Electricity and Modern Physics, Division of, NMAH, SI. Search this
220 Cubic feet (700 boxes)
The collection forms a documentary record of over half a century of the history of radio, with the greatest emphasis on the period 1900-1935. The collection includes materials that span the entire history of the growth of the radio industry. It is useful for those historians and other researchers interested in technological development, economic history, and the impact of applications of technology on American life.
Scope and Contents:
The materials accumulated in this collection represent the overriding collecting passion of one individual, George H. Clark. The collection forms a documentary record of over half a century of the history of radio, with the greatest emphasis on the period 1900-1935.
The collection includes materials that span the entire history of the growth of the radio industry. It is useful for those historians and other researchers interested in technological development, economic history, and the impact of applications of technology on American life.
In particular, the collection is rich in biographical information on the men who developed the technical aspects of radio and the industry; information on the inception, growth, and activities of radio companies, most notably the National Electric Signaling Company and RCA; and in photographs of all aspects of Radioana.
While most materials document technical aspects of radio, there is much information (e.g. Series 109, 134) on broadcasting and on the early history of television.
The collection, housed in over 700 boxes (about 276 linear feet), was organized into 259 numbered "classes" or series by Clark. Sixty series numbers were never used or were eliminated by Clark and combined with other series. The unused numbers are scattered throughout the filing system. The collection also includes material from series that were eliminated. These materials were never reclassified and are included as an unprocessed series at the end of the series descriptions. The collection also contains material that was never assigned a "class" designation by Clark (Lettered Series: D, E, F, G, H).
The arrangement of the collection is Clark's own; his adaptation of the Navy filing system he helped devise in 1915. Clark periodically revised the filing system and reclassified items within it.
Clark assigned class numbers to types of equipment (e.g. broadcast receivers), systems (impulse-excited transmitters and systems), scientific theories (circuit theory), and topics (company history, biography). Box 1 contains descriptions of the classification system.
When Clark classified an item and filed it he also assigned a serial number. This classification begins with 1 (or 1A) for the first item in the class and continues with successive numbers as items were added. As a consequence, the order of individual items within a series reflects the order in which Clark filed them, not any logical relationship between the items. Clark created cross references for items dealing with more than one subject by making notations on blank sheets of paper placed in related series.
Clark made cross references between series when there was no logical relationship between them; that is, when a person using the collection would not normally look in the series. For example no cross reference would be made of an engineer from series 87 (portraits) to series 4 (biography), but one would be made from series 87 to series 142 (history of television) if the item showed the engineer, say, working on a television installation.
Clark created the insignia "SRM" as the sign on the bottom of all sheets of paper numbered by him for binding. SRM stood for Smithsonian Radio Museum. This replaced the earlier though not greatly used sign "CGM." For a time about 1930, the class number on each sheet was preceded by these: "C.G.M.", for Clark, Martin, and Goldsmith, the earliest contributors to what would become the Clark Radioana Collection. After about 1933-34 Clark used C.W.C. for Clark Wireless Collection.
There are many photographs located in most series throughout the collection. But there are also three exclusive photographic series. Lettered series A, B, C. See index; and also series descriptions under lettered series.
The collection is divided into 223 series.
Numbered Series 1-233:
Series 1, Library Operating System, 1915-1950
Series 2, Apparatus Type Numbers, 1916-1931
Series 3, Photographic Lists, 1925-1928
Series 4, Biographies of Radio Personages, Technical Index to Correspondents in Series 4
Series 5, History of Radio Companies, 1895-1950
De Forest Radio Company, 1905-1930s
Jenkins Televsion Corporation, 1924-1931
Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, 1908-1929
National Electric Signaling Company, 1896-1941
Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company, 1906-1929
Radio Corporation of America, 1895-1950
Series 6, Shore Stations, 1900-1940
Series 7, Marine Stations, 1900-1930s
Series 8, Broadcasting Stations, 1910s-1940s
Series 9, Amateur Stations, 1910s-1940s
Series 10, Miscellaneous Information, 1911-1914
Series 11, Radio Antiques, 1921-1938
Series 13, Specifications of Radio Apparatus, 1910s-1930s
Series 14, General History, 1899-1950s
Series 15, Radio Companies Catalogues & Bound Advertisements, 1873-1941
Series 16, Log Books, 1902-1923
Series 17, Radio Companies' House Organs, 1896-1942
Series 18, Prime Movers, 1904-1911
Series 19, Batteries, 1898-1934
Series 20, Rectifiers, 1875-1935
Series 21, Motor Generators, 1898-1936
Series 22, Nameplates of Apparatus, 1928
Series 23, Switchboards and Switchboard Instruments, 1910-1935
Series 24, Radio Frequency Switches, 1905-1905-1933
Series 25, Transmitter Transformers, 1893-1949
Series 26, Operating Keys, 1843-1949
Series 27, Power Type Interrupters, 1902-1938
Series 28, Protective Devices, 1910-1925
Series 30, Message Blanks, 1908-1938
Series 31, Transmitter Condensers, 1849-1943
Series 32, Spark Gaps, 1905-1913
Series 33, Transmitter Inductances, 1907-1922
Series 34, Transmitter Wave Changers, 1907-1924
Series 37, ARC Transmitters, 1907-1940
Series 38, Vacuum Tube Type of Radio Transmitter, 1914-1947
Series 39, Radio Transmitter, Radio-Frequency, Alternator Type, 1894-1940
Series 41, Vacuum Tubes, Transmitting Type, 1905-1948
Series 43, Receiving Systems, 1904-1934
Series 45, Broadcast Receivers, 1907-1948
Series 46, Code Receivers, 1902-1948
Series 47, Receiving Inductances, 1898-1944
Series 48, Receiving Condensers, 1871-1946
Series 49, Audio Signal Devices, 1876-1947
Series 50, Detectors, 1878-1944
Series 51, Amplifiers, 1903-1949
Series 52, Receiving Vacuum Tubes, 1905-1949
Series 53, Television Receivers, 1928-1948
Series 54, Photo-Radio Apparatus, 1910-1947
Series 59, Radio Schools, 1902-1945
Series 60, Loudspeakers, 1896-1946
Series 61, Insulators, 1844-1943
Series 62, Wires, 1906-1945
Series 63, Microphones, 1911-1947
Series 64, Biography, 1925-1948
Series 66, Antennas, 1877-1949
Series 67, Telautomatics, 1912-1944
Series 69, Direction Finding Equipment, Radio Compasses, 1885-1948
Series 71, Aircraft Transmitters, 1908-1947
Series 72, Field or Portables Transmitters, 1901-1941
Series 73, Mobile Radio Systems, 1884-1946
Series 74, Radio Frequency Measuring Instruments, 1903-1946
Series 75, Laboratory Testing Methods and Systems, 1891-1945
Series 76, Aircraft Receivers, 1917-1941
Series 77, Field Portable Receivers, 1906-1922
Series 78, Spark Transmitter Assembly, 1909-1940
Series 79, Spark Transmitter System, 1900-1945
Series 82, Firsts in Radio, undated
Series 85: Distance Records and Tests, 1898-1940
Series 87, Photographs of Radio Executives, and Technical Types, 1857-1952
Series 90, Radio Terms, 1857-1939
Series 92, Static Patents and Static Reducing Systems, 1891-1946
Series 93, Low Frequency Indicating Devices, 1904-1946
Series 95, Articles on Radio Subjects, 1891-1945
Series 96, Radio in Education, 1922-1939
Series 98, Special Forms of Broadcasting, 1921-1943
Series 99, History of Lifesaving at Sea by Radio, 1902-1949
Series 100, History of Naval Radio, 1888-1948
Series 101, Military Radio, 1898-1946
Series 102, Transmitting & Receiving Systems, 1902-1935
Series 103, Receiving Methods, 1905-1935
Series 108, Codes and Ciphers, 1894-1947
Series 109, Schedules of Broadcasting & TV Stations, 1905-1940
Series 112, Radio Shows and Displays, 1922-1947
Series 114, Centralized Radio Systems, 1929-1935
Series 116, United States Government Activities in Radio, 1906-1949
Series 117, Technical Tables, 1903-1932
Series 120, Litigation on Radio Subjects, 1914-1947
Series 121, Legislation, 1914-1947
Series 122, History of Radio Clubs, 1907-1946
Series 123, Special Applications of Radio Frequency, 1924-1949
Series 124, Chronology, 1926-1937
Series 125, Radio Patents & Patent Practices, 1861-1949
Series 126, Phonographs, 1894-1949
Series 127, Piezo Electric Effect, 1914-1947
Series 128, ARC Transmitting & Reciving Systems, 1904-1922
Series 129, Spark Systems, 1898-1941
Series 130, Vacuum Tubes Systems, 1902-1939
Series 132, Radiophone Transmitting & Receiving System, 1906-1947
Series 133, Photo-Radio, 1899-1947
Series 134, History of Radio Broadcasting, 1908-
Series 135, History of Radiotelephony, Other Than Broadcasting
Series 136, History of Amateur Radio
Series 138, Transoceanic Communication
Series 139, Television Transmitting Stations
Series 140, Radio Theory
Series 142, History of Television
Series 143, Photographs
Series 144, Radio Publications
Series 145, Proceedings of Radio Societies
Series 146: Radio Museums
Series 147, Bibliography of Radio Subjects and Apparatus
Series 148, Aircraft Guidance Apparatus
Series 150, Audio Frequency Instruments
Series 151, History of Radio for Aircrafts
Series 152, Circuit Theory
Series 154, Static Elimination
Series 161, Radio in Medicine
Series 162, Lighting
Series 163, Police Radio
Series 169, Cartoons
Series 173, Communications, Exclusive of Radio (after 1895)
Series 174, Television Methods and Systems
Series 182, Military Portable Sets
Series 189, Humor in Radio (see
Series 209, Short Waves
Series 226, Radar
Series 233, Television Transmitter
Series A, Thomas Coke Knight RCA Photographs, circa 1902-1950
Series B, George H. Clark Collection of Photographs by ClassSeries C, Clark Unorganized and/or Duplicate Photographs
Series D, Miscellaneous
Series E, News Clippings Series F: Radio Publications
Series G, Patent Files of Darby and Darby, Attorneys, circa 1914-1935
Series H, Blank Telegram Forms from many Companies and Countries Throughout the World
Series I (eye), Miscellaneous Series
Series J, Research and Laboratory Notebooks
Series K, Index to Photographs of Radio Executives and Technical Types
Series L, Index to Bound Volumes of Photos in Various Series
Series M, Index to David Sarnoff Photographs
Biographical / Historical:
George Howard Clark, born February 15, 1881, at Alberton, Prince Edward Island, Canada, emigrated to the United States at the age of fourteen. He worked as a railroad telegraph operator for the Boston and Maine Railroad during high school and college. In his unpublished autobiography he wrote:
In 1888, when I was a lad of seven, I suddenly blossomed out as a scrapbook addict, and for years I gave up boyhood games for the pleasure of sitting in a lonely attic and 'pasting up' my books ... By 1897, in high school, I graduated to beautiful pictures, and made many large size scrapbooks ... Around that time, too, I became infatuated with things electrical, and spent many evenings copying in pen and ink the various electrical text books in the Everett, Mass., Public Library. Clark began collecting material pertaining to wireless or radio in 1902. In 1903 he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. During his last year of college he specialized in radio work under the instruction of Professor John Stone Stone and after graduation went to work for Stone's radio company, the Stone Telegraph and Telephone Company, of Boston.
In 1908 Clark took a competitive examination open to all wireless engineers in the United States and entered the civilian service of the Navy. He was stationed at the Washington Navy Yard, with special additional duty at the Navy's Bureau of Steam Engineering and at the National Bureau of Standards.
In 1915 Clark helped devise a classification system for Navy equipment, assigning a code number to each item. This system of classification for blueprints, photographs, reports, and general data, was prepared by Arthur Trogner, Guy Hill, and Clark, all civilian radio experts with the US Navy Department in Washington. In 1918 Clark adopted the 1915 Navy classification system for organizing the radio data he was accumulating. Clark created the term "Radioana" at this time. He began spending his evenings and weekends pasting up his collection and numbering pages. At this time he bound the accumulated material. It totaled 100 volumes.
In July 1919, after resigning from the Navy, Clark joined the engineering staff of the Marconi Telegraph Company of America, which became part of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) later the same year. His first work was at Belmar and Lakewood, New Jersey, assisting the chief engineer, Roy A. Weagant, in his development of circuits to reduce the interference caused by static (static reduction). Clark and his wife were assigned to the unheated Engineer's Cottage. His wife decided not to stay and left for Florida. Clark moved his trunks of wireless material to the heated RCA hotel at Belmar and spent most of the winter "pasting." As Clark mentions, "From that time on I was wedded to scraps."
After a year of work in New Jersey, Clark was assigned to the sales department in New York, where he devised the "type number system" used by RCA. This type number system, for example, gave the designation UV 201 to the company's first amplifier tube.
From 1922 to 1934 Clark was in charge of RCA's newly created Show Division, which held exhibits of new and old radio apparatus at state fairs, department stores, and radio shows. About 1928 Clark started an antique radio apparatus museum for RCA. RCA's board of directors announced:
Recognizing the importance of providing a Museum for the Radio Art to house the rapidly disappearing relics of earlier days, and the desirability of collecting for it without further delay examples of apparatus in use since the inception of radio, the Board of Directors of RCA has made an initial appropriation of $100,000, as the nucleus of a fund for the establishment of a National Radio Museum. A plan for ultimately placing the museum under the wing of the Smithsonian Institution was coupled with the goal of the Institution's gathering the largest possible library of wireless data.
Around 1933 the RCA traveling exhibition program ended and Clark started classifying his collected "radioana" material. The objects of the museum were eventually turned over for exhibit purposes to the Rosenwald Museum in Chicago and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, when space was not forthcoming at the Smithsonian. A list of objects sent to the two museums (with tag and case numbers) is in Series 1, Box A. The "radioana" collection remained under Clark's care during the 1930s, and became of increasing use to RCA. Clark continued to add to the material.
Between 1934 and 1942 Clark was in court many times regarding patent infringements. Clark's wireless data was useful and he testified frequently, for example, in RCA's suit against the United States in the Court of Claims over the Marconi tuning patents and in the Westinghouse Company's suit against the United States over the heterodyne. Patent specifications and material regarding these and other radio industry suits are found throughout this collection.
In 1946 RCA retired George Clark and denied him space to house his "radioana" collection. Clark wished to remain in New York and house the collection somewhere in the city where it would be open at all times to the public and where it would be maintained. He hoped to continue cataloguing the collection and writing books from its information. He wanted to keep the collection under his control for as long as he was capable of using it.
George H. Clark died in 1956 and his collection was subsequently given to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1959 the collection was given to the Smithsonian's new Museum of History and Technology, where space was available to house it. The collection remained in the Division of Electricity until the spring of 1983 when it was transferred to the Archives Center.
Brief Company Histories From The Radio Industry, 1900-1930s:
At the end of the nineteenth century, when Guglielmo Marconi began his first wireless company, Western Union, Postal Telegraph, and the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) were the major enterprises in electrical communications. General Electric, Western Electric, and Westinghouse were the major producers of electrical equipment. All these earlier developments set the stage for the expansion of the radio industry.
General Electric, which dominated the lighting industry, was formed in 1892 as a merger of the Edison and Thomson-Houston companies. It was active in building central power station equipment; controlled nearly all the important early patents in electric railways; took a leading part in the introduction of trolley systems; and was the principal supplier of electric motors. Westinghouse promoted the alternating current system and installed the first AC central station in Buffalo, NY, during the winter of 1866-1867. After years of patent litigation, in 1896 GE and Westinghouse agreed to share their patents on electrical apparatus.
American Bell Telephone Company purchased Western Electric in 1881. Western Electric had a strong patent position in telephone equipment and in industrial power apparatus, such as arc lamps, generators, motors, and switchboard equipment.
Until RCA was formed in 1919, these established electrical companies played no active part in the early development of the American radio industry. They were in difficult financial positions, reorganizing, or concentrating their efforts and resources on improving their existing products.
The revolution in "wireless" technology, which began in earnest after 1900, centered in New York City, home of the Lee de Forest and American Marconi companies, and in Boston, headquarters of John Stone Stone and Reginald Fessenden.
Information in this section was compiled from the Clark Collection; the Invention and Innovation in the Radio Industry by W. Rupert Maclaurin, Macmillan Company, New York, 1949; and Radio Pioneers, Institute of Radio Engineers, Commemorating the Radio Pioneers Dinner, Hotel Commodore, New York, NY, November 8, 1945.
The De Forest Companies
Lee De Forest (1873-1961), inventor of the three-element vacuum tube or triode (1906) and the feedback circuit, was one of the first Americans to write a doctoral thesis on wireless telegraphy: "The Reflection of Short Hertzian Waves from the Ends of Parallel Wires," Yale University, 1899. The grid-controlled tube or audion of De Forest was first a radio detector, 1906-1907; in 1912 was adapted to an amplifier; and later to an oscillator. When it was perfected as a high vacuum tube, it became the great electronic instrument of electrical communications.
De Forest began work in the Dynamo Department at the Western Electric Company in 1899. Six months later he was promoted to the telephone laboratory. In 1900 De Forest went to work for the American Wireless Telegraph Company where he was able to carry out work on his "responder." However, after three months when De Forest refused to turn over the responder to the company, he was fired.
In the following year De Forest had a number of jobs, was active as an inventor, and created numerous firms to manufacture his inventions. In 1901 De Forest joined with Ed Smythe, a former Western Electric colleague and a collaborator in his research, to found the firm of De Forest, Smythe, and Freeman. Between 1902 and 1906 De Forest took out thirty-four patents on all phases of wireless telegraphy. The responder that he had been working on for so long never proved satisfactory.
