piano lessons. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: I forgot to ask you about music.
Dupree:Oh, yes. I had music when I was growing up. I used to play the piano and had the usual piano lessons. And ballet.
DeVorkin: Did your family have a piano?
Dupree:Oh, yes. We had a piano. That was one of the things my mother wanted to give me when I had a child, so I have a Steinway sitting at home, completely out of tune. A grand. Out of tune. [Laughs]
And we’d all play Christmas carols on it. [Laughs] That’s about the limit of the piano, but yes. I had piano lessons. I was a ballerina. Even through junior high, I would go to the Boston Conservatory for ballet lessons and do that once a week or twice a week for ballet.
DeVorkin: Did you take yourself to these places? Or did your parents?
Dupree:I did it myself. My mother was working, so I would take the subway because, you see, from Quincy, you could get on the bus and then get on the red line and then go wherever you needed to go.
DeVorkin: And this was perfectly acceptable at the time.
Dupree:Sure. How old was I? 12? 13? Yes, perfectly acceptable. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Okay. Sputnik went up when you were at Wellesley.
Dupree:That’s right. That really didn’t influence whether I was going to go into science or not go into science. I was considered an expert, and I led many trips to the roof of the dormitory to point it out as it went over and talk about it and things like that because we were told in class when and where it would appear, you know.
DeVorkin: Did you learn the sky?
Dupree:Sort of. We had to for Astronomy 101, the elementary course. In other words, you had to learn. Now I can find Orion and I can find Cassiopeia and a few others. Leo. I know the Leo constellation pretty well. And now that I go to Chile a lot, I learned how to look upside-down and I see Orion upside-down. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: But that isn’t what fascinates you, I take it.
Dupree:No, no. What fascinated me was that you could understand something at a distance. I’m a spectroscopist, and what really fascinates me is the physics that you can pull out of light and what you can understand. I mean, I don’t like taking pictures. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a spectrum is worth a thousand pictures, you see.
DeVorkin: Oh, it is.
Dupree:It is. That’s right.
DeVorkin: It’s an infinite number of pictures.
Dupree:Oh, that’s right. This is how you find out what it’s made of and how hot it is and how cold it is and how fast it’s moving and what its history was. You know, everything. So I’ve always been fascinated by spectra. That’s what I guess appealed to me in some sense about astronomy: how amazing it was that you could look at something at a distance and then figure out so many things about it. I really liked that. I thought that was very exciting.
DeVorkin: Did any of that come from Sarah Hill or from any of your colleagues?
Dupree:Well, she was very encouraging. She and also a physics teacher. There was a marvelous physics teacher named Janet Guernsey. She just died. She was a physics teacher who had four or five children and lived on this very elaborate farm in Wellesley. She got her degree at MIT when she was a mother because she had a small child that she would always put down in the middle of the Van de Graaff generator to pull out a pair of pliers that dropped in the middle or something.
DeVorkin: She did what? Wait a minute. She used her kid as a pair of pliers?
Dupree:Yeah. Well, she was working on a Van de Graaff generator. I guess there were some times when things would fall down in the middle of the Van de Graaff. It was a narrow space. My husband was a physics student then, and said they were always amazed by Janet. She’d come in and she’d have her children in tow. And a couple of times, she tied a rope around a kid and put him down in the middle of the Van de Graaff generator to pull up something that dropped at the bottom.
DeVorkin: And these kids loved it, I take it?
Dupree:The kids loved it. I don’t know. [Laughter]
DeVorkin: Okay. Great story.
Dupree:Yes — It wasn’t that they consciously said, “Oh, go ahead. You do this. You can do this.” They didn’t doubt you. There was a real revelation to me — jump a little bit ahead now — when I was graduating, and I was nominated for a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. These have since gone out of existence, but in those days, they were big events.
DeVorkin: That was a big deal.
Dupree:It was a big deal. You could pick any graduate school in the country, provided they would let you in, and they would not only pay all your tuition, all your expenses, all your everything, plus they’d give money to the school. You just had to be interested in college teaching. So I made the short list, I guess, when I was called in for an interview at the Harvard Faculty Club — and I remember this distinctly — and walked into the room, which had books all over the walls and dark beam ceilings and oriental rugs on the floor. Everybody was in Harvard chairs, and all these men were sitting around, asking me questions.
DeVorkin: All men?
Dupree:All men. They were asking me questions. I remember one question was, “What is a strange particle?” Well, I had been taking nuclear physics, so I could say, “Well, a strange particle is anything other than a neutron, a proton, an electron,” or something, and anything else was strange. Another question was, “Who is C.P. Snow?” And there I thought to myself, “Bingo,” because — and I’m sure this is what inspired them — the previous week, the New York Times book review had had a review of C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures. And I had read it. I mean, talk about luck. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: You’d already read it.
Dupree:I read the review. You don’t have to read the book sometimes; you just read the book review. And I read the book review that Sunday, because I guess I had subscribed to the Times. So, I knew who C.P. Snow was. Man, could I talk about C.P. Snow. I could really check that one off. So then after they went through various questions like that, they said, “How do we know you’re really going to go on and do this teaching? How do we know that?”
DeVorkin: Do you know who was asking these questions? Were these people known to you?
Dupree:No. I think they were faculty.
DeVorkin: Or since then?
Dupree:No, no, I have no idea who they were. I think they were faculty. They were faculty from the area. Yeah, I don’t know who they were. But then I remember they said to me, “How do we know you’re really going to go ahead and do this? How do we know you’re serious about this?” I’m still flabbergasted when I think about it. My mouth dropped. Nobody in 15 years of education had ever said, “How do we know you’re serious?” No one had ever said that, and I didn’t know what to say. I was really speechless, and I’m still now speechless about it. I remember the first thing that came to my mind, which was, “Well, I’m certainly not going to sit home and raise African violets.” That’s all I could think of as sort of a complete, sit-home-and-bake-cookies kind of example. It was like, “sit home and raise African violets.” Why that came to my mind is beyond me.
DeVorkin: To carry this beyond implication, though, what was going on in your mind? Did you think that they asked you that because you’re a woman?
DeVorkin: That wasn’t a standard question that they would ask anyone?
Dupree:Well, no, I don’t know. The thing that bothered me was, no one had ever asked me if I was serious about what I was doing.
DeVorkin: How about your parents?
Dupree:No, my mother always believed and my father would say, “Oh, you’re going to major in astronomy? How are you going to make a living?” [Laughs]
But he didn’t say, “Oh, don’t get a job. Go look for a husband who will then support you.”
DeVorkin: He didn’t say that.
Dupree:He didn’t say that, no. And I didn’t say that. He just questioned, in some sense, the choice of astronomy. “How are you going to make a living in astronomy?”
DeVorkin: In terms of how anybody could make a living.
Dupree:Well, I don’t know. It was, “How are you going to make a living?” He didn’t say, “How does anybody make a living?” He was talking to his daughter.
DeVorkin: And what did you say to him at that time?
Dupree:I frankly don’t remember. I probably said, “Oh, I don’t know. Something will happen.” I don’t remember what I said.
DeVorkin: Did your mom say that sort of thing to you?
Dupree:Oh, no. My mother was very much career-focused. You know, you should do something. You should always make sure that you have something “to fall back on.” But she never really talked about it. I just had this innate feeling that, yes, of course I’m going to go to college and of course I’m going to go do something, and I’m going to do something that interests me. And this is what interests me. I’ll worry about whatever comes next, next. [Laughs] I didn’t plan ahead.
DeVorkin: The general feeling about astronomy, I’m sure, in the ‘50s — and I received the same thing from my parents — was that if you’re an engineer or if you’re a doctor or a lawyer or a dentist, okay, you’ve got a job. But astronomer? Ehh…
Dupree:That’s right. Well that’s why we notice here that, in astronomy here at Harvard, the students that you see tend not to be first-generation college students. In other words, these people go to be lawyers, doctors, dentists, whatever. Engineers. But it’s only when you get to the next generation where they don’t have to “think about a job” or maybe — There are jobs, and they know about them, and they tend to be astronomy majors.
Going back to this question of the Woodrow Wilson Committee, I guess I was flabbergasted because no one had not believed what I said. I mean, at Wellesley, if I said I was going to graduate school, they wouldn’t say, “How do we know you’re really going to graduate school?” No one ever said that.
DeVorkin: There was never that issue.
Dupree:There was never that issue.
DeVorkin: So you took this question during the Wilson interview personally. You took it very personally.
Dupree:I took it very personally. Oh, yes. Why would they say, “We don’t believe you”? Wait a minute. Are you telling the — I didn’t raise my hand, “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
DeVorkin: But today, let’s say hypothetically you’re a young woman applying for something equivalent to the Wilson, and somebody were to ask that question of you today. That would be considered…
Dupree:Oh, that’s a bad question.
DeVorkin: Absolutely a bad question.
But it was not considered a bad question at the time?
Dupree:It was not considered a bad question then, or at least to these people. I don’t know. Did they ask the men? I got the Wilson, by the way. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Yes, of course you did. Yes.
Dupree:But yeah, did they ask that to the men? I don’t know.
DeVorkin: Okay. It’s an interesting thing to just consider. Something prompted the guy to say that.
Dupree:That’s right. You know, I don’t know, but I also suspect — I often felt that I don’t always look the part of an astronomer. In other words, I didn’t go in dressed in blue jeans. I’ve always worn lipstick. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: But that’s not the case for the ‘50s or the ‘60s. Or the early ‘60s.
DeVorkin: Have you always felt that you didn’t fit the model of being an astronomer?
DeVorkin: “You mean the drum majorette became an astronomer?”
Dupree:The drum majorette, yes. I never told anyone but you. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: You’re kidding.
Dupree:No, I’m not.
DeVorkin: Was it an inner conflict with you?
Dupree:No, I enjoyed it. I felt that it’s like the equivalent of being a cheerleader. Maybe it’s worse. I don’t know. It’s something you don’t go around saying. The first thing they say to many people who are astronomers, young men, “What is the first thing you did?” “Well, I ground my own telescope lens.” I never ground a telescope lens, okay?
DeVorkin: Yeah, and you never joined any amateur clubs, I take it.
Dupree:I never joined any amateur club. There probably was one, but I never knew about it.
DeVorkin: Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston?
Dupree:I’m sure they were around, but I didn’t know in high school. I didn’t know that I wanted to do that. I didn’t really think about that.
DeVorkin: When Sarah Hill took you to Harvard for colloquia that she felt would be accessible to all of you, do you remember any of them?
Dupree:No. [Laughs] But I do remember conversations going back and forth in the car, which is really interesting. I don’t remember who gave the colloquia.
DeVorkin: Did she ever say to everybody in the car, let’s say, you know, look for this person, look for that person.
Dupree:No, but remember, at Wellesley, they did something wonderful. They brought in a lot of people at that time to give talks, and they would have the students sit with them. Two people I remember vividly: One was Allan Sandage. He had just gotten his degree, I think. He was sort of in his mid-30s or something. He gave a talk on, I don’t remember, globular clusters or something.
DeVorkin: Or stellar evolution?
Dupree:Stellar evolution or something, yes. And we got to have dinner with him and sit next to him and things like that. Another was Hans Bethe. And the other one was Phil Morrison. So they would bring out these people, and then there would be four or five people who’d go out to dinner with them, or they’d have dinner somewhere with them. You would really get a chance to see these people and hear them, and they would spend time with you. Oh, and Otto Struve. Otto Struve was the one who sort of gave me a suggestion for my research exam when I was doing my senior research exam.
DeVorkin: You did the exam, not a thesis?
Dupree:Oh, I did a thesis. Excuse me. Senior honors thesis. That’s what it was called.
DeVorkin: What was the topic?
Dupree:It was on W Ursa Majoris stars. I didn’t know what I was doing. It really wasn’t very good. If I were to criticize Sally Hill, I’m not sure how good a scientist she was. In some ways, looking back on it, I’m not sure it was worth spending a year doing it because I look back on it now — and I don’t even know if I have a copy anywhere — and I wasn’t doing anything. I was sort of plotting up various color changes or something and trying to figure I don’t know what out. But I look at the research experience that our students have now, and I think it’s much more focused and well defined.
DeVorkin: You mean as a senior thesis?
Dupree:As a senior thesis, yes.
They’re contact binary stars. Ursa Majoris stars.
They’re F and G and K stars, and they’re contact binaries. I’ve since published papers on them, looking at them in X-rays and things like that. They have enormous dynamo action. They have a lot of X-ray mass transfer.
DeVorkin: Mass transfer. All sorts of crazy things going on.
Spots, magnetic fields… you know, you name it.
Dupree:Yeah, maybe novae. You’ve got it.
DeVorkin: Well, of course, Struve was doing close binary stars.
DeVorkin: And he suggests this to you? These are very complex systems.
Dupree:Yes, I know, and I didn’t do much. I suppose, in a way, I could’ve been faulted that I should’ve written to him afterwards and said, “Okay, I’ve done this and this. What should I do next?” [Laughter] And Sally Hill didn’t… she really didn’t give me any guidance. I can’t even remember what I was trying to do.
DeVorkin: You call her “Sally”; I’ve heard “Sarah” also.
Dupree:Sarah Hill, yes. She called herself Sally Hill, but it’s Sarah Hill.
DeVorkin: Who were some of the other classmates of yours?
Dupree:At Wellesley, Anne Pyne Cowley. She was older than I. Marion Talbot. Now, Marion Talbot went on to become an editor. She was an editor at the AJ. I think you see her on the front of the AJ in the late 1960s. [Assistant Editor after September 1958]
She came from Maine, and she was a very opinionated lady, and she stole Ed Lilly away from his first wife. [Laughter]
Dupree:You don’t want that here. [Laughs]
She went to Yale as an editor of the AJ, assistant editor or something, because Rupert Wildt, I think, was the editor of the AJ at that time. What else did she do? She then married. [Laughs] Ed Lilly divorced his first wife and married her. Well, there were other issues going on, but anyway. So then Ed Lilly and Marion came here.
DeVorkin: So Sarah Heap was a year or so behind you.
Dupree:A year or so behind me, I think, there. Yeah, that’s right. I’m trying to think who else, who in my class. I know there were two of us majoring, and the gal didn’t go on in astronomy. Sarah Hill also encouraged us to do summer jobs and summer things. Joan Seares was another woman. She was ahead of me several years. She died of breast cancer a number of years ago. But Sally Hill would encourage us to go get summer jobs in astronomy and sort of pave the way. There were no RU programs or summer programs or anything, so I one was one of Dorrit Hoffleit’s people at Maria Mitchell in…oh, gosh. This would’ve been after my sophomore year, I think. I was a summer student with Margot Friedel, who then became Margot Aller, who married Hugh Aller — Lawrence Aller’s son. [Laughs] And she’s at Michigan now. She’s, I think, on the research staff at Michigan.
Dupree:And then Margot and I, the next summer, between junior and senior year, both applied on a lark to go to Herstmonceux. The Royal Greenwich Observatory had a program, and Joan Seares had done it several years before. So we became the second and third Americans and the second and third women to go to that. What’s fun there is, during that summer, our class — and I have all these crazy pictures — included David Lambert, who is now the chairman of the department at the University of Texas at Austin. R. R. Shobrook, who still publishes, and I worked with Olin Eggen.
Doing stuff on hand calculators. He was doing space motions up in clusters, I think. It’s funny, because a lot of these early things, where I had these research problems, I don’t really remember any motivation of why we were doing them. Well, at Wellesley, and also this Herstmonceux thing. I remember more about Maria Mitchell, where I observed RS Ophiuchi and gave a paper about it. RS Ophiuchi just exploded again. [Laughs] And I thought, “Hey! I did that back in 1957.” God, 50 years ago. Oh, my goodness. [Laughs] It’s really something.
DeVorkin: But it’s an interesting point you’re making here although I’m not sure you’re making it, so I want to amplify it a little bit — is that in the case of the traditional role of training women at places like Wellesley, you were to acquire certain techniques: computational techniques, data reduction techniques, that sort of thing. Were you, in fact, still in that kind of mode? You really weren’t solving specific problems.
Dupree:You were learning a technique, but some of them were useless. We had a whole course, I remember, in transit astronomy. [Laughs] Because we had a transit telescope. And so you had to figure out the time and the date of the transit, and then you had to measure it and all that stuff. I think it was being done at the Royal Greenwich Observatory when I was there for the summer.
And then I remember running my first computer program, doing a least squares solution, which was just amazing. Suddenly, all those numbers would come out. [Laughs] We first had to do it by hand. Had it do it all numerically with a hand calculator. It was an adding machine.
DeVorkin: But did you have a sense that you were being trained for an independent career or for a subordinate career?
Dupree:Hard to say.
DeVorkin: Some cases, as you say, it could be Sarah Hill’s own limitations, but there could also be a tradition here.
Dupree:Yeah. Like the women computers at the Harvard College Observatory, yes.
DeVorkin: That’s my point. I’m thinking of Carolyn Furness, if you know that name.
