University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Luke Howard Collection 1865

© 2016 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Howard, Luke. Collection




0.25 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Luke Howard, FRS, (1772-1864) chemist and amateur meteorologist. In 1802, he contributed a paper to the Askesian Society which sought to classify clouds into families and coined their now-common nomenclature. The Luke Howard collection contains six handwritten, autographed letters from admirers of the 1865 edition of his “Essay on the Modifications of Clouds,” mainly written to Howard’s sons.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Howard, Luke. Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Luke Howard, FRS, was born on November 28, 1772, in London. He was the son of a Wuaker tinsmith, Robert Howard (1738-1812) and his wife, Elizabeth Leatham (1742-1816). Howard was educated at the Quaker School in Burford, Oxfordshire and went on to become a pharmacist. He married Mariabella Elliot (1769-1852) and had eight children, including John Eliot Howard (1807-1883), a chemist. He formed a pharmaceutical company with William Allen, Allen and Howard, in 1797. The partnership ended in 1807.

Howard was elected to the Royal Society in 1821. Much of his professional adult life was focused on developing scientific understandings of clouds. In 1802, he presented a paper to the Askesian Society entitled, “On the Modifications of Clouds.” In it, he classified clouds into three principle families and coined the nomenclature for clouds that exists today. His work was adopted by the World Meteorological Organization in 1896, securing his reputation as a scientist. He continued to advancing meteorological science throughout his life, though he later also became interested in charitable and educational work.

His wife, Mariabella, died in 1852, prompting Howard to return to London to live with his oldest son, Robert. He later died there in 1864.

Scope Note

The Luke Howard Collection contains six letters written and signed by fans of Howard’s 1865 edition of “Essays on the Modification of Clouds.” Many are written to Howard’s sons. All letters are dated in 1865 and have been arranged chronologically.

The letters were found in a copy of the third edition of Essays on the Modification of Clouds. (QC921.4.H85 1865 )

The collection was previously part of the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection.

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Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Letters, 1865

  • Letter: Blackheath, February 22, 1865
  • Letter: Brussels, February 26, 1865
  • Letter: London, February 28, 1865
  • Letter: February 28, 1865
  • Letter: Scarborough, February 28, 1865
  • Letter: Newark, March 12, 1865