Kevin H. Prendergast papers, 1954-1990.
Prendergast received his Ph.D. at Columbia in 1954 and then went to the University of Chicago, returning to Columbia as a
professor in 1962. He chaired the Columbia astronomy department from 1978 to 1984, retiring in 2000 with a long trail of successful
young theorists in his wake. Prendergast was an icon in the field of dynamics of many-body systems. He also was well known
for a series of papers in the 1960s and 1970s, written with Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge, on understanding the rotation
curves of galaxies. Numerous theoretical studies of the structure of galaxies followed, and he was a pioneer in the study
of X-ray binary systems. In addition to Prendergast's professional accomplishments, he was also a skilled pianist and an avid
sailor. During his long career, Prendergast became famous for using yellow legal pads, on which he had scrawled analyses of
many problems in astronomical dynamics. His classes were renowned for the exactitude of his standards and the high percentage
of faculty in attendance. During one year, regularly attending faculty outnumbered students.
Scope and Contents
Correspondence, manuscripts, lectures, notes, and printed materials of Kevin H. Prendergast, a prominent astronomer who worked
in the fields off dynamics of many-body systems, the rotation curves of galaxies, and X-ray binary systems.