Dupree:Right. I think it was more, you know, “You may be teaching someday, too.” More in the sense of, “You’d be a teacher.” You see, we didn’t know or I wasn’t aware of jobs like the one I have now, which is the best-kept secret in the world at the Smithsonian, where, oh, I don’t have to teach. I can do research all the time. I have reasonably adequate funding. [Interviewer snickers] No, I’m serious. I’m serious. My contemporaries, who got Ph.D.s and then went immediately into teaching — because that’s what you did, you became an assistant professor or an associate professor. You worked your way through. They’re all taking early retirement. They’re out of here. No, I think it was more like, “Well, you could be a teacher like me.”
DeVorkin: This was Sally Hill saying this.
Dupree:Sally Hill, yes. I mean, we didn’t think of the other jobs. See, nowadays, the times are so different because now you start thinking, “Okay, I’m planning. What can I do? What are the options available? If I get this degree, what can I do?”
DeVorkin: Exactly. You have to do that.
Dupree:You have to do that. Well, see, the other thing I remember is I think women at that time; we could always bail out and get married. It was perfectly acceptable not to go to graduate school. As a matter of fact, most of my colleagues did not go to graduate school. They were married. I mean, some of them were married junior year. Some of them were married senior year.
DeVorkin: Oh, really?
Dupree:Oh, yeah, senior year. Some of them commuted. Some of them got pregnant. They were married right after. I mean, the summer after we graduated, I think I spent the whole summer going to weddings. Everybody was getting married.
DeVorkin: What about you? Did you have any interest? Did you have any boyfriends in high school?
Dupree:Oh, yeah. [Laughs] Yes. I had lots of boyfriends in high school. I had several infamous things. But, no, that was fine. I had boyfriends in high school. There were a lot of blind dates and things like that that you’d get set up with. The Harvard hockey players. The Dartmouth football players. [Laughs] You know. Things like that.
DeVorkin: I have to go back. You were the drum majorette. And with all that, thereto pertaining.
Dupree:That’s right. All that, thereto pertaining. That’s right. [Chuckles] Lots of parties. Lots of things.
DeVorkin: So you were definitely in the social mix.
Dupree:Yeah, but times were different. There was no liquor. We didn’t drink. There were no drugs. I never smoked. I mean, I’ve never smoked, but some of the “bad” kids would go behind the high school and smoke. But I never smoked.
DeVorkin: So, smoking was the bad thing.
Dupree:Smoking was the bad thing, yes. I mean, sex, there was no sex. If anything, women were scared to death they’d get pregnant. As far as I know, there was kind of fooling around in the back, necking. Or you’d go parking. “Parking.” That was the word. In college, I had met my to-be husband in my sophomore year, and then we sort of dated on and off and on and off.
DeVorkin: Where was he going to school?
Dupree:He was a graduate student at MIT. He had graduated from MIT, but I didn’t know him. He had gone to Berkeley, and then he’d come back, and he was a graduate student in theoretical physics at MIT. And I had met him at a mixer at Wellesley.
DeVorkin: What’s his full name?
Dupree:Thomas Henderson Dupree. So I took his name. That’s what we did in those days.
DeVorkin: Sure. His family was in the Boston area?
Dupree:No, no. His family’s from the South. He came from Tennessee. Tennessee and Florida and New Orleans and stuff like that. Louisiana. It was Baton Rouge, actually. But then he went on, and when he graduated — Let’s see. He got his Ph.D. the year that I graduated from college. That’s right. He got his Ph.D. He’s six years older than I am. He received his Ph.D., and then he went into an assistant professorship at MIT and just went roaring right up through the tenure track. Those were the days. And that’s why, referring back to my colleagues, that a lot of them, even in ’68, when I got my degree from Harvard, they went to universities as assistant professors, but many of them get into a very tight — So, I had met him as a sophomore.
DeVorkin: How did you meet him?
Dupree:At a mixer. I had come in from a date. This is a long family story, an old family story. I had been out with this great guy from Dartmouth, and he had an MG, and the top was down. He wanted to take me for a ride for breakfast or lunch or something, but then he had to get back to Dartmouth, but he insisted on leaving the top down. It was freezing. It was late October — it was cold. I was so cold, I couldn’t believe it. I remember coming out of the car and — I don’t even remember this guy’s name. I don’t think I ever saw him again, so I can’t even recreate it. But I walked into the dorm, and there was a mixer going on. They would have these things on Sunday afternoon. They’d have teas and they’d invite out various fraternities from MIT or whatever, and they’d have tea and coffee or something. I was so cold, so I went into the mixer. Normally freshmen go to the mixers, but not necessarily sophomores and never juniors, because by that time, if you hadn’t found a guy, you didn’t want to show up at a mixer. I mean, that was bad form, see.
DeVorkin: But you were a sophomore.
Dupree:But I was a sophomore, so it was kind of still okay. And anyway, I was cold, so I went in.
DeVorkin: Just wandered in.
Dupree:I just wandered in. Got a cup of tea and ran into him and a friend of his, who I had still known and I know now. We see each other, or our families exchange dinners when we’re on the east and west coast. Yeah, so that’s where I met him. I insisted that he walk right by me three times before he came over to say hello, and he didn’t really pick me out of the crowd as someone to date. So, somehow, he called a friend and got my name and called and asked me if I wanted to go out, so we used to go out it. I loved it because he would take me out for a really great dinner. It was much better than dorm food. [Laughs] He was a graduate student.
I guess that was his one nice dinner as well of the week.
DeVorkin: That’s the way to do it.
Dupree:So that was the way to do it. That was great. I loved that. So we sort of dated on again and off again, and then finally, when I was a senior, it was sort of like, yeah, it was probably getting serious, but he hadn’t asked to marry him, and I wanted to go to graduate school, so, okay, I’ll go to Berkeley. So, bye-bye. So I’m going to Berkeley. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: How did you choose Berkeley?
Dupree:How did I choose Berkeley? First of all, I wrote to Princeton. Women couldn’t get into Princeton in 1961. They sent me back a postcard that said either, “We do not have a school of animal husbandry,” or “We do not accept women.” So, the normal places you think about were Harvard. Well, Harvard wasn’t that good a department at that point because they hadn’t gotten Leo Goldberg. They brought in Leo Goldberg and Bill Liller, but the department was sort of not so good at that time. And I think I kind of wanted to get away. I mean, why stay here? Here’s my chance. I can go anywhere I want.
DeVorkin: Did you know about Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin? Was she of any interest?
Dupree:No. She turned me off. It’s funny; people talk about how she inspired them and all this sort of thing. Well, when I would run across her, she was an old, fat, unappealing, unkempt woman who smoked and who looked totally unappealing. Maybe she was brilliant, but her appearance and demeanor would just turn me off completely. I mean, I never had a course from her. I did talk to her subsequently about supervising a master’s thesis, but that’s sort of getting into another long story.
DeVorkin: You weren’t doing variable stars, but you had worked with Dorrit Hoffleit. What did you think of Dorrit, by the way?
Dupree:I think Dorrit meant very well. Again, I felt at the time that we were learning old stuff. That’s what really bothered me.
Well, this was 1958. We were doing photographic plates and doing variable star fields.
I now learned, in the dark, how to fend off the mosquitoes and tell which side of the plate the emulsion was on. Either put your tongue on one side or the other in the dark, and then you make sure you get it down like that. Then you put it down and whatever and you go take your pictures.
DeVorkin: You don’t have to lick it. [Laughter] You could feel it.
Dupree:Maybe there are other ways of telling. I don’t know. We learned how to lick them. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: But that’s one of the techniques. That’s true.
Dupree:Yeah. So, I think her heart was in the right place. And she was really a pioneer in terms of summer programs for students. That was the only thing. After my freshman year at college — this is after my sophomore year — after my freshman year, I had signed up for a job and had gotten a job at the Quincy Shipyard in the Long Lines Department.
DeVorkin: Long Lines?
Dupree:It was called the Long Lines Department, and I was going to be doing mathematics and all of this stuff. There was even a bus that would pick us up in Quincy Center and take us to the shipyard. For a summer job for a kid, this was fantastic. It paid something enormous. The day before I was to start, I got a call from the Personnel Department at the shipyard saying, “How old are you?” And I said, “I’m 17,” or something. I can’t remember how old I was. I must’ve been 17. I wouldn’t be 18 until the fall. You couldn’t work at the shipyard unless you were over 18, so they said, “I’m so sorry. We didn’t think to ask how old you were…” So here, the day before… [Laughs] The day before, I just didn’t have the summer job. My mother then put me to work at the Brigham in the laboratory and working on carrying blood around or being a gopher, a volunteer, or something. So at least I could go in with her in the morning and have something to do. But how do you get a job the very next day?
DeVorkin: Yeah, that’s rough.
Dupree:It was really rough.
DeVorkin: That’s really too bad.
Dupree:Yeah, that was too. So I don’t know what I would have done. I have no idea. Never got there, never did that. So, anyway, where are we?
Dupree:We’re at Berkeley. Okay, so I went to Berkeley. Why’d I go?
DeVorkin: Not Harvard, but what was it about Berkeley?
Dupree:Not Harvard. I couldn’t go to Princeton. I thought about Caltech, but I had gone to Caltech, and I couldn’t wear contact lenses. The smog was so bad that the contact lenses were just a real issue. This might sound trivial, but, you know, at this time in Pasadena, it was like, that was going to be really, really bad. So I applied to Berkeley and I applied to Michigan. Can’t remember if I applied anywhere else, I don’t think that I did. I got into Michigan, but they kept calling me about going and going. And somehow, Berkeley, you know, San Francisco, Berkeley is a nifty place to go.
DeVorkin: What about anybody who you would study with?
Dupree:I didn’t think about that. I don’t know. I didn’t think about that.
DeVorkin: Struve was gone.
Dupree:Struve was gone, yes. I don’t know. I didn’t think about that. You’re just thinking about: you want a graduate school that’s got a lot of faculty that can do various things. Maybe Sally Hill had said Struve’s legacy or something would be there.
DeVorkin: You’ve got Ivan King, Hy Spinrad, people like that. You’ve got Lick Observatory.
Dupree:Yes, and I had this horrible guy who was the chairman of the department.
Dupree:Oh, the Bohms were there. Karl-Heinz Bohm and Erika Bohm-Vitense were there. George Wallerstein was there. Oh, God, I’ve blanked on the name of the guy who had stellar evolution codes. Louis Henyey. But what happened was I had my one year to go there, and then meanwhile my husband [to be], Tom, said, “Let’s get married, let’s get married.” So I decided, all right, I’d get married and I’d transfer back to Harvard, which is what I did.
DeVorkin: So that’s why you did that.
Dupree:So that’s why I came back to Harvard. I was at Berkeley for a year.
DeVorkin: While you were at Berkeley, anything happen? Did you go to Lick? Did you get interested in observing?
Dupree:No. No, we just took courses. And I avoided the [faculty]. The interests of some of the members of the faculty who were sort of chasing me around at that point, which would be illegal today. Totally illegal. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Certainly. And unpleasant for you, no matter what.
Dupree:Totally illegal and unpleasant. That’s right.
DeVorkin: So it really was unpleasant.
Dupree:Yes. It was. But Berkeley was fun. I met a lot of colleagues there who then went on. Ann Boesgaard hadn’t come there. She came the year after.
DeVorkin: Was Nanny Lou Dieter Conklin there?
Dupree:You know, it’s funny, I don’t remember her. If she was, she was up at Hat Creek.
DeVorkin: With Harold Weaver, yes.
Dupree:Harold Weaver, Michie, Wallerstein, Henyey…
DeVorkin: Elizabeth Scott?
Dupree:I don’t remember her. Yes, she was [in] the mathematics department, so she was in another section or something like that. But I do remember the students. There’s Peter Bodenheimer. There was Bill Matthews, who was there. Len Kuhi, who was a graduate student who was ahead of me. But I left there, and the reason I remember Henyey and stuff by Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, is it was one year, so I had taken all the course requirements and I fulfilled the course requirements to get a master’s degree, but I hadn’t written a thesis. And I thought to myself, “Well, maybe it would be good to get a master’s degree.” So I talked to George Wallerstein about it because I had taken a course from him, and he said, “Oh, sure, that’s fine. We’ll set up a thesis.” Then I came back and I think I must have talked to Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, and she would supervise it. I had applied to Harvard Graduate School, too, and gotten in. That was fine. And to transfer.
So then the idea was that George Wallerstein would propose it and would supervise it, and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin would be sitting here and be advising and on and on, and then I said that I would come out three times during the year to talk with George Wallerstein about this master’s thesis because I kept thinking it would be good to have a master’s. I’ve got something from Berkeley. And Henyey vetoed it. He said, “No way. No, you can’t do that. You have to be a student. You have to be here.” Even though it didn’t say it in [the catalogue]. The way it was written in the rules of Berkeley, I could’ve done it. I went over and above, having advisers everywhere to do it and so forth, that Henyey completely nixed the thing. “No way.” And he was chairman of the department. Couldn’t be done.
DeVorkin: Would Harvard give you credit for the courses you took and stuff?
Dupree:Oh, yes. They gave me credit. So I don’t have a master’s degree. [Laughs] Normally, at Harvard, you get a master’s degree once you pay two years of tuition, but I didn’t pay two years of tuition. [Laughs] I only paid one year of tuition.
DeVorkin: That’s interesting. So when your husband-to-be proposed marriage to you, there was no question that he wouldn’t [move]. He could move to Berkeley, couldn’t he?
Dupree:Well, no, because he was an assistant professor here.
DeVorkin: So, the graduate student can shift.
Dupree:Can shift. That’s right.
DeVorkin: Not the assistant professor.
Dupree:Not the assistant professor, yes. And I was perfectly willing to come back to Harvard. The East was home. That was fine. It’s funny; I didn’t say, “Oh, yes, I’m studying with so and so and this is what I want to do and these are the resources.” I guess I just didn’t plan very well. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: But the impression you had of Harvard initially was that it really wasn’t where you wanted to go.
Dupree:But Harvard had changed. You see.
And I knew that, yes. Goldberg and Liller had come.
DeVorkin: Was that a big deal?
Dupree:That was considered to be a big deal. Goldberg was considered to be a coup to bring him back because he also came with this big satellite program. And that was considered to be a coup. Liller would spend his time here insisting that he was not part a package deal, and he came here independently, and Leo didn’t bring him here or something like that because there was some questions scuttled that lasted over the years about, “How come they got Liller? Why Liller? What did Liller have? Was he really the best in the world?” You know, that kind of thing. But I don’t know anything about the negotiations or anything at all about that. See, I was very much on the periphery in terms of what was really going on. I read that book about giant telescopes [Patrick McCray, Giant Telescopes] and realized, “Oh, my goodness, look at all this.” I can tell you bits and pieces that I could see and things that I had heard from Leo because Leo was my thesis adviser.
DeVorkin: But that didn’t happen all at once.
Dupree:No, no. I was married in July of ’61. I came here the fall of ’61 as a graduate student. I transferred in all my courses from Berkeley, so I got credit for one year of tuition.
DeVorkin: So you didn’t really lose any time, as far as that’s concerned.
Dupree:No. That’s right.
DeVorkin: Did you feel like you were on a track by then?
Dupree:Well, yes and no. I had a big issue with the department and also with Radcliffe, because I came into Radcliffe, actually. At that time, it was still Radcliffe. It was only in ’62 or ’63 that they became Harvard University.
DeVorkin: Even at the grad level?
Dupree:Yes. I came in at Radcliffe. You have to look when they changed over, but I think it was ’63 or something. Sort of in the middle of it that it became Harvard. I came here and registered in the Radcliffe Graduate School. I remember my husband insisted that I don’t take four full courses full-time because I was going to be a wife as well as being a graduate student.
DeVorkin: Now, this is an issue. Was this an issue for you?
Dupree:Yes, it was somewhat of an issue, but then I thought, “Isn’t that nice? He loves me. I’m going to be a wife. Isn’t that wonderful?” I look back at some of the letters I wrote and I cringe. You know how you do. You’re in love, you’re 20 years old, and you think, “Oh, my goodness,” and all these things.
DeVorkin: The important thing is you kept the letters.
Dupree:Yes. Oh, yeah, we’ve got the letters. I’ve got the letters.
DeVorkin: And the letters are going to go along with your papers…?
Dupree:My papers? Are you kidding? I’m going to burn them. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: No, no, you’re not going to do that.
Dupree:You see, I’m at the generation which was very much home and staying home, being a mother kind of thing. And I am, in some sense, an anomaly in terms of my cohort at Wellesley. So, it was very acceptable to say, “I’m going to get married and stay home.” That was a very acceptable thing to do, to stay home and raise children and do society things. Maybe even more acceptable for Wellesley women, because Wellesley tended to come, at that time, from private schools and probably a higher socioeconomic strata. So it was very acceptable. So maybe, in some sense, I thought, “Oh, isn’t this wonderful? I’m now going to be one of them,” but I wasn’t going to quite give up on my science.
