Russian Aeronautical Collection, ACC. 2006-0034, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
This collection consists of two scrapbooks kept by Glenn H. Curtiss and filled with photographs of himself and Samuel Langley. The photos show the two men and their experiments with Langley's aircraft, the Langley Aerodrome. The trial flights were conducted on Lake Kewka, near Hammondsport, NY. Each photo is labeled with a caption and a date. The second (chronologically) book of the set is a continuation of the photos of the Langley experiments by Glenn H. Curtiss, and while the photos are numbered, they have no captions or labeling on them. Some dates are available on the photos. Curtiss' autograph appears inside the cover of one scrapbook.
Biographical / Historical:
Nine days before the Wright brothers' first successful flight, Smithsonian Secretary Samuel Langley had the trial for his steam-powered machine, called the Great Aerodrome. Heavily funded by the United States government, the Aerodrome broke apart almost immediately upon takeoff in a highly-publicized event, and Langley and the Smithsonian Institution suffered embarrassment over the incident. After Langley passed away in 1906, his successor, Charles Walcott, claimed that although Langley may not have flown that December morning the Aerodrome was certainly capable of it. Walcott's "proof" was in a rebuilt version of Langley's Aerodrome, which was later successfully flown by American airplane manufacturer Glenn Curtiss. Curtiss, who was engaged in a patent suit with the Wright brothers, rebuilt and flew Langley's Aerodrome with 1914 modifications with the hope of showing the courts that the Wrights did not invent the airplane. While Curtiss eventually lost the patent suit, the flight was used by the Smithsonian to redeem Langley's role in the history of flight.
Glenn H. Curtiss, gift, unknown, XXXX-0294, NASM
No restrictions on access
This donation is a photomechanical reproduction enlargement ( 17 1/8 inch by 10 3/4 inch ) of the Wright Brothers drawing of their flying machine Patent No" 821,393 sheet one (original date March 22, 1903- patent date May 22, 1906). The patent has been expertly removed from the frame and restored to a presentation level. The dimensions of the framed patent are 18.25 inches by 26 inches.
Biographical / Historical:
The Wright brothers inaugurated the aerial age with the world's first successful flights of a powered heavier-than-air flying machine. The Wright Flyer was the product of a sophisticated four-year program of research and development conducted by Wilbur and Orville Wright beginning in 1899. After building and testing three full-sized gliders, the Wrights' first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, making a 12-second flight, traveling 36 m (120 ft), with Orville piloting. The best flight of the day, with Wilbur at the controls, covered 255.6 m (852 ft) in 59 seconds. John Daniels was a crew member at the Kitty Hawk lifesaving station who took a photograph of the first flight that day.
Paul, John, and Eugene Keferl, Gift, Year received, 2013
No restrictions on access.
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, 1851-1957
Series 2: Edisonia, 1847-1960
Series 3: Reference Materials, 1870-1989
Series 4: Photographs, 1880-1925
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.
An untitled and undated statement by an unnamed inventor
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Electricity and Modern Physics Search this
Hammer, William J. (William Joseph), 1858-1934 (electrical engineer) Search this
Box 39, Folder 1
Scope and Contents note:
Re: invention relating to improvements in Aeronautical Apparatus
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.
William J. Hammer Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Walcott, Charles D. (Charles Doolittle), 1850-1927 Search this
0.9 Cubic feet (2 legal document boxes)
This collection consists of material relating to Manly's aeronautical career, specifically his work with Samuel Langley's Aerodrome. The material consists of programs, publications, newspaper clippings, work notebooks, waste books, (mostly letterpress) and correspondence between Manly and the aviation and Smithsonian communities, circa 1885-1925. Correspondents include the following personalities: Glenn Curtiss, Carl Myers, Charles Walcott, Frank Lahm, Cyrus Adler, Augustus Post, and Samuel Langley.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of material relating to Manly's aeronautical career, specifically his work with Samuel Langley's Aerodrome. The material consists of programs, publications, newspaper clippings, work notebooks, waste books, (mostly letterpress) and correspondence between Manly and the aviation and Smithsonian communities, circa 1885-1925. Correspondents include Samuel Langley, Charles Walcott and Richard Rathbun of the Smithsonian; Cyrus Adler, Glenn Curtiss, Benjamin D. Foulois, Carl Myers, Frank Lahm, and Augustus Post. Of particular interest is the correspondence between Manly and Smithsonian Secretary Charles Walcott on Manly's work on the preparation of the Langley Memoir on Mechanical Flight for publication between 1908 to 1911; and his correspondence with Glenn Curtiss concerning the test flights of the rebuilt Great Aerodrome on Lake Keuka, Hammondsport, New York, in 1914, and the resulting controversy between the Smithsonian and Orville Wright.
