Willard J. Poppy Papers

Archives Record Series: 15/07/11

Willard Joseph Poppy, (1907-1996). Papers, (1942-1975). 2 linear feet.


Willard Joseph Poppy was born on June 23, 1907, at New London, Wisconsin. He received an Ed.B. degree in Mathematics and Physics from Oshkosh State Teachers College in 1930. In 1933 he earned an M.S. in Physics, and one year later a Ph.D., both from the University of Iowa.

Poppy taught in the Physics Department at UNI from 1949 until he retired in 1975. He earned full professorship in 1953 and was Head of the department for the 1968-69 academic year. Before coming to UNI, Poppy taught at two other institutions. From 1934 through 1942 he was Associate Professor and Head of Physics at Fenn College (now Cleveland State) in Cleveland, Ohio. He then spent one year as a visiting lecturer at the University of Iowa before returning to Fenn College in 1943 as a full Professor. Previously he was Instructor of Math at Oshkosh State Teachers College for the summer of 1930.

His achievements include being named Fenn Student Council's "Outstanding Professor" for 1945, receiving the College of Natural Sciences "Dean's Award for Superior Achievement," and serving as president of the Iowa Academy of Science from 1976 through 1977. He co-authored two books, The Physical Sciences, with Emmett Cable, Robert Getchell, and William Kadesch, and Exploring the Physical Sciences with Leland Wilson. He was also a member of the Arcturus Club and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Poppy died April 12, 1996, at Homestead Health Care Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Professor Ralph Engardt, a colleague of Poppy in the UNI Department of Physics, brought this collection of papers to the Archives in 1997. The arrangement of the first three boxes of papers very closely follows the order in which they were received. For the most part, these three boxes contain curricular material associated with Poppy's teaching at the University of Northern Iowa. However, these boxes also contain material relating to courses that Poppy took while a student and courses that Poppy taught to Army Air Corps personnel from 1942-1944.

The curricular material includes quizzes, tests, lecture notes, and laboratory manuals. This material is arranged alphabetically by subject. There is also a small amount of professional correspondence associated with these curricular files.

The fourth box in this series relates to a Digital Equipment Computer unit used by the Department of Physics in the middle 1970s. This device is reputed to be one of the first computers used in association with instruction on the UNI campus. It is probable that the material in this box is not really related to Poppy.

Container Inventory

Box 1

Acoustics, Acoustics and Optics, Advanced Mechanics, Alternating Current, Army Air Corps Exams (1942-1944), Army Air Corps Physics, Astronomy, Atomic and Nuclear Physics Lab Manual, Comprehensive and Certification Exams

Box 2

Correspondence, Descriptive Geometry, Electricity, Electricity and Magnetism, General Physics I, Lab Manual for Engineering Physics, Lab Notes--Electricity, Light, Modern Physics

Box 3

Optics, Physical Science, Physical Science I Lab Manual (Poppy and Wilson), Physics Lecture Notes, Physics I Lab Manual, Public Lectures, Stokes' Theorem, Theoretical Mechanics

Box 4

Analog Devices Product Guide, Digital Equipment Computer documentation and programs, Computer Use for Physics Students learning modules

Material processed by Gerald L. Peterson and finding aid prepared by Gerald L. Peterson and Susan Basye, September and October 1997.

Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675
Telephone: (319)-273-6307
Fax: (319)-273-2913
Email: Gerald.Peterson@uni.edu