The Harold F. Pierce collection consists of documents relating to Pierce's career in aviation medicine, particularly his service as a flight surgeon in World War I and World War II and his work on the Henderson Pierce rebreathing apparatus. Materials include correspondence, photographs, military records, certificates, technical drawings, and news clippings.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of approximately three cubic feet of material relating to Harold F. Pierce's career in aviation medicine including correspondence; photographs; military records; certificates; technical drawings; and news clippings. The collection also contains a scrapbook which covers Pierce's service in World War I, his experiments at Oxford University and Columbia University, the Wilmer Institute, and World War II. Notable figures found in the collection include John Paul Stapp; David Goodman Simons; James A. Healy; Albert William Stevens; Sir William Osler; Merritte Weber Ireland; William H. Wilmer and others. The collection also contains personal letters from Pierce to his family written during his time in service during both World Wars. Large format drawings include maps of the Second and Third Aviation Instruction Centers, France, during World War I, and technical drawings for his rebreathing apparatus.
The collection is arranged into two series: Professional Materials and Personal Materials.
Series 1 contains documents related to Harold F. Pierce's career in aviation medicine, particularly his service as a flight surgeon during World War I and World War I.
Series 2 contains Harold F. Pierce's personal documents, including letters of appointment, resumes, news clippings (both biographical and on subjects of interest), photos and portraits, and family materials.
Some of the materials were organized by L. Pierce (the donor, Pierce's daughter) into categories, particularly those related to aviation, the Henderson-Pierce rebreathing apparatus, and inventions. Select paragraphs of correspondence were clipped from the original document and placed under these categories. These materials frequently were kept in the category in which they were found. Numerous notes (underlining, checkmarks, dates, etc.) made by L. Pierce can be found on documents throughout the collection.
Biographical / Historical:
Harold F. Pierce (1889-1963) received his degree from Clark University in 1912, having previously served in the Navy. He then worked in the electrical engineering and testing laboratory of the General Electric Company. After entering academia, he was an instructor of chemistry at Dartmouth College and transferred to Harvard Medical School.
When the United States entered World War I, Pierce was working on gas mask technology for the Bureau of Mines. In 1917, he joined the American Expeditionary Forces, U.S. Army Air Service, Sanitary Corps in World War I as a flight surgeon. During his time in service, Pierce helped to develop the Henderson-Pierce rebreathing apparatus, based on his prewar work with Yale University's Professor Yandell Henderson. He was instrumental in establishing medical research laboratories, first at Hazelhurst Field, Mineola, Long Island, and then in France at the 2nd Aviation Instruction Center, Tours, and the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center, Issoudun.
After leaving the military in 1919, Pierce continued his studies and work with rebreathing equipment at Oxford University as a tutor and demonstrator of physiology, including involvement with British Mount Everest reconnaissance expeditions. In 1922, he earned a BSc (OXON) Degree in pathology.
He returned to the United States to serve as Associate Physiologist at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, earning his Ph.D. in colloidal chemistry in 1927.
From 1927 to 1935, he served as Associate Professor of research ophthalmology at Wilmer Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. (He had served with founder William H. Wilmer in WWI.) In 1935, he received his M.D. and served as Assistant Resident in medicine at Bellevue Hospital, New York City. He also assisted in the design of the capsule for the Explorer II manned high-altitude balloon launch.
Pierce rejoined the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942 serving as a flight surgeon and altitude physiologist at the School of Aviation Medicine, Randolph Field, Texas. In 1945, he was transferred to the Avon Old Farms Convalescent Hospital in his home state of Connecticut.
After World War II, Pierce served as medical director of the Connecticut State Welfare Department and as a consultant in aero-physiology at Hartford Hospital until retiring in 1960. He is recognized as a pioneer in the field of aviation medicine.
Ms. L. Pierce, Gift, 2014.
No restrictions on access
Personal papers of Dr. Kranzberg from his undergraduate years at Amherst College through his professional career. Collection documents his involvement with development of the new field of history of technology and his role as principal founder of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT); work as consultant and advisor to domestic and international agencies, colleges, and universities; personal affiliations, lectureships, publications; and teaching and administrative activities for more than 40 years as a college professor.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of 140 cubic feet of material divided into nine series and housed in 359 document boxes. Several subseries remain organized in the original order as they were received. There has been no attempt by the archivist to rearrange them. Some folders did not have folder titles. The archivist has provided titles in those instances, and these folder titles have been put in brackets  in the Container List.
