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The Department of Physics was first officially recognized in 1891. Though physics courses were required of students from Tufts' first year of instruction, liberal arts departments were not listed before the 1891-1892 academic year. There has never been an independent Department of Astronomy; Astronomy courses have historically been offered under the physics department. In 1987, the Department of Physics was renamed the Department of Physics and Astronomy to reflect this relationship. During the early 1940's, Tufts started to become involved with government contracts. This allowed the Department of Physics to carry research under several contracts. By 1948-49, contract research had risen to a dollar value of $340,000, and the Department of Physics was carrying three separate contracts. Popularity in Astronomy courses lead to a separate Astronomy major offered from 1966 to 1973. The major was discontinued in the fall of 1973, and a course of study in Astronomy was offered. Through this course of study, a student could pursue an Astronomy major under the Plans of Study program, in which students "plan their own programs of concentration." Though initially housed in Ballou Hall with other academic departments, the Department of Physics migrated to Robinson Hall in 1900 alongside the Department of Electrical Engineering. This provided relief from the overcrowding that arose from the increase in interest the Department faced in 1900. The Department of Physics and Astrology additionally expanded into the Science and Technology Center in the fall of 1990, after renovations were completed on the building previously owned by the ACME Printing Company.
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