DeVorkin: So you didn’t really see them as mutually exclusive, or did you? Marriage or career.
Dupree:Oh, no. My mother did both. Janet Guernsey did both. She had kids and that, so it didn’t occur to me that I couldn’t do both.
DeVorkin: So that was your model. That’s was what you were figuring, one way or another, you were going to do with that.
Dupree:Yes I mean, it didn’t seem like a challenge. It wasn’t something that I thought was, “Oh, I couldn’t do this.” This is just what you did. Nowadays, people agonize and there’s all this angst, and I go to these women’s meetings, and we talk about, “Can you do this? Can you balance? Can you do this?” I just never thought about it. I just did it because that’s what I wanted to do, and so I did it. And I never thought it couldn’t be done.
DeVorkin: Did you ever discuss with your husband, though, the fact that you had these things to consider yourself with or to do, and he didn’t.
Dupree:Well, no. He’s always been, to some extent, very supportive of this. And at times, I think it was always, “Well, you can entertain yourself. You can do it if that’s what you’re going to do.” You know. Not “entertain yourself,” but “That’s fine. You can do it. But when push comes to shove…” Like, you made the point that an assistant professor couldn’t move, but a graduate student could move. Whenever you have sort of an equity there, you always, for logical reasons, say, “Okay, this is what I’m going to do. I would move to Harvard.” I don’t think I had a problem moving to Harvard. This would bring me closer to home.
DeVorkin: But for your husband-to-be, did he say this before you were married or after you were married that you shouldn’t take four courses?
Dupree:I think after we were married. I think more like “Don’t take four courses. Why do you want to do it? I’ll pay your tuition. You don’t have to teach. You don’t have to be a research assistant. Why don’t you take the time to get used to being a wife?” kind of thing, and take two courses.
DeVorkin: Okay. I see.
Dupree:Yes. I have a lady coming at 12:30 to talk. I have this program I’m supposed to be running, so maybe we should break now. Is this a good time to break?
DeVorkin: Okay. We were talking about a meeting in 1989 or ’90 of the American Astronomical Society. My guess is it was January of ’90.
Dupree:You could be right.
We can figure it out, because every four years the AAS meets in Washington. I was chair of the Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy, which is a presidential committee that Don Osterbrock had appointed me to. I had been the chair under John Bahcall as well, who I think preceded Don as president. So, the vice president was chairman of the National Space Council. Even though many of us didn’t believe in his policies, on the National Space Council was Pete Worden, who used to be an astronomer. He’s now director at Ames. I recall that he called me to see whether we would entertain the idea of Dan Quayle, as chairman of the National Space Council, speaking at our meeting. CAPP thought it was a good idea, so we invited him, and he arrived. The president of the Society at the time, Don Osterbrock, did not agree with Quayle’s philosophy and did not want to be in the same room with the gentleman who was vice president of the United States, and so he left and left it to me to introduce and everything.
DeVorkin: So that’s explains why you’re front and center.
Dupree:That’s why I was front and center on that one. That’s right. I was the introducer and everything. But the funny part was he wrote a speech, which we had seen earlier copies of, but it was delivered like a political speech, and the Washington Post reported it. I remember very painfully, because Dan Quayle stood up there, and his first sentence out of his mouth was something to the effect of, “Isn’t this wonderful? Isn’t this wonderful? There is a man in space right now, orbiting the Earth right above us. Isn’t this wonderful and aren’t you proud of the United States?” And then there was a pause. It was the pause waiting for the roar of applause, which did not come. [Laughs] And everyone, it turned out, was watching me to see whether I would applaud or not. I thought, “You know, we can’t applaud that. That’s not good at all.” And I just sat there with my hands in my lap. Then he went on to the second and the third sentence, and about the third or fourth sentence, he said something like, “And science is very important. I support science.” And then I led the applause, and everybody joined in. [Laughter] The Washington Post, I think, was there, a science reporter, there was a woman who was their science reporter who reported on that, and she said that the astronomers were rather silent and sat on their hands for the first few minutes of the Vice President’s talk.
Oh, Kathy Sawyer. [She wrote: Scientists a Tough Audience for Quayle; Support for Unmanned Space Missions Proves to Be Best Applause Line Jan 11, 1990; Kathy Sawyer Washington Post] So, yes. That was really kind of funny. I do remember the security was incredible in that place. They locked the room down. They had dogs. The other thing I discovered is that stand that he’s speaking in front of —
DeVorkin: Just for the record, we’re looking at a color photograph with Dan Quayle at the podium, Andrea is in the middle, John Bahcall is to her left.
Dupree:And part of Bernie Burke is to my left.
DeVorkin: Part of Bernie Burke. Okay. And this is the AAS. I guess it was Crystal City?
Dupree:It was in Crystal City. That’s right. We had been given a great choreographed scheme of things. They had put in the podium for him, and then they had the vice presidential seal, which you can see in front of him. That seal travels with the Vice President. So two minutes before he appeared, a Secret Service person came running up — because he’s the advance guard — to place the seal on the podium in front of everyone. That indicates that the Vice President is coming. The other thing, which I didn’t know about, is that it is a bomb shelter. There is a door in that podium, and that podium is, like, lead-lined.
DeVorkin: The podium is?
Dupree:The podium. Look at it. It’s pretty big and wide, and he can crawl in there. See that?
Dupree:There’s a podium, but this part here, there’s an empty door, and it’s heavy-duty lead or whatever. If worse comes to worst, he can step behind and crawl in.
A piece of trivial information.
DeVorkin: That was a very interesting piece of information that I think reveals a lot about which astronomers are politically astute and which may admit they…
Dupree:[Laughs] I don’t know which held to their principles and which didn’t or which did. Whatever.
DeVorkin: Well, what are principles without money?
Actually, we can have you come up and give a colloquium, and that’s sort of something. It starts the ball rolling.
DeVorkin: I’d love to. We had just been talking about the significance of knowing that Goldberg and Liller had come to Harvard. You were coming back here, being married.
Dupree:Just coming back as a graduate student. Right.
DeVorkin: But looking first at your life, when were you married?
Dupree:July 1, 1961.
DeVorkin: Was there any kind of notice or anything like that in the newspaper?
Dupree:It was in the New York Times. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Okay. Good.
Dupree:Actually, there was an engagement announcement in the Times, but I don’t think the wedding was in the times. The engagement was in the Times. That was when they used to print engagements, but that was around January sometime. It was in the Times.
DeVorkin: Was there any notice of the fact that two scientists were getting married?
Dupree:I don’t think so. My local paper, the Quincy Patriot Ledger, gave me front-and-center publicity, but I don’t think it said two scientists were getting married, no.
DeVorkin: So that wasn’t an issue.
Dupree:That wasn’t an issue, no.
DeVorkin: Okay. Did you have any heart-to-heart talks with your mother or father about getting married?
DeVorkin: And this was a perfectly reasonable, rational thing to do?
Dupree:Sure it was. Oh, yes. They didn’t say, “Oh, no, don’t do it,” or they didn’t say, “Do it.” They were sort of neutral, and my husband did not ask my father for permission to marry me.
DeVorkin: Not that traditional, then.
Dupree:It wasn’t that traditional. My son actually went out of his way to ask his father-in-law about marrying the daughter of his father-in-law. So, times are changing, or did change, or changed back.
DeVorkin: They go back and forth.
Dupree:And they go back and forth. So, no he didn’t, and no I didn’t. That’s what I wanted to do, and I did it. That was that. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Okay. But then the other issue we were talking about was your husband’s, I guess, request or appeal.
Dupree:Well, not appeal. Not really. He said, you know, when it makes sense. Here you are, settling down and getting into married life and stuff, and most people do teaching in order to spend their half. Usually, if you have a half-time schedule, you teach two courses or you’re a research assistant or something like that, and then you take two courses. So, you know, “I’m going to pay your tuition.” Then it turns out he didn’t because they gave me some sort of fellowship. I think they gave me… oh, gosh, let me think. Annie Jump Cannon Fellowship? There was some sort of fellowship. Well, there was a fellowship. I got the Cannon Prize — Not the Cannon.
DeVorkin: No, that must’ve been later.
Dupree:The Bok Prize. Not the Cannon Prize.
DeVorkin: The Bok Prize came out in 1973.
Dupree:Okay. Yes. No, so they gave me some fellowship or something, and I took two courses, and that’s what I did. Then I decorated our apartment or learned how to be wife or something like that.
DeVorkin: Did you have to learn how to be a wife?
Dupree:Well, I don’t know. Does anyone have to? I mean, I had cooked by myself before, so I cooked. I cleaned an apartment. [Laughs] You know, you do all those things.
DeVorkin: Well, there’s this issue, there’s this expectation. Just a question of what the expectation was of your husband and whether you were comfortable with that, that you would anticipate his needs. Was there that kind of issue?
Dupree:Not really. Not really, no. I didn’t meet him at the door with his slippers and a martini or something like that. [Laughter] But I think, looking back on it — I was 21 and he was 26. That’s pretty young. Nowadays, that’s young. And in some ways, I think he was sort of feeling out what the relationship would be, and maybe he felt a little bit of, “Well, I’m an assistant professor now, so she doesn’t have to work as a teaching assistant or something.” I don’t know. It seemed reasonable, I suppose, to me at the time because I was entering a new phase of life, and I hadn’t had an experience. This is my first husband. My only husband. [Laughs] I hadn’t experienced it before. It seemed sort of reasonable. And then, of course, once Radcliffe said, “Oh, you can’t do that,” then I got mad and like, “Wait a minute.”
DeVorkin: Radcliffe said you couldn’t do what?
Dupree:Radcliffe said they didn’t like the idea that I was coming in a first-year student and only taking two courses, not four courses. And I said, “But wait a minute. Look, I’ve got four courses coming in from Berkeley. I’m a second-year student. I’m not a first-year student.”
DeVorkin: So you had taken two courses each?
Dupree:I had taken a full load in Berkeley, which was whatever the full load was — I can’t remember. The whole semester. I mean, I didn’t have a teaching assistantship or research assistantship because I had this Wilson, and Wilson said you can just take courses, so I took courses. So then I had all these courses, which I could transfer into Harvard.
DeVorkin: What courses did you have at Berkeley? We didn’t cover that.
Dupree:Oh, gosh. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Or anything that stands out.
Dupree:Oh, anything that stands out. Oh, my goodness.
DeVorkin: Did the Trumpler and Weaver textbook Statistical Astronomy exist at that point?
Dupree: I remember George Wallerstein’s course in introductory astrophysics or something like that, which I knew most of, I remember, because I had been sort of an astronomy and a physics major. So these were people who are coming in maybe from different fields, and they didn’t know what right ascension and declination were. I don’t know what it was, but you had to take it.
DeVorkin: A general astronomy at the graduate level.
Dupree:Yes, first-year graduate level. I took one from him. I took one from Henyey on, I believe, stellar interiors. I took something from Karl-Heinz Bohm. Maybe that was stellar interiors. I took some math courses. I remember complex variables. Maybe statistics. Oh, a physics course. I took mechanics. I’ve got that thin, little, red mechanics book. Oh, and I took atomic physics from one of the guys who won a Nobel Prize that was supposed to be very impressive. Quantum mechanics.
DeVorkin: We can reconstruct that.
Dupree:If this is necessary, we can reconstruct that.
DeVorkin: It can be reconstructed. But I’m more concerned and interested with if there were any particular topics that, during that year at Berkeley, you were getting interested in.
Dupree:Not really. It was courses. I liked everything. I took some physics courses. I took some math courses. I liked the atomic physics course that we took. It wasn’t Segrč. I’m trying to think who. Owen Chamberlain. That’s who it was.
DeVorkin: Owen Chamberlain. Sure.
Dupree:Owen Chamberlain, yeah. But those courses were intimidating because they were all men. I think I was the only woman. And they were big because they were physics.
DeVorkin: So, Ann Merchant Boesgaard wasn’t there.
Dupree:She hadn’t come yet, no. I know Ann quite well now, but she came the year after. I think Sidney Wolff may have also come the year after.
DeVorkin: Yes, because she was still there in ’64 or ’65.
Diane Piper? No, she wasn’t there yet.
Dupree:I don’t remember her, no.
DeVorkin: Okay. Those are the three I recall.
Dupree:No, I just remember Bill Matthews, Peter Bodenheimer, Len Kuhi. Those are the people. Probably more will come to mind if I think about it. Oh, yeah, Bill van Altena was there.
DeVorkin: Oh, okay. Because he was not yet at Lick. I guess he got up to Lick about ’63 as an advanced graduate student. I’m trying to get that right.
Dupree:Yes, because the first year, you just took courses and you had an office in Leuschner Observatory.
DeVorkin: In the observatory itself?
Dupree:In Leuschner. It was like, up in the eucalyptus forest. Something up the hill.
DeVorkin: Well, there were vines and everything.
Dupree:There were vines and everything, yeah.
DeVorkin: That was a lovely place.
Dupree:Yes. That was really kind of fun.
DeVorkin: Did you know Hy Spinrad?
DeVorkin: And Ivan King?
Dupree:No, I knew Hy. Didn’t seem to know Ivan King for some reason. I think he was on the faculty, but I didn’t run across him.
DeVorkin: So you were, at this point, thinking observation versus theory. Computational work.
DeVorkin: Everything was general. All courses.
Dupree:Everything was general. All courses. That’s what we took. And we didn’t have any research program. I guess I wanted to do this master’s degree with George Wallerstein so I had something from Berkeley to take home with me. I probably found him more receptive or his course more interesting. It was astronomy, I knew all about it, I could do it well, and I felt comfortable with it.
So then I came back here to Harvard and took a bunch more courses. A lot of courses in the physics department. Took courses here in the astronomy department. Took courses from Whitney and from Layzer. They were horrible teachers, but that’s my [opinion]. [Laughter] Oh, awful, awful. I mean, unorganized, disorganized, imprecise. These are the days when they didn’t have PowerPoint, they didn’t have mimeograph lecture notes, they didn’t have a textbook. They would just come in and sort of put their hand on their forehead and start writing on the boards, you know, and you’d try to catch up with what was going on.
DeVorkin: But teaching also was an issue here, Not that many people wanted to teach.
Dupree:The professor didn’t want to teach. I mean, if you want to get into it, I have a whole interesting issue about that one.
DeVorkin: Yes, I do because it becomes an issue between Smithsonian and Harvard.
Dupree:Okay. Well, Leo Goldberg used to say to me that he was chairman of the department and director at the observatory, but he could not tell a Harvard professor what to do and he could not tell these professors that they had to teach. So they did what they wanted to do. If they wanted to teach, that was fine. If they didn’t, they didn’t. And this was in the mid-’70s, this was after I got my degree. In the mid-‘70s, there were very few courses that were taught by a professor alone, and very few courses, period. There were a lot of reading courses because those were kind of nice and easy to teach. You don’t have to teach them and appear three times a week in front of a class. I remember Leo said he wished he could get more people to teach, but he couldn’t. And then, of course, the thing that I personally feel about this, which angered me at the time and still does in retrospect, is that I was sitting in my office one day, and at this point, I was being supported by grants. This was erratic. I can almost tell you when this was. It was, like, ’72 or ’71. I was sitting in my office, and I was supporting myself by grants. We had money from the solar satellite project, NASA money, and that was good. I can talk about that.
DeVorkin: This is OSO.
Dupree:This is the OSO. That’s right. And the ATM Skylab, which was ’73. But I was also starting to get grants to work on Copernicus and was getting ready for IUE, but not really. IUE wasn’t launched till ’79. But I was getting grants, and basically, I was pretty much supporting myself, or tried to support myself with these little grants. You know, writing proposals and things like that. Alex Dalgarno came in to see me. He came in and he said, “Andrea, we think you would be a wonderful teacher.” And I said, “Oh, really?” And he said, “Oh, yes.” He said, “We think you’ve got such great experience. We think we would give you a choice of any one of three courses that you could teach.” I remember one was radio astronomy because I had done work on radio recombination lines. One was radio astronomy, one was the solar physics course, and the other was to start a new course, which turned out to be 143, which are radiative processes in astrophysics, or something like that. He said, “You can choose. You can choose any one of those. We would love to have you teach one any one of those courses.” Well, by reply sentence, I said, “I would love to do it, Alex, if you will make me a professor. I’m not going to be a lecturer that sits out here.” I said, “I have to get my own money. I have to get this.” And he said, “I didn’t think you’d say that.” [Laughs] And he left the room. And that was the end of that.
Dupree:Yes. I mean, I remember that very, very distinctly, that they were looking for people to teach.
DeVorkin: You were Smithsonian at that time?
Dupree:No, I was Harvard. I was Harvard College Observatory, and I was supporting myself with grants.
DeVorkin: So not in any tenured faculty position.
Dupree:Oh, gosh, no. Nothing. As a matter of fact, it was a limited position. I can talk about that, too. That was another issue. But anyway.
