The Department of Physics blends the traditions of Western Reserve University, founded in 1826, and the Case Institute of Technology, established as the Case School of Applied Science in 1880. The department boasts many eminent faculty and graduates, including not only four Nobel Prize winners (among them Albert A. Michelson, the first American scientist to be awarded the prize), but also, to our knowledge, the only Ph.D. physicist ever to have received an Oscar award.


Case Physics Letters

A repository for about 50 letters from the period 1880 to 1940 which have survived in the departmental archives. The letters were addressed to three Case School of Applied Science physics chairmen: Michelson, Miller, or Shankland. A few of the letters concern real physics, some record the purchase of research equipment, some are about college business, and some are simply courtesy notes from famous physicists.

View texts and images of letters.


Acoustics Instrument Collection

Descriptions, photos and film clips of some of the acoustics analysis equipment designed or collected by Dayton C. Miller.


William Fickinger’s “Physics at a Research University: Case Western Reserve 1830-1990”

This is a history of the physics research done by the faculty and students of CWRU and its parent institutions. Highlights of the work done by over 100 researchers are described at a level so that the general reader can understand qualitatively how and why the research was done, and the more technical reader can appreciate some more quantitative details. The book ends with a “post-script” which describes research performed from 1990 to 2005. Lists of the names of physics graduates, including titles of graduate theses, appear as appendices.

The book is available at the CWRU Bookstore. To order, call 216-368-2650.

Full text of “Physics at a Research University Case Western Reserve 1830-1990”.


Miller’s Waves: An Informal Scientific Biography

This second book by Professor Emeritus Fickinger follows the career of Dayton C. Miller who was chair of the department from 1890 until 1941. Born in nearby Berea, educated at Baldwin Wallace and Princeton, Miller was one of the first Americans to work on medical x-rays, an expert in musical acoustics, and a major player in the controversial decades long search for the luminiferous ether.

Download¬†the full text of Miller’s Waves as a 120 page pdf file.