Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
109 documents - page 1 of 6

Andy Granatelli Collection

Creator:
Granatelli, Andy, 1923-2013  Search this
Grancor Automotive Specialists  Search this
Hurricane Hot Rod Association  Search this
Studebaker Corporation  Search this
Donor:
Granatelli, Vincent  Search this
Names:
Indianapolis Speedway Race  Search this
Soldier Field (Chicago)  Search this
Studebaker Corporation. STP Division  Search this
Afrons, Arthur Eugene "Art", 1926-2007  Search this
Afrons, Walter Charles "Walt", 1916-2013  Search this
Agajanian, Joshua C. James , 1913-1984  Search this
Agnew, Spiro T., 1918-1996  Search this
Andretti, Mario, 1940-  Search this
Banks, Henry, 1913-1994  Search this
Bishop, Joey  Search this
Bridges, Lloyd  Search this
Carson, Johnny, 1925-2005  Search this
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-  Search this
Chapman, Anthony Colin Bruce , 1928-1982  Search this
Clark, Jim, 1936-1968  Search this
Cole, Hal, 1912-1970  Search this
Cooper, Earl, 1886-1965  Search this
Cooper, Leroy Gordan, 1927-2004  Search this
DePaolo, Peter, 1898-1980  Search this
Derr, Ernest Virgil "Ernie" , 1921-  Search this
Egbert, Sherwood, 1920-1965  Search this
Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006  Search this
Foyt, A. J., 1935-  Search this
Gable, Clark, 1901-1960  Search this
Garagiola, Joe  Search this
Grissom, Virgil I.  Search this
Guerrero, Roberto, 1958-  Search this
Hartke, Vance, 1919-2003  Search this
Hill, Graham, 1929-1975  Search this
Holland, Willard, 1907-1984  Search this
Hurtubise, Jim, 1932-1989  Search this
Kennedy, Edward Moore, 1932-2009  Search this
Kladis, Danny, 1917-2009  Search this
LaMotta, Jake  Search this
Lasorda, Tommy  Search this
Leno, Jay (comedian)  Search this
Leonard, Joe, 1932-2017  Search this
Lorenzen, Fred, 1934-  Search this
Luyendyk, Arie  Search this
Malone, Art, 1936-2013  Search this
Marcenac, Jean  Search this
Marciano, Rocky  Search this
Mays, Rex Houston, 1913-1949  Search this
McCain, John  Search this
McElreath, Jimmy, 1928-2017  Search this
Miller, Chet, 1902-1953  Search this
Murphy, Paula, 1928-  Search this
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994  Search this
Palin, Sarah, 1964-  Search this
Parsons, Johnnie, 1918-1984  Search this
Petty, Richard, 1937-  Search this
Pickens, T. Boone (Thomas Boone)  Search this
Pollard, Artle Lee, 1927-1973  Search this
Quayle, Dan, 1947-  Search this
Rathman, Royal Richard "Jim", 1928-2011  Search this
Reagan, Ronald  Search this
Robbins, Marty  Search this
Russo, Paul, 1914-1976  Search this
Tremulis, Alex S.  Search this
Unser, Bobby  Search this
Weld, Greg, 1944-2008  Search this
Williams, Carl, 1930-1973  Search this
Actor:
Anderson, Eddie "Rochester", 1905-1977  Search this
DeVito, Danny  Search this
Douglas, Kirk, 1916-2020  Search this
Goulet, Robert, 1933-2007  Search this
Extent:
66 Cubic feet (108 boxes, 16 map-folders)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Advertisements
Business records
Clippings
Correspondence
Design drawings
Drawings
Financial records
Legal records
Minutes
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Speeches
Date:
1932-2008
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents Granatelli's lifelong involvement with automobiles, from his youth through his career as an auto industry executive, and as a racing car owner, designer and promoter. The collection consists primarily of files, photographs, scrapbooks, and drawings. Some of the earliest files relate to Grancor, a company founded by Granatelli and his two brothers in 1945, which customized cars for clients. Other things contained in the files include meeting minutes, articles of association, business and financial records, legal records and profit and loss statements. Also included are papers relating to an organization he started called the Hurricane Hot Rod Association.