DeVorkin: This I need to straight out because, obviously, you can’t assume that somebody who isn’t teaching is supported by the Smithsonian here.
Dupree:Oh, no. No, no. The majority of people here are at the Smithsonian, but only 70, I believe, are federal civil servants. I am now a federal civil servant. All my salary comes from the Smithsonian budget, from the congressional funds.
DeVorkin: For future reference, when did you become Smithsonian?
DeVorkin: You switched.
Dupree:From Harvard College Observatory to Smithsonian.
DeVorkin: So you don’t have a Harvard appointment at this point.
Dupree:Oh, yes, a research assistantship or something. I have a detailed bibliography that has all the information.
I’d like to walk off with a copy of that. [ADS bibliography in file, no CV from interview subject]
DeVorkin: Let’s get back to your grad student times, please. Just for the record, you did not come here because Leo Goldberg was here. You came here to get married.
Dupree:To married, yes. That’s true. And to continue graduate studies. Right.
DeVorkin: If, for some strange reason, Harvard did not accept you, or Radcliffe, or didn’t accept your courses.
Dupree:What would I have done?
DeVorkin: Yes. Was that even a concern?
Dupree:No. I probably would’ve taken the courses again or taken new courses and kept on going.
DeVorkin: There was no question that they would let you in?
Dupree:It’s funny; I never thought that they wouldn’t let me in. [Laughter]
No, I had never thought about that. I mean, look, I was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. I was from Berkeley. I had A’s in my courses, or A-minus or something like that. Why wouldn’t they? [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Not an issue. Okay.
Dupree:I didn’t have a Plan B, if that’s what you want to say.
Maybe I could’ve gotten in as a wife of a faculty member at MIT. I don’t know.
I just kind of blundered ahead on this issue. Maybe they would’ve said, “You had to pay.” No, they must’ve said something because I remember there must be something in the catalog about accepting transfers because I didn’t have to pay the full two years’ tuition. I had only to pay one full year’s tuition. They have a rule about how many years’ tuition you have to pay in order to get a degree and that kind of stuff.
DeVorkin: Right. It’s residency.
Dupree:Residency. That’s what it’s called. That’s right. So, no, I didn’t come here with a Plan B, and I suppose even if Leo Goldberg and Liller hadn’t come, I would’ve come here anyway because, at that time — You know, I’m not sure how much I really knew about the level of graduate studies. Now, we sit and talk to our graduate students and we rank schools and we say, “If you can’t get into one of the top ten, don’t bother.” We really are into this valuation of where did you go and what did you do and who did you study with. I guess I just then didn’t think about it at the time. I just blundered ahead and did it. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: So, you came here. You started taking courses. Goldberg was here.
Dupree:Yes. I started taking courses, and then at the end of my first year, you had to take a series of exams. I flunked them. [Laughs]
Dupree:Well, I really don’t know why I flunked them. I really don’t know why. I think I was probably having a lot of issues. I know I had a lot of dermatitis issues. I would see doctors and dermatologists all the time, and I probably had nerves. I was nervous. I don’t know why I flunked them, but I flunked them. So then they said, “You can take a year off and study hard, and then you can come back again and take them again.” I’m trying to think of how this all worked, exactly. That was after the first year or the second year.
DeVorkin: That must have been devastating.
Dupree:Yes, but then I thought, “Darn it. I’m going to show these guys. I’m smarter than that. I can do this. I know how to do this stuff.” [Laughs] I can’t remember the sequence of events. You see, I can’t remember whether you take the exam and then you did two research exams. That must have been it. You take the exam, and that means you’re qualified, and then you take two research exams.
DeVorkin: What’s a research exam?
Dupree:That’s a one-semester course where you do some research. You solve a problem and you write a paper. I did one with Ed Lilly on microwave transmission from Venus, trying to determine the temperature structure of Venus. Learned how to program at the same time, which was kind of fun. And then, what was my other one? Maybe it was with Goldberg. I’ve sort of forgotten what my other one was. But I think it was first you take it, and so then I decided, “Well, what am I going to do for a year?” Then it turned out that there was a company called the Geophysics Corporation of America. And they had a guy who was one of Layzer’s students, who apparently needed some Russian stuff translated. And somehow, I heard about this. His name was Ali Naqvi, and he had gotten his degree with Dave Layzer. See, I don’t know how I heard about this. Maybe through the astronomy department. I’m not sure. But basically, they wanted someone to translate some astronomy texts from the Russian into the English. So I thought, “Hey, that sounds pretty good.” It was astronomy papers, actually. I thought, “That sounds okay,” so I worked part-time for them. It was working in the library here, so I would come here, I can’t remember, a couple of days a week and translate these papers, and then take the exam again the next year in May or June, I think. I think that was the time frame. And I did. And I passed. I was back in good graces again, so here I am.
DeVorkin: When you look back at that, though, do you try to explain it?
Dupree:No, I don’t. I don’t know why that happened, why I did it. I don’t know whether it was like, I was just getting married and I had all these other things going on, and stuff like that.
DeVorkin: It was your first year of marriage.
Dupree:Yes, it was that there were other things going on. My husband’s brother used to come up and be a houseguest for a while, and I used to have to take care of him. I remember the night before a physics exam, I had to make his dinner and do all this stuff, which I did because I was a good girl. Still am. [Laughs]
So, I don’t know why. Maybe it was too much too soon. Maybe it was trying to jumble all these things. I don’t know. I don’t sit and say, “Oh, my goodness.” I wanted to show the bastards that I could do it. [Laughs] Come back and do it. And so I did. I came back and took the test.
DeVorkin: So you didn’t audit any courses or anything.
Dupree:I don’t think so. I don’t remember. I remember reading something.
I think reading and sort of looking at the stuff and looking at old exams, and thinking I hadn’t prepared properly. Like, I hadn’t looked at the old exams or something like that. I don’t know what it was. It was, I think, a three-hour exam or two three-hour exams or two on different Saturdays. I’ve sort of forgotten the details. Written exams. And then from that, you got accepted. I believe I’ve got the sequence right, but then you do the research exams. You did two of those, and then you could work on your thesis.
DeVorkin: So, one of the research exams was with Ed Lilly.
Dupree:One was with Ed Lilly, and I believe the other was with Leo Goldberg on something. How am I going to find that out? [Laughs] I don’t know. I’ll have to think about how I found it out.
DeVorkin: When did you start focusing on a problem or on an area?
Dupree:Well, I think it was when I came back. After passing the research exam. You see, it’s also funny because nowadays, I think students are so different. “Where is the interesting problem that I’m going to attack that’s at the edge of the universe?” or something. I guess I had always found there were lots of problems that were interesting. Once I got into an area or started studying something, “Gee, that was interesting, too.” So I went back to do this problem with Ed Lilly probably in part because I had worked one summer for Ed Lilly after I graduated from Wellesley. I was here at the observatory, and that’s how I knew Marion and Dick Huygenin and those guys. Huygenin then went on to UMass to be a professor. He was a post-doc, I think, probably here. And Marion was his wife and sort of his office manager or something, and Ed Lilly’s. I don’t know. And then Ed. So I had worked with them one summer, working on various radio astronomy things, so I think it was probably natural. Ed had a bunch of graduate students — Pat Palmer and Ben Zuckerman among them.
DeVorkin: Were these courses given down on campus, or up here?
Dupree:Some were up here, and some of the astronomy courses were up here. Like, Whitney and Layzer gave courses here, and down on campus were the physics courses. Jackson and electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics. I can’t remember what exactly I took down there, but I took a bunch.
DeVorkin: Was your first problem something in solar physics?
Dupree:Yes. Maybe Goldberg was chairman of the department then, and maybe he offered me a job as a research assistant. He had a number of students. He had four or five students. I know for me, it was a matter of elimination of who would I even think about working for. I guess I wanted a research assistant job when I came back. When I came back, I also felt that I had done myself a disservice by not working full-time, by just doing two courses and then staying home the other two. I felt that I was somehow out of the give-and-take of what went on, and maybe I was missing something. And so I felt, well, when I came back, I wanted to show that I was really serious. I’m going to take my two courses and get a research job and do the full-time activity. So I wanted to get a research assistant job. I don’t know how I ended up with Goldberg. He may have been chairman of the department. He also had an interest in Russian and spoke Russian, so we used to have these Russian seminars or something, Russian lunches where we would talk Russian.
DeVorkin: Goldberg became chairman in ’66.
Dupree:Okay. That was before.
DeVorkin: Your first article at least that shows up in the ADS database is with Roger Kopp and Leo on the abundance of iron in the solar photosphere.
DeVorkin: That was 1964 APJ, which means you were working on this at least in ’63. So when did you do that?
Dupree:So that must’ve been when I came back in ’63, because that would’ve worked right. ’61, ’62. And then I was out from ’62 to ’63, passed the exam, and came back in fall of ’63. So that makes sense. Could’ve been the first one that I came back to.
DeVorkin: And this could’ve been your research exam?
Dupree:It might’ve been part of my research exam.
Dupree:The later stuff was on OSO data.
DeVorkin: Okay. This is ionization rates and autoionization.[ Collisional excitation of auto-ionizing levels, Goldberg, L.; Dupree, A. K.; Allen, J. W. Astronomical Observations from Space Vehicles, Proceedings from Symposium no. 23 held in Liege, Belgium, 17 to 20 August 1964. Edited by Jean-Louis Steinberg. International Astronomical Union. Symposium no. 23, Impr. Taffin-Lefort, p.125 00/1965]
Dupree:Oh, that was a meeting. That was an IAU thing. We did autoionization to iron-14. I do remember that. But the first one might’ve been a spin-off from the research exam, and I remember always being really outraged about that because Leo Goldberg said Roger Kopp should be the second author. I had done more than Roger had done on that paper. [Laughs]
[The Abundance of Iron in the Solar Photosphere. Goldberg, Leo; Kopp, Roger A.; Dupree, Andrea K. Astrophysical Journal, vol. 140, p.707 08/1964]
DeVorkin: This is the OSO one in ’72. That’s a good while later.
Dupree: Yes, it could’ve been a spin-off of my research exam. I’ve sort of forgotten what I did. Why did I work with Leo? Well, I think he probably offered me a job, or the Department of Astronomy. In those days, frequently, if you wanted a research assistantship, they would say, “You can work with A, B, or C.” So I probably picked that. Not that I was necessarily drawn to the sun, particularly, but I knew it involved spectra, the things that he did. I mean, I liked them. It was very quantitative. You know, I’m not a theorist in the true sense of the word of writing down ephemeral equations or something. It was probably: A) you had a job, B) it was things that I enjoyed doing, C) there were other people he’d hire. Another woman I remember, Keri Joy Hughes, who was working on her degree. Actually, we shared an office for a while. And another one, Barbara Adams, who was a graduate student here for a while. Oh, and Alan Title was here at the time. He was a post-doc. It was a very large and vibrant solar physics group. They had also had the hope of building all these ultraviolet instruments.
DeVorkin: Leo brought at least some of his OSO stuff with him.
Dupree:But they hadn’t flown until they came here. The first satellite was the OSO-2 and that arc’d on launch. That was bad. He came and he hired Ed Reeves and Bill Parkinson, and the idea was you had this integrated laboratory: astrophysics as well as space.
DeVorkin: Whose idea was that?
Dupree:I think that was Leo’s. Leo always would emphasize lab astro. But those were the days when — I mean, our big competition was NRL Well, there were two groups that we were competing with. One was NRL. He hated Dick Tousey.
DeVorkin: Did he?
Dupree:Oh, yeah. He used to say Dick Tousey never really published anything. He never did anything quantitative. He never published anything, he never did anything quantitative, and it was all very descriptive. He liked Herb Friedman a lot. Herb and he got along really well. But Dick Tousey, he called him the “old sly fox” or something. He never really liked Dick Tousey.
DeVorkin: But they do go back a ways, all the way back to Menzel and Spitzer. They tried to create an astronomical consulting group to help Tousey interpret his data, and Tousey wouldn’t have anything to do with it.
Dupree:Well, they kept pointing out, which is in part true, that Tousey was at NRL, and NRL didn’t have students to work on data. We also had a lot of issues with HAO, High Altitude Observatory. There was competition, probably, all along, but I think a lot of these things went over my head. I was just a graduate student. You sort of get bits and pieces, but you don’t hear a lot of things. I did some research recently to talk at the Honolulu meeting about the founding of the Solar Physics Division. It turns out I am a founding member of the Solar Physics Division, which I didn’t realize, but it turns out I am. That’s where I went back into a lot of the [history].
DeVorkin: And John Firor, and people like that.
Dupree:That’s right. But it really started with Henry Smith. Henry Smith and Leo decided that solar physics wasn’t getting enough attention in the American Astronomical Society, and so they decided that they should have a special meeting. Henry Smith said, “I can’t propose this because that’s NASA proposing it,” and Leo, at that time, I think, was president of the AAS, and so he didn’t want to bring it up himself. So they got Firor to do it, to bring up the idea of having this special meeting. So they basically had two science meetings, which I remember going to back as a graduate student. Then there was a whole issue about, we want to have them on the West because so much of astronomy is being done on the East, solar physics is being done on the East, and we want to give the West some balance. There are all these geopolitical strategies to have.
DeVorkin: We had a little bit of that in our centennial volume.
Dupree:Yes, you’re right. I learned from that. You remember it well. I hadn’t read it before this, yeah.
DeVorkin: I edited the volume.
Dupree:You edited it? Okay. At least you remember it. [Laughter] I’ve edited things that I haven’t read, either.
DeVorkin: Well, that’s true. I understand that.
Dupree:But not only did you edit it, but you remembered it, see. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Oh, fair enough. But it was a very interesting time with the growth of the Society. In a way, as some historians have said, what it meant to be an astronomer was changing, also.
Dupree:Yes. We were bringing in other people, and they threatened to spin off. Like, the high energy people wanted their own society, and they’d already gone to the APS. The DPS was also poking around, like, “We want our own society.” That’s when the divisions finally happened.
DeVorkin: Just was curious; at this time, did you identify yourself? Did you identify with astronomy at that time? Were you an astronomer?
Dupree:Yes, I think so. As opposed to what? A solar physicist? [Laughs]
DeVorkin: It could be a solar physicist, a woman, a wife, a…
Dupree:See, I had a lot of roles. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Sure you did. It comes with the territory.
Dupree:When did I think I was an astronomer?
Dupree:Oh, I think I felt I was part of a community when I was in graduate school. Oh, ’65, ’64. ’65, I went to a NATO conference as a student in Laganas in Greece. Met a whole bunch of people. Robert Rutin. I mean, all these people who were floating around. I’ve got pictures. Dave Bowen, who, at one point, was head of Solar Physics at NASA. Whole bunch of people. I think it was then I began to realize that, yes, I was part of a community. Was I a solar physicist as opposed to an astronomer or vice versa? I don’t know. See, Harvard didn’t have a very strong astronomy department at the time. This is back in the mid-‘60s. Sandy Faber did her work with Danziger, who was assistant professor, who I don’t believe got tenure. I could be wrong about that, but he was a brand-new, shiny kid on the block at that time. Who else did we have? Frank Shu. Frank Shu didn’t even do his thesis research here. He did it with C.C. Lin at MIT and got a Harvard degree. So we had a lot of people who were here. Joe Taylor did his work, of course, with Alan Maxwell, but Alan Maxwell wasn’t a faculty member. Alan Maxwell was on the staff. So the department itself, I mean, when you start looking at it, there weren’t many strong astronomers here other than Leo, and that may have partly also influenced my choice; thinking, “Well, I want to get whatever is perceived to be the best astronomer to work with,” because I liked lots of different problems. Cecilia was on the way out, if not gone, at that point. I found Layzer and Whitney just impossible to talk with or understand. Dave Layzer was never a focused person, in my opinion. [Laughs] He would just kind of go off on all these various things. I just couldn’t deal with that.
DeVorkin: Dave Latham was doing instrumentation, largely. People like that.
Dupree:That’s right. You’re right. But who was he doing it with? Nat Carlton, maybe?
DeVorkin: Yes. People like Nat, yes.
Dupree:Okay. But Nat was on the Smithsonian side. I don’t think Nat was ever a professor.
DeVorkin: But I’m thinking just the kinds of people who were here.
Dupree:Just looking at this, there were the radio astronomers. There was Holly Doyle, who worked with Dave Latham. Roger Kopp worked with Leo. Kurucz worked with Strom, but Strom sort of blew in. Strom was a graduate student. That’s right.
DeVorkin: Steve Strom.
And just again, for the record, you’re looking at what we call the Rogue’s Gallery. It was a rather large collection of something like 40 or 50 students there.