The numerous De Forest companies, reflected his many interests and his inability to carry one project through to a conclusion. Unlike Marconi, but similar to Fessenden, De Forest had great inventive skill which resulted in a great number of companies; but none lasted long. The original partnership of 1901 led to the Wireless Telegraph Co. of America (1901), the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company (Maine) (1902), and the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company (1903), to name a few.
The American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company was incorporated after De Forest met a stock promoter, Abraham White. While many stations were built by this company, many never sent a message due to static interference. In 1907 two speculators from Denver with large holdings of company stock put the company out of business. The assets were sold to a new company that these speculators organized, the United Wireless Telephone Company. De Forest was forced to resign. He took the triode patents with him.
De Forest joined with one of White's stock salesmen, James Dunlop Smith, and together with De Forest's patent attorney, Samuel E. Darby, they formed a new corporation, the De Forest Radio Telephone Company in 1907. This company set out to develop wireless communication by means of the radio telephone.
In January 1910 De Forest staged the first opera broadcast, with Enrico Caruso singing. The Radio Telephone Company went bankrupt in 1911 following an aborted merger with North American Wireless Corporation. In 1913 he reorganized the company as the Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company and began producing the triode.
The Marconi Company brought a patent suit, claiming the triode infringed on the Fleming valve to which it had rights. In 1916 the court decided that Marconi had infringed the three element De Forest patent and that De Forest had infringed the two element Fleming valve. The result was that neither company could manufacture the triode.
In 1920 RCA acquired the De Forest triode rights through cross-licensing agreements with AT&T which had recently purchased the rights to it. De Forest's company was no match for GE, Westinghouse, and RCA. The De Forest Radio Company (1923) went bankrupt in 1928, was reorganized in 1930, and went into receivership in 1933. RCA eventually purchased its assets.
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) came from a wealthy and well connected Italian family. He was able to spend his time developing his inventions and following his own course of action. Marconi spent his entire life developing wireless communication into a "practical" reality. In 1905 Marconi invented a directional antenna. In 1909 he shared with Karl Ferdinand Braun the Nobel prize in physics. And in 1912 he invented the time spark system for the generation of continuous waves. The principal patents in his name were improved types of vertical antennas; improved coherer; magnetic detector for the detection of wireless signals; and improvements on methods of selective tuning. Two other inventions of great importance to the Marconi companies' patent structure were the Oliver Lodge tuning patent and the Ambrose Fleming valve.
In 1895 Marconi made the first successful transmission of long wave signals. The following year he met William Preece, engineer-in-chief of the British Post Office, who was interested in inductive wireless telegraphy. This meeting led to the formation in 1897 of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd. In 1898 he transmitted signals across the English Channel. In 1899 an American subsidiary was formed. The various Marconi companies were the dominant enterprises in both British and American wireless until 1919 when RCA was formed.
From a business standpoint, wireless did not become profitable until long distance communications were accomplished. On December 12, 1901 in St. John's, Newfoundland, Marconi received a telegraph signal in the form of repetitions of the Morse telegraphic letter "S" transmitted from the Marconi station at Poldhu, Cornwall, England. This success, however, was met by opposition from vested interests, particularly the Anglo-American Telegraph Company whose cables terminated in Newfoundland.
So as not to restrict his company's future to one front alone, Marconi decided to exploit the field of communication with ships at sea. In order to control this field he decided in 1900 to lease his apparatus rather than sell it outright. This strategy did not work. Competition developed in Germany (Telefunken Corporation) and the United States (American De Forest and its successor, United Wireless) and Marconi was forced to sell rather than lease apparatus to the navies of various countries. He nevertheless retained numerous restrictions. This led to further friction. At the height of this debacle English stations worldwide refused to communicate with ships without Marconi equipment. This absurd and dangerous situation had to change and coastal stations opened up to all senders in 1908.
Marconi's system was based on spark technology. He saw no need for voice transmission. He felt the Morse code adequate for communication between ships and across oceans. He, along with most others, did not foresee the development of the radio and the broadcasting industry. He was a pragmatist and uninterested in scientific inquiry in a field where commercial viability was unknown.
For these reasons Marconi left the early experimentation with the radio telephone to others, particularly Lee De Forest and Reginald Fessenden.
National Electric Signaling Company
Canadian-born Reginald Fessenden (1866-1932), one of the principal early radio inventors and the first important inventor to experiment with wireless, left the University of Pittsburgh in 1900 to work for the U.S. Weather Bureau. There he invented the liquid barretter, an early radio receiver, and attempted to work out a means for wireless transmission of weather forecasts. After a squabble over patent rights, Fessenden resigned in 1902.
The National Electric Signaling Company (NESCO), primarily intended to support Fessenden's work on wireless, telegraphy, and telephony, was formed by Fessenden and two Pittsburgh capitalists, Hay Walker, Jr. and Thomas H. Given. It began as an inventor's laboratory and never proved successful as a business venture.
Fessenden recognized that a continuous wave transmission was required for speech and he continued the work of Nikola Tesla, John Stone Stone, and Elihu Thomson on this subject. Fessenden felt he could also transmit and receive Morse code better by the continuous wave method than with a spark-apparatus as Marconi was using.
In 1903 Fessenden's first high-frequency alternator needed for continuous wave transmission was built to his specifications by Charles Steinmetz of GE. In 1906 Fessenden obtained a second alternator of greater power from GE and on Christmas Eve broadcast a program of speech and music. The work on this alternator was given to Ernst F. W. Alexanderson. It took years for Alexanderson to develop an alternator capable of transmitting regular voice transmissions over the Atlantic. But by 1916 the Fessenden-Alexanderson alternator was more reliable for transatlantic communication than the spark apparatus.
Fessenden also worked on continuous-wave reception. This work arose out of his desire for a more effective type of receiver than the coherer, a delicate device that was limited by its sensitivity on a rolling ship at sea. In 1903 he developed a new receiving mechanism - the electrolytic detector.
As his work progressed Fessenden evolved the heterodyne system. However, due to faulty construction and the fact that it was ahead of its time, heterodyne reception was not fully appreciated until the oscillating triode was devised, thus allowing a practical means of generating the local frequency.
Between 1905 and 1913 Fessenden developed a completely self-sustaining wireless system. However, constant quarrels between Fessenden, Walker, and Given culminated in Fessenden's forming the Fessenden Wireless Company of Canada. He felt a Canadian company could better compete with British Marconi. As a result, his backers dismissed Fessenden from NESCO in January of 1911. Fessenden brought suit, won, and was awarded damages. To conserve assets pending appeal, NESCO went into receivership in 1912, and Samuel Kintner was appointed general manager of the company.
In 1917 Given and Walker formed International Signal Company (ISC) and transferred NESCO's patent assets to the new company. Westinghouse obtained majority control of ISC through the purchase of $2,500,000 worth of stock. The company was then reincorporated as The International Radio Telegraph Company. The Westinghouse-RCA agreements were signed in 1921 and International's assets were transferred to RCA.
The development of the radio industry accelerated after 1912. This was due to several factors, the most important of which was the passage of legislation by the US government requiring ships at sea to carry wireless. This created a market incentive and spurred the growth of the industry. Also, with the outbreak of World War I, the larger electrical companies turned their manufacturing output to radio apparatus, supporting the war effort. Three firms were prominent in this industrial endeavor: AT&T, GE, and Westinghouse.
AT&T's early contributions to this effort centered on their improvements of De Forest's triode, particularly in the evolution of circuits, the redesign of the mechanical structure, and an increase in the plate design. The importation of the Gaede molecular pump from Germany created a very high vacuum. The resulting high-vacuum tube brought the practical aspects of the wireless telephone closer to reality. By August 1915 speech had been sent by land wire to Arlington, Va., automatically picked up there via a newly developed vacuum-tube transmitter, and subsequently received at Darien, Canal Zone. By 1920 AT&T had purchased the rights to the De Forest triode and feedback circuit, and had placed itself in a strong position in the evolution of radio technology.
GE centered its efforts on the alternator, assigning Ernst F. W. Alexanderson to its design, and on further development of vacuum tube equipment for continuous wave telegraph transmission. By 1915 Alexanderson, Irving Langmuir, William D. Coolidge, and others had developed a complete system of continuous wave transmission and reception for GE.
As can be seen, both AT&T and GE were diverting major time and expenditures on vacuum tube research. This inevitably led to patent interferences and consequently, to cross-licensing arrangements.
Westinghouse was not in the strategic position of GE and AT&T. Nevertheless, during the war it did manufacture large quantities of radio apparatus, motors, generators, and rectifiers for the European and American governments. Postwar moves led Westinghouse into full partnership with the other two companies.
By the end of the war, all three companies had committed significant resources to wireless. They were hampered internationally, however, by the Marconi Company's dominant status, and in the United States they were blocked by opposing interests with control of key patents.
The US government also was concerned with this lack of solidarity in the wireless industry and over the British domination of the field worldwide. This impasse set a fascinating and complicated stage for the formation of the RCA.
Owen D. Young, legal counselor for GE, was instrumental in breaking the impasse. Through an innovative and far-reaching organizational consolidation, Young was able to persuade British Marconi that persistence in monopoly was a fruitless exercise, because of the strong US government feelings. Marconi, realizing the harm of a potential American boycott, finally agreed to terms. GE purchased the controlling interest in American Marconi, and RCA was formed. Young was made chairman of the board of RCA, while Edwin J. Nally and David Sarnoff of the old American Marconi were appointed president and commercial manager respectively.
On July 1, 1920, RCA signed a cross-licensing agreement with AT&T. The telephone company purchased one half million shares of RCA common and preferred stock for several considerations -- the most important being that all current and future radio patents of the two companies were available to each other royalty-free for ten years. Many provisions of these agreements were ambiguous and led to later squabbles between the RCA partners.
In May 1920 Westinghouse, which had an efficient radio manufacturing organization, formed an alliance with the International Radio and Telegraph Company (NESCO's successor). Westinghouse's part ownership gave them control of Fessenden's patents, particularly continuous-wave transmission and heterodyne transmission. Westinghouse also wisely purchased in October of 1920 Armstrong's patents on the regenerative and superheterodyne circuits -- which also included some of Columbia University professor Michael Pupin's patents. This placed Westinghouse in a strong bargaining position vis-à-vis RCA and in their new consolidated corporation. Westinghouse joined the growing group of radio companies on June 30, 1921. With these mergers, RCA agreed to purchase forty percent of its radio apparatus from Westinghouse and sixty percent from GE.
Through these and other legal arrangements, RCA obtained the rights to over 2,000 patents. These amounted to practically all the patents of importance in the radio science of that day. As a result, other firms in the radio industry, for example, the United Fruit Company and the Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company, entered into cross-licensing arrangements with RCA.
RCA also made arrangements internationally with the three dominant companies in radio communication in their respective countries. British Marconi, Compagnie Generale de Telegraphie sans fil, and Telefunken. Each corporation was given exclusive rights to use the other companies' patents within their own territories.
The rise of amateur radio in the 1920s and, to a greater extent, the demand for new products by the general public contributed to the rise of the broadcasting industry. This put a strain on the earlier agreements between the major radio corporations and between 1921 and 1928 there was a struggle over patents for control of the evolving medium.
An initial attempt by AT&T to control the broadcasting industry -- using its earlier cross-licensing agreements to manufacture radio telephone transmitting equipment -- began with AT&T's disposal of RCA stock holdings in 1922-1923. It ended in 1926 with a new cross-licensing agreement which gave AT&T exclusive patent rights in the field of public service telephony and gave GE, RCA, and Westinghouse exclusive patent rights in the areas covered by wireless telegraphy, entertainment broadcasting, and the manufacture of radio sets and receiving tubes for public sale.
In 1926 after the agreements were finalized, RCA, GE, and Westinghouse joined forces and established the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Fifty percent of the stock went to RCA, thirty percent to GE, and twenty percent to Westinghouse. The new company was divided into three divisions: the Red, Blue, and Pacific Networks. Independent, competing networks soon emerged. William S. Paley and his family formed the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1927. The Mutual Broadcasting System was formed in 1934.
By 1928 RCA had strong patent positions in all major areas of the radio industry, including the research, development and manufacture of vacuum tubes and speakers. Most small companies entering the industry in the 1920s produced their products based on prior research by others and on expired patents. An RCA license, therefore, was essential for the manufacture of any modern radio set or vacuum tube.
In the late 1920s new developments in the reproduction of sound, produced significant changes in the phonograph industry. Among those new developments were the introduction of the electronic record, and the marketing of the Radiola 104 Loudspeaker in 1926. In 1929 RCA purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company. This changed not only the quality but the sales of the phonograph and the phonograph record. A new entertainment industry was born and an ever-expanding market for consumer products was created with cultural implications that continue today.
German industrialists were eager to break the Marconi Company's monopoly. Although Marconi had patents on his inventions in Germany, the Germans developed a rival system through the Telefunken Corporation, incorporated in 1903, based on the inventions of Professor Ferdinand Braun, Dr. Rudolf Slaby, and Count George von Arco.
Before 1903 the Braun-Siemens and Halske system had been developed by Gesellschaft fur Drahtlose Telegraphie (GFDT). The Slaby-Arco system had been developed by Allgemeine Electrizitats-Gesellschaft. After litigation over patents, the German court handed down a decision in favor of the GFDT. The Kaiser, with national interests in mind, ordered that the rivalry cease. The two systems were amalgamated under GFDT, and became known as the Telefunken.
Chronology of Some Significant Events In The History of The Radio Industry
1895 -- Marconi experiments with Hertz's oscillator and Branley's coherer.
1897 -- In March Marconi demonstrates his wireless system on Salisbury Plain, near London, and files a complete patent specification. In May trials of Marconi's system are made over water between Lavernock and Flatholm, a distance of three miles. On May 13, communication is established between Lavernock Point and Brean Down, a distance of eight miles. German scientist Professor Slaby is present. The first Marconi station is erected at the Needles, Isle of Wight. A distance of fourteen and one-half miles is bridged by wireless. In December the Marconi station at the Needles communicates with a ship eighteen miles at sea.
1898 -- In England Oliver Lodge files a complete specification covering inventions in wireless telegraphy.
1899 -- The New York Herald uses Marconi's wireless telegraphy to report the progress of the International Yacht races between the Columbia and the Shamrock off New York harbor in September. US. Navy vessels make trials of Marconi's wireless telegraph system. The cruiser New York and the battleship Massachusetts are equipped with apparatus. Fessenden develops improvements in methods of wireless telegraph signaling.
1900 -- The Marconi International Marine Communication Company is organized on April 25th in London. Reginald Aubrey Fessenden begins work at the United States Weather Bureau. Over the next two years he invents the liquid barretter, an improved radio receiver.
1901 -- In February on board the SS Philadelphia, Marconi receives wireless signals over a distance of 1,551 miles. In March Marconi wireless telegraph service begins between islands of the Hawaiian group. On December 12, Marconi receives transatlantic signal at St. John's, Newfoundland from Poldhu, Cornwall, England. The Canadian government orders two Marconi telegraph sets for use at coastal points along the Strait of Belle Isle.
1901 -- Fessenden procures US patent no. 706737 for a system of radio signaling employing long waves (low frequency). De Forest develops a system of wireless telegraphy in Chicago. 1903-06 10,000 to 50,000 cycle machines, 1 kW, are developed by Steinmetz and by Alexanderson of GE for Fessenden. 1905 Marconi procures patent number 14788 in England, covering the invention of the horizontal directional antenna.
1906 -- At Brant Rock, Massachusetts, Fessenden employs a generator of one-half kW capacity, operating at 75,000 cycles, for radio purposes. He succeeds in telephoning a distance of eleven miles by means of wireless telephone apparatus.
1907 -- De Forest procures a U. S. patent for an audion amplifier of pulsating or alternating current.
1908 -- Marconi stations in Canada and England are opened for radio telegraph service across the Atlantic. Fessenden constructs a 70,000-cycle alternator with an output of 2.5 kW. at 225 volts, for radio signaling purposes. He reports successful radio telephone tests between Brant Rock and Washington, DC, a distance of 600 miles.
1909 -- US House of Representatives passes the Burke Bill for the compulsory use of radio telegraphy on certain classes of vessels. The United Wireless Telegraph Company and the Radio Telephone Company of New York (De Forest and Stone systems) begin the erection of radio stations in the Central and Western states. Marconi shares with Ferdinand Braun of Germany the Nobel prize in recognition of contributions in wireless telegraphy.
1910 -- An act of the US government requires radio equipment and operators on certain types of passenger ships. The Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Marconi station is opened in September. This station communicates with Clifden, Ireland. The transatlantic tariff is seventeen cents a word.
1911 -- A radio section is organized by the US Department of Commerce to enforce the provisions of national radio legislation. Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company acquires the Lodge-Muirhead patents.
1912 -- Rotary gap is used with Fessenden 100 kW 500 cycle spark set at NAA, the Navy's first high-power station at Arlington, Virginia. Marconi Wireless of America acquires property of the United Wireless Telegraph Company. British Marconi secures the important radio patents of Bellini and Tosi, Italian inventors. Wreck of the SS Titanic on April 15th. The act of 1910 is extended on July 23 to cover cargo vessels. requires an auxiliary source of power on ships and two or more skilled radio apparatus operators on certain types of passenger ships. On August 13, an act provides for licensing radio operators and transmitting stations.
1912-1913 -- High vacuum amplifying tubes (an improvement on De Forest's), using the findings of pure science, are produced almost simultaneously in two great industrial laboratories, by Dr. H. D. Arnold of AT&T and Irving Langmuir of GE.
1915 -- De Forest Ultra-audion three-step (cascade) audio amplifier is announced and introduced into practice.
1916 -- GE and the Western Electric Company develop the first experimental vacuum tube radiotelephone systems for the Navy.
