Emma Agnes Townsend (March 27, 1902–November 4, 1995, d. Sarasota, FL). Agnes was born March 27, 1902 to Jesse and Emma A. Leonard Townsend in Albany, NY. Jesse and Emma, both born in Arkansas, were married November 22, 1899, in Bowie, Texas. Jesse was a railroad machinist who first worked in Texas, then moved to Albany, NY, where he and Emma had their children. He worked for the railway. There was a Townsend Furnace and Machine Shop in Albany, whether there was a connection is not known. In his 1917 draft registration card, Jesse reports loss of an eye and three fingers on left hand. By 1920, the family had moved to Childress, Texas. The children included: Joseph L Townsend 19, Emma A Townsend 17, John J. Townsend 15, Frances S. Townsend 13, Eleanor N. Townsend 11, Dorothy A. Townsend 9. Jesse died February, 1968, in Shreveport, LA.
Emma Agnes entered the University of Texas in 1920. She was an assistant in physics from 1920–1923. She earned her BA in 1923. She also earned a letter in athletics, what sport is not known. She earned an MA in 1924, with a thesis entitled A Study of Residual Inductances of Resistance Coils. Following her MA, she was appointed Instructor at UT until 1927.
In 1926, Agnes married Charles Frederick Wiebusch (1903–99) who was born in Perry, TX. He was a tutor in the physics department and earned a BA in 1924. He received an MA in 1925, with a thesis entitled, Cathode Ray Oscillograph” From 1925–1927, he reported in American Men of Sciences that he was a “Professor of Experimental Instruments” in Physics at UT. Charles is shown at right. He joined Bell Telephone in 1927 and became a very successful research engineer, rising to important administrative positions, and receiving a number of important awards for his work.
It was not until October of 1927 that Agnes enrolled in Columbia University and was appointed assistant in Physics at Barnard College. She was promoted to lecturer in physics at Barnard in July 1931. She continued to be appointed in this position until 1944 when she was promoted to assistant professor at Barnard, a position she held until resigning September 30,1947. During these appointments, she earned a PhD in 1936, with a dissertation entitled, The Change in Thermal Energy Which Accompanies a Change in Magnetization of Nickel. The work was published in The Physical Review, Vol. 47, no. 4, pgs. 306-310, February 15, 1935.
From 1936-39, Agnes taught evening classes at Hunter College in New York City.
In 1949, Agnes was appointed as an instructor at New Jersey College (later Rutgers). At N.J.C,. women were appointed to the faculty from the time the college opened in 1918. Women joined the physics department at N.J.C., first as assistant (Dorothy Dodd and Gladis Francis, 1928), then as instructor (Dorothy Dodd, 1930), assistant professor (Katherine Van Horn, 1943), lecturer (Emma Townsend, 1949, photo at right, seated at right), and associate professor (Emma Townsend, 1953). The only women with PhDs to be appointed to the physics department at N.J.C./Douglass were Ellen Stewart (assistant professor, 1946), Emma Townsend (lecturer, 1949), and Sophie Bargman and Mary Wheeler (lecturers, 1959). Mary Wheeler had received her PhD at Yale in 1932 for research with Louis McKeehan. She then went to Vassar College where she was instructor and assistant professor, until she moved to Chicago in 1942 with her husband, Professor Eugene Wigner. No woman ever became Professor of Physics at N.J.C. or Douglass College. Emma did become an Associate Professor. According to Professor Townsend’s entry in American Men and Women of Science, she was promoted to professor at Rutgers in 1953, servering in that position until retirement in 1958. (photos: Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries). Her interests were ferromagnetism and photography.
Agnes died November 4, 1995, and Charles died December 20, 1999, both in Sarasota, FL.
The Agnes T. and Charles F. Wiebusch Fellowships was established by the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System on January 26, 1973, for the benefit of the Cockrell School of Engineering. Gift funds were provided by Agnes Townsend Wiebusch, PhD of Sarasota, Florida, a 1924 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences, Mr. Charles F. Wiebusch of Sarasota, Florida, a 1925 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, College of Natural Sciences, and the Charles Fred Wiebusch Trust of Sarasota, Florida.
The Charles F. Wiebusch Endowed Fund was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on September 18, 2000, for the benefit of the Cockrell School of Engineering. Gift funds were provided by Agnes Townsend Wiebusch, PhD of Sarasota, Florida, a 1924 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences and Mr. Charles F. Wiebusch of Sarasota, Florida, a 1925 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences.
Agnes T. and Charles F. Wiebusch Scholarship at Rutgers University. Awarded through the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College to a student in the sciences, preferably physics.
C. F. Wiebusch Receives Medal of Merit
The Medal of Merit was presented to Charles F. Wiebusch at a group ceremony in Washington on May 31, following which the recipient was congratulated by Secretary Forrestal and Admiral Nimitz.
Mr. Wiebusch’s citation, signed by the President of the United States, read:
”CHARLES F. WIEBUSCH, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of out- standing services in furtherance of the war efforts of the United States, while serving on the technical staff of the Bell Telephone Laboratories from July 8, 1944 to May 24, 1945. Under his brilliant and inspiring leadership, the activities under his direction worked in closest cooperation with responsible naval activities ashore and submarine forces aﬂoat, and designed, produced, and installed many devices which have enhanced, to a tremendous extent, the offensive and defensive potential of submarines of the United States Fleet in their highly successful campaign against the enemy. This action on his part is in keeping with the highest traditions, long since established by the patriots of the United States of America.”
Photo at right: Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, Charles F. Wiebusch, and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz- U. S. Navy Photo
Charles won the Emile Berliner award from the Audio Engineering Society in 1969.
Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Jocelyn Wilk of the Columbia University Archives for providing information about Emma Agnes Townsend’s dissertation and teaching appointments at Columbia.
Emma Agnes Townsend Wiebusch Photo Album