Dupree:Right. 50. Exactly. From 1967 to ’68. And there’s an earlier version — ’66 to ’67 — on the wall out in our hall. We dated this by looking at when did Sandy Faber get married, and she was Sandra Moore until she became Sandra Faber. She dated the date, and that’s how we dated the picture. But those were the pictures that were taken of all the graduate students. And they were taking it with Polaroids because mine used to rub some sort of fixing device over it that looks like a Chap Stick or something, and it made streaks all over my picture. They kept using that picture over and over and over again, so you’ve got all these streaks because of a grad student Polaroid. [Laughs] Okay, so where are we going? What have we got?
DeVorkin: So by the time of your first paper with Kopp and Goldberg, would it be accurate to say that you were interested in solar atmosphere work and that you were definitely concentrating in that?
Dupree:That is fair. That was ’64?
DeVorkin: Stellar atmospheres.
Dupree:Stellar atmospheres, solar atmospheres. It was basically to take advantage of the fact that we were launching new satellites. OSO-2, OSO-4, OSO-6. And then Skylab, they had money to support graduate students; they had money to support travel, so that you feel like you were really a part of the community. It brought in a lot of students to work on it.
DeVorkin: Exactly right. Were you aware, during these times, of how the Smithsonian and Harvard were sort of running in parallel here?
Dupree:Well, I was aware. I was on Harvard side, and Smithsonian, to some extent, was a great mystery. There were people like Tillinghast and Fred Whipple, but we as students, or even as Harvard post-docs, didn’t really interact or know much about who was the Smithsonian or what was the Smithsonian. I do remember hearing a lot from Leo Goldberg about Fred Whipple. He didn’t like Fred Whipple. [Laughs] He felt very, I think, envious of the fact that at that point, it seemed as though Smithsonian could hire and fire people — or hire them at least, maybe not fire them — but hire them, and they had much more money, and they were building, let’s say, Mount Hopkins Observatory at that time. They were putting that together, which Leo couldn’t do. And he would make snide comments about Fred and Fred’s decision and how he did. I think Leo felt that he was running a real, nice, collegial Department of Astronomy. And actually, it was very small and very collegial in the sense that Menzel used to have parties in his house. Now it turns out our house was two doors away from Menzel’s old house in Cambridge. So they used to have parties, and I always used to be invited because Leo, as a student, spent time [there]. I think he rented a room from Donald Menzel. We’ve read this somewhere. This is written somewhere.
He rented a room from Menzel because — this is in the ‘30s — he was an impoverished student, and this is where he lived. Menzel also was a solar physicist, and Menzel felt that, you know, “I like Leo, and Leo’s students are my friends, too.” He used to have parties after the Harvard football games. It seems that, nowadays, you just don’t even think about that. As a matter of fact, Menzel, in 1966, drew me this picture.
DeVorkin: Again, for the record, you’re looking at a Menzel creation — Can you read the inscription?
Dupree:Oh, yes. It says, “To Andrea.” It was a photograph that Donald Menzel drew as a doodle, I should say. It’s really a doodle, and I think later, he colored it in.
DeVorkin: It’s one of his famous doodles.
Dupree:One of his famous doodles. It was dated April 18, 1966. He knew about history. He knew about being a historian. It says, “To Andrea — an inspiration from her brilliant paper presented to the Visiting Committee of Harvard Observatory. Donald H. Menzel.” And there’s a picture. He pointed out to me that it had blue eyes and long eyelashes. There’s a little creature that he has dancing with a skirt along whatever. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: And that’s supposed to be you?
Dupree:I guess that’s supposed to be me.
DeVorkin: And the sun is above you.
Dupree:And here’s the sun. The sun is glorious. Look at that. We’ve got prominences. We’ve got coronal holes. Hey, we’ve got coronal holes before they were even named. I didn’t realize that.
DeVorkin: Yeah. He’s got beautiful prominences there.
Dupree:Prominences. HL for prominences in red and a yellow sun and coronal holes and streamers. A wonderful corona. A minimum corona probably, right? Or maximum? I can’t remember whether it was going up further.
DeVorkin: I don’t know. [Laughs]
Dupree:I’ve sort of forgotten, but anyway. Yes. Donald and Leo thought they had a nice, collegial thing and a collegial environment, and I believe that he considered Fred’s operation at Smithsonian sort of a governmental, regimented kind of activity. But yet, I think he also envied, I guess, the power, really, and the resources that Fred seemed to have in putting things together. I heard from Leo when I was a graduate student, post-doc, about how much he was really aggravated at Harvard and how they would treat him as a director of the observatory, even as chairman of the department. Number one, they took away our tennis courts without telling. We used to have four tennis courts at the bottom of the observatory.
DeVorkin: There are a bunch of tennis courts over there.
Dupree:Well, there are some of the top of the building, and those were put in to replace the ones that were on the ground. We had a suite of tennis courts, and Harvard decided they were going to put in that gymnasium down there. They sort of took the land for it, according to him, without telling him. It’s like, he just woke up one day, and they were out there putting stakes in the ground and ripping up the tennis court. They did that without telling. The other thing I remember that really aggravated him was this building — the building that we’re sitting in now, which is the Perkin Laboratory. I think we moved into it in ’73. Was it ’73 we moved into Perkin Laboratory? But we had the building designed, and we had the plans and all of these things ready, and Harvard held up for about a year going out for bids on the plan because they were worried either about — I don’t know why they were worried. It was either Neighborhood Nine, which surrounds us, or they wanted to do something else first, or whatever. But the net result was they had all the plans drawn up, and the plans sat for a year. And during that year, the building costs went up by a million dollars, and they came back to Leo and they said, “You’ve got to raise that money. We sat on the plans for a year, you approved them, but sorry, go get some more money.”
DeVorkin: But this is purely Harvard; this has nothing to do with Whipple.
Dupree:That has nothing to do with Whipple, no. My sense is, Leo felt sort of between two uncomfortable places. On the one hand, Whipple and Smithsonian was one thing — this is my interpretation — and the other is that Harvard wasn’t treating him well. I remember Harvard took some extra income from some investments of the Harvard College Observatory. They just swept them up at the end of the year or something. There were all kinds of issues, but he was always squabbling. On the other hand, it was Margaret Burbidge who said, “Whenever Leo leaves a place, he always leaves it in a furor.” He left Michigan in a furor. He left Harvard College Observatory in a furor; there was a furor on the way out. Maybe that’s right, maybe that’s wrong. I don’t remember. I was below the storm clouds. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Let’s concentrate, though, on your career. Most of the articles between ’64 and ’67, of course, are with solar abundances.
Dupree:You have spectroscopy. It was a quiet sun.
DeVorkin: That’s right. Some have theoretical elements to it, but basically, it’s spectroscopic. Population of atomic levels.
Dupree:It’s a lot of atomic physics. We did a lot of things on ionization, equilibrium, and a lot of interpretation of spectra and things like that. And then I got into radio for a while. We did some work on recombination lines.
DeVorkin: That’s right. In H I regions.
Dupree:Yeah, in H I. And then we started working on the carbon lines. There was some stuff with Eric Chaisson and Diego Cesarsky.
DeVorkin: Right. I was going to ask you some questions about that in a little while, but that was already in the early ‘70s, after Leo.
Dupree:Okay, that’s too late.
DeVorkin: Yeah, after Leo left. But for now, let’s talk about how you chose a thesis, specifically, the analysis of emission lines from the solar corona. [Analysis of Emission Lines from the Solar Corona. Dupree, Andrea Kundsin. Thesis (PH.D.) — HARVARD UNIVERSITY, 1968. American Doctoral Dissertations, X1968., page: 0014]
Dupree:It was really a natural outgrowth of the research exam, plus the work I was doing as a research assistant. In other words, I was working on spectra, publishing it whether it was the iron spectrum or whatever. Another thing that happened was, Alan Burgess published a paper about di-electronic recombination, which changed the ionization equilibrium, and Stuart Potash published a paper saying the abundances were wrong and that there was really an iron enhancement in the solar corona. We were going to be getting new spectra. The OSO spectra were coming in. So this was a new opportunity, right? There’s new spectra, new data that you could have to work on for your thesis to try to interpret. And on top of that, I had a job to do it. I had a paid job paid by NASA in order to complete this work or to do this work.
DeVorkin: Right. When Leo was interviewed in 1978 by Spencer Weart, he was talking about this period of time. The fact that this was a time when the data was coming in, and at that time, the principal investigators had one year to exploit their data, and they had to do it within that year before it became public and anybody could exploit it. So Leo was faced with how to do as much of this as possible.
Dupree:Graduate students. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Graduate students. Exactly. So, you were one of the graduate students.
Dupree:One of the graduate students. That’s right. I was one of the computers.
DeVorkin: How aware of this sort of situation were you? That there was this rush to publish?
Dupree:Oh, I wasn’t aware that the rush was on because NASA said that it was going to go public in a year. That I don’t remember. What I do remember is that we had a whole sequence of experiments coming along. Those were the days where you just wrote a letter to the administrator and said, “Send money,” and a bucket would come back by return mail. No, I’m serious. We did write proposals. We all got together in big groups and wrote proposals. But it was pretty much agreed that, first, NRL would have one. Ball Brothers produced images of the OSO-2, the OSO-3, the OSO-4, the OSO-5, the OSO-6 that we hung on the back wall. This is when these orbiting solar observatories just came off the line like an assembly line.
Well, OSO-2, there was an arcing problem. There was a problem, as I understand it, with the insulation because I remember Ed Reeves coming back absolutely devastated from the launch. That was also when they didn’t appreciate you had to let things outgas, and so the idea is, “There it is. It’s in orbit. Terrific. Turn on the high voltage and let’s see what we’ve got.” Well, what happened was they turned on the high voltage and they saw, whoops, the counter went way up to the top and they thought, “Oh, maybe we’re online in beta or online in alpha.” Big, strong emission line. But then it never came down again. What had happened was that there was contamination in the environment, and maybe there was a bad solder, or something like that. And so [because of this] the whole protocol for turning on experiments in space has just changed drastically, based in part on this devastating problem. That was OSO-2. So then we had OSO-4, but then after OSO-4, OSO-6 was coming, and then after OSO-6, we got kicked off OSO-I, but then there was Skylab. Skylab was 1973. I remember that.
DeVorkin: Before Skylab, there was AOSO. And I know Leo was one of the proposers for that. AOSO was the Advanced Orbiting Solar Observatory — It was canceled after about a year and a half. I’m saying this from my historical understanding, but I’m just curious, were you aware of this at the time?
DeVorkin: Were you involved at all, as a graduate student, on your thesis, with any of the instrumentation projects itself?
Dupree:No. No, I was just doing data. We were getting the data. Probably when I was a graduate student, we were helping to write proposals for Skylab, and I do remember sitting around in groups. I was sort of the expert on ionization equilibrium processes and where the temperatures were and where the ions were and where you wanted to look in order to map out various temperatures. I do recall participating in group discussions, where we would talk about what can we measure and what would be good to measure because you had to understand physics of the atom as well as physics of the sun to figure out, how could you make a strong argument to win the experiment.
DeVorkin: Do you recall any discussion at that time over the fact that this was a manned program as opposed to a follow-on to OSO that would be robotic?
Dupree:Oh, the Skylab business. Yes.
DeVorkin: Because there was a big deal with if it was robotic, it could’ve been continuous observations over a long period of time; whereas, if it was manned, it had to be sporadic. Did that enter into your scientific problem issue? Defining that?
Dupree:I probably did, but I think we felt there was only one opportunity. This was the opportunity. You didn’t have an opportunity to propose for a free flyer. This is sort of what the space station is doing to science now. You’ve got to be in low Earth orbit and you’ve got to do this. Well, we had the Skylab mission, and I think that was successful. Yeah, I think it was successful, but there were all kinds of issues with that in terms of trying to get the astronauts working. See, I had a little issue with Skylab because I was still being paid by Skylab. NASA was paying my salary in part, and I was working a little bit on Copernicus, bringing in salary and things. But then, before Skylab was launched — I think it was launched in ’73.
DeVorkin: You were on Copernicus as well?
Dupree:I got guest observer data on Copernicus. Yeah. That was the OAO-2.
Dupree:Okay. That was the OAO-3. I had to go down and interview with Lyman Spitzer in his home to make sure that I was an acceptable person to deal with the Copernicus data. [Laughs] I did it in his library, in his home.
DeVorkin: This is just his style?
Dupree:I have no idea.
DeVorkin: This is already in the ‘70s.
Dupree:Yes, this was a new thing. See, it was a PI instrument, and then I think there was pressure from NASA to make guest observers available or something. I remember Bob Noyes said, “Why don’t you write to them or do something? Write.” So I think Bob and I wrote a letter to Lyman Spitzer saying, “We’d like some data. Why don’t we look at some stars?” I remember Lyman Spitzer also got a letter from, I think, Jeff Linsky or Carol Jordan — I can’t remember all my competitors. [Laughter] And Lyman then decided, “Okay, I’m going to divide them up by targets and up by spectral type.” So, we got the G stars because we were, I guess, solar-type people. Someone else got the F stars and someone else got the K stars, and I can’t remember who was assigned. I could probably figure it out. But then, before he gave us the time or decided he would look at our targets, he wanted to meet me. I guess Bob Noyes sort of pulled out — he was doing other stuff — so I was doing it. So, I had to fly to Princeton and meet Lyman and tell him what we wanted to do and why I wanted to do it and whether I was a good person and whatever.
DeVorkin: So you didn’t know him and he didn’t know you.
Dupree:No. Mm-mmm [no].
DeVorkin: And this was the early ‘70s.
Dupree:This was the early ‘70s, yes.
DeVorkin: Had you been doing exclusively solar work up to about that point?
Dupree:I think so. Yes.
DeVorkin: Could that have been part of it?
Dupree:Maybe. But see, I knew about the ultraviolet. I was a real expert on the ultraviolet, so I knew what we would find, and we probably made the argument that, ah, yes, we’re going to take the sun to the stars, and that’s what we’re going to look for.
The sun is a star.
DeVorkin: The sun-star connection.
Dupree:Solar-stellar connection, yeah. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: That’s it. That was a big program.
Dupree:Oh, it’s a big program, yeah. No, it is. Well, we started a Cool Stars meeting, but that was in ’78. That is the longest-running independent astronomy meeting in existence. Cool Stars 15 is going to be next summer in Saint Andrew’s. We had 450 people at Pasadena. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Wow. That’s great.
Dupree:A lot of action with cool stars.
DeVorkin: Yeah. This is off the timeline, but where’s the real action these days in terms of community get-togethers? Are the AAS meetings still primary? Or is it really the specialist meetings?
Dupree:There is a big tension between the specialist meetings and the AAS. The January meeting is always a big meeting because that’s the job-hunting meeting, and that’s when people go. And also, it’s good for young people to go and meet older people who stand by their poster, and then talk to them about them. But other smaller meetings are springing up, and some people would say, “Don’t go to the AAS meetings anymore.” I actually like them. I went through all the offices of the AAS, so for about seven years, I went to every single meeting. I went the day before and I stayed till the bitter end. [Laughs] So I go once a year now. That’s okay to go to one meeting. The Honolulu meeting was really good because it was with the Solar Physics Division, and I like the solar-stellar stuff. Of course, stars are coming back now probably because of planets, and what are the host stars around planets. We’re also starting to do stellar seismology, so we can start getting work on the interiors. I’m involved in the Kepler mission.
We’re going to try to characterize. I’ve been involved in the FUSE mission, which just unfortunately died.
DeVorkin: But it was up there for a long time.
Dupree:Oh, it was. Launched ’99. Up there for seven or eight years.
Dupree:And I still have data to reduce and talk about, so anyway.
DeVorkin: Have you always been so multithreaded?
Dupree:I sometimes think it’s a mistake. Yeah, I have. From the beginning, I think Leo was. I almost think it’s a mistake that maybe I should just be doing one thing, but I don’t see it as the same thing. In other words, I’m a spectroscopist, and I work everywhere. I’ve got infrared data coming in right now as we speak. [Laughs] I’m downloading.
Dupree:From Jim and I, yeah. So with everything, it’s sort of a new puzzle on how does it work, and so now I’m working on young stars, working on old stars and how they’re losing mass, working on the characteristics of stars that might have planets. But it’s all using spectra, so it’s all very linked — I see a thread. Nobody else does. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: That’s interesting that you brought up Leo as being multithreaded like that. Now, you had a chance to work with, certainly, one of the brightest lights in astronomy in the 20th century. Did you know that at the time?
DeVorkin: He certainly was one of the most active. Certainly one of the most powerful.
Dupree:He was politically active. He was powerful. I don’t know how smart he really was. I don’t know.
DeVorkin: That’s very interesting. You can tell better than I can.
Dupree:Yeah. I guess he taught me how to simplify things and how to just look at the push-pull of something instead of getting lost in the muck. [Laughs] But he had a very good grounding in atomic physics. Very good grounding. That enabled him to move from problem to problem — I mean, he even got into some sort of a radio astronomy. Bill Seton realized, but Leo put it to the immediate application with these radio recombination lines when they were discovered because of these non-LTE effects that you could get. I suppose, in some ways, we have very similar careers in the sense that he started out working on atomic physics completely. I mean, more so than I did. These were back in the days when they were worried about coupling of atoms and things like that.
