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Anthony Zeleny papers, 1902-1939

Summary Information
Title: Anthony Zeleny papers
Dates: 1902-1939
Creator: Zeleny, Anthony, 1870-1947
Extent: 1 box Extent: (0.5 linear feet)
Language: English
Collection Number: 982
The collection includes correspondence, notes, legal papers, clippings and photos relating to Czechs in the U.S., electricity, smoking, students and other topics of interest to Anthony Zeleny, professor of physics at the University of Minnesota.

Repository: University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Requests for permission to quote from the Anthony Zeleny papers should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives head.

Preferred Citation:

Anthony Zeleny papers, University of Minnesota Archives.


The collection is arranged in alphabetical order by topic.

Biographical Sketch of Anthony Zeleny (1870-1947)

Anthony Zeleny was born in Racine, Wisconsin in 1870. He received his B.S. (1892), M.S. (1893) and Ph.D. (1907) from the University of Minnesota. From 1893-1895 he taught high school physics in Jamestown, North Dakota and Minneapolis. In 1895, he joined the faculty of the Physics department as "Scholar in Physics" and then as an instructor in 1897. He became an assistant professor in 1906 and served as professor of the physics department from 1909 until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1938. He was one of three academically prestigious brothers. His brother John, who began his career at Minnesota, was Chairman of the Yale University Physics department, and his other brother Charles was Chairman of the Zoology department at the University of Illinois. Both of Dr. Zeleny's sons received Ph.D.’s from the University of Minnesota, Lawrence in 1930 and Leslie in 1931.

Dr. Zeleny had many non-academic concerns, including the evils of tobacco, drinking and dancing. Many of his lectures included brief "sermonettes" as to the hazards of smoking and drinking. He was involved in the No-Tobacco League of America, served as president of the League's Minnesota Chapter during the 1920's and corresponded with the national officers throughout his career. Another non-academic interest was Czechoslovakian activities. Of Czechoslovakian descent himself, Zeleny corresponded with the Minnesota District of the Sokol Union of America and the Masaryk Institute in Pittsburgh and was a foreign member of the Masaryk Academy in Prague.

Dr. Zeleny's was best known, however, as a nationally recognized inventor and physicist. His research was conducted in the field of electricity. He developed an electrical method of recording the moisture content of grain that became the basis of measurement of moisture in many materials, including corn and lumber.

He was a member in numerous professional organizations including the American Physical society, American Optical society and the National Academy of Science of Czechoslovakia and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He assisted in establishing the National Laboratory for Invention and Research and helped solicit new members for the American Association of Physics Teachers. Dr. Zeleny died December 16, 1948 at the age of 77.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection includes correspondence, notes, legal papers, clippings and photos. Although he was on the faculty for 41 years, the bulk of Dr. Zeleny's papers is non-university material.

His non-academic interests are represented in the collection including the notes he used in preparing and delivering brief "sermonettes" to his students on the harmful effects of smoking, drinking, and modern dancing. Dr. Zeleny's research notes, drawings, pictures, and charts for his patented moisture and temperature gauge used in grain storage, as well-as notes on other research, are included in the collection. There are also some notes and illustrations used in his Elements of Electricity , first published by McGraw-Hill in 1930.

Notable among his professional correspondence are one letter from Morgan Brooks of the University of Illinois (September 16, 1906), two letters from Henry Crew of Northwestern University (September 22, 1909 and April 22, 1911), one letter to Dean Frederick S. Jones of Yale, former chairman of the Minnesota Physics Department (April 15, 1915), correspondence with the Leeds and Northrup Company regarding patent disputes (1914-1915), letters from the Nobel Prize Committee asking him to help nominate the prize recipient for 1912 and letters from the American Philosophical society regarding Dr. Zeleny presenting a paper for a 1916 meeting.

Related Material

William Watts Folwell papers

University of Minnesota Post Faculty Club paper

Subject Terms
Index Terms
  • This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
  • Brooks, Morgan, 1861-1947
  • Crew, Henry, 1859-1953
  • Jones, Frederick Scheetz, 1862-1944
  • Zeleny, Anthony, 1870-1947
  • Zeleny, Charles, 1878-1969
  • Zeleny, John, 1872-1951
  • American Association of Physics Teachers
  • American Association of University Professors
  • American Philosophical Society
  • Masaryk Institute
  • National Laboratory for Invention and Research
  • No-Tobacco League of America
  • Nobel Prize Committee
  • Sokol Union of America
  • University of Minnesota. Dept. of Physics
  • Alcohol
  • Czechs -- United States
  • Electricity -- Study and teaching
  • Physicists
  • Physics -- Study and teaching
  • Smoking
  • Students -- Religious life
Contents of Collection
 Location  Title
Box 1
American Association of University Professors, 1915 Box 1, Folder 1
Note Notes from organizational meeting in New York City.
Clippings and Pamphlets, 1905-1930 Box 1, Folder 2
Note News items about Zeleny; pamphlets and clippings concerning moral issues.
Correspondence, undated - 1938 Box 1, Folder 3
Note Czechoslovakian organizations.
Correspondence,  Box 1, Folder 4
Note Smoking in Memorial Stadium and non-payment of pledge.
Correspondence, 1922-1938 Box 1, Folder 5
Note Non-academic concerns; especially with No-Tobacco League of America.
Correspondence, 1906-1937 Box 1, Folder 6
Note Professional.
Correspondence, undated - 1937 Box 1, Folder 7
Note University of Minnesota.
Dartmouth Class of 1868, Study of, 1936-1937 Box 1, Folder 8
Note Study on longevity of smokers vs. non-smokers.
Inventions and patents, 1902-1926 Box 1, Folder 9
Personal Papers, n.d., 1928 Box 1, Folder 10
Note Misc.; deed to home; roster of ship voyage.
Photographs of Electrical Equipment and Instruments, ca. 1930 Box 1, Folder 11
Note Some of these were used in Elements of Electricity.
Professional Memberships, 1911-1938 Box 1, Folder 12
Professional Vitae, 1870-1935 Box 1, Folder 13
Published papers, 1906-1935 Box 1, Folder 14
Note Includes notes.
Sermonettes, n.d., 1937 Box 1, Folder 15
Note Moral Issues.
Sermonettes, n.d., 1939 Box 1, Folder 16
Note Science and Religion.