History of the James Arthur Lecture Series

James Arthur was born February 26, 1842, of Scottish parents at Crosscandley, Ireland. While he was still a child the family moved to Glasgow where he attended the technical school and trained in mechanics, metal and woodwork. At this early age he took an interest in horology and made sundials and started restoring and collecting clocks and watches. In November 1871 he came to the USA. His wife and the three older children followed in 1872. James Arthur was a skilled mechanic with knowledge of machinery and fine construction. Fourteen years after coming to the USA he established the Arthur Machine Works at 188-190 Front Street, New York, for the manufacture and repair of machinery in general and in particular for the construction of models for inventors. The business proved lucrative, as he was able to make a world tour in 1897, and added many interesting pieces to his collection throughout his lifetime. He continued working until he retired in 1912. He died at Winsted, Connecticut, April 27, 1930.

On December 1, 1925, he donated his horological collection together with a substantial endowment to New York University, specifying that part of the endowment should fund an annual lecture. Daniel W. Hering, Professor Emeritus of Physics, was appointed Curator. The original collection of 1,336 items was enlarged, principally by donation, so that by 1932 it amounted to 1,464 items made up of 224 clocks, 1,190 watches, and 50 books. Of particular interest are the original tallcase clocks he designed and made. His notebook No. 1 contains the original designs of 13 tallcase clocks built in his shop by himself or his workmen.

New York University never completed the reassembly and display of the items and, in 1964, they moved from University Heights to the present location in Greenwich Village. At that time they transferred most of the collection to the Smithsonian Institution. In 1982 New York University decided to dispose of the Arthur Collection, dividing the items between The Smithsonian Institution, the Time Museum at Rockford, and the NAWCC Museum at Columbia, Pennsylvania.

Ward Francillon was instrumental in making the James Arthur Lecture the keynote lecture of the Annual NAWCC Seminar, continuing that part of Arthur's original legacy which NYU had fulfilled only intermittently. The first NAWCC James Arthur Lecture was at the 1984 Seminar in Hartford, Conn. with Dana Blackwell as the speaker. Only the most eminent horologists are invited to give this lecture.

                                         James Arthur Lecture Series

           Time and Its Mysteries: Sponsored by New York University 1932-1984

1932 Time     Robert Andrews Millikan

1933 Time and Change in History     John Campbell Merriam

1934 On the Life-time of a Galaxy    Harlow Shapley

1935 The Beginnings of Time Measurement and the Origins of Our Calendar   

       James Henry Breasted

1936 The Time Concept and Time Sense

        Among Cultured and Uncultured Peoples    Daniel Webster Hering

1937 What is Time?   William Francis Gray Swann

1938 Time and Individuality    John Dewey

1939 Time and the Growth of Physics   Arthur H. Compton

1940 The Astronomical Scale   Henry Norris Russell

1941 The Geologic Records of Time   Adolph Knopf

1946 Time and Historical Perspective   James T. Shotwell

1949 Developments in Portable Timepieces   George P. Luckey

1951 The Early American Clock Making Industry   Brooks Palmer

1953 From Hours to Microseconds:  Three Centuries of Timekeeping Progress

         Arthur L. Rawlings

1969 The Hypothesis of Environmental Timing of the Clock   Frank A. Brown, Jr.

The Cellular-Biochemical Clock Hypothesis   J. Woodland Hastings

1972 Physics at the Origin of Time   R. Omnés and Steven Frautschi

1975 Time and the Atom:   Precise Measurement of Time with Atomic Clocks

        Molecular Beam Spectroscopy with Molecules, Atoms and Neutrons   

         Norman F. Ramsey

1978 Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe   Freeman J. Dyson

1980 Reality, Illusion and Time   Time and Light  Beyond the End of Time   

        John Archibald Wheeler

1984 Symmetry Principles in Physics ;  Time as a Dynamical Variable  Discrete Theory

         of General Relativity   Tsung Dao Lee

                         NAWCC Sponsored James Arthur Series Lecture

1984  Horology and the Whole Man   Dana J. Blackwell

1985  Paradigms and Clockmaking   Douglas H. Shaffer

1986  Mark Leavenworth, Clockmaker   Snowden Taylor

1987  The Time of Our Lives   David Landes

1988  The Importance of Horology in Our Lives   Seth Atwood

1989  The History of British Public Timekeeping   Beresford Hutchinson

1990  The History of the Watch   Henry B. Fried

1991  Horologists Oiled the Industrial Revolution   Theodore R. Crom

1992  Uses of the Atomic Clock   Norman F. Ramsey

1993  The Mechanical Watch in the Twenty-first Century: The Renaissance of the      

          Mechanic   George Daniels

1994  Horological Ephemera, Its Variety, Availability, and Importance    David Penney

1995  Clockmaking or Timekeeping    Douglas H. Shaffer

1996  Running a Railroad on Time    Dr. Ian Bartky

1997  Bristol's Clock Museum in the Early Years - Who and What Made It Tick    

          Bartlett Barnes

1998  Modern Time, Old South    Mark M. Smith

1999  Horological Gods and Heroes     Chris H. Bailey

2000  The Early Collectors    David Thompson

2001  American Wristwatches    Bruce Shawkey

2002  Watches and Clocks: The Road to Quality Mass Production    David K. Landes

2003  The Long Now    Alexander Rose

2004  Horology in Science and Science in Horology    Johnathan Betts

2005  The Inventive Mind    Dr. David Collard

2006  The American Influence on Swiss Watchmaking   Antoine Simonin

2007  The Beginning of Mass Production: Eli Terry and the Porter Contract Donald Hoke

2008  - Curtis Mann

2013  - Will Andrewes

2014  - Philip Poniz

2015  - The History of Music Boxes      Steve Boehck