DeVorkin: Menzel, Goldberg, and Aller.
Dupree: Menzel, Goldberg, and Aller, and all of that. That’s exactly right.
DeVorkin: All that stuff. They were doing the nebulae.
Dupree:The gaseous nebulae. Yep.
DeVorkin: In the late ‘30s. I mean, that was one of the first big theoretical groups that could be identified as American, so to speak.
Dupree:Yeah, that’s interesting. What about Henry Norris Russell? I thought he was American. He’s not American?
DeVorkin: Yeah. Sure, sure. But I’m talking groups.
Dupree:Oh, groups. Okay.
DeVorkin: And also groups that used modern quantum. Russell never did.
DeVorkin: No. Menzel was Russell’s student, of course, but he was also a Compton student. And John Q. Stewart, who was very much new quantum theory.
Dupree:Okay. Well, yeah, because Russell, Dugan, and Stewart. That was one of the fundamental astronomy texts. Didn’t that have quantum physics in it?
DeVorkin: It had quantum, but it was the old quantum theory. It was elementary stuff.
Dupree: Okay. Well, he also did the job on Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin.
DeVorkin: Well, I have my own take on it.
DeVorkin: Yeah. In fact, I’ve written on it. We’ll burn a few electrons here, but just very briefly, she knew exactly what he was saying. He was treating her not as a woman, but as a graduate student who could not possibly say something so provocative about the sun, using the data and the imperfect theory that was then available. Because people barely believed that theory. And it was a tissue [?] of approximations. So, after all, both he and Shapley let her put in her thesis the fact that these are results, but on the authority of Henry Norris Russell.
Dupree:Yeah. [Laughs] We don’t believe him.
DeVorkin: My whole interest in Russell was how well he knew how to create consensus formation in modern astrophysics, but he was mainly talking to physicists. Trying, anyway. And I think Cecilia knew that. She, I think, was, politically, very astute about that. Of course, her whole career, partly because of Shapley, but largely because of Sergei and just how she devoted she was to him.
Dupree:Oh, he was nuts. He used to stand outside on his head in front of my office and bring me roses.
DeVorkin: Oh, the roses. Yeah.
Dupree:I used to have an office on B-something. There’s a little deck out there. It’s a roof over the other buildings or something. He used to stand out there and do headstands for me. [Laughs] He’s crazy. He was really crazy.
He was never obnoxious, no. No, he never approached me.
But he was just very strange, yeah. [Laughs] Obviously very strange.
DeVorkin: Okay, you got your thesis. But as you got your thesis, you’re thinking, “Okay, what are you going to be doing with it? What’s your future look like?”
Dupree:Yeah, what am I going to be doing?
DeVorkin: Yeah, and who are you? Are you an astronomer? Are you a wife?
That’s also very interesting because I remember thinking, “My goodness, I’ve gotten a Ph.D.! Isn’t that amazing? Phew!” It’s like I’ve climbed Mount Everest, and now I’ve got it. Finally. [Laughter] No one thought I could do it, and darn it, I did it. My mother-in-law wrote a cute, little, funny, ditty poem. I mean, really sweet. She was a very genteel Southern lady. “Now Andrea’s got her degree, too” kind of thing. It was really sweet. But in some ways, I wonder whether I felt, “Well, phew. Now I can quit. Now I’ve done it. I’ve got the sheepskin off.” But that thought, I didn’t entertain for a long time. I had a post-doc with Leo Goldberg, and I could sit and work there. They had money. The ATM was coming along. Skylab was coming along. These were things that I wanted, that I could do. All my colleagues went off to assistant professor here, assistant professor there, but it wasn’t until later that I applied for one year at Harvard and I was told that I didn’t get along very well with students, but that’s okay. We won’t go there. MIT certainly didn’t have a position that they were advertising. I don’t know if I would’ve thought about applying or not because my husband was here, and he was now moving up through the ranks of tenure in the physics department at MIT and the nuclear engineering department just like with a regular march. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: I assume that there was never any question about his tenure track and everything.
Dupree:Oh, gosh, no.
DeVorkin: He was just solid.
Dupree:Oh, he was just solid. Not to say that he was inconsequential in his field, but the point is, those, I think, were the days when you just marched on up. He started out in the new department, the nuclear engineering. He was a theorist, and he did theories of plasma turbulence. So he started out in the nuclear engineering department and then had a joint appointment in physics. He just marched along. He was Philip Morris’s great student. Once Morris of Morris and Feshbach, and he worked with Feshbach. Once they think you’re great, you know, it’s wonderful, the way is greased. [Laughs] It was really great.
DeVorkin: It’s fabulous. So there’s no ego problem between you and your husband.
Dupree:Oh, no. No, no, no, no. As a matter of fact, he was offered a whole bunch of positions. They were trying to get him at UCLA and Berkeley and other places, and he would always say, “Oh, but my wife’s in graduate school. I can’t move.” And they’d say, “Oh, but we can get her in graduate…” He didn’t really want to go. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: But still, that’s very interesting.
Dupree:Yes. Well, that’s because they wouldn’t want to get — I mean, this was the standard.
DeVorkin: Was he sincere about it?
Dupree:Oh, he didn’t really want to go, no. I think he said it more as an excuse. I don’t want to say a joke. He was considered a very hot, young plasma theorist. We were invited, and I used to tag along to these wonderful meetings in Trieste with Watson, the one who just wrote the book, the DNA guy, I’ve spent days with him on bus tours as another spouse because we were invited to these Nobel Prize winner programs, young theorists, physics conferences. That’d be fun, so I’d go. I mean, why not? And I’d meet all kinds of people there. It was fun. But no, he was moving up. Also, he started doing other activities with his brother around town, and he really didn’t want to leave Boston. I knew that he wasn’t going to leave. But he would have fun with them without saying, “Oh, but I can’t go because my wife’s a graduate student,” so they said, “Oh, but we can get her to transfer over. No problem. We’ll get her into the graduate school here. Don’t worry about.”
DeVorkin: And this was nothing that you ever discussed seriously with him?
Dupree:No. I don’t think he wanted to go. You know, it’s part of the games that faculty play. Like, “I’m getting another offer.” And maybe he was using it to get a faster advancement. I really don’t know.
DeVorkin: Well, that’s been known.
Dupree:That’s been known, yeah.
DeVorkin: So you have your thesis. You have now a post-doc position here.
Dupree:Right. So things went along pretty well until around 1970, when I had a child. Oh, yeah. My life continues. So, I had a son in June of 1970, and I still worked full-time. Leo Goldberg sent me a big bouquet of roses, and I came back a week later.
DeVorkin: A week later?
Dupree:Oh, yeah. We didn’t take three months. [Laughs]
Dupree:Well, maybe it was two weeks later because the first week, you were in the hospital.
DeVorkin: I would think, yeah.
Dupree:Nowadays, they throw you out after two days. You go to have a baby, and man, you’re out of there so fast. So maybe two weeks later, I came back.
DeVorkin: What’s your son’s name?
Dupree:Thomas Henderson Dupree, Jr. That’s the Southern tradition of naming a child. Maybe now I wouldn’t have named him that, but I did then, and it was fine.
DeVorkin: But I’m laughing about coming back in two weeks. We use that as a joke these days.
Dupree:Oh, yeah, but we did. I mean, come on. [Laughs] Why not?
DeVorkin: Okay. So there was absolutely no question in your mind. Your career would continue.
Dupree:Oh, as a matter of fact, I was scheduled to give a big talk at the IAU — that was the IAU in England — at the end of August. He was born middle of June, so I knew that, in eight weeks, I was going to be out of there. He was born June 1970, so I knew that — I mean, I was invited.
Dupree:This was ’70 and it was in Sussex. The IAU was in Sussex. So, I had been invited to give some talks, and I was going to go. My mother-in-law came up and stayed with my son, and I headed off for a week. I came back early after having a dream that he changed from a blond to a brunet, and I was so upset. [Laughs] I had a dream.
DeVorkin: Well, they eventually do.
Dupree:No, he’s blond. Well, his hair is getting darker, but anyway. Yeah.
DeVorkin: He’s what, 36?
Dupree: He’s 37. Yeah, so I had a child. I could also see that the Skylab was progressing. This is the experiment.
DeVorkin: Oh, yeah.
Dupree:And I felt very uncomfortable because it was all this big team stuff. [Laughs] It was like you were one cog in a wheel that’s going to do this, and you were another cog in a wheel that’s going to do that. So, the final blow came when they said, “Okay, so you’re going to go down to Houston and help run the mission for six months.”
DeVorkin: Who said this?
Dupree:Ed Reeves. He was running it. He was Leo Goldberg’s assistant or whatever, but he was the PI. Or George Withbroe. I can’t remember. Because they were all planning to go down and spend a year in Houston, and I thought, “Wait a minute.” At that point, I was expecting a baby in April. My daughter was born in April ’73, and I have a two-year-old son. I mean, “Huh?” I’ve got a house here. I’ve got my housekeeper, my babysitter, my this, my that. Am I going to go down and spend a year in Houston running this stupid mission?
Dupree:[Laughs] Yeah. No way was I going to do that. But what was really funny was that — I guess several things happened. Number one is, you know, I was feeling very uncomfortable with sort of the regimentation of these big space programs. You’ve got a team of 15 people, and everyone has their little box they have to check and they have to fill in, and they all have to work together. Somehow, that didn’t strike me as research. That bothered me. I liked the idea of doing something on my own that I was doing and that was mine, and so I began to think, “I’ve really got start moving out and doing other things, because I don’t want this.” The science was good, but…
DeVorkin: You must have confided in people about this kind of observation.
Dupree:Well, my husband, mainly. I wouldn’t dare — How could I say it to Ed Reeves? How could I say it?
DeVorkin: I don’t know. Yeah.
Dupree:Because he’d say, “Well, this is what I’ve got.” I think I did say something about, “I can’t go there.” “What do you mean you can’t go there? We’re all in this together. We’re running this team. We’re going to go down there,” and blah, blah, blah. But then what was really funny was that they — So that’s what drove me to thinking about [options], and also more opportunities opened up. There was this Copernicus opportunity that opened up, and we were starting to think about IUE.
I did quite a lot with IUE. This all really started in the early ‘70s. I was getting unhappy with what was going on and how these things were being run. But then the funny thing was that they certainly had a lot of NASA money, and so they said, “Well, you just stay back here, and we’ll send you back data, and you can look at it and analyze it and help us write papers and stuff like that while you’re back here, and we’ll all go down to Houston.” So I thought, “Oh, man, what a deal. What a great deal.” Well, they never sent me anything. I think they were so worried that somehow I was going to steal it. I don’t know why. I don’t know what the reason was, but I all I know is, they never sent me back anything. So I was here, free to do whatever I wanted. That’s when I started really writing proposals and papers on stars and interstellar medium and all of that sort of thing. So, NASA funding turned out to be fine as far as I was concerned because it was paying me, and I was back here. After my daughter was born, I think I went for a year on part-time, so I worked, I think, three days a week. I think it was Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or something like that.
DeVorkin: You had two kids.
Dupree:Yeah, I had two kids. But then we lived right here in Cambridge. Part of the advice that I had gotten from Holly Doyle was, “Pick a place to live close by, and pick a school that’s convenient for you. Given that everything is equal, don’t make life harder for yourself.” And that was smart. That was really smart. So, anyway, that’s what really led me into really thinking about IUE and trying to do that.
DeVorkin: That’s also the solar-stellar connection and all of that stuff.
Dupree:Oh, exactly. And we were the ones that knew how to do that. We knew what the spectrum looked like, and we could do that.
Around this time also, two things happened. One is, it was around the mid-‘70s when staff salaries became known. Everyone’s salaries became known. I somehow found out what George Withbroe’s salary was. George was comparable to me, but his salary was much higher than my salary. I mean, like, 30%, 40% higher. So I did the usual things you do at that time. I went and I looked at all my publications, I made a list of all the talks I’d given, and all this. I guess what really had also started it was that there had been some kind of a festivity or a party for Menzel where they had a day of scientific results. I remember I was never asked to speak, but four out of the eight speakers used my work! They credited me and all that stuff, but George was talking about my abundance work, Jack Zirker was talking about my coronal hole work, Leo was talking about something, and somebody else was talking about something. I don’t know, Bob Noyes, whatever. And I sat there thinking, “Wait a minute. Look, I was not asked to speak.” And here are these four speakers who were going through “Great Wonders of Solar Physics” or something, and they’re talking about my stuff. I wasn’t asked to speak. So you kind of think, “What’s going on here?” And then about that time, I also discovered that George’s salary, as I said, was much higher than mine.
DeVorkin: This is already when Field was here.
Dupree:Field was here, yeah. This is an important part. So, I did the usual thing. You get all the data, you get how many papers did I publish and how many did he publish, where did I talk, where did he talk. You know, da, da, da. All this stuff. And I went to see Bill Parkinson, who was in charge of my salary. William H. Parkinson. So, Bill looked at all this and sort of looked at me and smiled and laughed. He said, “Yep, you’re right. Yeah, we pay him more. We give him more. But you know, you’ve got a husband who’s supporting you.” That’s exactly what he said.
DeVorkin: You talked about it in here.
Dupree:Did I? Okay.
DeVorkin: Yeah, let me reference it. It’s in The Outer Circle, the interview that they took with you. And I can put in a page number afterwards. But here, you were very circumspect. You didn’t name names. [Georgia Litwack, “Andrea Dupree’s Sky Lab,” Boston Globe Magazine Sunday, October 19, 1980]
Dupree:Oh, all right. Maybe I shouldn’t name names.
DeVorkin: No, it would be much more helpful.
Dupree:Okay. Well, that’s fine. Anyway, so Bill Parkinson was my immediate supervisor, and he was very blunt. He was very, you know, “Okay. Yeah, we didn’t pay you because you’ve got a husband who’s supporting you.” So then I went to see Bob Noyes, who was my next level supervisor — He was the division director at the time, Bob Noyes. And I showed him all of this. So Bob said, “Oh, yeah, that’s really interesting, isn’t it? Every year, we look at salaries, so we’ll sure think about this when we review your salary next year. We’ll think about what’s happening and we’ll take it into consideration,” or something like that, “when we review your salary next year.” Well, that didn’t make me happy, either, so I went to see George Field. That’s how I knew George Field was there. And I said, “George, look. I hate to say all this, but darn it, this, this, this, and whatever.”
Well, my salary went up substantially, and I can’t remember whether it was 25% or 20% or 30%, but, like, the next pay period. Someone even called me from Harvard wanting to know if I was going to sue, some lawyer or something, and I said no, because, I mean, what do you get by suing? Okay, so I might get $20,000 or $40,000. Anne Cowley had just gone through this huge issue at Michigan where she was basically ostracized. She won the court decision, she won everything. They said they were going to hire her. She had been promised a position on the faculty when she and her husband went there. Bush got the position, she never got a position, and then there was a real acrimonious time there. She was certainly publishing more than most people in the astronomy department at Michigan, but then she was running around putting the number of citations on her door versus everybody else, and it got really very, very upfront and very personal and very ugly. She finally “won”, but then, somehow, there was never any position available. So finally, she just picked up and left and divorced her husband, and that was that. Got rid of everything.
DeVorkin: I knew them at Yerkes in ’66. She was far more accessible to the staff than her husband was. Lot of fun to talk with and to work with.
Dupree:Oh, yeah. Anne was ahead of me at Wellesley. She was a year ahead of me at Wellesley. So she was one of Sally Hill’s girls, too.
The point being that, you know, “Are you going to go sue?” First of all, it’s going to cost me money to sue. Secondly, it’s probably going to cause huge amounts of animosity, create animosity and hostility, so I took my pay increase and was quiet].
George Field made it right, right away, so I have great admiration for George Field on that issue.
DeVorkin: Maybe this is a good point to ask you some general questions about this very critical time. I’d be interested in any perspective you can give on Leo Goldberg’s differences with Fred, the whole Smithsonian/Harvard problem, the problem of shared teaching, and then the idea of the creation of a single directorship. You must’ve been aware of this at the time.
Dupree:We were aware of it. I obviously was not a mover and shaker behind that because, as a young post-doc from ’68 to — When did George Field come in? ’72?
Dupree:Is that when we started this?
Dupree:I was in the middle of having two children. I didn’t really get involved. I’m trying to think if I was even on a research committee. No. But in terms of the atmosphere, I think there was a much better feeling about Smithsonian staff and Harvard staff, and now we were kind of one. It used to be that people would look at you and then look to see what number you had, what color dot you had on your forehead, or something. [Laughs]
Dupree:Yeah. I mean, like, “I can’t do that for you because you’re Harvard,” or “I can’t do that for you because you’re Smithsonian,” or “Because I’m Smithsonian, there’s this,” and “Because I’m Harvard, there’s that.” Right now, it’s practically seamless, although the post-docs have advice that it’s better to be on one side or another with respect to, I don’t know, health care or travel benefits or office space or something. So there are maybe still some major subtleties. But in terms of the staff working, I think it made things a lot better that people were working together, all the way down to the lower levels.