A large portion of the files relate to Granatelli's term as President of STP, a division of the Studebaker Corporation, from 1961-1974. These files detail the internal workings of the company during this period, and include papers relating to such things as strategic planning, sales, marketing, advertising and competitors' products. Additionally, this portion contains STP's Board of Directors' minutes, documents on policies and procedures, papers documenting advertising campaigns, comparative sales figures, sales manuals, and Granatelli's business correspondence. The largest part of the files relate to the Indianapolis 500 race. There are detailed files on the drivers and race teams he assembled for the annual race, but these files also include design drawings, specifications, test data, lap logs, performance statistics, and reports documenting the implementation of design changes. The scrapbooks in the collection contain clippings, biographical materials, and other documents relating to auto racing in America and especially the Indianapolis 500. Finally, the collection contains a large number of photographs covering all aspects of Granatelli's career.
Arrangement:
Collection is arranged into nine series.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1946-2006

Series 2: Granatelli Corporation, 1943-1975

Series 3: Studebaker Corporation, 1935-1991

Series 4: United States Auto Club (USAC)

Series 5: Novi Engine, 1949-1971

Series 6: Product Literature, 1949-1972

Series 7: Racing Programs, Publications, and Ephermera, 1940s-2007

Series 8: Photographs, 1932-2008

Series 9: Audiovisual Materials, 1960-2001
Biographical / Historical:
Andy Granatelli (1923-2013) was an automobile racing promoter, a race car engine designer and an automotive innovator. Two of his cars, a 1967 turbine engine race car and the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, are in National Museum of American History's Division of Work & Industry collection. More than any other racing figure, Granatelli bridged the realms of garage tinkerers and professional motorsports, and he stimulated public interest in auto racing on a national level. His STP Corporation became a high-profile sponsor of Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR race cars, with Granatelli appearing in ads and commercials. His larger-than-life personality and flair for the dramatic made him an American cultural phenomenon. His career is well summed up in the profile written for his 2003 induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Racer, entrepreneur, engineer, promoter, business executive. This is how one begins to describe the career of Andy Granatelli. But the title Mister 500 is the one that befits him most, for it describes a lifelong dream to conquer the famous 500-mile race in Indianapolis.

It was a preposterous dream for the scrappy kid growing up in the slums of Chicago, whose mother had died when he was twelve, and two years later, at the age of fourteen, dropped out of school to help his father feed the family. Andy Granatelli began his quest for Indy 500 fame at the age of 20 in 1943, when he and his brother pooled their meager, hard-earned money and purchased a Texaco gas station on the north side of Chicago, which he called Andy's Super Service. Andy, always the promoter, needed a gimmick to set himself apart from other service stations. His gimmick? Granatelli initiated the first pit stop service station, utilizing four or five mechanics to work on a car at one time.

Customers appreciated the true super service experience and would often wait in line for this unique treatment. With this unique service and Andy's P.T. Barnum style it was no wonder that the station was prosperous, and just two years later, in 1945, he formed the Granatelli Corporation, known as Grancor Automotive Specialists. As the head of Grancor, Andy Granatelli pioneered the concept of mass merchandising performance products and power and speed equipment to a generation of Americans who were discovering the joys of hot rodding.

Andy quickly learned that if you give the customer what he needs, you can make a living; give him what he wants, and you can make a fortune! Granatelli's racing career began in 1946, when he built the first rocket-powered car to race on an oval track. That same year, he took his first car to the Indianapolis 500--a pre-war Harry Miller--designed Ford.

