George F. McEwen Papers, 1897-1961 (SMC 21)


Extent: 8.8 Linear feet (22 archives boxes, 1 wooden instrument box, and 1 map case folder)

Papers of physical oceanographer George McEwen, including a small amount of material documenting early days at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the first series of Pan-Pacific scientific congresses.

For a biographical sketch of George McEwen, please see the University of California's 1975 In Memorium profile.

George F. McEwen (1882-1972) was a physical oceanographer who began his academic career at the Scripps Institution in 1912 (that year, it was formally transferred to The Regents of the University of California as the Scripps Institution for Biological Research, later to become the Scripps Institution of Oceanography). His papers include a selection of his correspondence, research and subject files, reports, professional organization files, material on early Pan-Pacific science congresses, manuscripts, weather forecasting data, and calculations. It includes substantial but by no means complete documentation of McEwen's research in hydrography and meteorology, including hydrographic data on Alaska dated 1927-1929, and annual reports on McEwen's research dated 1919-1934 compiled for the director of Scripps and the President of the University of California. The collection also includes some of McEwen's seasonal weather forecasts dated 1924-1936, along with other lectures and scientific papers. The bulk of the correspondence is dated from 1919-1936, when McEwen undertook extensive calculations on ocean currents and prepared long-range weather forecasts, exchanging letters with representatives of federal agencies, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Weather Service, and Department of Agriculture. Writings and correspondence from collaborators N. W. Cummings and Polish scientist Wladyslaw Gorczyński may also be found in the collection. Some of the data in the collection predate McEwen's tenure at Scripps; for example, the logbook "University of California San Pedro record of stations occupied, 1901" was compiled by UC scientists at San Pedro station, where William Ritter conducted summer biological laboratories before establishing a permanent marine station in San Diego. Early documentation of academics at the Scripps Institution include course lists and curriculum materials describing lectures and offerings. McEwen kept voluminous documentation of his 1926 trip to Japan for the 3rd Pan-Pacific Science Congress, in Tokyo, including travel ephemera and scientific programs.


All of the collections cited below are held by Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego Library.

SIO Biographical Files (SAC 5): Includes eleven folders of McEwen correspondence and other papers dated 1912-1971.

SIO Subject Files (SAC 6): Includes documentation of McEwen's 1936-1939 project to compile oceanographic data for the U.S. Hydrographic Office at Long Beach.

Tillie Genter Papers (SMC 30) and the SIO Photographs Collection (SMC 59) include several photographs of McEwen.

McEwen correspondence can also be found in the papers of several of McEwen's colleagues and students including the Nephi Willard Cummings Papers (accession 88-4), the Wladyslaw Gorczynski Papers (accession 88-11). and the Ellis LeRoy Michael Papers (accession 88-3).

The original SIO Archivist noted, in the early 1980s, that the McEwen papers did not arrive at the Library with any meaningful existing order. The bulk of the material had been stored in the attic of Ritter Hall. The papers were originally processed by keeping McEwen's few larger groupings of research materials (such as mathematical tables and tide calculations) together, and imposing a standard order by genre/format on the rest of the collection. In 2022, all loose unprocessed McEwen accessions were folded into the main collection, the material was re-appraised, and the existing series tightened up with enhanced folder titles for an EAD finding aid.

Container List


Box 1 Folder 1
Drawings and sketches, 1897-1898
Box 1 Folder 2
Miscellaneous documentation
Box 1 Folder 3
Mechanics Laboratory II notebook by John Wright, Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College, 1909-1910

Wright's relationship to McEwen is unknown; the notebook has notable calligraphy and detailed, colored drawings of scientific apparatus and experiments.