DeVorkin: Do you feel that Field did this himself? Or that the actual reorganization did it?
Dupree:I think the reorganization did it. Field also was a very classy, intelligent, well-spoken leader, and a thoughtful leader. I know that he was also very effective in affirmative action and equal opportunity. He went head-to-head with Derek Bok at one point, which is another famous discussion. Yeah, I think the organization was good. It was never quite clear to me whether George knew that he was going to come to be director of a CFA, or whether they had recruited him for one position, and then in the process of the whole recruitment they managed to strike a deal where Leo went to Kitt Peak and Fred resigned and Field came in as the director of both. And maybe you know that.
DeVorkin: Yes. George Field was hired knowing he would become director of both.
Dupree:But when the ad went out at the beginning, was it for director of both? Or was it just director of Smithsonian?
DeVorkin: I haven’t seen the ad.
Dupree:Okay. You could say that, okay, before he bought his plane ticket to come east, he knew.
DeVorkin: He knew that he would be replacing Whipple.
Dupree:Okay. That’s it.
DeVorkin: Yes. That’s SAO.
Dupree:That’s SAO. That’s right.
DeVorkin: But he was also discussing this idea of CFA, and he wrote a very long and detailed vision for how this would work. A number of other people wrote different visions, and I’ll be talking to those people. Fred did not believe that these should be combined. There was an ad hoc committee that looked into this in 1970-71. The issue was raised by Leo initially, before he left.
Dupree:Meaning what? That we should consider this?
DeVorkin: Yes. So I’m just curious, since you asked me the question, I guess Leo didn’t discuss these things with you.
DeVorkin: So would you say he was rather discreet with this sort of thing? Because these were pretty tough letters. Very, very difficult letters.
Dupree:Yeah, I certainly didn’t see those letters. Yeah, there was a lot that was happening — I read that giant telescope book [Patrick McCray, Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology. Harvard, 2004].
DeVorkin: Yeah, you wouldn’t have seen the letters, but you would maybe have caught the general flavor or what was going on here.
Dupree:I probably did and probably thought — Leo would come in and sit down in my office at the end of the day and start making comments and talking about people and things. You know, sort of gossipy things.
DeVorkin: How did you regard him at that time? As a colleague, or as a mentor, or as boss?
Dupree:Well, he was wasn’t really a mentor, because I don’t think he ever really believed that I could be a good scientist.
Dupree:Yeah, I don’t think so. I think he was always somehow surprised. They’re very little snippets. I do know at one point, when I was working for him as a research assistant or something, he said, “You know, what I really like about you is that, whenever you give me a page of numbers or some calculation or something, it’s right. There are never any mistakes in it. It’s always right.” I now appreciate that when I have students come in and sometimes… [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Sure. How could you translate that into anything negative?
Dupree:Well, several things. In this big Globe article, which I’ve been trying to get as PDF file. My husband’s e-mail or something funny is going on; I haven’t figured it out.
DeVorkin: I have to be in my office at the Smithsonian to get the article. [Laughs]
Dupree:Yes, okay. I can tell you the date. We PDF-ed it for some other reason, so there is a PDF file, but I just can’t get hold of it. Well, no. When Georgia Litwack wanted to do that article, she went to see him about who could she do an article about or something, and he said something like, “Oh, my goodness, I don’t understand her. Find out what makes her tick. What is she doing?” And that statement, like, “Find out what makes her tick,” because Georgia related that to me, that that’s why she wanted to come. Georgia Litwack was the author of that big article in the Globe. There was a big, long article in the Boston Globe magazine section, in the early ‘80s, or something like that. He, I remember, was surprised. I reread that Outer Circle and discovered that when I said, “I’m going to finish up my thesis,” he said, “Oh, my gosh, really? You’re going to really finish it?” [Laughs] Which I quoted and everything, which I forgot. And I have it on pretty good indication that he refused to support me for the National Academy nomination.
DeVorkin: So that’s sometime later.
Dupree:Oh, yeah. So I don’t know.
DeVorkin: There was one very odd altercation after he left. I don’t even think you were directly involved, but it was work Eric Chaisson was doing.
Dupree:Oh, I’ve got all those files. Yes.
DeVorkin: I think you know that when he wrote to you, stating that he felt that Chaisson should have given more credit.
Dupree:Yeah, there was something about that. As a matter of fact, I think I have a whole file here called, “The Diego Cesarsky Effect.”
DeVorkin: That’s it.
Dupree:We cleaned out the files, and I found all this stuff.
DeVorkin: A lot of that stuff, believe it or not, is in David Challinor’s papers. It got to the assistant secretary of the Smithsonian.
DeVorkin: I’m not sure. But Ed Lilly wrote a very strong letter.
Dupree:Yeah, I think I’ve got copies. Oh, another one. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: That’s a different year.
Dupree:’72, ’73. Oh, yes. Christine Jones. Looks like I’ve got all kinds of stuff. First of all, Leo thought all radio astronomers were stupid except for Bernie Burke. He liked Bernie Burke. [Laughs] I think he thought Ed Lilly was probably a flake, too.
Dupree:Yeah, I just went over this. All this stuff, this letter addressed to me…
DeVorkin: That’s right. The letter was addressed to you, and I wanted to ask you, why was the letter addressed to you?
Dupree:[Laughs] I don’t really know.
DeVorkin: And look at it, it goes for pages.
Dupree:This is Eric’s. This is Leo’s letter. This is a letter from Eric Chaisson to Leo.
DeVorkin: But Leo wrote to you also.
Dupree:Maybe I sent Leo the paper? Maybe? I don’t really remember. When did Leo leave?
DeVorkin: ’70. ’71.
Dupree:Oh, so this was two years later.
DeVorkin: Yeah. All of that is in Challinor’s file. Do you think that they were worried about it becoming a suit of something? Cesarsky didn’t seem to have a problem.
DeVorkin: Diego didn’t have a problem. He was at Caltech by then.
Dupree:Ed Lilly was a real right-winger of sorts, and maybe he thought something was going to happen. But he wasn’t Smithsonian, was he? Was he Harvard?
DeVorkin: I’m not sure at this point. But he wrote to Challinor.
DeVorkin: Lilly did, saying he was astounded at Goldberg’s behavior.
Dupree: I don’t even know why the Smithsonian’s connection would be in there.
Dupree:I wasn’t Smithsonian. Unless Leo or Lilly was partly Smithsonian.
Dupree:Because a lot of professors here have bits and pieces from various things. I think Alex is also partly Smithsonian, but partly Harvard, but tenure guaranteed by Harvard. There are all of these issues, and there have been huge issues.
DeVorkin: Right. There are a lot of dual appointments, and it is very confusing. [Laughs]
Oh, yeah. No, I believe that. Here it is. March 14?
DeVorkin: Sounds right.
Dupree:This is the first one, yeah. But see, this was your letter to Andrea Dupree, February 29. Oh, Attachment 1. Oh, it was reviewed by the Radio Astronomy Group, Harvard and Smithsonian, in a lengthy meeting held today. Here’s to Leo Goldberg from Ed Lilly. My aunt’s letter to me. Okay. “Dear Andrea.” This is the letter. So, why did I send it to — “Thank you for sending me…” Oh, I must have sent it to him. It says, “Thank you for sending me a copy of the paper, ‘Report of the Detection of Recombination Lines.’ Good to see the data assembled.”
DeVorkin: So you would have sent that to him because of the recombination stuff.
Dupree:Probably. That’s probably why I did that.
DeVorkin: Okay. That makes sense.
Dupree:Yes. It reads: “It also seems you have not properly credited Diego Cesarsky. On Page 1 you say… On page this, you say…” Leo liked Diego. He really liked Diego. Oh, then he goes back to Diego’s memo, April 17. April 15, 1971, a year ago, addressed me and to Ed Lilly. “You are motivated only through this. Playing the green, you would have allowed Diego the opportunity of confirming this. I hope you agree.” Oh, here’s a copy of the memo. Oh, gee. [Laughs] With best regards, I am.
DeVorkin: What does all of this mean? What was going on?
Dupree:I have no idea. I don’t know. Maybe Leo thought I was trying to sneak something all over on him. Maybe Leo had another thing going with Ed Lilly. Maybe Leo was mad at Ed Lilly. We had another go-around. Maybe Leo thought that somehow I was sneaking things around, but I wasn’t even first author on this paper. It was Eric Chaisson on the paper.
DeVorkin: It was Chaisson.
Dupree:Yeah, it was Eric Chaisson. He was making the detections. Yeah, he might’ve been a grad student. It’s funny; I dug this out. May 22, 1970.
DeVorkin: Why did you dig it out? Do you recall?
Dupree:Because I was cleaning. We had to empty out two file cabinets in there because of space, and so I threw out a whole pile of stuff. And then I found this labeled “Diego Cesarsky Effect.” I thought, “Well, maybe I should just keep it.”
DeVorkin: I don’t want to lead the witness here, but this coming on so soon after Leo left here, and he’s looking back, is it an indication of the deep sensitivities that he had, maybe, over the way science was being done here?
Dupree:Yes, I don’t know. I know that he used to like Diego, and I think he was always very sensitive about Diego. He thought Diego was good, and maybe he thought Eric was a little bit “shady” — fast and shady, or fast and loose. I think he thought Ed Lilly was fast and loose, and he thought that all radio astronomers were dumb. They’ve got these recombination lines, and they would come and see — they first came and saw Leo about, “What are these?” Because he would say, “Why didn’t you go see Ed Lilly?” because Ed Lilly is the radio astronomer. But the trouble is Ed Lilly didn’t know anything about spectroscopy. We had had one other issue with John Ball.
DeVorkin: John Ball?
Dupree:Yeah. John Ball was here, and he then went to Texas, did he? [Now at MIT Haystack]
I don’t know what happened to John Ball. But we did a paper on recombination lines with John Ball. I remember there was something — Oh, I know what happened. We had a little tip about the order of authors on that paper, because what I recall was that John Ball made these observations and said, “Look, Andrea, I’ve got these great observations,” brought them in, gave them to me, and I reduced them and then interpreted them, i.e., I did the modeling, and I did the temperature structure, and I did this, and I did that, and so forth. And then John said, “Well, why don’t you write up a paper?” I went ahead and I wrote up a paper. So I figured, well, since I reduced them and I put in the analysis and I had done all this, I wrote “Dupree” da, da, da, da, right? And sent it off. Well, Leo didn’t like that, and he thought that I was being too pushy, and that that wasn’t appropriate, and that Ball should be first author because Ball was the first one who looked at it, even though he didn’t know what it was and how to interpret it, but that’s beyond the thing. So, I’m just imagining here, and I’m just trying to think of was there a time when there was an issue? So that one time, I remember Leo said something like, “He made the observations, and therefore he should be the first author on that paper, and that should be…” So I think we put them in alphabetical order. I can’t quite remember.
DeVorkin: Would you say that Leo was very, very strong-willed?
Dupree:Oh, yes. Oh, definitely. [Laughs] No, definitely. He had very strong opinions. My understanding was there were people he liked and people he didn’t like, and he had his reasons. I don’t think you could jump from one side of the book to the other side of the book. [Laughs] If you came in on one side, which was that; if you came in on the other side… And the people he liked, he really liked. He would support them for everything. I remember he loved Henry Smith, and he liked Goertz Oertel. Goertz then went on to the ORO director before Bill Smith. Oh, who was the first guy at NASA who first started the Solar Physics Division? It was written about — There are all these NASA books.
Someone else, very well known. He died young. He started the OSO program, I think.
John Lindsay. I never met John,
but I remember he used to think John Lindsay was wonderful.
DeVorkin: Well, Lindsay was an enormously adept program manager who could make missions appear out of vapor.
DeVorkin: His vision of OSO. Once the OSO and the OAO were separated, Lindsay just took the OSO.
Dupree:Took the OSO, yes.
DeVorkin: He’s a legend at Goddard. Of course, Goldberg was being asked to be director at Goddard at about the same time he left here.
Dupree:Yeah, I sort of remember that or something.
DeVorkin: Did he talk to you about it?
Dupree:No, but somehow I knew he was thinking about that or something. Somehow I knew. But he was also a very great advocate of national telescopes, so that was probably the egalitarian [side]. I mean, he and Jesse Greenstein. I always got along with Jesse Greenstein, I think, except Jesse was the one who told me that I was the most aggressive woman astronomer he’d ever seen.
DeVorkin: When did he tell you that?
Dupree:He did tell me that, and it was back… I know that was the date, and that was quoted in my New York Times article. I know they didn’t say who it was. I liked Jesse.
DeVorkin: Did he say it with a straight face?
Dupree:You know, Jesse, he’d say it with a little smile on his face. He once confessed to me. This is after he failed. It was 1978, and it was after the AAS in Honolulu, and it was January. It had been announced that he wasn’t going to be the president. He had run for president of the AAS, and I don’t think he made it. Someone else made it. I remember he said to me — The reason I happen to know this is that I spent some time with him quite by accident, and he happened to say it this time. He said, “You know, it’s really sad.” He said, “I probably made too many enemies. But now, when I have time to do this, and I would really love to do it, I really can’t do it. No one asked me. I’ve got so many enemies that nobody asked me.”
DeVorkin: Oh, that’s too bad.
Dupree:Which is really kind of sad. But Leo always used to hold it [against him]. Leo didn’t like Jesse either because Jesse represented richness and the New York, Jewish, you know, rich boy kind of thing. Leo would always say, “I write so much better than Jesse. You go down and look at Jesse’s thesis. You go down and just look at Jesse’s thesis.” And I think I did. You can look at it down in the library. He would always tell me to go look at Jesse’s thesis and how bad it was and how bad the English was and how terrible it was. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Wow. They were both titans in their way, certainly.
Dupree:Yeah. Well, Jesse had the last laugh. Look what happened at Kitt Peak, right?
DeVorkin: What do you mean?
Dupree:Jesse was chairman of the board that asked Leo to retire. Go read that book, that great telescopes book. That’s how I learned it. I thought that was fascinating. That book was given to me, actually. I went on some ORO board, an ORO council or something. Mary Lou came and said, “You’ve got to read this,” and so she gave me this. It’s in paperback. It’s really cute.
DeVorkin: Yes, it is. It’s a good book.
Dupree:And it was loaded with stuff, all this gossipy stuff about people that I just never knew. This went over my head.
DeVorkin: Let me ask you, and this is on Page 114 of your interview with Jonathan Cole and Harriet Zuckerman.  [Zuckerman, Harriet, Jonathan Cole and John Bruer (eds.) 1991 The Outer Circle: Women in the Scientific Community New York: Norton]
Dupree:Uh-oh. [Laughs] Okay.
DeVorkin: It’s something you said, and I would love to find out if you still feel this way. They are asking you — and let me just set the context correctly — women scientists as stereotypes. Harriet Zuckerman says, “Of course, it’s stereotyped that women scientists have ripped stockings and are unattractive.” And it said, “Women who are attractive are not taken very seriously.” Do you think that, apart from being a woman, being a pretty woman can be an additional problem? Do you remember that?
Dupree:No, I don’t remember my answer, but I think it probably did.
DeVorkin: You say, “That happened to me. When I was young, I had people react to me like that, especially since I collaborated with my older thesis adviser.” That would be Goldberg.
Dupree:It was Leo Goldberg, yeah.
DeVorkin: “Who never really acted as a mentor,” which is very consistent.
Dupree:That’s true. Yeah.
DeVorkin: But then you said, “I was more like a butterfly on a pin or something.” What a remarkable thing to say.
Dupree:Well, in the sense of “unusual.” A butterfly, not like lots of butterflies. Unusual. Someone that they would look at. I still would agree with that. Maybe I wouldn’t say “butterfly on a pin” exactly, but I think women are still somewhat an anomaly. I think I felt then, and probably do to some extent now at times, that people look at me and other women and think, “Gee, they’re sort of out of place here,” or “They’re unusual.” And I think they also don’t quite know what to do when they see women. Irwin Shapiro, our last director, when he came in to meet me for the first time in my office, he tripped over his feet and had to grab onto this chair and everything. He had no clue what to do. I don’t think he had ever walked into the office of another woman astronomer or woman scientist. [Laughs] I sense, and I think a lot of other women sense that men, which dominate astronomy or physics and these male-dominated professions, feel uncomfortable with women. Or very few of them feel comfortable with women. And in some sense, they are always sort of, you’re a little bit unusual, and you’re strange, and they don’t understand. Why did Leo Goldberg say, “I want to see what makes her tick,” or “See if you can find out what makes her tick”? It’s like you’re a little bit unusual. I used to worry about it, but now I don’t. Now I do whatever I darn please. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: You were aware of this. You had this feeling at the time.