Researchers may also wish to consult the National Air and Space Archives Division's Samuel P. Langley Collection (Accession No. XXXX-0494), and these collections held by the Smithsonian Institution Archives:
Record Unit 31, Office of the Secretary, Correspondence, 1866-1906, with related records to 1927.
Record Unit 34, Office of the Secretary, Correspondence, 1887-1907
Record Unit 7268, J. Elfreth Watkins Collection, 1869, 1881-1903, 1953, 1966 and undated.
The Charles M. Manly Papers are organized in three series:
Series I --Letter Copy Books and Notebooks
Letter copy books were used to make and preserve copies of letters and memoranda --one placed a sheet of oiled paper under a page of the copy book, dampened the tissue copy page, then laid the original letter in the book under pressure for a few seconds. The quality of the copies ranges from quite readable to very faint. Because of the fragility of the paper, Archives Division staff should be consulted before working with the material.
The two notebooks in the series (Folder 4) were carried by Manly in his day to day work on the Aerodrome project and contain his notes on the progress of the work.
Series II --Correspondence
Letters in this series are arranged by year.
Series III --Additional Material
Newspaper clippings, Manly Family records, a photograph of Langley's Aerodrome No.5 in flight, and miscellaneous material.
On May 9, 1898, Smithsonian Secretary Samuel P. Langley wrote to Professor Robert Thurston of Cornell University, looking for a "young man who is morally trustworthy ('a good fellow') with some gumption and a professional training" to serve as Langley's assistant in his aeronautical work. Thurston recommended a senior majoring in electrical and mechanical engineering, Charles Matthews Manly (1876-1927) of Staunton, Virginia. Langley hired Manly and placed him in charge of the construction of his Great Aerodrome, the large manned aircraft being built under the sponsorship of the Army's Board of Ordnance and Fortification. One of Manly's main contributions to the project was his vastly improved redesign of Stephen M. Balzer's five-cylinder water-cooled radial gasoline engine. Manly piloted the Great Aerodrome on its two unsuccessful launch attempts in 1903. He resigned from the Smithsonian in 1905. Manly served as a consulting aviation engineer for different government agencies and corporations, including the British War Office, 1915; the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation 1915-1919 (from 1919-1920 as the assistant general manger); and as a member of the US Commission to the International Aircraft Conference, London, 1918. Manly also completed and edited Langley's Memoir on Mechanical Flight which was published by the Smithsonian in 1911. Manly was granted over fifty 50 patents relating to automotive transportation, power generation, and transmission. In 1929, Manly was posthumously awarded the Langley Medal for outstanding aeronautical achievements.
Brian Bailey, gift, 1998, 1999-0004, deed pending.
No restrictions on access.
Lawrence Burst Sperry (1892-1923) was a pilot and inventor who is best known for creating the first autopilot and artificial horizon, as well as other aircraft instruments and developing landing gear for use on flying boats. This collection consists of a passport issued to Lawrence Burst Sperry by the US Department of State.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of a passport issued to Lawrence Burst Sperry by the US Department of State, dated September 1915 and numbered 7201. The passport has fold lines and measures approximately 12 by 17 inches unfolded. The passport lists Sperry's intention to travel to England, France, and Italy for the purpose of "testing aeroplane devices." At the top left corner is a small (2.75 by 3 inches) head and shoulders portrait of Sperry and his signature. The document includes a physical description of Sperry; a red Department of State seal which has had a piece removed; stamps and marks of various consulates in the countries listed; as well as an amendment permitting Sperry to travel to Switzerland, "for health." The stamps are dated 1915 through 1916.