1917-1918 -- First production of vacuum tubes in quantity, both coated filament and tungsten filament types, by Western Electric Company and GE.
1918 -- Lloyd Espenschied procures US patent number 1,256,889 for the invention of a duplex radio telegraph system. (See Lloyd Espenschied Papers, Archives Center, NMAH, Collection #13.) The House of Representatives passes a resolution on July 5, authorizing the President to take over management of telegraph and telephone systems due to war conditions.
1919 -- Bills are introduced in Congress for permanent government control of radio stations. The widespread resentment of amateurs has more to do with the defeat of these bills than the objections of commercial companies. Roy Alexander Weagant, New York, reports having developed means of reducing disturbances to radio reception caused by atmospherics or static. This is the first successful static-reducing system. GE purchases the holdings of the British Marconi Company in the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, the name of the latter company being changed to Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in October. Edward J. Nally is elected president of the new company.
1920 -- E. F. W. Alexanderson is appointed Chief Engineer of RCA. RCA begins the installation of 200-kW Alexanderson alternators at Bolinas, California, and Marion, Massachusetts. The Tropical Radio Telegraph Company, a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company, New York, operates ten long-distance radio stations at points in Central and South Americirca RCA purchases 6,000 acres at Rocky Point, Long Island, New York, and begins erection of a Radio Central station, comprising a number of operating units for communication with European stations and stations in South Americirca On May 15, RCA inaugurates radio telegraph services between installations at Chatham and Marion, Massachusetts, and stations at Stavanger and Jaerobe, Norway. Westinghouse Company's radio station KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, broadcasts returns of the national elections, November 2. Development, design, and manufacture by GE of the early receiving and transmitting tubes made available to the public by RCA (UV-200,201,202). Radio telegraph stations and properties taken over by the government under war time powers are returned to their owners at midnight, February 29. The government calls for bids for the sale of large quantities of surplus radio and telegraph and telephone apparatus purchased for war needs and not used.
1921 -- RCA develops Vacuum tubes UV-200(detector) and UV-201(amplifier) -- both triodes with brass shells known as the UV base, and incorporating a filament that required 1 ampere at 5 volts for operation -- for storage battery operation; and at the same time also released to the public the WD-11 for dry cell operation, which employed an oxide-coated tungsten filament. RCA station at Rocky Point, Long Island, opens on November 5. WJZ station established by the Westinghouse Company in Newark, NJ. RCA broadcast station at Roselle Park, NJ (WDY) opens on December 15. It continues operation until February 15, 1922, when its operation is transferred to WJZ, Newark, previously owned by Westinghouse. RCA installs 200-kW alternator at Tuckerton, NJ.
1922 -- First use of tube transmitters by RCA for service from the United States to England and Germany. RCA begins substitution of tube transmitters on ships to replace spark sets. RCA begins replacement of crystal receivers by tube receivers on ships.
1923 -- Broadcast stations WJZ and WJY opened in New York in May by RCA. WRC opens in Washington on August 1. The UV-201A, receiving tubes developed by GE and consuming only 1/4 of an ampere are introduced by RCA. Tungsten filaments coated and impregnated with thorium were employed.
1924 -- Edwin H. Armstrong, demonstrates the superheterodyne receiver on March 6th. In November RCA experiments with radio photographs across the Atlantic. RCA markets the superheterodyne receivers for broadcast reception.
1925-26 -- Dynamic loudspeakers introduced. Magnetic pick-up phonograph recording and reproduction developed. RCA opens radio circuit to Dutch East Indies. Direction-finders introduced on ships.
1927 -- Fully self-contained AC radio receivers introduced.
The collection was donated to the Smithsonian in 1959.
The collection is open for research use.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs, negatives, and slides.
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.
Original documents and papers generated by William J. Hammer and by various companies and individuals with whom he was associated. Includes material related to the research and inventions of Edison, Bell, Tesla, the Curies, etc.
Scope and Contents:
This collection includes original documents and papers generated by Hammer and by various companies and individuals and various secondary sources assembled by Hammer between 1874 and 1934. Hammer's lifelong association with the foremost scientists of his day -- Edison, Bell, Maxim, the Curies, the Wright brothers, and others - afforded him a unique opportunity to collect materials about the development of science along many lines.
This collection, which includes rare historical, scientific, and research materials, was donated by the International Business Machine Corporation to the Museum of History and Technology in 1962 and held by the Division of Electricity. In 1983 it was transferred to the -Archives Center. The collection was badly disorganized when received and contained many fragile documents in poor condition. The collection was organized and arranged as reflected in this register.
The collection documents in photographs, manuscripts, notes, books, pamphlets, and excerpts, the beginnings of electrical technology. In its present state, it comprises four series: Series 1 contains twenty-two boxes of the William J. Hammer Papers, containing both biographical and autobiographical material; Series 2 has twenty boxes of material on Edison; Series 3 consists of thirty-three boxes of reference material; and Series 4 holds twenty-one boxes of photographs and portraits. See the container list beginning on page 39 for more detailed information on the contents of the collection.
Most of the material in the collection is chronologically arranged. However, in some cases alphabetical arrangement has been employed, for example, in the arrangement of portraits of eminent men of electrical science (Series 4, Boxes 78-80, 100-101), and the arrangement of publications (by authors' last names).
Hammer did original laboratory work upon selenium, radium, cathode rays, x-rays, ultra-violet rays, phosphorescence, fluorescence, cold light, and wireless. These aspects of his career are reflected in many parts of the collection: in Series 1 there are articles, notes, diagrams, sketches, graphs,, and correspondence; in Series 3 articles, magazines, news clippings, and bound pamphlets. Tie contributed many technical writings, some of which are found in Series 1.
Papers detailing Hammer's aeronautical activities were transferred to the National Air and Space Museum. They consist of two scrapbooks and one cubic foot of aeronautical photographs of balloons, airplanes, and gliders and one-half cubic foot of correspondence. For further information contact the National Air and Space Museum Archives at (202) 357-3133.
The collection is divided into four series.
Series 1: William J. Hammer Papers
Series 2: Edisonia
Series 3: Reference Materials
Series 4: Photographs
Biography of William J. Hammer:
William Joseph Hammer, assistant to Thomas Edison and a consulting electrical engineer, was born at Cressona, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, February 26, 1858, and died March 24, 1934. His parents were Martha Augusta Bech (1827-1861) and William Alexander Hammer (1827-1895). He attended private and public schools in Newark, New Jersey, and university and technical school lectures abroad.
On January 3, 1894, Hammer married Alice Maud White in Cleveland, Ohio. They had one daughter, Mabel (Mrs. Thomas Cleveland Asheton). Alice Hammer died in 1906.
In 1878 Hammer became an assistant to Edward Weston of the Weston Malleable Nickel Company. In December 1879 he began his duties as laboratory assistant to Thomas Edison at Menlo Park, New Jersey. He assisted in experiments on the telephone, phonograph, electric railway, ore separator, electric lighting, and other developing inventions. However, he worked primarily on the incandescent electric lamp and was put in charge of tests and records on that device. In 1880 he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Edison Lamp Works. In this first year, the plant under general manager Francis Upton, turned out 50,000 lamps. According to Edison, Hammer was "a pioneer of Incandescent Electric Lighting"! (Hammer's memoranda and notes, Series 2).
In 1881 Edison sent Hammer to London as Chief Engineer of the English Electric Light Co. In association with E. H. Johnson, general manager, Hammer constructed the Holborn Viaduct Central Electric Light Station in London. This plant included three, thirty-ton "Jumbo" steam-powered dynamos (generators), and operated 3,000 incandescent lamps. Holborn was the first central station ever constructed for incandescent electric lighting. Hammer began its operation on January 12, 1882, by lighting the Holborn Viaduct.
In 1882 Hammer also installed a large isolated lighting plant containing twelve Edison dynamos at the Crystal Palace Electric Exposition and the Edison Exhibit at the Paris Electrical Exposition.
At this time Hammer also designed and built the first electric sign. The sign spelled the name "Edison" in electric lights, and was operated by a hand controlled commutator and a large lever snap switch. It was erected over the organ in the Crystal Palace concert hall.
In 1883 Hammer became Chief Engineer for the German Edison Company (Deutsche Edison Gesellschaft), later known as Allegemeine Elektricitaets Gesellschaft. Hammer laid out and supervised the installations of all Edison plants in Germany. While in Berlin he invented the automatic motor-driven "flashing" electric lamp sign. The sign, which flashed "Edison" letter by letter and as a whole, was placed on the Edison Pavilion at the Berlin Health Exposition in 1883.
On his return to the United States in 1884, Hammer took charge of some of Edison's exhibits, including Edison's personal exhibit, at the International Electrical Exhibition held under the authority of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. There he built the first flashing "Column of Light." He also became confidential assistant to E. R. Johnson, president of the parent Edison Electric Light Company. Together with Johnson and Frank J. Sprague, he became an incorporator of the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor company. He also was elected a trustee and the company's first secretary.
Hammer installed an all-electric house at Newark, New Jersey in 1884 and he devised various electrical devices and contrivances for an unusual party for friends and colleagues. (See "Electrical Diablerie" beginning on page 6).
At the end of 1884 Hammer became chief inspector of central stations of the parent Edison Electric Light Company. For over two years he made financial, mechanical, and electrical reports on the various stations throughout the United States. During 1886-87 he was chief engineer and general manager of the Boston Edison Electric Illuminating Company. He also acted as contractor for the company. He laid $140,000 of underground tubing and installed Sprague Electric Motors.
In 1888, acting as an independent engineer, he was placed in charge of completing the 8,000 light plant of the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St.Augustine Florida. At the time this was the largest isolated incandescent lighting plant ever constructed. Also in 1888 Hammer was appointed consulting electrical engineer to the Cincinati Centennial Expostition, and as a contractor designed and installed over $40,000 worth of electrical effects.
Hammer was appointed Edison's personal representative remarked, "There are a lot of crowned heads in the Edison business. How many of them am I subservient to?" Mr. Edison answered "You take no instructions except from Thomas A. Edison." Hammer asked "What are your instructions?" Mr. Edison replied, 'Hammer, I haven't any. Go and make a success of it.' In Paris he set up and operated all of Edison's inventions, which embraced nineteen departments and covered 9,800 square feet of space. He also built a huge Edison lamp forty-five feet high employing 20,000 lamps. Edison remarked, 'He had entire charge of my exhibit at the Paris Exposition, which was very successful." This was the largest individual exhibit at the Exposition, costing $100,000. Mr. Edison replied, "I want you to go right out and have a card engraved William J. Hammer, Representative of Thomas A. Edison. You are the only representative I have here," and he complimented him on his work adding, "The French government will do something handsome for you for your work." Hammer replied that he would not raise his hand to get it and did not believe in giving such honors to people who seek them. Mr. Edison said, "You are wrong. You are a young man and such things are valuable. At any rate if there's anyone in this exhibition who deserves recognition, you do, and I'm going to see you get it' (Hammer's memoranda and notes, Series 2). Thirty-four years later, in 1925, through the personal influence of Edison, Hammer was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government.
In 1890 Hammer returned to the United States and opened an office as a consulting electrical engineer. He was in private practice until 1925, making reports, conducting tests, and giving expert testimony in patent suits.
On January 31, 1890, Hammer formed the Franklin Experimental Club of Newark where boys could come and carry on experiments, build apparatus, and listen to lectures. Hammer equipped the laboratory at his own expense. One side was an electrical laboratory and the other a chemical laboratory. About forty-five boys joined. Each boy had a key to the club and a section of a bench with his own drawer for keeping notes, tools, and other equipment. In 1892 the structure was destroyed by fire from a saloon next door, ending Hammer's plans for a large and useful institution.
In 1896 Hammer was elected president of the National Conference of Standard Electrical Rules, which prepared and promulgated the "National Electric Code."
In 1902 in Paris, Hammer visited Pierre and Marie Curie, the discoverers of radium and polonium. They gave him nine tubes of radium and one of polonium to bring back to the United States. He also acquired some sulphide of zinc, with which he mixed radium carbonates, producing a beautifully luminous powder. This was the first radium-luminous material ever made. By mixing the powder with Damar varnish he produced the first radium-luminous paint. He was also the first person to make colored (and white) luminous materials. In 1907 he invented and patented a process for producing colored phosphorescent materials by combining phosphorescent and fluorescent substances.
Back in the United States in the fall of 1902 and into 1903, Hammer applied his radium-luminous materials to thirty different objects: luminous dials for clocks and watches, toys, artificial flowers, radium luminous gun sights, taps and pulls for lamp sockets, switches, keyholes, push buttons, telephone transmitters, poison bottle labels, a small plaster figure, push pins, and writing implements among others. He did not patent the invention due to the scarcity and high cost of radium, but later in an important suit involving foreign and American patents of radium-luminous materials, his testimony and that of other noted scientists and professionals of the day who had visited his home and laboratory proved that his work completely anticipated that of all inventors both in the United States and abroad. In 1902 he was one of the first persons to be burned with radium.
Hammer gave eighty-eight lectures on the Curies' work and on radium and radioactive substances. He wrote the first book published on radium, Radium and other Radioactive Substances, 1903. Hammer proposed and used radium for cancer and tumor treatment, successfully treating and curing a tumor on his own hand in July 1903. Tie also supplied several hospitals with radioactive water he had made and conducted extensive experiments with x-rays, cathode-rays, radium-rays, ultraviolet lights, phosphorescence, fluorescence, and cold-light. He was probably the first to suggest many wartime uses for radium-luminous materials, such as airplanes, instruments, markers, barbed-wire, and landing fields.
Hammer also did important work with selenium, a nonmetallic element that resembles sulphur and tellurium chemically. It is obtained chiefly as a by-product in copper refining, and occurs in allotropic forms. A grey stable form varies in electrical conductivity depending on the intensity of its illumination and is used in electronic devices. Hammer invented selenium cells and apparatus, and suggested industrial uses for selenium and other light-sensitive cells.
In 1886 Hammer devised a system for automatically controlling street and other lights by use of a selenium cell. In 1892 he designed a torpedo that could be steered by searchlight and selenium cell. In the early 1900s he suggested many other uses for "light" cells, including burglar alarms, dynamo control, buoy, railroad signaling, automatic gun firing, transmission of music, stethoscope recorder, automatic operating shutters, automatic boiler feed, snow recorder, and electric motor control.
At the St. Louis Exposition of 1904 Hammer was Chairman of the Jury for Telegraphy, Telephony, and Wireless. He was also a member of the "Departmental" Jury ("Applied Science: Electricity") and of the committee appointed to organize the International Electrical Congress at St. Louis in 1904.
In 1906 Hammer received the "Elliott Cresson" gold medal from the Franklin Institute for his "Historical Collection of Incandescent Electric Lamps," accumulated over thirty-four years. This collection received a special silver medal at the International Electrical Exposition at the Crystal Palace, London, England, in 1882, and "the Grand Prize" at the St. Louis Exposition of 1904.
During the First World war Hammer served as a major on the General Staff of the, Army War College, Washington, D.C., where he was attached to the Inventions Section of the War Plans Division and later to the operations Division at the war Department in charge of electrical and aeronautical war inventions. He did special work at the U.S. Patent office, marking and delaying patents that might be useful to the enemy and served on the Advisory Board of Experts attached to the Alien Property Commission. He was elected Historian general of the Military order of the World War (1926-1928) and was a member of the Society of American Military Engineers.
Hammer was an early aeronautics enthusiast and became the owner of one of the first airplanes sold in the United States to an individual. Even in his last few years of his life, Hammer's interest in airplanes did not wane. In 1931, by the permission of the Secretary of the -Navy, Hammer made a twelve-hour flight in the Los Angeles dirigible from the Lakehurst, New Jersey airdrome along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to New York, flying over New York City at night.
Hammer served on numerous committees. In 1916 he was a member of a special committee, appointed by the Aeronautical Society of America. one of his responsibilities on this committee was to recommend methods for the formation of a reserve force of civilian aviators for the Army. At the start of World War I, Hammer was appointed chairman of a committee on camouflage by the Aeronautical Society. During the war, he flew airplanes and tested sound devices and was also among the first five selected out of thousands for the dissemination of propaganda into many countries. He also examined documents and papers captured from spies and prisoners of war to see if these material contained any technical matter of value to the U. S. Army.
Hammer traveled extensively as a delegate of the Military Order of World War I. For example, in 1922 he attended the aeronautical Congress and Flying Meet in Detroit, Michigan. In the same year he also attended Immigration Conferences of the National Civic Federation in New York.
Between 1922 and 1928 Hammer intensified his efforts in collecting and organizing autographed portraits of eminent scientific men, a project he had been working on for over forty-five years. Tie displayed many of these portraits with his Historical Collection of Incandescent Electrical Lamps in -his New York home. At this time he also prepared an elaborate bibliography on selenium and its industrial and scientific applications.
Major William Joseph Hammer, described by Edison as "my most valuable assistant at Menlo Park" died of pneumonia March 24, 1934.
N.Y. World, January 3, 1885 and Newark, N.J. Daily Advertiser and Journal, January 3, 1885
Some years ago, (1884) on New Year's eve, an entertainment was given at the home of Mr. William J. Hammer, in Newark, N.J., which, for the display of the powers of electricity has seldom, if ever, been equaled. Mr. Hammer, who has for years been associated with Mr. Edison, both in this country and in Europe, desiring to give his old classmates, the "Society of Seventy-Seven," a lively and interesting time, invited them to "an electrical dinner" at his home.
The invitations which were sent out were written upon Western Union telegram blanks with an Edison electric pen. When the guests arrived and entered the gate, the house appeared dark, but as they placed foot upon the lower step of the veranda a row of tiny electric lights over the door blazed out, and the number of the house appeared in bright relief. The next step taken rang the front door bell automatically, the third threw open the door, and at the same time made a connection which lit the gas in the hall by electricity.