DeVorkin: This must have made you feel distanced from other people.
Dupree:You feel weird. I can give you so many examples. The one I love is: Here I had gotten my Copernicus time from Lyman Spitzer. I passed his interview and everything. So I was down at Princeton.
DeVorkin: He had everybody interviewed?
Dupree:I don’t know. I don’t know. He wanted to interview me, so I went down there, I went to his house and his library, and I was interviewed. But anyway, I went down there subsequently because the arrangement was that the data were taken, and then you had to go down to Princeton and actually sit in the bottom of Peyton Hall. And they always put us on the lowest priority possible to run the computer because you had to run a computer program to reduce the data and sum it and stack it and all that stuff. They always put us on a lower priority because the guest observers weren’t going to get the expensive computer time. They were going to get the low priority, which meant that it ran from 11 p.m. to 3 in the morning, or something like that. [Laughs] But just to say, “Do you feel unusual?” I remember sitting there once, working at about, I don’t know, 6:00 and my door was slightly open. I could hear some guys going outside, and they said, “Should we ask her? Do you think we should ask her? Should we?” “Well, I don’t know. Do you want to? Do you think she’d come? Do you think we want to? Should we do it?” And there was all this “Should we,” “Would we,” “Should we,” “Could we.” And then, finally, there was a knock on the door, and someone stuck his head in and said, “We’re going to go out to dinner. Would you want to go? Would you like to go to dinner?” Well, by that time, I was feeling so, “Oh, my God. ‘Should we,’ ‘Could we,’ ‘Would we,’ ‘Dare we,’ ‘Don’t we.’ No, no, no. No, thanks.” [Laughs] I still have to work here, you see. What I’m saying is you frequently feel that you’re just a little bit on the outside of whatever’s going on. So, yeah, I would say — I mean, you’re not into this. This isn’t NASA and Smithsonian and whatever relations.
DeVorkin: Well, it still has a lot to do with the history of this place.
Dupree:Sure it does. Yeah. As part of the OSO team, I was invited out to HAO to give a colloquium, and I thought, “Oh, isn’t this great? I’m invited out to give a colloquium.” They wanted to hear all about the OSO results, and I felt that I was pretty proud of that, so I gave the colloquium at HAO, and that was wonderful. And then the guy who was the chair of the colloquium — I’ll tell you: Andy Skumanich. I’ll name names. Andy Skumanich said, “Oh, Andrea, I’ve got such a headache tonight. I’m really sorry, but I can’t go out to dinner with you because I’ve got this awful headache. They come on every now and then, and I’m just going to have to go and lie down and put a cold compress on my head. I apologize for getting sick on you.” You know, whatever. It’s something. Okay, fine. So I was walking around the hall thinking, “What am I going to do here in Boulder, Colorado? Well, I’ll go find someplace to eat,” and I ran into Dick Thomas, R. N. Thomas. Well, Dick Thomas was a buddy of Goldberg. Goldberg had certain friends that he liked, and Dick Thomas said, “Oh, Andrea, hey! Can’t we go out to dinner? Let’s go out to dinner.” Dick Thomas was sort of a maverick. I found that people that are friendly are frequently mavericks. They’re not always the mainstream scientists who are trying to get ahead at all costs. He’s kind of a maverick. He was an older guy. He was Leo’s age or something.
DeVorkin: Very, very well respected.
Dupree:Oh, yeah. Yeah, very well respected. So Dick says, “Oh, do you want to go out to dinner?” I was just practically a graduate student or a brand-new post-doc. Well, I was delighted to have someone to go out to dinner with. Here I was, all alone. So we go out to dinner, and guess who’s sitting at the next table?
DeVorkin: Oh, no.
Dupree:Yes. [Laughs] The guy with the headache who had to go home immediately was sitting there with, I don’t know, three other people. I have no idea who he was sitting with.
DeVorkin: Was he on a date, maybe?
Dupree:I have no idea. I don’t remember.
No, what I’m saying is that there’s a lot of this informal give-and-take that you don’t quite participate in.
DeVorkin: When did you start becoming aware of the complexities of the Smithsonian and Harvard relationships? It was only in the CFA years?
Dupree:Well, I had heard a lot from Leo when I was a graduate student about issues with Fred and how he had problems with Fred and some of the things with the Smithsonian. But then, I think things went along pretty well in the first years of George Field’s tenure. And things were pretty smooth. I think things started getting a little rocky. We sort of got to the end of this, particularly with Irwin Shapiro. I think there’s been a real devaluation of the role of Smithsonian relative to Harvard. Two years or three years ago, there was a huge battle here, which you may or may not be aware of. But overall, I think things have been good. In terms of access to resources like telescope time, I think that’s been, as far as I’m aware of, perfectly balanced or equally accessible to both sides — both Smithsonian and to Harvard. Back in the day, the Smithsonian had the telescope resources and Harvard people used them. Right now, Harvard has Magellan. I love Magellan. [Laughs] I’ve been using that a lot. Really a wonderful, wonderful telescope. Wonderful sight. Wonderful instrumentation. It’s been really, really good.
DeVorkin: I’m thinking a little differently. I’ve been able to read a lot of the criticisms that Leo Goldberg had, and others, back and forth on both sides, in the late ‘60s. I think that, without being specific, the overall feeling was that the quality of the science, the kind of science that Smithsonian was doing at that time, the kind of big projects that Whipple was bringing in and fostering, did not auger well for the best intellectual training, let’s say, of the Harvard students. Things like that.
Dupree:Okay, you’ve reminded me. Celescope. Celescope was a big failure. Celescope never did any science at all, and I think Leo also — Well, I think people would probably be unhappy about that.
DeVorkin: Well, this is a big job for me because I’m trying to evaluate Celescope historically.
Dupree:Oh, in terms of the science. First of all, I don’t think part of it worked. It just didn’t work at all. I think one of the good things that came out of it was the SAO Star Catalog. We used to use that. That was done prior to Celescope in order to have a good reference catalog. And that, we have used long and hard before the advent of all of these online databases and the STSS and the Guide Star Catalog and all of that sort of thing.
DeVorkin: It was the first digitized catalog?
Dupree:It was the first digitized catalog, but we used it in a book. It was on cards.
DeVorkin: Oh, yeah. I remember seeing it the first time in a book and then cards and then tape.
Dupree:That’s right. The other thing is that Fred brought in — the program where they had sky watchers all over the world, watching satellites?
Moon Watch. My recollection is that Leo didn’t think very highly of that, either. It’s something to be done, and sort of a big thing to get in the newspapers, but it’s not really increasing our knowledge of the universe and things that… you know.
DeVorkin: Right. All of the satellite tracking.
Dupree:Satellite tracking. But that had spin-offs and benefits. We had a very good computer center. We had a really good computer center as a result of that. To some extent, there are many people around here who draw parallels between… I wanted to say AXAF or Chandra. In the sense that we’re getting in a lot of overhead money from Chandra, which is being used to fund other things here. Now, I don’t think anyone would quibble with the scientific results from Chandra. I think those are extremely strong.
DeVorkin: Right. It’s a similar situation, but you have the added factor: it’s doing good science as well.
Dupree:Yeah, exactly. But I don’t think Celescope did. Did they have any published papers?
DeVorkin: They had a catalog from it. A photometric catalog.
Dupree:Does anybody use it? How would you then cite it?
DeVorkin: That I don’t know. That’s a good question. In fact, I’m going to run home and try to do it. [As of 6/2010, the number of citations to all articles and items in ADS with “Celescope” in the title was 228]
Dupree:You want to go run home and try to see what that is. That was supposed to be the first UV survey of the sky, and I know no one considered that as a UV survey because, all during the ‘70s and ‘80s, I sat and chaired on various committees where we bemoaned the fact that there had been no UV survey of the sky. They did X-ray surveys. In other words, the HEAO-1, HEAO-2, Uhuru where they did X-ray surveys. There have been infrared surveys. 2MASS. IRAS did infrared. But there had never been any UV survey of the sky until GALEX, which was just launched three, four, five years ago. Celescope didn’t even hit the radar screen.
DeVorkin: The Celescope catalog, in fact, did.
Dupree:The only other one was the one from the Netherlands, the Dutch. There was an ANS, Astronomy Netherlands Satellite.
DeVorkin: Astronomy Netherlands Satellite. There was a grand ceremony that took place on the Mall when the Celescope catalog was presented to Fletcher. Ripley presented it. In this ceremony that took several days, there was a symposium. So you weren’t involved in that at all.
Dupree:No. When was that?
DeVorkin: Early ’75, ’76.
DeVorkin: Was there ever any denouement here?
Dupree:I don’t recall anything like a party or a celebration.
DeVorkin: Yes, there were parties and celebrations, but any kind of a coming to terms with what went wrong? I mean, I know what went wrong. The UVICON detectors had calibration problems.
Dupree:So, what good is the photometric catalog? [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Fair enough
I’m trying to look at it in a large context. Here is an organization, SAO, that is building this satellite that initially had a very, very simple satellite in mind. NASA comes up with the universal platform. Everything gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
Dupree:Well, Wisconsin went on it, right? Along with it.
DeVorkin: Along with it, yes.
Dupree:Wisconsin had some good stuff.
DeVorkin: They were all photoelectric. No two-dimensional imaging.
Dupree:I remember, though, there was something in 1972 at the University of Massachusetts AAS meeting where there was, I think, a big paper session when the OAO-2 results were presented. So that must’ve included Celescope’s. I went to the meeting. I’m not sure. I gave a paper, but I can’t remember what I gave a paper about.
DeVorkin: Oh, I do remember, and I don’t have a specific, but I remember seeing embarrassed correspondence saying, “All the good results are coming from Wisconsin. Nothing from Celescope.” And that we’ve got to do something about this.
Dupree:Oh, really? Okay. Yeah, I almost remember that somehow. I think it was because I went to that symposium, and I may have a program of it somewhere. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Oh no, I’ve seen it. I know it exists.
Dupree:There was a book or something, like an informal book, like a soft-covered book, that came out that had that. Yeah, I remember that, too, that Wisconsin was all godson, you have talked to Bob Davis?
DeVorkin: Oh, yes. In detail.
Dupree:So what did he say about it?
DeVorkin: He doesn’t really…
Dupree:He’s really foggy on that?
DeVorkin: Yeah, he’s very foggy.
Dupree:Nat Carlton? Would Nat know?
DeVorkin: I haven’t talked to Nat.
Dupree:Nat was in OIR. He had nothing to do with it, but he was sitting around here at the time in OIR.
DeVorkin: I tried to talk to Dave Latham because he was close to the instrumentation, and Dave didn’t want to get into it.
Dupree:Does he know it?
DeVorkin: I don’t even know that.
DeVorkin: Gene Avrett. He basically said what you said. And he was talking about the real problems with calibration and all of that stuff. But the question of a larger view. I’ve written a paper on Celescope, but on the early period. I’ve shown how Celescope was one of Whipple’s mechanisms for building a huge infrastructure. I also showed that Whipple wasn’t interested in the UV sky. Except that he did have Davis prepare predictive magnitudes for what they could expect as early as 1956.
DeVorkin: Oh, yeah. I’ve got that publication. It was in the context of what could you do with a simple, Earth-orbiting satellite?
DeVorkin: But what did Whipple really want to do? He wanted to build NASA here. [Dupree laughs] Or here and various other university centers. He wanted a university-based consortium to be the science side. Military, ABMA. As far as he’s concerned, it was ABMA that could launch anything. That’s van Braun. And he wasn’t thinking NASA — He testified in Congress to this effect. So, Celescope was a way to get into the business, because he had tracking stations, he had data reduction — he has the whole nine yards. Everything.
Dupree:Ready to go.
DeVorkin: He starts Smithsonian contributions, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory contributions to knowledge. Look at the first issue.
It’s everything in astronomy. This guy knew no bounds.
Dupree:Well, maybe that’s good.
DeVorkin: Of course it is. It was fantastic.
Dupree:But how did he become director of SAO? Because he was a Harvard professor here, right? That was Menzel that did it?
DeVorkin: Menzel did it, and it’s still a bit murky. Someone who was younger here, who at first was being thought of, who could follow the solar research that Smithsonian was doing, because what Carmichael wanted was the continuation of Abbot’s programs. It was the only way to keep Abbot out of his hair because Abbot was going straight up to Congress saying, “They’re raping my program,” and he had a lot of friends in Congress. You know, Abbot was the first secretary of the Smithsonian to be retired in office.
Dupree:Oh, my goodness. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Everyone before him died. That’s the way I introduce Abbot. But he’s still around, and he’s still making trouble.
Now, Whipple once stood up in a colloquium that Ron Dole gave here many years ago. He wrote a wonderful article called, “Smithsonian on the Move”, and it was about the transition. But anyway, Ron is convinced that Whipple knew what was coming and where the money was and the mechanisms he needed to get hold of it, and that Menzel created this whole thing, because there was also something called Solar Associates. Whipple stands up and says, “No, I had no idea the money was there.” [Laughter]
Dupree:I don’t believe it. Well, Menzel also used to have Air Force money all the time. He used to have a lot of Air Force money. I mean, he was a real operator as well.
Dupree: I have a lot of other stories about the movable sash on this building that Leo Goldberg did. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: What you have just given me was, I think, some very, very valuable stuff about the legacy, the pre-CFA legacy and what Leo was fighting against. But the one thing I wanted to put together and ask your opinion about was this. The straw that broke the camel’s back for Leo, in his letters to Harvard administrators, was that he felt was the strongest suit was that Smithsonian staff were doing most of the teaching, and the Harvard students were losing in the proposition because the Smithsonian staff were not as good as the Harvard staff. [Dupree laughs] Now, that’s the gist of what he claimed. But then again, what he has always said is that so few Harvard staff, as you said yourself, so few Harvard staff wanted to teach.
Dupree:That’s right. And he told me that he could not make them teach. That’s what he told me. He said, “I’m chairman of the department and you can’t tell a Harvard professor what to do. And I can’t make them teach.”
DeVorkin: I don’t know what kind of game, how one calls this.
Dupree:I think whenever Smithsonian could be blamed for anything, that he would be very quick to spring to that call. [Laughs] Number one. Number two, I’m sure he’s always looking — you’re always looking for something to argue. Right now, we’re looking for a big telescope. What are we saying? We’re saying, “Look, we want to be in the game with Caltech and Princeton and Berkeley. They’re getting big telescopes. What are we going to be? We’re going to be second-rate unless we get a big telescope,” which is partly true. But this problem, this may be the seed, that the Smithsonian staff is worse than the Harvard staff because I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I don’t know whether it was then or not, but this is one of the big issues, as you know, that was raised by Irwin Shapiro. It’s even coming up and raising its head again, and the fact that Harvard wants to hire new faculty and wants to place them on the Smithsonian payroll so that they can then have more Harvard faculty for some reason.
DeVorkin: That’s right.
Dupree:But there’s also, I think, a general feeling, both with Irwin and maybe with even our present director, that he values his Harvard appointments more and better and higher than his Smithsonian appointments. So the part of this heritage of, well, the Smithsonian people are just like government employees, and it’s the Harvard people who are really the smartest. But what they don’t face is that fact that when they go looking for what they contend is the best in the world for their appointments, they don’t always get number one, and they don’t always get number two. And the talk around the observatory back in the ‘60s and ‘70s was that when they got some of the faculty that existed then, that they had gone down to double digits in the line.
Dupree:I don’t know if that’s true or not.
DeVorkin: But this was the rumor.
Dupree:This was the rumor, which they had gone down to number six or seven and they couldn’t get the first seven or eight, and now they’re down around ten and eleven. But this, of course, I just disagree so much with the idea that you can rank someone number one and number two and number three and number four. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. How do you rank them? You’re deceiving yourself. You like to talk yourself into the fact that you’ve identified and you’ve hired number one, whatever that number one may be. It’s a continuing problem. It’s very interesting to hear that. Where did you find that letter? Is that Leo Goldberg’s?
DeVorkin: These are Leo Goldberg’s letters to Harvard administration.
Dupree:But I thought Harvard has locked up their letters for 50 years.
DeVorkin: These are Goldberg’s papers.
Dupree:Oh, so you can see Goldberg’s papers.
DeVorkin: I always have a way to get around something. I convince the Harvard archivists, and I bring them candy.
Dupree:Yeah. [Laughs] I do that, too.
DeVorkin: And they’re good people. They have ways of getting around their own rules. Basically, if they are convinced that the person who wants to see these records have already seen equivalent records, they will open them. But I still have to have Charles Alcock’s approval if they’re administrative. But there’s no way that I can see promotion records and grade records. So they look at them, and they redact anything that smacks of how much money anybody gets.
Dupree:Well, even now, we did the June directory report, and Harvard wouldn’t let any of the information out.
Dupree:So they’re consistent, at least. [Laughs]
DeVorkin: Oh, they’re very consistent. Thanks so much for this.
Dupree:Okay. Thank you.