Collection is in original order.
Biographical / Historical:
Lawrence Burst Sperry (1892-1923) was a pilot and inventor who is best known for creating the first autopilot and artificial horizon, as well as other aircraft instruments and developing landing gear for use on flying boats. Sperry had over 20 patents to his name and also served as a flight instructor in the US Navy during World War I. Sperry was killed in 1923 when a plane he was piloting went down over the English Channel.
Unknown, Found in Collection, NASM.XXXX.1181
No restrictions on access.
A. Francis Arcier, (1890-1969) was an aviator, scientist, designer and engineer whose pioneering work in aviation design spanned six decades and earned him many honors.
Scope and Contents:
The A. Francis Arcier Collection contains approximately 3 cubic feet of material relating to his extraordinary career in aviation. This collection has biographical and professional documents, technical information on aircraft designs, patents, correspondence, newspaper clippings, publications, certificates, photographs, negatives and three scrapbooks.
Note: The digital images shown for this collection were repurposed from scans made by an outside contractor for a commercial product which did not reproduce all materials found in this collection; some items have not been scanned.
Every effort was made to provide dates when possible and each series is arranged in chronological order.
The collection is arranged as follows:
Series 1: Biographical and professional material
Series 2: Technical material
Series 3: Publications
Series 4: Photographs
Series 5: Scrapbooks
A. Francis Arcier, (1890-1969) was an aviator, scientist, designer and engineer whose pioneering work in aviation design spanned six decades and earned him many honors. Born in London, he studied aeronautics in Passey, France under Sir Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower. He served as draftsman for such notable aircraft designers as Gabriel Voisin, Henri Coanda, Frank Barnivell and Gordon England. At the age of 21, he learned to fly and received his international aviator's certificate. He served as a flight instructor at the Hall School of Flying in Hendon, England and during World War I, with Handley Page, Ltd. He designed the first twin engine and the first four engine bombers used by the United States and its Allies. Arcier emigrated to the United States in 1919 and was employed as Chief Engineer at the Witteman Aircraft Corporation, makers of the Barling Bomber designed by Arcier. It was the largest heavier-than-air aircraft of its time. During his years with Witteman, Arcier won the Army Air Service Engineering Divisions' design competition for a bomber aircraft design. That same year, Arcier became Chief Engineer for the Fokker Aircraft Corporation, where among other notable accomplishments, he designed the Fokker Trimotor Transport which was used by Amelia Earhart and by Richard Byrd in his flight over the North Pole and also across the North Atlantic. After Arcier attained his United States citizenship in 1929, he became Vice President of Operations and Director of the General Airplanes Corporation in Buffalo, New York. In 1930 under his leadership, the "Mailplane", one of the first all-metal airplanes, was built. Later in 1930, Arcier became Chief Engineer of the Weaver Aircraft Company, WACO. He worked for WACO for 17 years in various capacities. Arcier and the Waco Aircraft Company made many contributions to the National Defense Program during World War II such as the Model UPF-7. The Waco Company was entrusted with the entire combat and cargo glider Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces. This was initiated in an Army Design Competition which the Company won and resulted in a program involving the design, prototype construction and, in some cases, production construction of some twelve models ranging from Model CG-3A to the CG-15A. These gliders were built by the thousands under Arcier's technical direction by sixteen prime contractors and many hundreds of sub-contractors throughout the nation. In 1948, Arcier became Chief Scientist for U.S. Air Force Intelligence at Wright- Patterson AFB until he retired in 1963. After his retirement, he served as consultant to the Commander, Foreign Technology Division and Special Advisor to the Division's Advisory Group on scientific and technical intelligence matters. Among his honors were the USAF Meritorious Civilian Service Award (1953), and the USAF Distinguished Civilian Service Award (1961.) A. Francis Arcier died on November 21, 1969.
Elizabeth Arcier, gift, 1972, additional material received from Francis Arnoult, 2019, NASM.XXXX.0072.