Upon entering the house the visitor was invited to divest himself of his coat and hat, and by placing his foot upon an odd little foot-rest near the door, and pressing a pear-shaped pendant hanging from the wall by a silken cord, revolving brushes attached to an electric motor brushed the mud and snow from his shoes and polished them by electricity. As he was about to let go of the switch or button, a contact in it connected with a shocking coil, caused him to drop it like a hot potato. Up-stairs was a bedroom which would be a fortune to a lazy man; he had only to step on the door sill and the gas was instantly lighted. The ceiling was found to be covered with luminous stars, arranged to represent the principal constellations in the heavens-while comets, moons, etc., shone beautifully in the dark. By placing one's head on the pillow, the gas, fifteen feet away, would be extinguished and the phosphorescent stars on the ceiling would shine forth weirdly, and a phosphorescent moon rose from behind a cloud over the mantel and slowly describing a huge arch disappeared behind a bank of phosphorescent clouds on the other side of the room; by pressing the toe to the foot-board of the bed the gas could again be relit.
Pouring a teacup of water into the water clock on the mantel and setting the indicator would assure the awakening of the sleeper at whatever hour he might desire. There was also in the hall outside the room a large drum, which could be set to beat by electricity at the hour when the family wished to arise. The whole house was fitted throughout with electric bells, burglar alarms, fire alarms, telephones, electric cigar lighters, medical coils, phonographs, electric fans, thermostats, heat regulating devices, some seven musical instruments, operated by electricity, etc.
Upon the evening referred to nearly every. piece of furniture in the parlor was arranged to play its part. Sit on one chair and out went the gas, take another seat and it would light again; sitting on an ottoman produced a mysterious rapping under the floor; pressure on some chairs started off drums, triangles, tambourines, cymbals, chimes and other musical instruments; in fact, it seemed unsafe to sit down anywhere. The quests stood about in groups and whispered, each hoping to see his neighbor or a new comer caught napping.
One visitor (Brown) secured an apparently safe seat, and was telling a funny story--he had left electricity far behind--but just as he reached the climax, a pretty funnel-shaped Japanese affair like a big dunce cap, that seemed but a ceiling ornament which was held in place by an electromagnet, dropped from overhead and quietly covered him up, thus silently extinguishing the story and the story-teller.
A big easy chair placed invitingly between the folding doors joining the double, parlors sent the unwary sitter flying out of its recesses by the sudden deafening clamor of twenty-one electric bells hidden in the folds of the draperies hanging in the doorway. In a convenient position stood the silver lemonade pitcher and cup, the former was filled with the tempting beverage, but no matter how much a guest might desire to imbibe one touch convinced him that the pitcher and cup were so heavily charged with electricity as to render it impossible for him to pour out a drink or even to let go until the electricity was switched off from the hidden induction coil.
Some one proposed music, and half a selection had been enjoyed when something seemed to give way inside the piano, and suddenly there emanated from that bewitched instrument a conglomeration of sounds that drowned the voices of the singers, and the keys seemed to beat upon a horrible jangle of drums, gongs and various noise-producing implements which were fastened inside of and underneath the piano.
After the guest were treated to a beautiful display of electrical experiments, under the direction of Mr. Hammer, and Professor George C. Sonn, they were escorted to the dining-room, where an electrical dinner had been prepared and was presided over by 'Jupiter," who was in full dress, and sat at the head of the table, where by means of a small phonograph inside of his anatomy he shouted, "Welcome, society of Seventy-Seven and their friends to Jove's festive board." The menu was as follows: "Electric Toast," "Wizard Pie," "Sheol Pudding," "Magnetic Cake," "Telegraph Cake," "Telephone Pie," "Ohm-made Electric Current Pie," "Menlo Park Fruit," "Incandescent Lemonade," "'Electric Coffee" and "Cigars," etc., and music by Prof. Mephistopheles' Electric Orchestra.
About the table were pretty bouquets, and among the flowers shone tiny incandescent lamps, while near the center of the table was placed an electric fan which kept the air cool and pure, and at each end was a tiny Christmas tree lighted with small incandescent lamps, planted in a huge dish of assorted nuts and raisins. Each lamp had a dainty piece of ribbon attached to it upon which the initials of the Society and the date were printed, and each guest received a lamp to take away with him as a souvenir of the occasion. Plates of iced cakes made in the form of telephones, switches, bells, electric lamps, batteries, etc., stood on each side of the center piece.
Promptly at 12 o'clock, as the chimes of the distant churches came softly to the ears of the assembled quests, pandemonium seemed to change places with the modest dining-room. A cannon on the porch, just outside the door, and another inside the chimney, were unexpectedly discharged; and at this sudden roar, every man sprang back from the table; the lights disappeared; huge fire-gongs, under each chair beat a tattoo. The concussion produced by the cannon in the fireplace caused several bricks to come crashing down the chimney, and as the year of 1884 faded away, the table seemed bewitched. The "Sheol Pudding" blazed forth green and red flames illuminating the room, tiny tin boxes containing 'Greek" fire which had been placed over each window and door were electrically ignited by spirals of platinum iridium wire heated by a storage battery and blazed up suddenly; the "Telegraph Cake" clicked forth messages said to be press reports of the proceedings (it was also utilized to count the guests and click off the answers to various questions put to it); bells rang inside the pastry; incandescent lamps burned underneath the colored lemonade; the thunderbolt pudding discharged its long black bolts all over the room (long steel spiral springs covered with black cloth) and loud spirit rapping occurred under the table. The silver knives, forks and spoons were charged with electricity from a shocking coil and could not be touched, while the coffee and toast (made by electricity) were made rapidly absorbed; the "Magnetic Cake' disappeared; the "Wizard" and "Current Pies' vanished, and 'Jupiter" raising a glass to his lips began to imbibe.
The effect was astonishing! The gas instantly went out, a gigantic skeleton painted with luminous paint appeared and paraded about the room, while Jupiter's nose assumed the color of a genuine toper! His green eyes twinkled, the electric diamonds in his shirt front (tiny lamps) blazed forth and twinkled like stars, as he phonographically shouted "Happy New Year'. Happy New Year!" This "Master of Cererionies' now becoming more gentle, the guests turned their attention to the beautiful fruit piece, over four feet high, that stood in the center of the table. From the fruit hung tiny electric lamps, and the whole was surmounted by a bronze figure of Bartholdils "Statue of Liberty;" uplifted in "Miss Liberty's" right hand burned an Edison lamp no larger than a bean.
The dinner finished, and there was much that was good to eat, notwithstanding the "magical" dishes which they were first invited to partake of, speeches were delivered by Messrs. Hammer, Rutan, McDougall, 'Brown, Duneka, and Dawson, and an original poem was read by Mr. Van Wyck. Upon repairing to the parlors the guest saw Mr. Hammer's little sister, May, dressed in white and mounted upon a pedestal, representing the "Goddess of Electricity:" tiny electric lamps hung in her hair, and were also suspended as earrings, while she held a wand surmounted by a star, and containing a very small electric lamp.
Not the least interesting display of electricity took place in front of the house, where a fine display of bombs, rockets, Roman candles, Greek fire and other fireworks were set off by electricity, which was by the way, the first time this had been accomplished. The guests were requested to press button switches ranged along the front veranda railing thus causing electricity from a storage battery to heat to a red heat tiny platinum iridium spirals attached to each fuse of the various pieces of fireworks thus sending up rocket after rocket, as well as igniting the other pieces which had been placed in the roadway in front of the house.
An attempt was made to send up a large hot air balloon to which was attached a tiny storage battery and an incandescent signal lamp but a sudden gust of wind caused the ballon to take fire as it rose fr(xn the ground. This constituted the only experiment made during the evening which was not an unqualified success. The innumerable electrical devices shown during the progress of the dinner were all operated by Mr. Hammer, who controlled various switches fastened to the under side of the table and attached to a switchboard, which rested on his lap, while the two cannons were fired by lever switches on the floor, which he operated by the pressure of the foot. Electricity was supplied by primary and storage batteries placed under the table. After an exhibition of electrical apparatus and experiments with a large phonograph, the guests departed with a bewildered feeling that somehow they had been living half a century ahead of the new year."
Expositions and Exhibitions:
The many Expositions held at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries were important for the Edison Electric Company's future business. In particular the Paris Electrical Exposition, 1881, and the Crystal Palace Exposition in London in 1892 were introductions for the company's international business enterprises. Edison, therefore, sent his ablest men from the Menlo Park staff (Batchelor, Hammer, Jehl, Johnson) to Europe to oversee the installation and promotion of the company's exhibits.
THE INTERNATIONAL PARIS EXPOSITION OF 1881
The International Paris Electrical Exposition was held during the summer of 1881. Many of Edison's electric lighting systems, ranging from arc lights to incandescent devices, were exhibited. A model of the Edison central-station lighting system showed an arrangement of incandescent lights within a complete electrical distributing system, including novel appliances and controls of the Edison system. "The completeness of its conception made a profound impression on the foremost European electrical engineers of that era." (Josephson, Matthew. Edison, A Biography. p. 252). Edison also exhibited his first "Jumbon generator. It was "direct-connected" to its driving engine, another area in which Edison pioneered. Edison improved upon the original design of William Wallace's "Telemachon' - a generator coupled to a water-powered turbine. Wallace had earlier in the decade produced the first dynamo in America.
Charles Batchelor headed the Edison exhibits within Paris. Edison received many gold medals and diplomas and was awarded the ribbon of the Legion of Honor.
The William J. Hammer Collection contains various reports and catalogues exhibited at the International Exposition of Electricity. (Series 3, Box 44, Folders 1-4)
THE CRYSTAL PALACE EXHIBITION OF 1882
At the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1882 in London, Edison displayed a great many of his inventions, including: the steam dynamo; specimens of street pipes and service boxes used in the Edison underground system of conductors, and the system of house conductors with devices for preventing abnormal increase of energy in house circuits; apparatus for measuring the resistance of his lamps, for measuring the energy consumed in lamps, and rheostats for restoring currents; also thermogalvano-meters, carbon rheostats, dynamometers, photometers, carbon regulators, Weber meters,, current regulators, and circuit breakers for controlling electric light circuits; the carbon relay, the pressure relay, and the expansion relay; the telegraph system in Morse characters; and the Roman character automatic telegraph.
Thomas Edison also exhibited the carbon telephone, the musical telephonograph, telephone repeater, and numerous apparatus for demonstrating the method of varying the resistance of a closed circuit by contact with carbon, illustrative of the experimental factors of the Edison carbon transmitter. Incandescent lamps, the process of the manufacture of lamps, and various designs of electric light chandeliers were also on display.
Hammer won the silver medal at the exposition for the first complete development of the incandescent electric lamp from its initial stages to date. At the exhibition the first hand-operated flashing electric lamp sign was displayed, which was invented and built by Hammer.
The collection contains photographs of the Edison dynamo, and the Edison Electric Lighting Plant of 1882 erected by Hammer. The official Catalogue of the International Electric and Gas Exhibition, and various articles from the Daily Telegraph, Daily Chronicle, and Daily News are also included within the collection (Series 4, Box 99 and Series 3, Box 42, Folder 1-2).
THE BERLIN EXPOSITION OF 1883.
The Berlin Exposition of 1883 had the first motored flashing electric sign designed, built and operated by Hammer. The electric sign spelled out the word "Edison" letter by letter and was used on the Edison pavilion in the Health Exposition. It has most features of today's flashing sign.
The collection contains two photographs of the first flashing sign (Series 4, Box 99).
THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE INTERNATIONAL ELECTRICAL EXHIBITION OF 1884
The Franklin Institute International Electrical Exhibition was held in Philadelphia from September 2 to October 14, 1884. Many of Edison's companies had display booths at the exhibition. The Edison Electric Light Company showed in operation their system of house lighting as supplied from a central station. The Edison Company for Isolated Lighting exhibited their system of lighting factories, hotels, hospitals, and other places situated beyond the reach of a central lighting station. A full assortment of Edison lamps and dynamos also made up parts of other exhibits. Also displayed at the exhibition was the first flashing column of light, which Hammer designed and built.
Included within the collection are a variety of photographs of the exhibitions. Four pamphlets also are contained in the collection (Series 3, Box 1, Folder 3), (Series 4, Box 99).
THE EXPOSITION OF THE OHIO VALLEY AND THE CENTRAL STATES OF 1888
The Exposition of the Ohio Valley and Central States, in Cincinnati from July 4 to October 27, was in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the settlement of Cincinnati. The exposition showed the progress and ramifications of the first hundred years of this settlement.
The space occupied by permanent buildings was greater than that covered by any building for exhibiting purposes on the Western continent. T',ie exposition developed the Electric Light Plant to make a special feature of electric lighting in the evening. Several companies used this opportunity to make exhibits of their apparatus and for their equipment to be used for illumination. The Edison Lamps were used for displays in showcases and pavilions of exhibitors of the Park Building.
The collection contains photographs of the halls of the exposition and a poster which is a souvenir of the electrical display of the exposition. An official Guide of the Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley and Central States is included within the collection. (Series 4, Box 99), (Series 3, Box 42, Folder 4).
THE SUMMER CARNIVAL AND ELECTRICAL EXHIBITION, ST. JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK, 1889
The Summer Carnival and Electric Exhibition held at St. John, New Brunswick, Canada was to celebrate the opening of the Canadian Pacific Short Line to St. John and Portland. The Electrical Exhibition was the most popular of the displays present, containing the Monster Edison Lanm, the Mysterious Electric Fountain, and many other inventions.
The William J. Hammer Collection contains a poster that illustrates some of the leading exhibits at the Electrical Exhibition (Series 4, Box 99).
PARIS UNIVERSAL EXPOSITION OF 1889
The Universal Exposition of 1889 held in Paris was larger than all previous expositions held there. The famous Eiffel Tower was its principal attraction.
A large portion of the exhibit hall within the Palace of Mechanical Industries contained Thomas Edison's electrical inventions, including various electric lamps for use in houses. Variations of the telephone also were shown. During the Paris Exposition Europeans were exposed to the phonograph for the first time. Hammer represented Edison's interests at the Paris Exhibition.
The collection contains articles from New York World, New York Herald and Electrical World on Edison's exhibits at the Paris Exposition (Series 3, Box 44, folder 6). A scrapbook of photographs from the exhibition showing exhibit buildings and halls and loose photographs showing Edison's exhibits are included in the collection (Series 4, Box 98).
THE CRYSTAL PALACE EXHIBITION OF 1892
The Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1892 was held in London. Hammer displayed a great variety of products in the machine room of the Electrical Exhibition. Sockets for controlling individual incandescent lamps on alternating currents and the Ward Arc Lamp for use on incandescent circuits were just a few of the items displayed. Edison's companies displayed specimens of all types of incandescent electric lamps for public and private illumination. They also displayed primary batteries for use in telegraphy, telephony, household work, and engines.
The William, J. Hammer Collection contains a variety of photographs of the electrical exhibition. The Official Catalogue and Guide of the Electrical Exhibition is also contained within the collection (Series 4, Box 99), (Series 3, Folder 2, Box 42).
LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION, 1904
The Louisiana Purchase Expostition of 1904, held in St. Louis, Missouri from April 30 to December 1, celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. The nineteen million people who attended made it the largest exposition ever. The year 1904 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Edison's invention of the carbon filament lamp and central power station system.
F.J.V. Skiff, the exhibits classifier for the fair, developed a twofold classificatory arrangement. He organized exhibits in a sequential synopsis corresponding to the sixteen different departments of the exposition. The principal exhibition buildings were built in the shape of a fan. The departments of education, art, liberal arts, and applied sciences-including electricity - headed the classification, Skiff noted, because they "equip man for the battle and prepare him for the enjoyments of life.' Departments devoted to displays of raw materials such as agriculture, horticulture, !inning, forestry, fish and game came next. Anthropology, social economy, and physical culture concluded the classification.
The Hammer collection contains photographs of Hammer with other Chairmen of Domestic and Foreign Jurors of the Electricity Section of the International Jury of Awards of the Louisiana Exposition and Hammer as chairman of the jury on telegraphy, telephony, and wireless. (Series 4, Box 102). A pamphlet by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company on the exhibit of the Radiophone at the Department of Applied Science is also part of the collection (Series 3, Box 42, Folder 5).
THE PANAMA-PACIFIC EXPOSITION OF 1915
The Panama Pacific Exposition celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and the four hundredth anniversary of the European discovery of the Pacific Ocean. It was held in San Francisco from February 20 to December 4, 1915. Approximately nineteen million people attended the exposition.
The eleven main buildings of the exposition were grouped around a central court of the Sun and Stars at the entrance of which was the famous Tower of Jewels. The main group of exhibits comprised the Palaces of Education, Liberal Arts, Manufactures, Varied Industries, Mines,
Transportation, Agriculture, Horticulture and all kinds of food products. During the exposition special days were set aside to honor industrialists Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company provided a large searchlight to flash out a Morse code greeting on the nighttime sky for their arrival.
The William J. Hammer Collection contains a pamphlet on the "Illumination of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition." The pamphlet describes the lighting of the exposition, and the use of arc lamps ' searchlights, incandescent electric lamps, and gas lamps (Series 4, Box 99), (Series 3, Box 43).
Collection donated by IBM, 1962.
Collection is open for research.
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.
This collection consists of the archives of Giuseppe M. Bellanca and his company, including the following types of mediums: drawings, stress analysis tests, reports, photographs/negatives, documents, correspondence, patent information, newspaper clippings, business records, and financial statements.
Scope and Contents:
Series I: Mr. Bellanca's professional life
Here, the researcher will find documents regarding the day-to-day operations of the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation. The material is generally divided into core documents of the corporation, correspondence, financial documents, subcontracting pursuits, patents, employee relations, and company history.