Box 1 Folder 4
Appointment letter, Univ. of Illinois, 1911
Box 1 Folder 5
Civil service, 1914-1924
Box 1 Folder 6
Newspaper clippings, 1916-1953
Box 1 Folder 7-8
Travel - Expense accounts, 1919-1924, 1930
Box 1 Folder 9
Paul McEwen correspondence, 1935-1936
Box 1 Folder 10
Local San Diego community lectures on politics (fliers), 1938-1939
Box 1 Folder 11
Iowa State class of 1905, 50th reunion, 1955
Box 1 Folder 12
Map to Sumner's ranch, undated
Box 22 Folder 1
Radio interview with McEwen: "Ocean tides, Science I" transcript, undated


Box 1 Folder 13-20
Chronological, 1898-1920
Box 2
Chronological, 1921-1930
Box 3
Chronological, 1931-1935
Box 4 Folder 1-5
Chronological, 1936-1958
Box 4 Folder 6
Miscellaneous inquiries, 1925-1940
Box 4 Folder 7
Brooks, Charles F. (Sec., Am. Meteorological Society), 1928
Box 4 Folder 8
Browne, H. J. (Weather Bureau), 1928-1930
Box 4 Folder 9
Correspondence with Donald Chapman and Moscow officials regarding Okhotsk Sea Data, 1937-1938
Box 4 Folder 10-12
Cummings, N. W., 1918-1922

Includes content on evaporation and letters from Harald Sverdrup; and Cummings' degree candidacy.

Box 4 Folder 13
Schott, Gerhard, 1920-1929
Box 4 Folder 14-15
Gorczyński, Wladyslaw, 1940-1941
Box 4 Folder 16
Gorton, A. F., 1932
Box 4 Folder 17
Thompson, Thomas G., 1929-1935
Box 4 Folder 18
Willis, Bailey, 1932


Box 5 Folder 1
Committee on the Physical and Chemical Oceanography of the Pacific - Reports by Chairman Vaughan, 1923-1928
Box 5 Folder 2
International Committee on Oceanography of the Pacific, 1925-1927

Includes materials on sub-committee on the Physical and Chemical Oceanography of the Pacific for the United States (Chair, McEwan).

Box 5 Folder 3
Sub-committee on the Physical and Chemical Oceanography of the Pacific for the United States (Chair, McEwan), 1928-1933
Box 5 Folder 4
International Committee on the Coral Reefs of the Pacific - Report by Chairman Vaughan, 1929
Box 5 Folder 5-9
Pan-Pacific Union - First Scientific Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1920

Includes programs and printed material, correspondence, manuscript and talk outlines, and drafts of McEwan's "The Pacific Ocean and its importance to Pacific countries."

Box 5 Folder 10-13
3rd Pan-Pacific Science Congress, Tokyo, 1926

Announcements, programs, notes, etc.

Box 6
3rd Pan-Pacific Science Congress, Tokyo - Travel ephemera, 1926

Box of McEwen's collected travel ephemera from Japan and the conference, including: tourist publications, booklets and brochures about Japan; postcards; official invitations; ship information.

Oversize Annex MC-027-06
3rd Pan-Pacific Science Congress, Tokyo (oversize) - Photograph by U. Tojo; Broadside, "Pan-Pacific Club of Tokyo: It's influences at home and abroad" by Alexander Hume Ford, 1926
Box 7 Folder 1-2
4th Pacific Science Conference, Batavia and Bandoeng, Java, 1929

Includes papers and announcements by T. Wayland Vaughan.