No restrictions on access.
This collection consists of documents and memorabilia relating to Curtiss during the years of his active aviation pursuits. The bulk of the material relates to patent suits, including Wright v. Curtiss, Herring v. Curtiss, and Curtiss v. Janin.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of the personal papers of Glenn H. Curtiss. These papers relate to his career as an aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturing business owner. This collection also includes a small amount of personal correspondence. Moreover, materials pertaining to patents filed by Curtiss and the Wright brothers, as well as legal documents and testimony, are found in this collection.
Series 1: Professional materials
Subseries 1.1: Corporate correspondence
Subseries 1.2: Personal correspondence
Subseries 1.3: Miscellaneous corporate materials
Subseries 1.4: Patent materials
Subseries 1.5: Reports
Subseries 1.6: Photographs
Subseries 1.7: Menus, programs and tributes
Subseries 1.8: Books, journals, newsletters, and miscellaneous materials
Subseries 1.9: Newspaper clippings and articles
Series 2: Legal materials
Subseries 2.1: Curtiss versus Herring
Subseries 2.2: Curtiss versus Wright Brothers
Subseries 2.3: Lena P. Curtiss versus Herring
Glenn Hammond Curtiss (1878-1930) is best known as an aviation pioneer and inventor and founder of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Co. Initially a bicycle repairman and designer, by 1902 Curtiss had begun to manufacture motorcycles using a lightweight internal combustion engine of his own design and founded the Curtiss Manufacturing Co. By 1904 Curtiss' engine had been co-opted by Thomas Baldwin for his airship experiments. This activity led to a connection between Curtiss and Alexander Graham Bell and, in 1907, to the foundation of the Aerial Experiment Association. In 1909 Curtiss joined with Augustus M. Herring to form the Herring-Curtiss Co to manufacture powered vehicles, but Herring's unsubstantiated claims to priority over the Wright Brother's aeronautical patents led to the Wright and Curtiss patent suits which continued until the merger of Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor with Wright Aeronautical in 1929. Curtiss and Herring split after the Wright's filed suit and Herring sued Curtiss, claiming that Curtiss had failed to turn his air race winnings over to the company. Despite these, and other, suits, Curtiss continued to advance the cause and technology of aviation, founding the first public flying school (1910) and later a chain of schools across the US, inventing the aileron (1909), the dual-control trainer (1911) and the hydroaeroplane (1911). In 1920 Curtiss retired from active aviation pursuits. After Curtiss died, his wife continued the legal fight on her husband's behalf until a judge decided in Herring's favor (1931).
This series contains materials relating to the long-running legal disputes involving Curtiss. The litigants were Curtiss versus Augustus M. Herring, Curtiss' wife, Lena versus Herring (she replaced her husband in the litigation upon his death in 1930) and Curtiss versus the Wright brothers. The last protracted case involved patent infringement alleged by the Wrights against Curtiss. The other two cases revolved around Herring's false claims of possessing aeronautical patents (Curtiss had hoped to use these patents in his legal battle with the Wrights) and a hostile bid by Herring to win control of the Herring-Curtiss Company in 1910. This failed maneuver did succeed in bankrupting the firm and placing it in receivership.
These papers include U.S. District Court (Western District of New York) and State of New York Supreme Court testimony, other types of court documents (including a court-issued injunction filed by the Wright brothers against Curtiss) as well as Herring-Curtiss Company bankruptcy reports and papers. They are organized chronologically.
Please note that volume 1, 2 and 6 of the Testimony, State of New York Supreme Court, Curtiss versus Herring, is missing from this collection.
This series is arranged into subseries:
1) Curtiss versus Herring
2) Curtiss versus Wright Brothers
3) Lena P. Curtiss versus Herring
No restrictions on access
Glenn H. Curtiss Collection, Acc. XXXX-0053, National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Inst.
