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Herman Otto Hartley papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 13/24/59

Scope and Content

This collection (1934-1980, undated) contains Hartley's professional papers, as well as technical reports and consultation reports for the National Testing Service (NTS) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The collection also contains lecture notes and handouts for his various classes at Texas A&M University and correspondence and meeting materials regarding committees from Hartley's work with the ASA.


  • Creation: 1934-1980, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Herman Otto Hartley (1912-1980) was born Herman Otto Hirschfeld in Germany. In 1934, Hartley immigrated to England after completing his Ph.D. in mathematics at Berlin University. He continued his postgraduate work at Cambridge and earned a Ph.D. in mathematical statistics in 1940. Hartley held a post as statistician at the Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire where he was in charge of designing and analyzing poultry experiments at three agricultural experiment stations. During his time at Adams, Hartley lectured to agricultural students and published seven papers. He moved to University College in London as a lecturer of statistics and met Egon Pearson. Together they wrote and published the two-volume Biometrika Tables for Statisticians (1954 and 1972). During this time he also developed Hartley's Test which is used to verify that different groups have a similar variance.

In 1953, Hartley arrived at Iowa State College (University) as a one-year visiting research professor in statistics and stayed for nine years. While at Iowa State, Hartley was involved in research, teaching, and directing Ph.D. and Master's theses. His main area of research was survey sampling and statistical computing. Initially, he was in charge of scientific computing consultation and helped provide the entire university with service in data processing and numerical analysis for the first time. Hartley continued his consultations on statistics with a number of scientists on campus. He was elected Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and a member of the International Statistical Institute.

In 1963, Hartley accepted an appointment as Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University, where he founded the university's Institute of Statistics and became its first director. He drew a considerable amount of research funds and guided more than 30 doctoral students in their research. He published over 75 papers during his work at Texas A&M, including the foundations of sampling theory for which he became well-known, mathematical optimization, estimation with incomplete data, estimation of variance components, and establishment of safe doses in carcinogenic experiments. He served as president of the Eastern North American Region of the Biometric Society. In 1979, he became president of the American Statistical Association and was named a Fellow of ASA.

In 1979, Hartley accepted a professional position at Duke University and served there until his death in 1980. He received many recognitions and honors, such as the Samuel S. Wilks Medal in 1973, for his national and international efforts in the field of statistics. He and his wife Grace had two children, Michael and Jennifer.


4.32 Linear Feet (3 records center cartons, 1 document box)


The collection is organized into four series:

Series 1: Professional Papers, 1934-1980, undated (alphabetical)

Series 2: Mathematical and Statistics Class Material, 1972-1980, undated (alphabetical)

Series 3: Technical Reports and NTS, Contracted Jobs, 1975-1980, undated (alphabetical)

Series 4: American Statistical Association (ASA), 1978-1980 (chronological)

Items in related collections

MS-0349. American Statistical Association records, 1839-2012

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 13/24/59. Herman Otto Hartley papers, 1934-1980, undated
January 23, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672