Box 7 Folder 3
5th Pacific Science Congress, British Columbia, Vancouver, 1932


Writings and Publications

Box 7 Folder 4
Bibliography, 1929
Box 7 Folder 5
Untitled drafts, undated
Box 7 Folder 6
Answers to American Society of Civil Engineers, Committee on Meteorological Data questionnaire, undated
Box 7 Folder 7
The problem of flushing, undated
Box 7 Folder 8-12
Chapters on probability, undated
Box 7 Folder 13
Marine plankton: Equipment, collection and data, undated
Box 7 Folder 14
Conservation of California beaches, undated
Box 7 Folder 15
Moment of momentum of circular eddy, undated
Box 7 Folder 16
The problem of random occurrences in space or time, undated
Box 7 Folder 17
Sewage disposal considered as a problem in physics, undated
Box 7 Folder 18
A statistical theory of the space distribution of particles in a fluid, undated
Box 8 Folder 1
Suggestions relative to methods of obtaining "smoothed" values at equal or unequal intervals, undated
Box 8 Folder 2
Summary of methods of computing the mean distances between organisms from their population density, undated
Box 8 Folder 3
Draft forward for book on currents (untitled), undated
Box 8 Folder 4
An analysis of temperature changes in lakes regarded as effects of penetrating radiation, surface loss of heat and turbulence, undated
Box 8 Folder 5
Climactic influence of the ocean - University Radio Series, undated
Box 8 Folder 6
Conservation of California beaches, undated
Box 8 Folder 7
A limnological study of lakes and reservoirs of San Diego County, undated
Box 8 Folder 8
A mathematical theory of the vertical distribution of temperature and salinity in water, undated
Box 8 Folder 9
On the probability that a ratio of random numbers will depart from a harmonic ratio by less than a given amount, undated
Box 8 Folder 10
Significance of ocean observations at or near the surface, undated
Box 8 Folder 11
Some energy relations between the sea surface and the atmosphere, undated
Box 8 Folder 12
Suggestions relative to oceanographic observations in the north Pacific Ocean, undated
Box 8 Folder 13
Memorandum relative to meteorological and oceanographic observations in the Okhotsk sea region, undated
Box 8 Folder 14
Theory of ocean currents - Notes by McEwen, 1906-1911
Box 8 Folder 15
Ekman Theory - Notes, 1906-1911
Box 8 Folder 16
Summary of data and methods used in the temperature-rainfall problem, 1916-1924
Box 8 Folder 17
Oceanic and atmospheric relations, and a possible method of forecasting the season's rainfall, 1921
Box 8 Folder 18
The seasonal rainfall for 1921-1922: Indications based on ocean temperature, 1921
Box 8 Folder 19
Forecasting seasonal rainfall from ocean temperatures, 1922
Box 8 Folder 20
Suggestions relative to the application of mathematical methods to certain basic problems of dynamic oceanography, 1922
Box 8 Folder 21
A method of computing evaporation from temperature gradients in lakes and reservoirs, 1923
Box 8 Folder 22
Forecasting seasonal rainfall from ocean temperatures: Indications for the 1924-25 season in Southern California, 1924
Box 8 Folder 23
Ocean temperature and seasonal rainfall: A review of their relation, ca. 1925
Box 8 Folder 24
The natural air-conditioned climate of Southern California, 1926
Box 8 Folder 25
General recommendations concerning investigations of Pacific Ocean waters, ca. 1926
Box 8 Folder 26
Indications of the 1927-28 seasonal rainfall in Southern California, 1927
Box 8 Folder 27
Meteorologic and oceanographic research in the Pacific needed for seasonal forecasting, 1927
Box 8 Folder 28
Recent progress in the dynamical oceanography of the Northeastern part of the North Pacific Ocean (notes and tables on Ekman theory, Bjerknes theory), 1927-1929
Box 8 Folder 29
Interrelations between the sea and the atmosphere, NAS meeting discussion notes and report from Scripps, 1928
Box 8 Folder 30
Report of progress from June 15 to October 15, 1928 in special investigations at the Scripps Institution relating to seasonal weather forecasting, 1928
Box 8 Folder 31
Seasonal rainfall forecasting in California, 1929
Box 8 Folder 32
Memorandum on the surface temperature data on file at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 1929
Box 8 Folder 33
Memorandum on work done during the past year, 1929
Box 8 Folder 34
The water cycle between the ocean, atmosphere and land, 1929
Box 9 Folder 1-7
Indicated seasonal rainfall/precipitation predictions, 1929-1933
Box 9 Folder 8
Outline of methods used at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for long-range weather forecasting, 1932 December 3
Box 9 Folder 9
Lectures at UCLA (outline, talk on solar radiation), 1930
Box 9 Folder 10-11
Lectures and course materials for seminar on Dynamical Oceanography, ca. 1930
Box 9 Folder 12
Rate of upwelling in the region of San Diego computed from serial temperatures, 1933
Box 9 Folder 13
Seasonal weather forecasting at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 1933
Box 9 Folder 14
Suggestions relative to attacking the problem of the maximum wave height, ca. 1934
Box 9 Folder 15
Destructive high waves along the Southern California coast, 1934-1935
Box 9 Folder 16
Variations in San Diego County seasonal rainfall, 1935
Box 9 Folder 17
Series of wet years indicated for Pacific Coast states, 1935
Box 9 Folder 18
Some impressions from experience in scientific research, 1936
Box 9 Folder 19
Temperature indications supplementary to those issued Feb. 1936
Box 9 Folder 20
Indications of precipitation for the season 1938-1941
Box 9 Folder 21
Statistical problems of standardizing the precipitation ratio and estimating its error, 1940
Box 9 Folder 22
Diffusion from circular area, 1944
Box 9 Folder 23
Basis of modern weather forecasting, 1944, 1952
Box 9 Folder 24
Problems suggested by turbulence, 1945
Box 9 Folder 25
The science of statistics, 1958
Box 9 Folder 26
Summary of basic principles underlying modern methods of dynamical oceanography, 1952
Box 9 Folder 27
"Oceanography" and "Statistics" summaries for encyclopedia, 1961