When Andy Granatelli wasn't burning up tracks, he was tearing up the business world. In 1958, Andy and his brother Joe purchased Paxton Products, a failing engineering firm that made superchargers. With Andy at the helm, Paxton Products became profitable in seven months. In 1961, Andy sold Paxton Products to Studebaker Corporation and stayed on as Paxton's CEO. Two years later, Studebaker management wanted Granatelli to work his magic on an under-performing division called Chemical Compounds Corporation. Chemical Compounds had only one, little known product . . . STP Oil Treatment. With virtually no advertising budget, Andy created a four-pronged approach to turn the company around: a recognizable corporate logo (the STP oval), a product (oil treatment), a product spokesman (himself) and a reason for existence (racing). The STP logo became one of the best recognized in history. STP could be found in virtually every venue of speed: on land, on the water or in the air. Andy Granatelli once said that in the 1960s, virtually every kid in America had an STP sticker on his bedroom door, his notebook or his lunchbox, and he was probably right!

Back at Indianapolis, Granatelli entered a revolutionary race car of his own design - one with a turbine engine in 1967 and 1968. Even though the car failed to finish both years due to mechanical failure, the cars demonstrated superior speed and performance. At the end of the 1968 season, the U.S. Auto Club revised engine specifications, effectively outlawing Granatelli's turbine car. Undeterred, Granatelli returned to Indy the following year with a conventional car and proceeded to win his first Indianapolis 500 with Mario Andretti at the wheel. Four years later, in 1973, Andy won his second and last Indy 500 with a car driven by Gordon Johncock. Andy Granatelli's childhood dream of conquering Indy was fulfilled, not once, but twice.

Source

Andy Granatelli Biography, Automotive Hall of Fame (last accessed January 29, 2020 https://www.automotivehalloffame.org/honoree/andy-granatelli/)
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Warshaw Collection of Business American, Series: Automobile Industry (NMAH.AC.0060)

Winton-Anderson Scrapbook Collection (NMAH.AC.0122)

Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 1: Transportation (NMAH.AC.0300)

Evan Rangeloff Collection of Punchboards and Liggett & Myers Tobacco Sales Materials (NMAH.AC.0716)

Materials at the National Museum of American History, Division of Work and Industry

The Divison holds artifacts related to STP and the STP-Paxton Turbo Car. Included are key chains, trophies, STP stickers, TuneUp Masters stickers, belt buckle, and patch. See accession 2017.3043.

STP-Paxton Turbocar, 1967. See accession 1978.0418.

Materials at the National Museum of American History, Division of Cultural and Community Life

Division holds artifacts related to Andy Grantelli's racing career such as helmets, goggles, trophies, and coveralls and vests with the STP logo. See accession 2017.0092.
Provenance:
Collection donated by Vincent J. Granatelli, 2017.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Viewing film and audio portion of collection requires special appointment. See repository for details.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Automobile driving  Search this
Automobile industry and trade  Search this
Automobile industry executives  Search this
Automobiles  Search this
Automobiles -- Design and construction  Search this
Automobiles, Racing  Search this
Engines, automobile  Search this
Hot rods  Search this
Publications  Search this
Slides  Search this
Genre/Form:
Advertisements -- 20th century
Business records -- 20th century
Clippings -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Design drawings -- 20th century
Drawings
Financial records -- 20th century
Legal records -- 20th century
Minutes -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Scrapbooks
Speeches
Citation:
Andy Granatelli Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1403
See more items in:
Andy Granatelli Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8b8ed345f-7459-4956-9875-900f8585af74
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1403
Online Media:

Automania Juliet Kinchin ; with contributions by Paul Galloway, Andrew Gardner

Curator:
Kinchin, Juliet  Search this
Writer of added commentary:
Gardner, Andrew  Search this
Galloway, Paul 1977-  Search this
Author:
Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Physical description:
112 pages illustrations (some color) 26 cm
Type:
Exhibitions
Expositions
Exhibition catalogs
History
Catalogues d'exposition
Date:
2021
Topic:
Automobiles  Search this
Automobiles in art  Search this
Automobiles--Design and construction--History  Search this
Automobiles dans l'art  Search this
Automobiles--Conception et construction--Histoire  Search this
ART / General  Search this
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1155052