The collection is the result of Major Hammer's passion for amassing material related to aeronautics and technology, and it is arranged into eleven series: articles, clippings, correspondence, drawings and blueprints, leaflets, legislation, minutes, miscellaneous, photographs, programs and publications. Housed in 23 folders, the correspondence is the most comprehensive series, reflecting the original order which grouped the letters into series by topic. Much of the correspondence concerns the planning of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909, and the involvement of Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss. There is also a scrapbook of black and white photographs providing front and side views of specified airplanes. Each page has 3 photos showing different views of the same plane accompanied by a label with additional information. (See written copy for details. Also, please see information written on 8x11 notebook paper.)
Scope and Contents:
The William J. Hammer Collection reflects Hammer's great interest in aeronautics --a passion he cultivated for several decades by accumulating a veritable storehouse of materials. Hammer's important contributions to the early development of aviation are also evident in this collection.
The collection of materials listed in the finding aid is arranged into two series. The first series includes correspondence, reports, handbooks, drawings, brochures, programs, leaflets, magazines, articles, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous materials. The second series is comprised of photographs of various sizes, scrapbooks, scrapbook pages and miscellaneous materials (the front pages of newspapers, certificates, posters, etc.).
Hammer's papers are arranged both chronologically and alphabetically. Correspondence, drawings, brochures, programs, leaflets, miscellaneous materials, scrapbook pages, articles and newspaper clippings are organized by the former method. Reports, handbooks, magazines and booklets are grouped alphabetically by either title of publication or author. Photographs are arranged either by subject or chronologically.
The reader should note that at some point, Hammer produced a series of large format photographs. These mounted photographs are duplicates. Due to the very fragile condition of these particular images, the photographs and are not available to researchers.
Additional photographic material regarding Hammer Collection photographs can be found in the NASM Archives Images database. An Archives staff member will assist you with research using this database.
Box 13 of the William J. Hammer Collection has not been scanned.
Note: The digital images in this finding aid were repurposed from scans made by an outside contractor for a commercial product and may show irregular cropping and orientation in addition to color variations resulting from damage to and deterioration of the original objects.
The William J. Hammer Collection is arranged by content type.
William J. Hammer was born in Cressona, Pennsylvania, on February 26, 1858, was an associate of Thomas Edison and an early aviation supporter and enthusiast. He began his career as an assistant to Edward Weston of the Weston Malleable Nickel Company. In 1879, he moved on to a new position as laboratory assistant to Thomas Edison at Menlo Park, New Jersey. His duties ranged from aiding in conducting experiments on such devices as the phonograph, telephone and ore separator to acting as Edison's key person in further developing the incandescent electric lamp. By 1880, he was made chief engineer of the Edison Lamp Works. A year later, Edison dispatched Hammer to London to be chief engineer of the English Electric Light Company. In this position, he helped construct the Holborn Viaduct Central Electric Light Station in London. This was the first central station ever built for incandescent electric lighting. In 1883, Hammer became chief engineer for the German Edison Company. This task included planning and supervising the construction of all Edison plants in Germany. He returned to the United States late in the following year and acted as chief inspector of central stations of the parent Edison Electric Light Company. In 1886-87, Hammer was general manager and chief engineer of the Boston Edison Electric Illuminating Company. In 1888, he worked as an independent engineer and supervised the completion of the then-largest isolated electric lighting plant, located at the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. During that year, Hammer also was chosen as consulting electrical engineer to the Cincinnati Centennial Exposition. Subsequently, Edison selected him as his personal representative to the Paris Exposition of 1889. This assignment rounded out Hammer's eleven years with Edison. During his time as one of Edison's most trusted and important employees, Hammer devised a number of innovations to the incandescent electric lamp. He designed and built the first electric sign, which spelled out the name "Edison". While in Germany, he invented the automatic motor-driven flashing electric lamp sign. This particular sign flashed the word "Edison" letter by letter and then all at once. At the International Electrical Exhibition, held in Philadelphia in 1884, Hammer also constructed the first flashing column of electric lights.