Series II: Technical Material
This material is separated into the following subseries: Miscellaneous Handwritten Notes and Sketches, Bellanca Aircraft Technical Data, Bellanca Aircraft Corporation Reports, Technical Research Files, Bellanca Aircraft Drawing Lists, Bellanca Aircraft Drawings, and Bellanca Aircraft Drawing Indexes. The Bellanca Collection is not a complete history of the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation. Over the years, it appears that many items were loaned out by the Bellanca Family to researchers and not returned. Therefore, there are significant gaps in correspondence, formal, numbered reports, and other areas of the collection. For example, the earliest report in the Bellanca Collection is Report #28, the next report which appears is report #45.
The Giuseppe M. Bellanca Collection contains over 10,000 drawings. (At the time of processing, not all drawings were entered into the Bellanca Drawings Database. These drawings will be entered as time allows.) The drawings vary in size from 8 x 11 inches to 36 x 185 inches. There are original pencil drawings, blueprints, and blueline drawings. Over 130 models of Bellanca aircraft are represented in the Collection. There are General Arrangement, or Three-View drawings for over 80 of these models. Bellanca drawings are not easy to decipher. Most of the drawings have data blocks which contain only a finite amount of information. Often the aircraft has been identified only by serial number. In some cases the model number of the aircraft is also the drawing number. Other times, the aircraft name would be given, but no model number, i.e. Skyrocket. Also, words were abbreviated and it was left up to the processing archivist to determine their probable meaning. Despite the explanation in the scope and content notes, the Bellanca Corporation was not consistent when assigning model numbers. Letters were sometimes assigned that reflected a United States War Department designation, i.e. the VSO and the VF. By using the Bellanca Drawing indexes, the processing archivist was able to supply model numbers for some of the drawings.
7136 Bellanca Aircraft Company Drawings have been added to the National Air and Space Museum Miscellaneous Drawings Database. As time allows, the remaining Bellanca Drawings will be added to this database. An Archives Staff member will assist researchers in retrieving these materials from the database finding aid.
The Bellanca drawings were stored for over thirty years in less-than-ideal conditions. Many of the drawings were drawn on poor-quality tracing paper, and have become extremely brittle and fragile. Therefore, many of the drawings in the Bellanca Collection may not be available to researchers.
During processing of the collection, the project archivist has gained some insight about how Mr. Bellanca chose the model designations for his aircraft. The earliest system of model designations was based upon letters of the alphabet. No model designations appear for any Bellanca design until his work for Maryland Pressed Steel in 1916. The CD, which he designed for that company, was his fourth aircraft design that was built, and the letter D is the fourth letter of the alphabet. This pattern continues through the Bellanca CF. During 1926, when Mr. Bellanca worked for the Wright Corporation, he already had in mind an improved version of the CF, which was designated the CG. This aircraft received the designation WB-1 from the Wright Corporation.
When Mr. Bellanca formed his own company in 1927, the letter pattern described above reasserted itself for a time with the introduction of the Bellanca CH. It was a common practice of manufacturers of the time to also include the engine horsepower as part of the model number, so the Bellanca CH actually received its Approved Type Certificate (ATC) as the CH-200. When the next model came out, it was the CH-300 with a 300 horsepower Wright Whirlwind engine. This system remained in place through the CH-400. Names were given to some Bellanca aircraft. It appears that the names were a marketing tool meant to appeal to the buying public. With this idea in mind, the CH-300 became the "Pacemaker", the CH-400 became the "Skyrocket", and the P 100 was christened the "Airbus". In the early 1930's, the Bellanca Corporation moved away from the alphabetical designations and moved to numerical designations. Later Bellanca aircraft model designations consist of a series of numbers, such as 31-50. The first number was the wing area, in this case, 310 square feet, divided by 10. The second number was the horsepower of the engine, 500, divided by 10. This resulted in a distinctive system of model designations, which lasted until Mr. Bellanca sold the company.
Series III: Mr. Bellanca's personal material.
In this series, the researcher will find personal correspondence among family members, from both Giuseppe and Dorothy Bellanca's families and personal, legal and financial records for Bellanca family. As the lines between Mr. Bellanca's personal and professional lives were sometimes blurred, a fine line of separation between the two was not always possible. For example, at one time or another, two of Mr. Bellanca's brothers, John and Frank, worked for the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation and Andrew Bellanca, Mr. Bellanca's nephew, was his lawyer throughout his life. Therefore, the processing archivist suggests that the researcher look in the professional series of documents as well as Mr. Bellanca's personal papers for a more complete representation of Mr. Bellanca's correspondence.
After processing was completed, publications which previously had been offered to the NASM Branch Library were returned to the collection. They are listed in an addendum at the end of this finding aid.
Series IV: Photographs.
The researcher will find photographs of Bellanca aircraft, including the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation's Master Photograph Files, photographs of the Bellanca factory and factory workers, and photographs of Giuseppe M. Bellanca, business associates, and family members.
Series V: Miscellaneous and Oversize Materials.
This series contains ephemera of the Bellanca Collection: Scrapbooks, Loose Newspaper Clippings, Artwork, Ephemera and Magazine Clippings.
The Bellanca Collection included 27 motion picture films. In May of 2000, this film was transferred to the NASM Film Archives. Researchers wishing to access this part of the collection should contact the NASM Film Archivist.
Series I: Mr. Bellanca's Professional Life
Series II: Technical Data
Series III: Personal Papers
Series IV: Photographs
Series V: Miscellaneous and Oversize Materials
Biographical / Historical:
Giuseppe Mario Bellanca was born in 1886 in Sciacca, Sicily. As a young man, he attended the Technical Institute in Milan, graduating with a teaching degree in mathematics in 1908. During his quest for a second mathematics and engineering degree, he became enamoured of aviation, and set out to design and build his own airplane. Bellanca's first aircraft design was a "pusher" aircraft, somewhat similar to the Wright Flyer. Lacking funds for such an endeavor, he joined with two partners, Enea Bossi, and Paolo Invernizzi. The union of the three produced the first flight of a totally Italian-designed and Italian-built aircraft in early December of 1909. The flight was short, but it was a start. Bellanca's second design was a tractor-type aircraft. Although the aircraft was successfully constructed, it was never flown due to insufficient funds for an engine.
At the urging of his brother Carlo, who was already established in Brooklyn, New York, Giuseppe Bellanca immigrated to America in 1911. Before the end of the year, he began construction of his third airplane design, a parasol monoplane. After construction was completed, he took the small craft to Mineola Field on Long Island, NY, and proceeded to teach himself to fly. He began by taxiing. He then, taxied faster, which gave way to short hops. The hops got longer, until, on May 19, 1912, there was not enough room to land straight ahead, and Bellanca had to complete a turn in order land safely. Having successfully taught himself to fly, Bellanca then set about teaching others to fly, and from 1912 to 1916, he operated the Bellanca Flying School. One of his students was a young Fiorello La Guardia, the future mayor of New York City. In return for flying lessons, La Guardia taught Bellanca how to drive a car.
In 1917 the Maryland Pressed Steel Company of Hagerstown, MD hired Bellanca as a consulting engineer. While there, he designed two trainer biplanes, the CD, and an improved version, the CE. With the conclusion of WWI, Maryland Pressed Steel's contracts were cancelled and the company entered into receivership. Thus, the CE never went into production.
In 1921, a group of investors lured Bellanca westward to Omaha, NE, in hopes of establishing that town as a center for aircraft manufacture. Before the aircraft could be built, the company went bankrupt, but construction of the aircraft continued under the financial backing of a local motorcycle dealer named Victor Roos. The resultant aircraft, the Bellanca CF, was called by Janes's All the World's Aircraft "the first up-to-date transport aeroplane that was designed, built, and flown with success in the United States." Among the local people helping to build the aircraft was the daughter of Bellanca's landlord, Dorothy Brown. Giuseppe and she were married on November 18, 1922.
Despite its advanced design, the Bellanca CF could not compete with the economics of the time. In the days just after World War I, a surplus Curtiss Jenny could be purchased for as little as $250.00. A Bellanca CF, with a price tag of $5000.00, was just too expensive and the aircraft never went into production. After the disappointment of the CF, Bellanca designed wings for the Post Office Department's DH-4's. His new wings were a tremendous improvement over the original design, but only a few aircraft were so modified.
In 1925, Bellanca went to work for the Wright Aeronautical Corporation of Paterson, NJ. His assignment there was to develop an aircraft around the new Wright Whirlwind engine. He already had a design in mind, which was an improved version of the CF, called the CG. This design evolved into the Wright-Bellanca WB-1.
The WB-1 enjoyed a short, but successful flying career. The aircraft had already won one race and efficiency contest before an untimely accident destroyed the craft during preparation for an attempt to break the world's non-refueled endurance record. Fortunately, at the time of the crash, Bellanca was already working on an improved version, of the WB-1 designated the WB-2.
During 1926, the WB-2 won two efficiency trophies at the National Air Races in Philadelphia. Wright considered putting the aircraft into production, but decided against it to avoid alienating other aircraft companies that were potential customers for their engines. Disappointed by Wright's decision, Bellanca left the company and joined with a young businessman named Charles Levine to form the Columbia Aircraft Company. Wright sold the WB-2 and all drawings and production rights to the new company. The WB-2 went on to a long and fruitful flying career starting with establishing a new world's non-refueled endurance record of 51 hours, 11 minutes, and 59 seconds in April of 1927.
In the latter half of 1926, Charles Lindbergh wanted to buy the WB-2, now named the 'Columbia', for his proposed flight from New York to Paris. He was rebuffed by Levine who also had designs on the flight and the $25,000 prize money. Lindbergh then went to Ryan for his specially designed NYP. Meanwhile Levine, in choosing the crew, managed to promise two seats to three people. So while the Columbia was grounded by a court order brought by the third party, Lindbergh took off on his successful flight to Paris.
Eventually, the 'Columbia' was cleared of litigation and took off on its successful transatlantic flight on June 4, 1927. In the cockpit were Clarence Chamberlin, one of the pilots of the endurance record and Charles Levine, who became the first transatlantic passenger. The plan was to fly all the way to Berlin, and Chamberlin had vowed to fly until they ran out of fuel. Forty-three hours later, they landed in Eisleben, Germany, the first of two successful Atlantic crossings for Bellanca's most famous aircraft.
Disappointed because the 'Columbia' was not the first aircraft to accomplish the New York to Paris flight, Bellanca severed all relations with Levine, and started his own company, the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of America, and rented facilities on Staten Island, NY. The new Bellanca model was designated the CH, and was basically a commercial version of the WB-2. The new company also had two other models that were built for special orders, the Bellanca Model J and the Model K.
It was not long before Bellanca caught the attention of the Du Pont family of Delaware. They wanted to start aircraft manufacturing in Delaware, and in late 1927, an agreement was made with Bellanca to locate his factory outside of Wilmington. The site was large enough for a first-class airfield, with a seaplane ramp on the nearby Delaware River.
This was a busy time in Bellanca's life. Along with all that was happening in his professional life, he and Dorothy celebrated the birth of their son August T. Bellanca in March of 1927.
With the exception of a few years immediately before and during the early stages of WWII, Bellanca was President and Chairman of the Board from the corporation's inception on the last day of 1927 until he sold the company to L. Albert and Sons in 1954. After his departure from the company, Giuseppe and his son, August, formed the Bellanca Development Company with the purpose of building a new aircraft. It would have increased performance due to the use of lighter materials for its structure. Work on this aircraft was progressing when Giuseppe Bellanca succumbed to leukemia and died on December 26, 1960. After his father's death, August continued the project, and under his guidance, the aircraft first flew in 1973.
In 1993, August Bellanca donated his father's personal and professional papers to the National Air and Space Museum Archives. Prior to that time, they were kept in the Bellanca home near Galena, MD, and administered by Dorothy and August Bellanca.
1886 -- Born in Sciacca, Sicily
1909 -- Built first airplane. It completed the first flight of an Italian-designed, Italian-built, aircraft on December 8, 1909.
1911 -- Immigrated to America, settled in Brooklyn, NY.
1912 -- Completed construction of parasol monoplane. Successfully learned to fly this aircraft at Mineola, Long Island, NY.
1912 - 1916 -- Taught others to fly the parasol monoplane, including Fiorello LaGuardia.
1917 - 1920 -- Employed as a consulting engineer for Maryland Pressed Steel Company of Hagerstown, MD. While there, Bellanca designed and built the Bellanca CD and CE tractor biplanes.
1921 - 1922 -- Moved to Omaha, NE, and with Victor Roos, formed the Roos-Bellanca Aircraft Company. Bellanca designed and built the Bellanca CF. Married Dorothy Brown on November 18, 1922, in Omaha, NE.
1923 -- Moved back to New York, and designed and built new sets of wings for the Post Office Department's DH-4 mailplanes
1925 -- Employed by the Wright Aeronautical Corporation of Paterson, NJ, designing an aircraft around their new "Whirlwind" engine. The Wright-Bellanca 1, or WB-1, was the result, and was first flown in the latter part of that year.
1926 -- First flight of the WB-2.
1927 -- Bellanca started the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of America, on Staten Island, NY. Bellanca established the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, DE. Wright decided not to enter into quantity production of the WB-2. Bellanca entered into a partnership with Charles A. Levine, and together, they formed the Columbia Aircraft Corporation. From Tuesday, April 12 to Thursday, April 14, Clarence Chamberlin and Bert Acosta set a new world's non-refueled endurance record in the WB-2, which was shortly thereafter, renamed the "Columbia". On June 4th, the Columbia set off across the Atlantic, and landed in Eisleben, Germany.
1941 - 1943 -- Head of the aviation department at Higgins Industries, Inc., in New Orleans, designing large cargo aircraft for troop movement during the war.
1954 -- Formed the Bellanca Development Company, to conduct research in lightweight aircraft construction materials.
1960 -- Died of leukemia in New York, December 26.
Mr. and Mrs. August Bellanca, Gift, 1993, NASM.1993.0055
No restrictions on access.
The Millard Sheets papers comprise 27.6 linear feet of material dating from circa 1907 to 2000 with bulk dates spanning 1956 to 1981. The collection documents Sheets's career as a designer, painter, and muralist, and his personal and professional interests through correspondence, writings, lectures, printed material, drawings, slides, photographs, and ephemera.
A small addition donated 2018 by Carolyn Owen-Toole, Sheet's daughter. There is a 4.6 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated 2018 that includes writings; sketchbooks and sketches; photographs and negatives of works of art, images of Millard Sheets and others; printed material, including two scrapbooks; and scattered correspondence regarding Sheet's projects.
Scope and Content Note:
The personal papers of Millard Sheets (1907-1990) measure 27.6 linear feet and date from circa 1907-2000, with bulk dates of 1956-1981. The collection reflects Sheets's career as a designer, painter, and muralist, as well as his other personal and professional interests, through correspondence, writings, lectures, clippings, blueprints, drawings, slides, photographs, and ephemera.
The Project Files comprise the largest group of materials in the collection and document design work undertaken by Sheets through his company Millard Sheets & Associates Designs. Sheets and his associates produced concept drawings and blueprints and supervised the construction for a wide range of design projects that ranged in scale from architectural plans for private residences to bid proposals for shopping malls and financial institutions located in California and the Southwest.
Sheets designed interior and exterior plans for over forty Home Savings and Loan bank branches in California. The distinctive modular design which Sheets created and then customized by integrating interior and exterior art elements that highlighted local historical events or natural features became synonymous with the image of Home Savings and Loan. Sheets also teamed up with the architect Edward Durrell Stone to produce a proposal for the Capitol Mall Project, an urban renewal project for the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Sacramento. Researchers will find correspondence, job costs and billing statements, and notes that trace the development of these and other building construction projects. In some instances the documents are supplemented by blueprints, photographs, and/or drawings of the project, but in many cases, visual documentation is missing.
The Project Files also document work done by Millard Sheets on public projects such as the Family of Man mural in the Los Angeles City Hall Annex, a mosaic dome in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., and the Word of Life mural at the University of Notre Dame, Ind., along with numerous other murals and mosaics created for private individuals and corporations.
The Correspondence Series primarily reflects the interaction between Sheets and his clients, colleagues, and personal acquaintances. These files will prove valuable to researchers who are interested in the way that Sheets's beliefs about the role of art in everyday life impacted the way he conducted business and managed both large and small design projects. The correspondence also reflects Sheets's interest in popular American culture, travel, political issues of the day, and art collecting.
The Membership Files document the wide variety of interests that Sheets maintained through active membership in associations and organizations. The material in this series consists primarily of correspondence, minutes of meetings, and notes which Sheets created or used as he served as a board member or trustee on a number of organizational boards, such as the California Institute of the Arts, the Claremont Colleges, Virginia Steele Scott Foundation, Webb School of California, and Goodwill Industries of Southern California.
Also found in this series is material that documents his interest and participation in various recreational and professional organizations. Sheets maintained a long association with the Economic Roundtable, a group of businessmen who met regularly to give presentations and share discussion on contemporary political and social issues. Sheets was a frequent speaker and his talks given at the Economic Roundtables can be found in Lectures and Speeches, a subseries of the Writings Series.
Included in the Millard Sheets & Associates Designs, Inc. series are records that reflect the day-to-day operations of Sheets's design firm. Found here are chronological copies of correspondence that were sent out, files Sheets maintained on various independent contractors that the design firm frequently used, resumes and letters of recommendation that Sheets received regarding potential employees, as well as records relating to the cost and maintenance of Sheets's office building.
The Teaching and Workshop Files document the instructional activities undertaken by Sheets throughout his career in the arts. Although Sheets became pivotal in establishing a regionally recognized art department at Scripps College in Claremont, California, the files that reflect his academic position there are limited in scope and depth. Researchers will find more substantive the files that he maintained on the numerous art demonstrations and paintings workshops that he conducted privately throughout his career. Sheets traveled extensively around the world through his teaching activities and the files in this series track his path.