Subject Files/Research

Box 10 Folder 1-17
Alaska (Gulf of) research, 1927-1929
Box 11
Calculations and mathematical tables
Box 12
Calculations and mathematical tables
Box 10 Folder 18
Clay varves, California climate cycle research - Correspondence, 1931
Oversize Annex MC-027-06
Current data - Log/table showing where drift bottles were thrown overboard from various ships, and where they were recovered, ca. 1930
Box 10 Folder 19
Fisheries - Data, 1916-1918
Box 10 Folder 20
Fisheries - Tuna reports catch, 1918-1919
Box 10 Folder 21
Fluid friction, n.d.
Box 10 Folder 22
Lake Hodges data, 1923


Box 13 Folder 1
University of California. San Pedro. Record of stations occupied, 1901
Box 13 Folder 2-5
Record of trawling collections, with Davis, Kofoid, and Esterly, 1906
Box 13 Folder 6
General pier log: For miscellaneous observations and notes, 1917
Box 22 Folder 2-3
Evaporation and accompanying meteorological observations at the Scripps Institution pier, 1928
Box 13 Folder 7
Mission Bay causeway - Peter H. Ottosen, 1941-1955
Box 13 Folder 8
Mission Bay report, 1944-1956
Box 13 Folder 9
Mitteilunger - Notes by McEwen, undated
Box 13 Folder 10
Murray Reservoir data by Richardson & Montgomery, 1923-1927
Box 13 Folder 11
Ocean temperatures and seasonal rainfall - Tables, undated
Box 13 Folder 12
Pacific Coast fog study, 1925
Box 13 Folder 13
Philosophy of science, 1936
Box 13 Folder 14
Box 13 Folder 15
Rainfall and runoff in San Diego County, 1924-1925
Box 14 Folder 1-3
Seaplane Project (Harold Lewis Kirby), ca. 1931-1934
Box 14 Folder 4
Sound, undated
Box 14 Folder 5
Student notebooks - Vibratory motion, general physical laboratory, etc., ca. 1900
Box 14 Folder 6
Temperature - Data
Box 14 Folder 7
Temperature - Directions for comp. temperature evaporation & upwelling
Box 14 Folder 8
Temperature - Sea surface, 1898-1931
Box 14 Folder 9-14
Tools and instruments, ca. 1915-1935

Includes files on: current meters, isolation pan, thermometers, correspondence, and a small selection of photographs. Prints include evaporation measurement equipment and Physics lab at Johns Hopkins.

Box 23
Tools and instruments - Pantograph in wooden box

McEwen used this device to chart temperature, salinity, and current measurements on maps.