Raymond Loewy papers

Creator:
Loewy, Raymond, 1893-1986  Search this
Names:
American Society of Industrial Designers  Search this
Coca-Cola Company  Search this
Cooper-Hewitt Design Archive  Search this
Exxon Corporation  Search this
Gestetner Duplicating Machine Company  Search this
Hallicrafter  Search this
Hupp Motor Company  Search this
International Business Machines Corporation  Search this
Raymond Loewy Associates  Search this
Raymond Loewy/William Snaith, Inc.  Search this
Sears, Roebuck and Co.  Search this
Shell Oil Company  Search this
Studebaker Corporation  Search this
United Air Lines, Inc.  Search this
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration  Search this
Loewy, Raymond, 1893-1986  Search this
Snaith, William, 1908-1974  Search this
Extent:
3 Boxes (2 letter sized boxes, 1 legal sized box.)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Clippings
Press releases
Speeches
Photographs
Date:
[mid-1940s-early 1960s]
Summary:
This collection spans the period from the mid-1940s to the early-1960s and consists ofnewspaper and magazine articles by and about Loewy, including the 1949 TIME magazine on which he appeared on the cover. Extensive clippings exist pertaining to his designs for automobiles. Also includes many articles and speeches written by and about William Snaith, a partner in the firm which was renamed Raymond Loewy/William Snaith, Inc. in 1961. A catalog from the exhibition, "Ten Automobiles," which took place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1953, is included. Other materials include brochures printed and designed by the firm, press releases, a listing of projects, honors, and membership. Some photographs of Loewy and his design team are included. The collection does not contain any original design materials or project files.
Arrangement note:
Unprocessed.
Biographical/Historical note:
Industrial Designer. Born Paris, France, November 8, 1893, Loewy initially studied electrical engineering, and by 1909, he has designed and sold a successful airplane model. He immigrated to the United States in 1919 and became a naturalized citizen in 1938. Loewy began working as a freelance window display designer for Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, and as an illustrator for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and others, from 1919.

He designed the trademark for Neiman-Marcus in 1923. Loewy is identified as one of the founding fathers of industrial design. In 1929, he started Raymond Loewy Associates in New York, and by 1947, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine. Loewy's designs always stressed the importance of the clean, functional, dynamic design of products. His schooling in electrical engineering translated into his designs for automobiles, trains, airplanes, ships, and spacecraft for NASA. He also designed interiors for many hotels, offices, and supermarkets. He is best known for his designs for the 1947 Studebaker Starlight Coupe; the 1953 Starliner Coupe; the 1961 Avanti; the 1947 line of Hallicrafter radio recievers; the 1929 Gestetner duplicating machine; the 1934 Sears Coldspot refrigerator; and the S-I steam locomotive for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

He also designed logos for Exxon and Shell oil companies, and bottles and refrigerated vending machines for Coca Cola. He became President of the American Society of Industrial Designers in 1946. Loewy established Compagnie de l'Esthetique Industrielle in Paris in 1952. His work has been featured in many exhibitions, including: "An Exhibition for Modern Living", Detroit Institute of Arts, 1949; "The Designs of Raymond Loewy", Renwick Gallery of the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1975; and "The Machine Age in America", Brooklyn Museum, 1986, among others. He authored, "The Locomotive: Its Esthetics", 1937; "Never Leave Well Enough Alone", 1951; and "Industrial Design", 1979. In 1961, Loewy went into semi-retirement, became partners with William Snaith, and renamed the company Raymond Loewy/William Snaith, Inc. Loewy died in Monte Carlo, July 14, 1986.
Location of Other Archival Materials Note:
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The Raymond Loewy Collection. Drawings, blueprints, sketches, phtographs, slides, and audio and video recordings, covering the period from 1929-1988.
Canadian Center for Architecture, Special Collections. Vertical file docmenting Loewy's work.
Provenance:
The materials in this collection were donated to Cooper-Hewitt by Betty Reese, Loewy's publicist.
Restrictions:
Unprocessed; access is limited. Permission of Library Director required for use.
Occupation:
Industrial designers  Search this
Interior designers  Search this
Packaging designers  Search this
Topic:
Radio -- Receivers and reception -- Design and construction  Search this
Packaging -- Design  Search this
Corporate image -- Design  Search this
Logos (Symbols) -- Design  Search this
Interior decoration -- United States  Search this
Automobiles -- Design and construction  Search this
Design, Industrial -- United States  Search this
Supermarkets -- Design  Search this
Coldspot refrigerator  Search this
Transportation -- Design  Search this
Genre/Form:
Clippings
Press releases
Speeches
Photographs
Identifier:
SIL-CH.XXXX-0001
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Libraries
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sc2e29ec5f7-bae5-442b-bab5-6535771b849c
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-sil-ch-xxxx-0001