Closely related to the Teaching and Workshop Files is the Painting Trips series. The material in these files document Sheets's service as an American Specialist in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the USIS, Department of State. Sheets served two times as a cultural arts representative in Turkey in 1960 and in the former USSR in 1961. Sheets also made numerous trips to South East Asia, which had proved an area of fascination for him since his experiences as a war correspondent in Burma and India in World War II. The files in this series document his painting trips to Tahiti, the Pacific Ocean Rim, and Hawaii. Also found are files that detail his painting activities in Mexico.
The Exhibition Files reflect the records that Sheets maintained regarding his participation in art exhibitions, as well as his files on art shows that he personally directed or organized for public or private groups or organizations. Although Sheets exhibited his work predominantly in the West and Southwest, the files in this series demonstrate that he exhibited both nationally and internationally as well.
Also found within the records for this series are files relating to Sheets's representation of his artwork through established galleries and art agents. The Dalziel Hatfield Galleries of Los Angeles, California, served as his primary agent for most of his painting career. Correspondence between Sheets and the Hatfields provide insight into Sheets's development into a regionally and nationally significant watercolorist and painter. The files relating to the Kennedy Galleries in New York and the Circle Gallery in Chicago reflect Sheets's efforts to maintain a national presence in the arts community.
The Jury Files document Sheets's involvement as a juror in regional, as well, as national shows. The files reveal the great variety of professional watercolor and painting exhibitions in which Sheets participated as either a jury panelist or solo judge.
The Writings Files provide an excellent source for researchers interested in Sheets's philosophical beliefs about the relationship between art and everyday life. His articles, lectures, and speeches predominantly address the role of the artist, the relationships that exist between artists and the community, and the role that art can play in making a fuller, more productive life. Also found in the files of this series are articles written by others about Sheets.
The Biographical Material series provides a short introduction to Millard Sheets. The files consist of the calendars maintained by Sheets and his wife and staff, which were used to coordinate his many commitments and appointments. Also found in the files of this series are family chronologies that were created by Mary Baskerville Sheets. Medical records and resumes provide personal information about Sheets's background and health. A small file of military memorabilia provides information about Sheets's contributions to the war effort in World War II.
The Printed Matter series documents family activities and personalities through publicity clippings. Also found are exhibition catalogs and announcements that Sheets saved regarding other artists. Miscellaneous interests and activities of Sheets are found through magazine articles, brochures, and flyers.
The Photographs series includes photographic documentation for Sheets's artwork, horses, and major projects. A small group of photographs of Sheets are also in this series.
The files in the Artwork series include original drawings by Mary Baskerville Sheets and Millard Sheets.
There is a 4.6 linear foot unprocessed addition to this collection donated 2018 that includes writings; sketchbooks and sketches; photographs and negatives of works of art, images of Millard Sheets and others; printed material, including two scrapbooks; and scattered correspondence regarding Sheet's projects.
The collection is arranged into fifteen series. Small series, such as Biographical Material are generally based on type of document. Larger series, such as Correspondence or Project Files, are arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent or project. General correspondence has been made into its own series, but other series or subseries may also contain some correspondence. Within particular series, materials have been further divided into subseries which represent particular aspects of the project or event. For example, the Writings Series is further divided into subseries of books and articles, eulogies, and lectures and speeches. An outline listing series and subseries titles and dates follows.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1907-1982, undated (boxes 1-2; 1.25 linear ft.)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1929-1990, undated (boxes 2-4; 2.75 linear ft.)
Series 3: Personal Business Records, 1933-1980, undated (boxes 5-6; 1.25 linear ft.)
Series 4: Membership Files, 1946-1982, undated (boxes 6-8; 2.5 linear ft.)
Series 5: Millard Sheets & Associates Designs, 1934-1982, undated (boxes 8-9; 1.0 linear ft.)
Series 6: Project Files, 1956-1981, undated (boxes 9-18; 8.25 linear ft.)
Series 7: Teaching and Workshop Files, 1932-1982 (box 18; 0.5 linear ft.)
Series 8: Painting Trips, 1959-1980, undated (box 18; 16 folders)
Series 9: Exhibition Files, 1932-1937, 1951-1988, undated (box 19; 0.75 linear ft.)
Series 10: Jury Files, 1941-1982 (boxes 19-20; 42 folders)
Series 11: Writings, 1936-1988, undated (boxes 20-22; 2.5 linear ft.)
Series 12: Printed Matter, 1936-1922, undated (boxes 22-23; 20 folders)
Series 13: Photographs, 1934-1983, undated (box 23; 17 folders)
Series 14: Artwork, circa 1929, undated (box 23; 2 folders)
Series 15: Unprocessed Addition, circa 1930-2000 (boxes 24, 26-30, OV25: 4.6 linear ft.)
"Your painting is a measure of your mind"-Millard Sheets
Millard Sheets, as one of the founding members of the "California Scene Painters," exerted a lasting influence upon subsequent generations of Western painters. He and the small group of painters who worked in California during the 1930s and 1940s, developed a new style of watercolor painting that was at the forefront of the American watercolor movement of the time, and that later gave rise to a subsequent generation of painters who became known as the California Regionalist school.
Sheets was born in Pomona, California on June 24, 1907. His mother died in childbirth, and his father, John Sheets, unprepared to raise a baby alone, sent Millard to Pomona, California to be raised by his maternal grandparents, Lewis and Emma Owen. Sheets's grandfather proved to be a guiding force in his life, and when Sheets's father remarried and offered Millard the opportunity to return to the Sheets household, Millard chose instead to remain with his grandparents.
Sheets's love of horses can be directly traced back to his childhood years spent living at his grandfather's horse ranch. Millard rode his first horse when he was three years old. Throughout his life, Sheets returned to the theme of horses in his paintings, as well as maintaining a private stable of horses, and raising and breeding racehorses.
His interest in art also began in childhood. When he was still a young boy, his two maternal aunts encouraged him to play with crayons and pencils. Sheets took his first painting lesson from a neighbor at the age of seven, and by 1919 he had already submitted artwork to the copy division of the Los Angeles County Fair fine arts show competition. He submitted a drawing he had copied of a tinted photograph of Lake KIlarney, California. Sheets won first prize in his division.
It was through this competition that Millard met Theodore B. Modra, a Polish artist who had retired to the Pomona area. After giving Sheets a lecture on the evils of copying art, Modra offered to give him art lessons.
Sheets continued to pursue his interest in art and enrolled in the Choinard School of Art in Los Angeles, California. By the time that he graduated in 1929, Sheets had also managed to come to the attention of Dalzell and Ruth Hatfield of the Dalzell Hatfield Galleries in Los Angeles, California. The Hatfields were one of the most influential art dealers in Southern California, and that same year, they sponsored Sheets in his first one-man exhibition in 1929. The exhibition brought Sheets to the attention of Western Coast art critics and launched Sheets on his painting career.
In 1929 Sheets also learned that he had won second place in the annual Edgar B. Davis art competition held in San Antonio, Texas. The award came with a cash prize and Sheets made plans to travel to Europe to study and paint. Shortly before his departure, however, he met an art student, Mary Baskerville, and they began a whirlwind romance. With Baskerville's enthusiastic support for European plans, and with her promise that she would wait for him, Sheets departed for New York and then Europe.
While overseas during 1929 and 1930, Sheets studied under Dorfinant, a master printer in Paris. Through his work at this studio workshop, he met Henri Matisse.
Five months after Millard returned to the California in 1930, Sheets and Mary Baskerville married. Sheets worked as the director of the Fine Arts Exhibition of the Los Angeles County Fair. In 1932 Sheets returned to school to study art and humanities at Scripps College in Claremont, California. After graduating from Scripps, school officials approached Sheets with an offer to set up a separate fine arts program and asked him to chair the new department. This was the beginning of a twenty year association with the school. In 1938, he also became the Director of Art at Claremont Graduate School.
Sheets left the school during the years of World War II to serve as a war-time artist and journalist for Life magazine, and from 1943-1944 was stationed on the Burma-India Front. His experiences in Asia appeared to affect him deeply. In contrast to his earlier works which featured backgrounds with neutral tones and brilliant shades that highlighted and punctuated the compositions, the paintings from the wartime featured somber tones. Sheets remarked of this time:
During the fighting and the time I spent in the C-B-1 theater, I was too shaken and intellectually stunned to do any complete paintings. I made many, many sketches, though, as well as a real effort to remember each scene that particularly affected me. Then, once I returned to America, I painted frantically, for months, exorcising demons. [Lovoos, Janice and Edmund F. Penney, Millard Sheets: One-Man Renaissance, Northland Press, Flagstaff, AZ, 1984]
Sheets returned from the war in 1944 and resumed his position at Scripps College until 1955 when he was approached by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and asked to overhaul the fledgling Los Angeles County Art Institute. Sheets accepted the position and spent the next five years reshaping the mission and format of the school, renaming it the Otis Art Institute. In the years after Sheets left the directorship, the school eventually became part of the Parson's School of Design on the West Coast.
In 1953 Sheets founded the Millard Sheets Designs company. He hired between twenty-five and thirty artisans for large projects, with Susan Hertel, a former student of his, serving as his assistant in all the operations of the design studio. The working staff included engineers, registered architects, draftsmen, and artists, and the projects that the firm produced included murals, mosaics, stained glass, and sculpture for private homes and public and commercial businesses.
The design studio completed several major architectural projects throughout the late 1950s through the mid 1970s, including the design and construction of Cal Aero, a flight training school for the US Air Force, the National American Insurance Company offices for the California financier, Howard Ahmanson, Ahmanson Bank and Trust Company in Beverly Hills, many Home Savings and Loan Association Buildings, private residences, and the Scottish Rite Memorial Temples in Los Angeles and San Francisco, among many other projects.
Sheets also designed and completed mural and mosiac work for numerous public buildings in the Los Angeles area, as well as across the nation. Many of the murals and mosiacs were for those buildings designed by his firm while others were done as independent commissions.
In 1968 Sheets first proposed the murals he designed for the Los Angeles City Hall. His design was approved and he was awarded a commission to complete The Family of Man murals over the two main entrances to the Los Angeles City Hall. The murals were completed in 1971 and installed in 1972. Sheets also designed mosiacs and murals for the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Library at Notre Dame University, the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Los Angeles, several Home Savings and Loan Association buildings in the Los Angeles area, the Detroit Public Library, and the Dome of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
During the early 1960s Sheets participated in the American Specialist Program of the US Department of State. His first assignment was to Turkey in 1960, where he served as a visiting artist. The following year he went to the USSR in the same capacity.
During the early to mid 1950s Sheets became involved with Columbia Pictures and was technical advisor and production designer for a few years.
Millard Sheets was a member of the National Watercolor Society, the American Watercolor Society, the National Academy of Design, the Society of Motion Picture Art Directors, and the Century Association. Sheets actively promoted his own work and was a businessman, an active and prolific artist, instructor, and designer. Millard Sheets died on March 31, 1989 in Gualala, California.
The Archives of American Art also holds material lent for microfilming (reels LA 10) including a biographical sketch, career resume, and a list of sheets' work prepared in 1964. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Millard Sheets lent material for microfilming in 1965. Mary B. Sheets, Millard's widow, donated the papers to the Archives of American Art in 1992. Carolyn Owen-Toole, Sheet's daughter, gave a small addition of material in 2018.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
The Millard Sheets papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Marcel Breuer Associates/Architects and Planners Search this
37.6 Linear feet
The Marcel Breuer papers, 1920-1986, contain biographical material, correspondence, business and financial records, interviews, notes, writings, sketches, project files, exhibition files, photographs, and printed material that document the career of architect and designer Marcel Breuer.
Scope and Contents note:
The Marcel Breuer papers span the years 1920 to 1986 and measure 37.6 linear feet and 0.14 gigabytes. They consist of biographical material, correspondence, business and financial records, interviews, notes, writings, sketches, project files, exhibition files, photographs, and printed material that document Breuer's career as an architect and designer. This material reflects the prolificacy and diversity of his creations, from tubular steel chairs to private residences, college campuses, factories, department stores, and international, municipal, and corporate headquarters and complexes.
The Biographical Material Series contains documents that list or certify significant events or associations attained by Breuer during his career, such as résumés, licenses, and certificates. The number of awards contained in this series attest to the esteem in which he was held by his colleagues.
Breuer's Correspondence Series illustrates the interaction of his various colleagues and the operation of his architectural offices in the execution of their projects, many of which were in progress simultaneously. This series includes letters from Joseph Albers, Jean Arp, Herbert Bayer, Alexander Calder, Serge Chermayeff, Naum Gabo, Sigfried Giedion, Walter and Ise Gropius, Louis I. Kahn, György Kepes, László Moholy-Nagy, Henry Moore, Eero Saarinen, and José Luis Sert.
The Business and Financial Records Series contains documents which reflect Breuer's commercial transactions that do not directly relate to one specific project. Two project books pertain to 36 architectural projects and record their basic physical and financial details, such as site measurements and cost projections. There are also miscellaneous invoices and receipts, and one of Breuer's personal income tax returns.
The Interviews Series contains typescripts of interviews. Of particular interest is the audiotape interview of Breuer, who discusses his early years as a student and his first impressions of the Bauhaus. There are also untranscribed audiotape interviews of his colleagues György Kepes and Harry Seidler, and his patrons Mr. A. Elzas, and the Koerfers, who discuss their business relationships with Breuer.
There are address lists of colleagues and patrons and résumés from architects contained within the series on Notes, while the Writings Series contains typescripts of lectures and articles written by Breuer concerning architecture and its history. Writings by others are about Breuer and his work, including typescripts, galleys, and photographs of architectural and design projects used in the publication of the book Marcel Breuer Buildings and Projects, 1921-1961 by Cranston Jones.
The Sketches Series consists of 3 small, hand-drawn depictions of unidentified floor plans.
The largest and most comprehensive series houses the Project Files, which consist of approximately 300 project files containing letters, legal documents, and photographs that record the planning and execution of many of Breuer's most important architectural projects. These include the UNESCO Headquarters Building (Paris, France), St. John's Abbey and University (Collegeville, Minnesota), the IBM Corporation Research Center (La Gaude, France), the HUD Headquarters Building (Washington, D.C.), the De Bijenkorf Department Store (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), and the third power plant and forebay dam for the Grand Coulee Dam (Washington state). The file for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York contains an interesting set of photographs of Breuer showing Jacqueline Kennedy through the construction site.
Of equal importance are the additional Project Files for the 100 residences designed by Breuer, including prefabricated houses such as Kleinmetalhaus and Yankee Portables, and commissioned residences such as the two Gagarin Houses (Litchfield, Connecticut), the two Harnischmacher Houses (Wiesbaden, Germany), Koerfer House (Moscia, Switzerland), the Neumann House (Croton-on-Hudson, New York), the Saier House (Glanville-Calvados, France), the Staehelin House (Feldmeilen, Switzerland), the Starkey House (Duluth, Minnesota), and the three Rufus Stillman Houses (Litchfield, Connecticut). There are also files concerning the four houses Breuer designed for himself in Lincoln and Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The Project Files for Breuer's furniture designs are not as comprehensive as those for his architectural creations but contain many photographs of his early conceptions for chairs, tables, desks, cabinets, rugs, and tapestries.
The Exhibition Files Series contains primarily photographs of exhibitions in which Breuer participated. The extent of his participation is sometimes difficult to determine, because it ranged from designing a single chair, designing rooms for an apartment or an entire house specifically to be shown in an exhibition, to designing an exhibition building. Breuer was also the subject of a retrospective exhibition sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This traveling exhibition was seen in New York City, Chicago, Paris, and Berlin.
Images contained in the Photographs Series are of Breuer, including one of him in Philip Johnson's house, Breuer family members, and colleagues, including Herbert Bayer, Alexander Calder, Serge Chermayeff, Walter and Ise Gropius, and Matta. Three photograph albums in this series contain more than 1,000 photographs of 59 architectural projects.
The Printed Material Series houses general clippings that concern groups of projects, rather than one specific project. There is also a scrapbook of tearsheets concerning architectural projects, exhibition announcements, and catalogs for others, and miscellaneous press releases and brochures.
The Marcel Breuer papers are arranged into 11 series, based on type of document. Each series, except Project Files, has been arranged chronologically. The Project Files Series has been divided into 19 subseries of related architectual and design project types. The overall arrangement reflects Breuer's original arrangement. Each subseries or file group within is arranged alphabetically according to the surname of an individual, or a location name of a university. The contents of each project file have been arranged according to material type and a chronology that best reflects the progression of the project toward completion.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1920-1981 (Boxes 1, 36; Reel 5708; 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1923-1986 (Boxes 1-6, OV 47; Reels 5708-5717; 5.3 linear ft.)
Series 3: Business and Financial Records, 1933-1980 (Box 6; Reels 5717-5718; 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 4: Interviews, 1963-1985 (Boxes 6-7; Reel 5718; 0.4 linear ft., ER01; 0.14 GB)
Series 5: Notes, 1934-1976 (Box 7; Reel 5718; 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 6: Writings, 1923-1981 (Boxes 7-8; Reels 5718-5720; 1.0 linear ft.)
Series 7: Sketches, circa 1920s-circa 1980 (Box 8; Reel 5720; 1 folder)
Series 8: Project Files, 1921-1986 (Boxes 8-23, 36-40, OVs 43-57; Reels 5720-5737; 27.6 linear ft.)
Series 9: Exhibition files, 1922-1974 (Box 34, OV 49; Reels 5737-5738; 0.8 linear ft.)
Series 10: Photographs, 1928-1979 (Boxes 34, 41-42; Reel 5738; 0.3 linear ft.)