Box 15 Folder 1-15
Tide Computations, ca. 1915-1945
Box 16 Folder 1-7
Tide Computations, ca. 1915-1945

Weather forecasting

Box 16 Folder 8-10
Correspondence, 1921-1937
Box 16 Folder 11
Precipitation data for California, 1933 September
Box 16 Folder 12
Seasonal forecasting, 1927-1928
Box 16 Folder 13
Bibliography and references
Box 16 Folder 14
Meteorological data - Lompoc, San Miguel Islands, 1918-1919
Box 16 Folder 15
Scrapbook (photocopy), 1928-1930
Box 17 Folder 1
Weather diary - Clippings about forecasting, etc. (photocopy), 1930-1931
Box 17 Folder 2
Wind velocity (tangential force) and lake water overturning, undated


Box 17 Folder 3
Directions for making and recording ocean observations by cooperative observers at light houses or light ships for SIO, undated
Box 17 Folder 4
UC semicentennary conference - Draft telegram invitation, 1918
Box 17 Folder 5-6
Statements prepared by McEwen for inclusion in annual reports, 1919, 1926-1933
Box 17 Folder 7
"The role of the Scripps Institution in program of Pacific exploration," by W. Ritter, ca. 1920
Box 17 Folder 8
Publication of oceanographic data - Remarks by McEwen and W. E. Allen, ca. 1925
Box 17 Folder 9
Academic offerings at Scripps Institution, 1924-1925, 1936
Box 17 Folder 10
Seminar lecture notes and course outlines, 1925-1935
Box 17 Folder 11
Instructions for expeditions and cooperative programs, 1925
Box 17 Folder 12
Conference on the Physical Oceanography and Marine Meteorology of the Northeast Pacific and the Climate of the Western Part of the United States, SIO, 1925 November 6-7
Box 17 Folder 13
"Investigations of physical oceanography and marine meteorology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography," by T. Wayland Vaughan, 1926
Box 17 Folder 14
Annual reports to the President of the University of California, 1927-1930, 1934-1935
Box 18 Folder 1
Reports on special investigations at the Scripps Institution relating to seasonal weather forecasting, 1928-1930
Box 18 Folder 2
Photograph of McEwen with Vaughan, Schott, and Gorton, 1929
Box 18 Folder 3
Laboratory building proposal for depts. of Dynamical Oceanography and Marine Meteorology, 1929-1930
Box 18 Folder 4
Mailing lists, ca. 1930-1935
Box 18 Folder 5
Pamphlets, summaries and early reports on SIO, 1933-1934
Box 18 Folder 6
University of California Radio Service - "Modern Weather Prophets" (broadcast #1257), 1934 November 13
Box 18 Folder 7
Memorandum for Dr. Vaughan relative to our work in long range weather forecasting, ca. 1935
Box 18 Folder 8
Farewell for Dr. Vaughan's retirement, 1936
Box 18 Folder 9
Memoranda, 1937-1938
Box 18 Folder 10
MOU between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, prepared by H. Sverdrup, 1940
Box 18 Folder 11
Employment regulations, 1940
Box 18 Folder 12
Oceanography 251 - Lecture notes on currents by Inman and Ewing, 1947
Box 18 Folder 13
SIO organization chart, La Jolla and Point Loma, 1948
Box 18 Folder 14
Staff meeting minutes, 1948-1989
Box 18 Folder 15
Course on hydrodynamics (Eckart), 1949
Box 18 Folder 16
Monsoon Expedition - Director's memo, 1959
Box 18 Folder 17
UC La Jolla telephone directory, with office locations, 1960 March


Oversize Annex MC-027-06
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting, Los Angeles - Panorama photograph, 1923 September
Box 18 Folder 18
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, Pullman, Washington, 1932
Box 18 Folder 19-20
American Association of Engineers (AAE), San Diego Division, 1920-1927, 1941

Includes photograph of Civil Engineers Convention in Tijuana, Mexico excursion to the Rodriguez Dam, 1941.

