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Beginning of the Long Dash

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This is the typescript of Malcolm M. Thomson's important The Beginning of the Long Dash: A History of Timekeeping in Canada (1978). Thomson's monograph is the standard account of its subject. The version here is fuller than that published by the University of Toronto Press in 1978. Thomson (1908-2002) was RASC National President (1966-1968) during Canada's centenary, and Chief of the Positional Astronomy and Time Service (1957-1966), and Chief of the Astronomy Division (1966-1970) at the Dominion Observatory (DO), and when the DO closed he became head of the NRC's Time and Frequency Section, Physics Division.

Thomson's work should be read in conjunction with Ian R. Bartky, Selling the True Time: Nineteenth-Century Timekeeping in America (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000), Derek Howse, Greenwich Time and Longitude, 2nd ed. (London: Philip Wilson, 2003 - the first edition [1980] is available online), Steven J. Dick, Sky and Ocean Joined: The U. S. Naval Observatory 1830–2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), Richard Stachurski, Longitude by Wire: Finding North America (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2009), and Paul Glennie & Nigel Thrift, Shaping the Day: A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales, 1300-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009; this book, while it deals with an earlier period and a different country than Thomson's monograph, is a model study, and serves as a corrective to many of the errors in Sobel's Longitude). For those who really want to travel back in time, as it were, there's Gerhard Dohrn-van Rossum, History of the Hour: Clocks and Modern Temporal Orders, tr. Thomas Dunlap (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1996) - a stimulating but not uncontroversial study.

For reviews of the published version of Thomson's book, see JHA 12 (1981), 71-72, and JRASC 73 (1979), 169-170.

- R.A. Rosenfeld

 

AttachmentSize
The Beginning of the Long Dash (PDF)38.43 MB
The Beginning of the Long Dash (DJVU)35.45 MB
Year: 
1985
Pages: 
520