Roadside America : the automobile in design and culture / edited by Jan Jennings

Author:
Jennings, Jan 1946-  Search this
Society for Commercial Archeology (U.S.)  Search this
Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village  Search this
Physical description:
x, 220 p. : ill. ; 23 x 29 cm
Type:
Congresses
Place:
United States
Date:
1990
Topic:
Automobiles--Social aspects--History  Search this
Automobiles--Design and construction--Social aspects--History  Search this
Call number:
HE5623.R62 1990X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_396315

Carl Renner : 1950s GM dream car creator : dream--obsession--expression : art of the automobile / by Frederic A. Sharf ; foreword by Sheldon Steele

Author:
Sharf, Frederic A. 1934-  Search this
Artist:
Renner, Carl 1923-2001  Search this
Writer of foreword:
Steele, Sheldon  Search this
Host institution:
Larz Anderson Auto Museum  Search this
Author:
Dream--obsession--expression (Exhibition)  Search this
Subject:
Renner, Carl 1923-2001  Search this
Physical description:
62 pages : color illustrations ; 23 x 29 cm
Type:
Exhibitions
Date:
2011
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
General Motors automobiles  Search this
Motor vehicles in art  Search this
Call number:
TL140.R46 S53 2011
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1041592

Robert F. Black

Creator:
"White Co., Cleveland"  Search this
Subject:
Black, Robert F  Search this
Brockway Truck Company  Search this
White Motor Company  Search this
Type:
Black-and-white photographs
Date:
5-3-1935
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 90-105 [SIA2007-0249]
Restrictions & Rights:
No access restrictions Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu
Copyright Not Evaluated
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_290313

Charles A. Chayne

Subject:
Chayne, Charles A  Search this
General Motors Corporation Buick Motor Division  Search this
Type:
Black-and-white photographs
Date:
1937
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Buick automobile  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 90-105 [SIA2008-0216]
Restrictions & Rights:
No access restrictions Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu
Copyright Not Evaluated
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_290723

Robert Cass

Subject:
Cass, Robert  Search this
White Motor Company  Search this
Type:
Black-and-white photographs
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 90-105 [SIA2008-0409]
Restrictions & Rights:
No access restrictions Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu
Copyright Not Evaluated
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_290875

(left to right): John R. Cox, Clarence S. Metcalf , and James A. Bohannon

Creator:
Rebman, Herbert  Search this
Subject:
Bohannon, James A  Search this
Metcalf, Clarence S. 1878-1961  Search this
Cox, John R  Search this
Society of Automotive Engineers  Search this
Peerless Motor Company  Search this
Cleveland Public Library  Search this
Carling Brewing Company  Search this
Brewing Corporation of America  Search this
Type:
Black-and-white photographs
Topic:
Brewing  Search this
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 90-105 [SIA2008-0666]
Restrictions & Rights:
No access restrictions Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu
Copyright Not Evaluated
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_291043