Upon his return to the U.S. in 1890, Hammer worked as an independent consulting electrical engineer by assisting in a variety of electrical projects, carrying out tests, giving lectures and providing expert testimony in patent disputes. He based this modest enterprise in an office in New York City and continued in this occupation until 1925. His career as an electrical engineering consultant was interrupted by World War I. In June 1918, he was commissioned a major in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the Inventions Section of the War Plans Division of the General Staff in charge of Aeronautical and Electrical Inventions at the Army War College, Washington, D.C.. By December of that year, he was attached to the Operations Division General Staff at the War Department (Inventions Section). During the war and on into 1919, Hammer also worked for the U.S. Patent Office by identifying any aviation-related patents likely to convey too much information to potential enemies. In conjunction with his War Department duties, he acted as a member of the Advisory Board of Experts affiliated with the Alien Property Commission.
Busy as he was with his private consulting work, Hammer also immersed himself in other scientific activities. He took a particular interest in radium after visiting Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris in 1902. The two discoverers of radium gave him some samples of this substance. Soon after returning to the United States, Hammer experimented with radium. His research yielded numerous useful applications for this material such as radium-luminous powders and paints that were used to coat everything from watch and clock dials to aeronautical instruments, switches and toys. Hammer also advocated the use of radium for cancer and tumor treatment. Beyond his interest in this material, he invented selenium light-sensitive cells and recommended many practical uses for them. He also conducted a great deal of laboratory work on X-rays, ultraviolet and cathode rays, phosphorescence and wireless communications. Accordingly, he lectured and published extensively on many of these fields of research and study.
Hand in hand with his overall interest in science and technology, Hammer had a particular passion for aeronautics. Beyond paying careful attention to the rapid progress made in this field at the turn of the twentieth century, he also played an active role as participant and supporter. He made his first balloon flight over France during the Paris Exposition of 1889. His last lighter-than-air journey took place in 1931 aboard the U.S. Navy dirigible Los Angeles. Moreover, he attended and officiated over many balloon, airship and airplane exhibitions and races. Hammer was a member of the Aero Club of America and a director of the Aeronautical Society. This latter group made the first ever purchase of an airplane in January 1909. He served as expert and secretary of the Aeronautics Committee on the Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commission of 1909 and wrote the contracts for Wilbur Wright and Glenn Curtiss to fly their airplanes for this event. This occasion in New York was important as it marked the first time a large gathering of people in the U.S. witnessed heavier-than-air powered flight. As a friend of the Wright brothers, Hammer testified as an expert witness on their behalf during various patent litigation suits. His contact with aviation pioneers went beyond the Wrights and Curtiss. He also knew and interacted with, among others, Samuel Langley, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Henri Farman and Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. Even his work with radium had applications for aviation. Hammer developed radium-based luminous compounds and used them on aircraft instruments so pilots could more easily view their cockpits' dials and gauges.
Hammer's last years were filled with serving as Historian General of the Military Order of the World War, as well as participating in many scientific, engineering and aeronautical committees and societies. During this time, he was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Elliott Cresson Gold Medal, John Scott Medal from the Franklin Institute and the Cross of the Legion of Honor from France. Up until his death on March 24, 1934, he also labored in his efforts to organize a vast personal collection of rare and valuable scientific artifacts, photographs and other materials accumulated since his days with Edison. Following Hammer's death, this important collection was left in the care of his daughter Mabel (his wife of twelve years, Alice, having died in 1906). Some years later, International Business Machines (IBM) acquired it. In 1962, IBM donated the William J. Hammer Scientific Collection to the Smithsonian Institution. The bulk of the collection resides with the National Museum of American History's Archives Center. In the mid 1980s, the aeronautical portion of this collection was transferred to the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) Archives.
IBM (Mr. William J. Hammer Collection), gift, 1961, XXXX-0074, not NASM
No restrictions on access
This collection consists of the corporate records of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Included in the collection are technical and engineering reports of Curtiss-Wright Airplane Division's operations in St. Louis (Robertson), MO (1935-1945) and Buffalo, NY, (1932-1945), as well as AAS Material Division and AAF Air Technical Services Command memorandum reports collected by Curtiss-Wright's St. Louis and Buffalo technical reference libraries. The collection also contains the files of Curtiss-Wright's Patent Department, which hold records of patents filed by Curtiss-Wright and patent-infringement cases involving Curtiss-Wright. Also included in the collection are specifications issued by and photos commissioned by the Keystone Aircraft Corporation (Huff-Daland Airplanes, Inc. until March 1927), which had been acquired by Wright in 1928 along with Loening Aeronautical Engineering Corp., and formed the Keystone Division of Curtiss-Wright until 1932 when Keystone's Bristol, PA factory closed its doors. The collection also contains financial records of the Curtiss-Wright Airports Corporation, which was liquidated in 1936, as well as an extensive negative collection featuring Curtiss-Wright aircraft from the 1930s and 1940s, concentrated especially on the war years.