Series 11: Printed Material, 1925-1984 (Boxes 35, 42; Reels 5738-5739; 1.0 linear ft.)
Marcel Lajos Breuer was born on May 21, 1902, in the Danube valley town of Pécs, Hungary, to Jacques Breuer, a physician, and Franciska (Kan) Breuer. His siblings were Hermina and Alexander. Throughout his life, Breuer used his first name only on official documents and preferred that his friends use his middle name, the Hungarian form of "Louis." The diminutive form of this name was usually spelled "Lajkó" and pronounced "Lye-ko."
In 1920, Breuer graduated from the Magyar Királyi Föreáliskola in Pécs. He had received a scholarship to study art in Vienna but took an immediate dislike to the Art Academy there, so searched elsewhere for training. He started working in the studio of a Viennese architect and soon became interested in training in the cabinetmaking shop of the architect's brother. Breuer was not satisfied with this arrangement either, and, upon hearing about the year-old Bauhaus school in Germany, he departed for Weimar in 1921.
Founded and directed by Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus combined the teaching of the pure arts with training in functional technology. Breuer received a master's degree from the Bauhaus in 1924, then studied architecture in Paris, where he first met Le Corbusier.
In 1925, Gropius enticed Breuer to return to the Bauhaus, now relocated in Dessau, by offering him a post as master of the carpentry workshop and a commission to design the interiors of the new Bauhaus buildings. Inspired by his new bicycle's handlebars, Breuer designed his first tubular steel chair, the Wassily chair, named for his friend Wassily Kandinsky. This chair and dozens of other Breuer designs for furnishings were mass-produced by the Thonet Brothers in Germany.
Two years later, in 1928, Breuer left the Bauhaus to begin a private architecture practice in Berlin, emphasizing prefabricated housing and the use of concrete in building. During this time Breuer worked on a designs for the Potsdamer Platz, Spandau-Haselhorst Housing, and a hospital in Elberfeld, and he completed work on the Lewin House and the Harnischmacher Apartment. Due to the deteriorating economic and political conditions in Germany, Breuer closed his Berlin office in 1931 and traveled to Budapest, Zurich, Morocco, Greece, and Spain. Returning to Germany in the following year, he began designing furniture in aluminum. Breuer established his reputation as an architect upon completion of the Harnischmacher House in Wiesbaden, a house notable for the use of contrasting materials and distinctive interiors.
The Nazis closed the Bauhaus in 1933. The following year, Breuer designed the Dolderthal Apartments in Zurich for the Swiss architectural historian Sigfried Giedion. From 1935 to 1937, Breuer settled in London, and became partners with F. R. S. Yorke. During this time he designed for the Isokon ("isometric unit construction") Control Company laminated plywood furniture that became widely imitated.
In 1937, Breuer accepted an invitation from Walter Gropius to join the faculty of the School of Design at Harvard University to teach architecture, and he moved to the United States. Among his students were Edward Larrabee Barnes, Ulrich Franzen, Philip Johnson, I. M. Pei, and Paul Rudolph. Breuer formed a partnership with Gropius in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1937 to 1941. Their firm was engaged primarily in the design of private homes.
In 1946, Breuer moved to New York City, where he established an office in an East 88th Street townhouse. The number of his commissions began to grow slowly, and it was during this time he constructed his own notable residence in New Canaan, Connecticut. He developed the bi-nuclear, or "two-center" house, which was designed to meet the living requirements of modern families by creating functional areas for separate activities.
Breuer's architectural reputation was greatly enhanced when, in 1953, he was commissioned to design, in collaboration with Pier Luigi Nervi and Bernard Zehrfuss, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Headquarters in Paris. During this year, he also began work on a series of innovative buildings for St. John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota.
Between 1963 and 1964, Breuer began work on what is perhaps his best-known project, the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City. He also established an office with the name Marcel Breuer Architecte, in Paris, to better orchestrate his European projects. Also during this time, Herbert Beckhard, Murray Emslie, Hamilton Smith, and Robert F. Gatje became partners in Marcel Breuer and Associates. When Murray Emslie left a year later, he was replaced by Tician Papachristou, who had been recommended by Breuer's former student, I. M. Pei.
After several moves to increasingly larger office space in New York, Breuer established his largest office at 635 Madison Avenue and 59th Street in 1965. After suffering the first of a series of heart attacks, Breuer reduced his travel to Europe, eventually leaving the management of the Paris office in the hands of Mario Jossa.
Between 1965 and 1973, Marcel Breuer and Associates continued to receive many diverse and important commissions, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development Headquarters Building (Washington, D.C.), showrooms for Scarves by Vera (New York City), the IBM Corporation (La Gaude, France), the Baldegg Convent (Lucerne, Switzerland), Bryn Mawr School for Girls (Baltimore, Maryland), a third power plant for the Grand Coulee Dam, the Australian Embassy (Paris, France), the Armstrong Rubber Company (New Haven, Connecticut), and the State University of New York Engineering Complex (Buffalo). Breuer also designed residences including a second Gagarin House (Litchfield, Connecticut), the Saier House (Glanville-Calvados, France), the Soriano House (Greenwich, Connecticut), and a third Rufus Stillman House (Litchfield, Connecticut).
Due to failing health in 1972, Breuer sold his New Canaan house and moved into Manhattan so he could more easily commute to the office. By 1976, Breuer's health had declined further, and he retired from practice. The name of his firm was subtly changed from Marcel Breuer and Associates to Marcel Breuer Associates, and later to MBA/Architects and Planners.
Marcel Breuer died on July 1, 1981, in New York City.
This chronology below is based on evidence found within the Marcel Breuer Papers. The dating of projects reflects the range of dates encompassed by the files for each project, not the project's actual construction time. Most architectural projects have several equally significant dates from which it is difficult to assign a single date. Significant dates for a building may include the date of groundbreaking, the laying of the cornerstone, or the first opening day. When a project's dates are unknown or uncertain, a question mark in brackets appears at the end of the entry.
1902 -- Marcel Lajos Breuer is born on May 21 in Pécs, Hungary.
1920 -- Breuer graduates from Magyar Királyi Föreáliskola (high school) in Pécs. Breuer travels to Vienna to study art.
1921 -- Breuer enrolls at the Bauhaus, Wiemar, Germany. Furniture designs: tea table; wooden cabinet.
1923 -- Architectural project: apartment house (multistory duplex with continuous terrace gardens). Furniture designs: miscellaneous bureaus.
1924 -- Breuer earns a master's degree from the Bauhaus. Breuer studies architecture in Paris, where he meets Le Corbusier. Furniture designs: desk and bookcase.
1925 -- Breuer returns to the Bauhaus, now located in Dessau, and takes post of master of the carpentry workshop. Architectural projects: Canteen, Bauhaus-Dessau, Germany; Kleinmetallhaus (prefabricated house in steel); Gropius House, Dessau, Germany; Wissinger Apartment, Berlin, Germany [1925?]. Furniture designs: Wassily chair; Rückenlehnstuhl ("back-leaning chair"); tubular steel stool; modular system for cabinets.
1926 -- Breuer marries Martha Erps. Architectural projects: Gröte Residence, Dessau, Germany; Moholy-Nagy Apartment and Studio, Berlin, Germany; Muche House, Dessau, Germany; Piscator Apartment, Berlin, Germany; Thost House, Hamburg, Germany. Furniture designs:(modular) system for unit furniture; dining room chair; tubular steel chair; office chair; storage wall unit. Exhibition: Bauhaus Exhibition, Dessau, Germany; table for Kandinsky's Master's Studio.
1930 -- Breuer meets György Kepes in Berlin. Architectural project: Boroschek Apartment, Berlin, Germany. Exhibitions: Bauhaus Exhibition, Berlin-Germany, House for a Sportsman, Cork Industry Display; Paris Werkbund Exhibition, Paris, France, Wohn Hotel, Vitrine and Cabinets, and Klubraum Gropius.
1931 -- Breuer closes the Berlin office and travels in Europe and North Africa. Architectural project: Reidemeister Residence, Berlin, Germany. Furniture design: bookcase. Exhibition: Bauausstellung Exhibition, Berlin, Germany, Mitarbeiter Hassenpflug Apartment.
1932 -- Breuer returns to Germany.
1933 -- Nazis close the Bauhaus. Architectural project: Harnischmacher House I, Wiesbaden, Germany. Furniture designs: aluminum chairs; aluminum tables.
1934 -- Breuer divorces Martha Erps. Architectural project: Dolderthal Apartments, Zurich, Switzerland. Exhibition Building Competition, Budapest Spring Fair, Budapest, Hungary.
1935 -- Breuer moves to London and forms partnership with F. R. S. Yorke. Furniture designs: Isokon chairs; plywood nesting tables; plywood dining table. Exhibition: Heal's "Seven Architects" Exhibition, London, England; Designs for two chairs.
1936 -- Architectural projects: Motley Fashion Shop, London, England; London Theatre Studio, London, England; Clifton House (Crofton Gane House), Bristol, England; Sea Lane House, Angmering-on-Sea, Sussex, England; Ventris Apartment, London, England. Exhibitions: Royal Show, Bristol, England, Gane's Pavilion; British Cement and Concrete Association Exhibition, London, England, Garden City of the Future (civic center).
1937 -- Breuer and Yorke dissolve their partnership. Breuer moves to the United States to teach at Harvard. Breuer and Walter Gropius establish Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, Associated Architects. Architectural project: Obergurgl Ski Lodge, Obergurgl, Austria.
1938 -- Architectural projects: Wheaton College Competition, Art Center, Norton, Massachusetts; Fischer House and Studio, Newtown, Pennsylvania; Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts; Haggerty House, Cohasset, Massachusetts; Margolius House, Palm Springs, California. Furniture design: cabinet with hinged drawers. Exhibition: "Marcel Breuer and the American Tradition in Architecture," Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1939 -- Architectural projects: Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, North Carolina; Breuer House, Lincoln, Massachusetts; Ford House, Lincoln, Massachusetts; Frank House, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Exhibition: New York World's Fair, Flushing Meadows, New York; Pennsylvania Pavilion.
1943 -- Architectural projects: South Boston Redevelopment Project, Boston, Massachusetts; Stuyvesant Six (housing development), New York, New York; Wellfleet Housing Development, Bi-Nuclear "H" House, Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
1944 -- Architectural projects: Van Leer Vatenfabrieken N.V., Office Building, Amstelveen, The Netherlands; 1200 Square Foot House, Florida; Geller House I, Lawrence, Long Island, New York; East River Apartments, New York, New York; Long Beach Nurses' Residence, Long Beach, Long Island, New York.
1945 -- Architectural projects: Eastern Airlines Ticket Office, Boston, Massachusetts; Smith College Competition, Dormitories, Northampton, Massachusetts; Unidentified Memorial, [location unknown]; Cambridge War Memorial, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Florida House, Miami Heights, Florida; Tompkins House, Hewlett Harbor Village, Long Island, New York.
1946 -- Breuer and family move to New York City. Breuer establishes an office on East 88th Street. Architectural projects: Small House Competition; Martine House, Stamford, Connecticut; Preston Robinson House, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
1947 -- Architectural projects: Breuer House I, New Canaan, Connecticut; Scott House, Dennis, Massachusetts; Thompson House, Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
1948 -- Architectural projects: Ariston Club, Mar del Plata, Argentina; Breuer Cottage, Wellfleet, Massachusetts; Kniffin House, New Canaan, Connecticut; Witalis House, Saddle Rock, Kings Point, New York; Wise Cottage, Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Exhibition: Low Cost Furniture Competition, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Cutout plywood chair.
1949 -- Publication of book, Marcel Breuer: Architect and Designer, by Peter Blake. Architectural projects: United States Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Headquarters, Paris, France; Clark House, Orange, Connecticut; Herrick House, Canajoharie, New York; Hooper Residence Additions, Baltimore, Maryland; Marshad House, Croton-on-Hudson, New York; Smith House, Aspen, Colorado; Tilley House, Middletown, New Jersey; Wolfson Trailer House, Pleasant Valley, New York. Exhibition: Museum of Modern Art Exhibition, New York, New York, House in museum garden.
1950 -- Breuer moves his office to East 37th Street, New York. Architectural projects: Alaska Air Terminal, Anchorage, Alaska [1950?]; Sarah Lawrence College, Arts Center, Bronxville, New York; Vassar College, Dwight Ferry House (a cooperative dormitory), Poughkeepsie, New York; Aspen House, Aspen, Colorado; Englund House, Pleasantville, New York; Hanson House, Lloyd Harbor, Huntington, Long Island, New York; Lauck House, Princeton, New Jersey; McComb House, Poughkeepsie, New York; Mills House, New Canaan, Connecticut; Pack House, Scarsdale, New York; Rufus Stillman House I, Litchfield, Connecticut.
1951 -- Architectural projects: Grosse Pointe Public Library, Grosse Pointe, Michigan; Aufricht House Addition, Mamaroneck, New York; Breuer House II, New Canaan, Connecticut; Caesar House, Lakeville, Connecticut. Furniture design: Canaan desk.
1952 -- Architectural projects: Scarves by Vera, Showroom, New York, New York; Levy House, Princeton, New Jersey; George Robinson House, Redding Ridge, Connecticut; Tibby House, Port Washington, New York.
1953 -- Architectural projects: Bantam Elementary School, Litchfield, Connecticut; Litchfield High School, Litchfield, Connecticut; Northfield Elementary School, Litchfield, Connecticut; St. John's Abbey and University, Monastery Wing, Abbey Church and Bell Banner, Collegeville, Minnesota; Torrington Manufacturing Company, Oakville, Ontario, Canada; De Bijenkorf Department Store and Garage, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Calabi House, Lagrangeville, New York; Crall House, Gates Mills, Ohio; Gagarin House I, Litchfield, Connecticut; Neumann House, Croton-on-Hudson, New York; Snower House, Kansas City, Missouri; Edgar Stillman House, Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Exhibition: Tile Council of America Exhibition, New York, New York, Patio-Bathroom.
1954 -- Architectural projects: New London Railroad Station, New London, Connecticut; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey; Grieco House, Andover, Massachusetts; Harnischmacher House II, Wiesbaden, Germany; Karsten House, Owings Mills, Maryland; Starkey House (formerly Alworth House), Duluth, Minnesota.
1955 -- Publication of book, Sun and Shadow: The Philosophy of an Architect, edited by Peter Blake. Architectural projects: New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad, Train "X," Budd "Hot Rod," Budd "Flying Cloud," and ACF Talgo Locomotives and Passenger Cars, Rye Railroad Station, Rye, New York [1955?]; Connecticut Junior Republic Association Dormitory, Litchfield, Connecticut; Torrington High School, Torrington, Connecticut; Hunter College, Library, Classrooms, and Administration Building, Bronx, New York; Annunciation Priory, Bismarck, North Dakota; O. E. McIntyre, Inc. Plant, Westbury, Long Island, New York; Laaff House, Andover, Massachusetts; McGinnis Apartment, Biltmore, New York, New York; McGinnis House, Charlmont, Massachusetts. Exhibition: Good Design Exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, Hyperbolic Paraboloid.
1956 -- Breuer moves his office to Third Avenue and 57th Street, New York. Breuer is the first recipient of La Rinascente's Compasso d'Oro Prize. Architectural projects: U.S. Embassy, The Hague, The Netherlands; Boston and Maine Railroad, North Station Industrial Building; Boston and Maine Railroad, Fairbanks Morse Locomotive and Passenger Cars; New Haven Railroad Station, New Haven, Connecticut; New York University, University Heights Campus, Bronx, New York; Torrington Manufacturing Company, Van Nuys, California; Wohnbedarf Furniture Showroom, Zurich, Switzerland; Hooper House, Baltimore, Maryland; Krieger House, Bethesda, Maryland; Staehelin House, Feldmeilen, Switzerland.
1957 -- Breuer receives an honorary doctorate from the University of Budapest. Architectural project: Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, New York. Exhibitions: International Autumn Fair, Vienna, Austria, U.S. Pavilion; "Amerika Baut" ("America Builds"), Marshall House, Berlin, Germany.
1958 -- Breuer becomes a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Architectural projects: El Recreo Urban Center, Caracas, Venezuela; St. John's Abbey and University, St. Thomas Aquinas Residence Hall, Collegeville, Minnesota; Halvorson House, Dryberry Lake Area, Kenora, Ontario, Canada; Recreational Apartments, Tanaguarena, Venezuela. Exhibitions: "Ars Sacra" Exhibition, Louvain, France; Concrete Industries Exposition, Cleveland, Ohio, The Pavilion.
1959 -- Architectural projects: Whitby Elementary School, Greenwich, Connecticut; Ustinov House, Vevey, Switzerland. Exhibitions: "U.S. Architecture in Moscow," Moscow, U.S.S.R.; "1960 National Gold Medal Exhibition of the Building Arts," Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, New York, Photographic Displays of Various Breuer Projects; "Form Givers at Mid-Century" (traveling exhibition), Photographic Displays of Various Breuer Projects.
1960 -- Architectural projects: Flaine Ski Resort Town, Haute-Savoie, France; St. John's Abbey and University, Library, Collegeville, Minnesota; Brookhaven National Laboratory (for Nuclear Research), Upton, Long Island, New York; Torrington Manufacturing Company, Rochester, Indiana; Abraham & Straus Department Store, Facade, Hempstead, Long Island, New York; McMullen Beach House, Mantoloking, New Jersey.
1961 -- Architectural projects: St. Francis de Sales Church, Church and Rectory, Muskegon, Michigan; Temple B'Nai Jeshurun, Short Hills, Millburn Township, New Jersey; One Charles Center, Baltimore, Maryland; International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), Research Center, La Gaude, France; Fairview Heights Apartments, Ithaca, New York. Exhibitions: "Bauhaus" [location unknown]; "New Forms in Concrete," American Federation of Arts (traveling exhibition).