Robert W. Kearns Papers

Creator:
Brown, Brian Ivan  Search this
Kearns, Robert W.  Search this
Kearns, Timothy  Search this
Quan, John  Search this
Names:
Kearns and Law  Search this
Tann Company  Search this
United States. Bureau of Standards.  Search this
Extent:
8.5 Cubic feet (24 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reports
Trade literature
Patents
Photographs
Drawings
Notebooks
Correspondence
Memorandums
Date:
1963 - 1999
Summary:
The collection documents the inventive career of physicist and engineer Robert W. Kearns. Kearns invented and patented in 1967 the windshield wiper system with intermittent operation (US 3,351,836), among other inventions. The papers include notebooks, correspondence, reports, memoranda, photographs, patents, drawings, and trade literature.
Scope and Contents:
The collection includes notebooks, correspondence, reports, memoranda, photographs, patents, drawings, and trade literature. Kearns held patents related to circuitry which are integral to electronic intermittent windshield wipers. The windshield wiper documentation consists of patents, correspondence, and a set of drawings from November 16, 1967 for Tann Company. Other documentation includes Kearns's work with the engineering firm Kearns and Law (brochures, shop orders, agreements); his National Bureau of Standards work, which consists of his personnel file and notebooks detailing his highway skid resistance research; and subject files that cover a range of topics that interested Kearns, such as radar, speed control, and electric cars. At the heart of the collection are 32 invention notebooks (1963-1986) belonging to Kearns as well as engineers he worked with including John Quan, Brian Ivan Brown, and Timothy Kearns, son of Robert Kearns. Bound, paginated, and dated, the notebooks contain sketches, schematics, calculations, data, telephone numbers, and details about materials, costs, testing data, and descriptions for many of Kearns's projects. The notebooks present a comprehensive overview of his ideas and are significant to understanding his creative process and how his ideas changed or did not change over time. The majority of the notebooks are arranged in chronological order and therefore researchers can see Kearns's work unfold. Many of the notebooks are stamped with a "PO" to indicate a "protective order" followed by a number, and many of the notebooks were used during court proceedings. The protective order restricted access to notebooks which were filed with the court, or to be filed with the court at a future date.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into ten series.

Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1957-1991

Series 2: Notebooks, 1954-1994

Series 3: Patents, 1957-1985

Series 4: Kearns and Law Engineers, 1957-1962

Series 5: Kearns Engineers, 1967-1985

Series 6: National Bureau of Standards, 1967-1972

Series 7: Ford Motor Company (Engineering Technical Education Program), 1964-1966

Series 8: Windshield Wiper Materials (Kearns vs. Ford Motor Company), 1962-1993

Series 9: Subject Files, 1965-1999

Series 10: Correspondence, 1989-1999
Biographical / Historical:
Robert William Kearns was born in Gary, Indiana on March 10, 1927 to Martin W. Kearns and Mary E. Kearns. One of three children, Kearns grewup in the Detroit area, graduating from the University of Detroit, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (1952); Wayne State University, Masters of Science in Engineering Mechanics (1957); and Case Western Reserve University, Ph.D. in engineering (1964). Kearns also earned certificates in nuclear reactor control from Argonne National Laboratories (1958 and 1959). He was a Corporal in the United States Army, assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the Strategic Services Unit (SSU); the Central Intelligence Group (CIG), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA.) from July 31, 1945 to November 29, 1946.

Prior to joining the military in 1945, Kearns worked at Mercury Engineering Company (1943-1945) in Detroit as a draftsman preparing engineering shop drawings. After the war, Kearns joined the H & A Tool and Die Company (1946-1947), also in Detroit, as a draftsman preparing engineering shop drawings for the manufacture of the individual parts for machinery and special dies. Through the University of Detroit Cooperative Program with the National Bureau of Standards, he participated in an engineer in training program (1949-1952) where he executed a variety of standardized tests on engineering materials. He held a variety of engineering positions: designer/draftsman with Peerless Design Company, Detroit (1952); junior engineer with Burroughs Corporation Research Laboratories, Philadelphia (1952-1953); and engineer with Bendix Aviation Corporation, Detroit (1953-1957) where Kearns supervised and directed of a group of engineers responsible for the design of computer components, servomechanisms, control systems and related devices. Other duties included planning, liaison with other Bendix divisions, establishing test equipment requirements, as well as technical specifications and reports. In 1957, Kearns joined the faculty of Wayne State University, Department of Engineering Mechanics, as an assistant professor (1957-1963), later becoming an associate professor (1963-1967).