Scope and Contents:
The Curtiss-Wright Corporation Records collection contains approximately 146 cubic feet of material. The collection contains the following material:
Army Air Service Material Division & Army Air Force Technical Services Command Memo
Reports & Technical Reports which include testing of various Curtiss-Wright models of aircraft and/or various parts of aircraft
Technical & Engineering Reports from the St. Louis, MO plant [Robertson] & Buffalo, NY plant
Patents, Patent Dockets, Patent Serial numbers, Suits, License Agreements, Patents filed by Curtiss-Wright & Patent Infringement Cases [1800s to 1940s]
Miscellaneous Research Files
Corporate & Financial Records [1923 to 1972]
Advertisements from Newspapers & Magazines in Scrapbooks
Negatives & Glass Plates
This collection was arranged into Series and Subseries:
Subseries I: Air Corps Materiel Division, Reports [ACMR]
Subseries II: Buffalo Reports
Subseries III: St. Louis
Series III: Glass Plates [this part of the collection has not been processed]
Series IV: 1969 Accretion - Listing of Archival Material
Series V: Master Print Books [this part of the collection has not been processed]
An historic event in aviation occurred on June 26, 1929 when two major aircraft companies: the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company merged with the Wright Aeronautical Corporation to form the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. After this merger, the former Wright organization took over all of the engine and propeller manufacture while Curtiss concentrated on airplanes. This merger was completed by organizing two major divisions under their original names, but under the direction of a corporate headquarters located in New York City. However, there was a recognized separation of spirit as well as specialized facilities that was never completely resolved in succeeding years. The election of former Wright personnel to key corporate positions soon led to Wright becoming the dominant division. At the height of the Lindbergh Boom during the 1920s and 1930s, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation was made up of the following identified organizations: The Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company; The Curtiss-Caproni Corporation; The Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Manufacturing Company; The Keystone Aircraft Corporation; The Moth Aircraft Corporation; The Travel Air Manufacturing Company; The Wright Aeronautical Corporation; Curtiss-Wright Flying Service; The Curtiss-Wright Sales
Corporation; The Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation. Curtiss-Wright was quickly becoming the 'General Motors of the Air' until the great depression in October 1929. Sales dropped and Curtiss-Wright was forced to close certain satellite plants and transfer some of their product lines to the St. Louis facility. It looked like even the Buffalo plants would also have to close when Curtiss-Wright received an order from Colombia, South America for Hawks and Falcons. This was the largest military order to Curtiss since the war. The Colombia sale saved the Curtiss-Wright organization at this low point in its history. This order kept the production lines going until new military and civil markets began to open up as the depression waned and the build-up for World War II began. During the U.S. military build-up prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, all existing Curtiss-Wright plants were expanded and new aircraft factories were built at Columbus, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky. The dropping of the two atomic bombs on Japan resulted in an unexpected early end to World War II. All of the major U.S. airplane builders including Curtiss-Wright were hit by massive contract cancellations because of the Japanese surrender. In 1946 Curtiss-Wright had only two experimental military models at hand for postwar delivery and no assurance of production orders. Curtiss-Wright was forced to shut down all airplane plants and transfer all units of the Aeroplane Division to their Columbus Plant. The eventual sale of the Airplane Division to North American included design rights to the former Curtiss-Wright airplanes. The Curtiss-Wright Airplane Division, which manufactured airframes, finally closed down in 1951.
Curtiss-Wright Corporation, gift, XXXX, 1969
No restrictions on access.
Curtiss-Wright Corporation Records, Acc. XXXX-0067, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.