1962 -- Publication of book, Marcel Breuer Buildings and Projects, 1921-1961, by Cranston Jones. Architectural projects: Torrington Manufacturing Company, Machine Division, Torrington, Connecticut; Scarves by Vera, Showroom, Los Angeles, California; Kacmarcik House, St. Paul, Minnesota. Exhibition: "Fourth Biennale of Present-Day Christian Art," Salzburg Dome, Salzburg, Austria.
1963 -- Herbert Beckhard, Murray Emslie, and Hamilton Smith become partners in Marcel Breuer and Associates. Architectural projects: Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Headquarters Building, Washington, D.C.; Hoboken Terminal Building, Hoboken, New Jersey; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; Grand Central Air Rights Building, 175 Park Avenue, New York, New York; Torrington Manufacturing Company, Nivelles, Belgium; Koerfer House, Moscia, Tessin, Switzerland; Van der Wal House, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Exhibitions: "Recent American Synagogue Architecture," The Jewish Museum, New York, New York; "Churches and Temples: Postwar Architecture," American Institute of Architects, Pepsi Cola Gallery, New York, New York; "On Campus: Recent Buildings," American Federation of Arts (traveling exhibition).
1964 -- Breuer establishes an office near the Parc des Expositions, Paris, France. Robert F. Gatje becomes a partner in Marcel Breuer and Associates. Murray Emslie leaves, and Tician Papachristou joins Marcel Breuer and Associates. Architectural projects: Boston Redevelopment Parcel 8 Competition, Boston, Massachusetts; ZUP (Zone à Urbaniser par Priorité/"Zone Designated for Priority Urbanization") Community, Bayonne, France; New York University, University Heights Campus, Technology Building II, Bronx, New York; St. John's Abbey and University, Science Hall, and Auditorium, Collegeville, Minnesota; Yale University, Becton Center for Engineering and Applied Science, New Haven, Connecticut; St. Luke's Church, Fairport, New York; Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C.; Scarves by Vera, Showroom and Offices, 417 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York; De Gunzburg Houses, Megève, Haute-Savoie, France; Rufus Stillman House II, Litchfield, Connecticut. Exhibition: "Art in the United States" Part III, ("Architecture in the U.S.A."), Brearley School, New York, New York.
1965 -- Breuer's Paris office (Marcel Breuer Architecte) moves to 48 rue Chapon in the third arrondissement. Breuer's New York office moves to 635 Madison Avenue and 59th Street. Breuer suffers the first of a series of heart attacks while in New York in August. Architectural projects: Interama (Community for Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay), Miami, Fla.; Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) Headquarters, Washington, D.C.; State School for the Mentally Retarded, Nassau County, New York; Cardinal Stritch College (Tri-Arts Center), Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Mary College, Bismarck, North Dakota; University of Massachusetts, Murray Lincoln Campus Center and Parking Structure, Amherst, Massachusetts; Laboratoires Sarget, Corporate Headquarters and Pharmaceutical Plant, Bordeaux, France; Purdue Frederick Company, Corporate Headquarters, Bordeaux, France; Torrington Manufacturing Company, Swindon, England; Torrington Manufacturing Company, Administration Building, Torrington, Connecticut. Exhibition: "Architecture of Industry," Architectural League of New York, (traveling exhibition).
1966 -- Breuer and Robert F. Gatje move back to the New York office. Eric Cercler and Mario Jossa are left in charge of the Paris office. Architectural projects: Sports Park, Corona-Flushing Meadow Park, Queens, New York; Charlotte Hungersford Hospital, Torrington, Connecticut; Stables Competition, Central Park, New York, New York; St. John's Abbey and University, Student Residence Hall II and Student Center and Swimming Pavilion, Collegeville, Minnesota. Furniture design: Tapestries. Exhibitions: Svoboda & Company Furniture Exhibition," Selection 66," Vienna, Austria; School of Architecture Exhibition, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma; "Rugs," Stephen Radich Gallery, New York, New York; "Bauhaus: A Teaching Idea," Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1967 -- Architectural projects: Campus High School, Secondary Education Complex, Madison Park Urban Renewal Area, Boston, Massachusetts; Kent School, Girls' Chapel, Kent, Connecticut; St. John's Abbey and University, Ecumenical and Cultural Research Center, Collegeville, Minnesota; Cleveland Museum of Art, Education Wing, Cleveland, Ohio; Baldegg Convent, Mother House Institute, near Lucerne, Switzerland; Cleveland Trust Company, Bank and Office Building, Cleveland, Ohio; Grand Coulee Dam, Columbia Basin Project Third Power Plant and Forebay Dam, Douglas County, Washington; Geller House II, Lawrence, Long Island, New York; Kreizel House Addition, [location unknown]; Soriano House, Greenwich, Connecticut.
1968 -- Breuer is awarded the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects. Breuer is awarded the Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture from the University of Virginia. Architectural projects: Olgiata Parish Church, Rome, Italy; Harrison-State Development Corporation, Office Building, Bristol Center, Syracuse, New York; Armstrong Rubber Company, New Haven, Connecticut; International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), Expansion of Headquarters Facility, Armonk, New York; International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), Offices, Laboratories, and Manufacturing Facility, Boca Raton, Florida; Scarves by Vera, Showroom, 1411 Broadway, New York, New York; Rosenberg House, [location unknown].
1969 -- Mario Jossa is made sole director of the Paris office. Architectural projects: West Queens High School, Long Island City, Queens, New York; Harvard University, Bio-Chemistry Building, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Boston Office Building, 60 State Street, Boston, Massachusetts. Exhibition: "Le Bauhaus: 1919-1969," Musée National d'Art Moderne et Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France.
1970 -- Breuer receives an honorary doctorate from Harvard University. Publication of book, Marcel Breuer New Buildings and Projects, by Tician Papachristou. Architectural projects: Australian Embassy, Paris, France; Bryn Mawr School for Girls, Baltimore, Maryland; State University of New York at Buffalo, Engineering and Applied Science Complex, Buffalo, New York; University of Virginia, Physics Building, Charlottesville, Virginia. Exhibition: ["Marcel Breuer"?], Szépmuvészeti Múzeum (Museum of Fine Arts), Budapest, Hungary.
1971 -- Architectural projects: Acquitaine Coast Resort, Port Contis, France; Atlanta Central Library, Atlanta, Georgia; Pine Ridge High School, Pine Ridge, South Dakota; Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York, New York; European Investment Bank, Kirchberg Plateau, Luxembourg; Torin Corporation, Tech Center, Building 1, Torrington, Connecticut.
1972 -- Breuer suffers another heart attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Breuer sells his house in New Canaan and moves to 63rd Street, New York. Architectural projects: Clarksburg Public Library, Clarksburg, West Virginia; Southern New England Telephone Company (SNET), Traffic Service Position; Systems Building, Torrington, Connecticut; American Press Institute, Conference Center, Reston, Virginia; Afghanistan Hotels, Kabul and Bamyan, Afghanistan; Picker House, Lake Carmel, New York; Saier House, Glanville-Calvados, France. Exhibitions: "Breuer en France," Knoll International, Paris, France; "Marcel Breuer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art" (traveling exhibition), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.
1973 -- Architectural projects: Heckscher Museum, Expansion Project, Huntington, New York; Defendon Pharma, Limburg an der Lahn, Germany; Torin Corporation, Sculpture, Torrington, Connecticut; Torin Corporation, Assembly Plant, Lawton, Oklahoma; Gagarin House II, Litchfield, Connecticut; Rufus Stillman House III, Litchfield, Connecticut. Exhibition: "Marcel Breuer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art" (traveling exhibition), Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois.
1974 -- Architectural projects: Strom Thurmond Courthouse and Federal Office Building, Columbia, South Carolina; Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, Red Line Subway Expansion, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Exhibitions: "The Flowering of American Folk Art," Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, Installation designed by Breuer and Hamilton Smith; "Marcel Breuer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art" (traveling exhibition), Centre de Création Industrielle, Pavillon de Marsan, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France.
1975 -- Architectural projects: Lawton Community, Lawton, Oklahoma; Mundipharma, Limburg, Germany; Andrew Geller Shoes, Inc., Showroom, New York, New York; Mt. Tochal Hotel, Tehran, Iran. Exhibition: "Marcel Breuer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art" (traveling exhibition), Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany.
1976 -- Breuer retires from practice. Marcel Breuer and Associates becomes Marcel Breuer Associates and later MBA/Architects and Planners. Architectural projects: Sadat City Ministries Complex, Cairo, Egypt; National Museum of American Amusement, [location unknown]; Torin Corporation, Penrith, Australia; Mideast Market (fish, meat, and vegetable market), Kuwait; Cairo Airport Hotel, Cairo, Egypt; Bratti House, New Canaan, Connecticut.
1977 -- Mario Jossa becomes a partner in MBA/Architects and Planners. Architectural projects: BAFO Warehouse, Springfield, Virginia; ITT Palm Coast Condominiums, Flagler Beach, Florida. Exhibition: "Art and Contemporary Architecture," David Findlay Galleries, New York, New York.
1978 -- Breuer receives the Grand Médaille d'Or from the Academy of Architecture, France. Architectural projects: Litchfield County Courthouse, Litchfield, Connecticut; Grand Coulee Dam, Columbia River Basin Project, Visitors Arrival Center, Douglas County, Washington.
1979 -- Architectural project: Boyarsky House, Lawrence, New York.
1980 -- Breuer receives an honorary doctorate from the Parsons School of Design. MBA/Architects and Planners moves to 26th Street, New York. MBA/Architects and Planners sells the Paris practice to Mario Jossa. Architectural projects: Pall Corporation, Headquarters and Parking Structure, Glen Cove, New York; Philip Morris, Inc., Manufacturing Facility, Cabarrus County, North Carolina; Pittsburgh Convention Center Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1981 -- Marcel Breuer dies on July 1 in New York City. Architectural projects: N F & M Corporation, Jericho, New York; Garces House, Cali, Colombia.
1982 -- Herbert Beckhard leaves the partnership in November. Architectural projects: Xerox Corporation, [location unknown]; General Electric Company, Waldorf Towers Apartment, New York, New York; General Electric Company, Chairman's Office Competition, New York, New York; General Electric Company, Corporate Guest Facility and Helipad, Lewisboro, New York.
1983 -- Partnership now called Gatje Papachristou Smith, and is located in offices on lower Fifth Avenue, New York. Architectural project: 44th Street Precinct House, Bronx, New York.
1986 -- Partnership of Gatje Papachristou Smith dissolved.
Related Archival Materials note:
Additional blueprints and drawings by Breuer are located at Syracuse University.
A presentation book for the IBM Research Center in La Gaude, France, is located in the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
The collection was donated to the Archives of American Art in five installments, 1985-1999, by Constance Breuer, widow of Marcel Breuer.
The microfilm for this collection has been digitized and is available online via the Archives of American Art website.
The Marcel Breuer papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Costa, Lucio (architect), 1952-1953 (1 telegram, 1 letter): telegram from Breuer; 1953 letter dictated by Walter Gropius to Howard Robertson with lines for signatures of Costa, Gropius, Sven Markelius, and Ernesto Rogers
Dezell, Mr. (Building Management, UNESCO), 1956 (1 letter): from W. Mactaggart
d'Harnoncourt, René (Museum of Modern Art), 1957 (2 letters)
d'Hennezel, Mourer, 1953 (1 letter)
Duprat, Mr., 1961 (1 letter): from Bernard Zehrfuss
Edwards, David J. (Georgia Institute of Technology), 1952 (1 letter)
Ehrmann, Gilles, 1959 (1 telegram): from Breuer
Eken, Andrew J. (Starrett Brothers and Eken), 1952-1953 (2 letters)
Emslie, Murray Sims, 1958 (1 letter)
Evans, Luther H. (director general), 1955-1959 (6 letters)
Evarts, John, undated (1 calling card)
Foster, Richard, 1957 (1 letter)
Fry, Lynn W. (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), 1953 (1 letter)
Fulchignoni, Enrico (head of the film department), 1957 (1 letter): to Eugène Callison
Gatje, Robert Frederick, 1967 (1 letter)
Gazette de Lausanne, 1958 (1 letter): from Breuer's office
Goodwin, Philip L. (architect), 1952-1953 (2 letters)
Goss, Dale (Seattle Public Schools), 1953 (1 letter)
Graber, Rudolf (Wohnbedarf furniture store), 1957 (1 letter): from Breuer, includes a photograph of interior of a cafeteria
Gropius, Walter and Ise, 1952-1961 (63 letters): 30 from Breuer
Grossi, Olindo (Pratt Institute), 1952 (1 letter)
Hansen, J. Dilling, 1960 (9 letters)
Harper-Smith, Mr., 1958 (1 letter): from Bernard Zehrfuss
Harvard University, 1952 (1 letter): from President Conant's office
Hauf, Harold D. (Edwards Street Laboratory), 1952 (1 letter)
Hervé, Lucien (photographer), 1957 (1 letter)
Hill, Henry, 1952 (1 letter)
Julius Hoffmann Verlag Stuttgart, 1955-1956 (4 letters)
Hopkins, Frank S. (UNESCO Relations Staff), 1957 (1 letter)
Hutchins, John Jay (Law Offices of S. G. Archibald), 1967-1975 (34 letters): 16 from Breuer
Institute of Contemporary Art, 1952-1953 (2 letters)
Jalles, Louis, 1967 (1 letter): to Bernard Zehrfuss)
Johnson, Philip C., 1952-1963 (4 letters)
Jours de France, 1958 (1 letter): from Breuer's office
König, Max (Wohnbedarf furniture store), 1956 (1 letter)
Large, R. A., 1952 (1 letter)
La Rochelle, J. Drieu (wrote a report on ventilation with Zehrfuss), 1949
Le Corbusier, 1952-1953 (8 letters): 2 to Walter Gropius; 2 to José Luis Sert
Le Génie Civil, 1958 (1 letter): from Breuer's office
Leguen, Yves, 1958-1960 (3 letters)
Lewis, George Sherman (architect), 1952 (1 letter)
Loeb, G. M. (E. F. Hutton & Company), 1952-1953 (2 letters)
Lurie, H. Lee (Barron, Rice & Rockmore), 1952 (1 letter)
Mactaggart, W. (DAO, UNESCO), 1956 (1 letter)
Malecki, T., 1958 (1 letter)
Mandleur et Dolbeau, 1957 (1 letter)
Marcel, Pierre, 1957-1958 (58 letters): 24 from Breuer
Markelius, Sven, 1953 (1 letter): dictated by Walter Gropius to Howard Robertson with lines for signatures of Lucio Costa, Gropius, Markelius, and Ernesto Rogers)
McCray, Porter (Museum of Modern Art), 1957 (1 letter)
McFadden, William Parker, undated (1 note of address)
McMullough, Max, undated (1 calling card)
Mérédieu, Denise, 1957-1959 (29 letters): 11 from Breuer
Millquist, Jerome, 1955 (2 letters)
Mohrhardt, Charles M. (Detroit Public Library), 1953 (1 letter)
Montagnier, M. (head of the Office of Conferences and General Services), 1957-1961 (7 letters)
Nervi, Pier Luigi, 1952-1975 (82 letters): 32 from Breuer
New York Herald Tribune, 1952 (1 letter): from Breuer
Osmun, Edward (New York Port Authority), 1962 (1 letter): from Breuer
Perrault, Mr. , 1961 (1 letter): from Breuer
Pilzer, Leopold, 1952-1953 (2 letters)
Présentè, G. M., 1958 (1 letter): from Bernard Zehrfuss
Rawlings, Boynton M. (Law Offices of S. G. Archibald), 1967 (2 letters)
Ritchie, Raymond D. (Ritchie Construction Company, Inc.), 1952 (1 letter)
Robertson, Howard (Easton & Robertson, London), 1952-1953 (2 letters): 1 from Eero Saarinen; 1953 letter dictated by Walter Gropius to Robertson with lines for signatures of Lucio Costa, Gropius, Sven Markelius, and Ernesto Rogers
Rocourt, Evelyn, 1954 (1 letter): see Project File for UNESCO
Rogers, Ernesto N., 1953 (1 letter): dictated by Walter Gropius to Howard Robertson with lines for signatures of Lucio Costa, Gropius, Sven Markelius, and Rogers
Roux, Alina, 1959 (1 letter): from Breuer's office
Saarinen, Eero, 1952 (2 letters)
Sert, José Luis (International Congresses for Modern Architecture, CIAM), 1952-1953 (7 letters)
Smith, Hamilton, 1963 (1 letter)
Stillman, Rufus and Leslie, 1958 (1 letter)
Suter-Moser, Claude, 1955 (1 letter)
Sutnar, Ladislav, 1956 (1 letter)
George J. Switzer Company (Edmund Switzer), 1952 (1 letter)
Székely, Tamás István (Wohnbedarf furniture store), 1957 (1 letter)
Taylor, John W. (acting director general, UNESCO), 1953 (1 letter): from Walter Gropius
Thomas, Jean (assistant director general), 1958 (7 letters)
Thompson, Marion Gordon, 1953 (1 letter)
Urlik, J. P. (secretary, UNESCO), 1958 (2 letters)
Wermeil, Benjamin, 1952 (6 letters): 5 from Breuer; 1 from Le Corbusier
Wilkinson, J. R. (Stevens & Wilkinson), 1952 (1 letter)
Zehrfuss, Bernard and Simone, undated and 1949-1967 (229 letters): 92 from Breuer
The microfilm for this collection has been digitized and is available online via the Archives of American Art website.
The Marcel Breuer papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Marcel Breuer papers, 1920-1986. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the microfilming of this collection was provided by the Gerta Charitable Trust. Funding for the digitization of the microfilm was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.