Kearns also established two independent businesses, the engineering firms of Kearns and Law (1963-1976) and Computer Central (1965-1976). Founded with partner Kenneth J. Law, an electrical engineer, Kearns and Law provided industry with consultation, research, design, and development services in the fields of computers, automatic controls and instrumentation. Computer Central manufactured a series of control components such as the Linear Range Comparator, Sign or Equality Binary Comparator, Identity Comparator, Dual Brush V-Scan Encoder Electronics, Gray Code to Binary Code Encoder Electronics, and Digital Difference to Analog Converters. Kearns served as Detroit's Commissioner of Buildings and Safety Engineering (1967-1971), where he acted as an administrator, overseeing professional engineering activities such as building inspections. Kearns moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland in 1971 to become principal investigator for the highway skid resistance program at the National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (1971-1976).

In 1967, Kearns invented and patented an electronic windshield wiper system with intermittent operation (US 3,351,836). Previous wiper systems were controlled by vacuum tubes. He installed his device on his 1962 Ford Galaxy and met with Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corporation in 1963 with the goal of manufacturing his idea and being a supplier to the auto industry. Kearns tried to commercialize the wiper through the Tann Corporation. In 1969, Kearns's intermittent windshield wiper was installed on Ford cars without his knowledge. He ultimately filed suit against Ford for patent infringement in 1978 (representing himself as Kearns Associates), seeking $141 million in damages (a figure eventually raised to $325 million). Kearns's purpose in pursuing litigation was not a cash award. Rather, he wanted the rightful ownership. In all, he filed lawsuits against 26 car manufacturers and other companies concerning the same patent (US 3,351,836). In July 1990, a federal jury ruled that Ford had unintentionally infringed on Kearns's patent and awarded him $10.2 million. In June 1992, Kearns was awarded $11 million from Chrysler. Kearns held over 30 patents, with the majority relating to windshield wipers.

Kearns died in 2005. He married Phyllis Hall (1932-2013) in 1953, divorcing in 1989. The couple had six children: Dennis Kearns (b.1954); Timothy Kearns (b.1956); Patrick Kearns (b.1958); Kathleen Corsetty (b. 1961); Maureen Kearns (b. 1964); and Bob Kearns (b. 1967).
Provenance:
Collection donated by the Estate of Robert W. Kearns, through Dennis Kearns and Maureen Kearns, 2016.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Some health-related materials in Series 6: National Bureau of Standards are restricted until 2055.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Occupation:
Inventors  Search this
Topic:
Inventions -- 20th century  Search this
Windshield wipers  Search this
Automobiles -- Design and construction  Search this
Genre/Form:
Reports -- 20th century
Trade literature -- 20th century
Patents -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Drawings -- 20th century
Notebooks -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Memorandums -- 20th century
Citation:
Robert W. Kearns Papers, 1963-1992, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1406
See more items in:
Robert W. Kearns Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep83c37ebc7-5f04-40bc-bd53-98f10a2b4809
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1406
Online Media:

Chrome dreams : automobile styling since 1893 / Paul C. Wilson

Author:
Wilson, Paul Carroll 1944-  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 310 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1976
[1976]
Topic:
Automobiles--History  Search this
Automobiles--Design and construction--History  Search this
Call number:
TL23 .W58 1976X
TL23.W58 1976X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_74597

Driving through futures past : mid-20th century automotive design / Hampton C. Wayt ; foreward [sic] by Leslie M. Kendall

Author:
Wayt, Hampton C  Search this
Kendall, Leslie M  Search this
Petersen Automotive Museum  Search this
Physical description:
iii, 59 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 19 x 25 cm
Type:
Pictorial works
Exhibitions
Exhibition, pictorial works
History
Date:
2006
20th century
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1054584