Box 18 Folder 21
American Meteorological Society, 1921, 1935-1941
Box 18 Folder 22
American Physical Society, Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting, Pasadena, 1956
Box 18 Folder 23
British Association for the Advancement of Science - Clippings, 1924
Box 18 Folder 24
British Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, Toronto, 1924
Box 19 Folder 1
California Economic Research Council - Executive committee meetings and conferences, 1927-1931
Box 19 Folder 2
California Economic Research Council - Proceedings, 1928-1929
Box 19 Folder 3
California Economic Research Council - Proceedings, 1933 November 8
Box 19 Folder 4
California State Chamber of Commerce, 1934-1935
Box 19 Folder 5-6
Engineers Club of San Diego, 1925-1935

American Geophysical Union

Box 19 Folder 7-12
Annual meetings, 1919-1929
Box 20 Folder 1
Correspondence, 1919-1929
Box 20 Folder 2
Evaporation Committee, 1931-1935
Box 20 Folder 3
Hydrology Section, 1932-1934
Box 20 Folder 4
Oceanography Committees, 1923-1926
Box 20 Folder 5
Sub-Committee on Physical and Chemical Oceanography, 1935
Box 20 Folder 6-7
National Research Council, Committee on Submarine Configuration and Oceanic Circulation, 1925-1929
Box 20 Folder 8
Western Society of Naturalists, 1929, 1935

Includes draft of McEwan's paper, "A survey of some of the methods used in modern dynamical oceanography."

Box 20 Folder 9
Writers Club of San Diego yearbook and program, 1936


Box 20 Folder 10
Allen, Winfred E. Assorted short papers, 1917-1918
Box 20 Folder 11
Chambers, S. W. Vertical sections of 1,000 meters and over in the northeast Pacific Ocean, 1929
Box 20 Folder 12
Culbertson, Margaret F. Notes on Physical Oceanography, undated
Box 20 Folder 13-20
Cummings, Nelphi W. Assorted papers and correspondence on evaporation, ca. 1920-1936
Box 21 Folder 1-3
Cummings, Nelphi W. Assorted papers and correspondence on evaporation, ca. 1920-1936
Box 21 Folder 4-9
Gorczyński, Wladyslaw - Assorted papers and correspondence, ca. 1925-1941

Includes: Climatic impressions from the Polish Scientific Expedition to Siam and Equatorial seas; material on aridity; notes on a trip to Baja Calif.; papers on Death Valley and the California climate.

Box 21 Folder 10
Gordon, Robert Dean. "Vectors of the mind" by Thurstone and possible applications of the technique of factor analysis to ecological problems, undated
Box 21 Folder 11
Inman, Doug. Suggested standardization of the relevant parameters in the mechanical analysis of sediments, 1950
Box 21 Folder 12
Kalinske, A. A. Brief review of the past theoretical and experimental work on evaporation from water surfaces, ca. 1940
Box 21 Folder 13
Keyser, C. J. (abstract. By G. McEwen). Mathematical philosophy: A study of fate and freedom
Box 21 Folder 14
Moberg, Erik G. The Carnegie: Its personnel, equipment and work, with suggestions for its proposed future cruise, 1929
Oversize Annex MC-027-06
Moberg, Erik G. The Carnegie - Itinerary proposed by Capt. Ault (map), 1929
Box 21 Folder 15
Moberg, Erik G. The interrelation between diatoms, their chemical environment, and upwelling water in the sea, off the coast of Southern California, c.1926
Box 21 Folder 16
Richardson, Burt. Recent evaporation studies, 1931
Box 21 Folder 17
Richardson, Burt. Photoelectric measurements (made during the summer of  1930) of the penetration of light in seawater, 1931
Box 21 Folder 18
Robinson, Margaret. Progress report on sea temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska, 1951
Box 21 Folder 19
Round table discussion on the Role of hydraulic laboratories in geophysical research - Assorted papers, 1939
Box 21 Folder 20
Sverdrup, H. U. Mixing and stability in the lowest air strata, 1936 January
Box 21 Folder 21
Thorade, H. (trans. Christa Painter). Prandtl's simplified theory of currents, 1940
Box 21 Folder 22
Trudy Instituta Okeanologii, vol. 27 - Investigations of the Kurile-Kamchatka Trench and the Northwest part of the Pacific Ocean (trans. By Olga Jones, ed. Warren S. Wooster), 1960
Box 21 Folder 23
Wilstam, A. Some comments on the application to forecasting of seasonal water power supply for the hydro-electric plants of the Southern California Edison Company, 1929