Fifty cars that changed the world / [text written by Andrew Nahum]

Title:
Design Museum
Author:
Nahum, Andrew  Search this
Design Museum (London, England)  Search this
Physical description:
106 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 22 cm
Type:
Pictorial works
History
Date:
2009
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction--History  Search this
Antique and classic cars  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1046493

Theory of land locomotion; the mechanics of vehicle mobility

Author:
Bekker, M. G (Mieczyslaw Gregory)  Search this
Physical description:
x, 522 p. illus. 24 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1956
[c1956]
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Motor vehicles--Dynamics  Search this
Locomotion  Search this
Call number:
TL145 .B42
TL145.B42
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_73179

Dymaxion car : Buckminster Fuller / Norman Foster, Jonathan Glancey ; [editors] David Jenkins, Hsiao-Yun Chu

Author:
Foster, Norman 1935-  Search this
Glancey, Jonathan  Search this
Jenkins, David 1957 September 25-  Search this
Chu, Hsiao-yun  Search this
Subject:
Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster) 1895-1983 Criticism and interpretation  Search this
Physical description:
223 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 x 25 cm
Type:
Books
Criticism, interpretation, etc
Date:
2010
©2010
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Experimental automobiles  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1048977

Autowerke / edited by Christa Aboitiz [and others] ; with an essay by Joshua Decter

Title:
Auto werke
Author:
Tillmans, Wolfgang 1968-  Search this
Lamsweerde, Inez van 1963-  Search this
Matadin, Vinoodh 1961-  Search this
Eberle, Todd  Search this
Hirakawa, Noritoshi 1960-  Search this
Seawright, Paul 1965-  Search this
Streuli, Beat 1957-  Search this
Ligon, Glenn 1960-  Search this
Lockhart, Sharon 1964-  Search this
Opie, Catherine 1961-  Search this
Wearing, Gillian 1963-  Search this
Decter, Joshua  Search this
Aboitiz, Christa  Search this
Physical description:
132 unnumbered pages : illustrations ; 31 cm
Type:
Pictorial works
Date:
2000
Topic:
Photography of automobiles  Search this
BMW automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Automobiles--Social aspects  Search this
Photography, Artistic  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1049578

Hot rod [microform]

Physical description:
v. : ill. ; 28 cm
Type:
Microforms
Periodicals
Date:
1953
1953-
Topic:
Automobiles, Racing  Search this
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Call number:
TL1 .H832
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_919605

Unsafe at any speed; the designed-in dangers of the American automobile

Author:
Nader, Ralph  Search this
Physical description:
xi, 365 p. illus. 21 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1965
Topic:
Automobiles--Design and construction  Search this
Automobiles--Safety measures  Search this
Call number:
TL240.N25X 1965
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_396318

Sound and safe : a history of listening behind the wheel / Karin Bijsterveld, Eefje Cleophas, Stefan Krebs and Gijs Mom

Author:
Bijsterveld, Karin 1961-  Search this
Cleophas, Eefje  Search this
Krebs, Stefan  Search this
Mom, Gijs 1949-  Search this
Physical description:
viii, 232 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Type:
Books
History
Date:
2014
Topic:
Automobiles--Noise--History  Search this
Automobiles--Design and construction--History  Search this
Automobiles--Audio equipment--History  Search this
Automobiles--Safety measures--History  Search this
Sound--History  Search this
Auditory perception--History  Search this
Privacy--History  Search this
Automobile driving--Social aspects--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1056806

50 years of American automobile design, 1930-1980 / Dick Nesbitt ; by the editors of Collectible automobile

Author:
Nesbitt, Dick  Search this
Physical description:
64 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1985
C1985
Topic:
Automobiles--History  Search this
Automobiles--Design and construction--History  Search this
Call number:
TL23 .N45 1985
TL23.N45 1985
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_394399

Modify Your Search







or


Narrow By