Melvin Kranzberg's personal activities from 1934 through 1968 are arranged chronologically in Series 4: PERSONAL ACTIVITIES, including his early education. Series 8: TEACHING AND ADMINISTRATION is divided into two subseries and is comprised of teaching and administrative files compiled by Dr. Kranzberg during his forty years as a college professor.
Series 2: Correspondence between Kranzberg and numerous colleagues in the U.S. and abroad, 1949-1988. He was actively involved with technically oriented societies, U.S. government agencies, and SHOT. Since he also wrote a textbook and several encyclopedia articles, subjects range from business to academic to personal.
Kranzberg's role as a consultant and advisor is located in Series 1: CONSULTATION AND ADVISEMENT. This series is further divided into nine alphabetically arranged subseries. Kranzberg's many professional affiliations are arranged in Series 5: PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS. This series is comprised of eight alphabetically arranged subseries. Series 2: CORRESPONDENCE is also arranged alphabetically and contains much of Dr. Kranzberg's correspondence during the years 1949 to 1988. He was actively involved with a number of technically oriented societies, United States government agencies, and the Society for the History of Technology. Since he also wrote a textbook and several encyclopedia articles, the subjects represented range from business to academic to personal.
Series 7: RESEARCH SUBJECT FILES is arranged alphabetically and documents nearly forty years of research by Kranzberg on hundreds of diverse topics. The results of some of this research is available in Series 6: PUBLICATIONS, which is divided into eleven subseries and contains manuscripts, research, correspondence, outlines, and reprints of various Kranzberg essays and books. In addition, much of Kranzberg's research results were delivered in a verbal format. Series 3: LECTURESHIPS is divided into three subseries, and not only details lectures and speeches delivered by Melvin Kranzberg, but also those given by his colleagues, and those delivered at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars for Professional Journalists, which he organized.
Series 9: SPECIAL PROJECTS consists of materials relative to a number of projects of varying importance and duration, such as engineering and human values and ethics in an age of pervasive technology.
Collection is divided into nine series.
Series 1: Consultation and advisement, 1958-1987
Series 2: Correspondence, 1949-1988
Series 3: Lectureships and speeches, 1951-1988
Series 4: Biographical, 1934-1963
Series 5: Professional affiliations, 1961-1988
Series 6: Publications, 1942-1968
Series 7: Research subject files, 1940-1978
Series 8: Teaching and administration, 1947-1988
Series 9: Special projects, 1951-1980
Kranzberg's Six Laws
As reported in the July 1986 Issue of Technology and Culture, Volume 27, Number 3, pages 544-561, Kranzberg's Six Laws are listed as follows in the SHOT Presidential Address.
"These are not laws in the sense of commandments but rather a series of truisms deriving from a longtime immersion in the study of the development of technology and its interactions with sociocultural change."
1.. Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.(p.545); 2. Invention is the mother of necessity, (p.548)
3. Technology comes in packages, big and small, (p. 549); 4. Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions, (p. 550); 5. All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant, (p. 553); 6. Technology is a very human activity—and so is the history of technology, (p. 557); 7."But if ours is truly a man-made world, I claim that mankind can re-make it. And in that remaking process, the history of technology can play a very important role in enabling us to meet the challenges besetting mankind now and in the future."
Melvin Kranzberg (born St. Louis, Mo.) received his A.B. from Amherst College (1938), and his M.A. (1939) and Ph.D. (1942) in modern European history from Harvard University. When World War II commenced, Dr. Kranzberg went, with an Amherst professor, Charles W. Cole, to work at the Office of Price Administration in Washington, D. C. At that same time, he enlisted in the Signal Corps Reserve. Since he was regarded as "educable," he was sent for electronics training at Catholic University, and then to Johns Hopkins for a three-year course in electrical engineering that was crammed into sixteen weeks. Instead of receiving a commission, he was sent to Philco Radio Laboratories in Philadelphia for another three-month crash course, this one in radar.
By the end of his course of study, however, the Signal Corps no longer needed officers and he was put in the infantry. After basic training, he was assigned to the Army's Specialized Training Program. His language skills enabled him to engage in an intensive three-month study of Turkish. Since invasion of Turkey was not likely, he then entered a language program in German. This led to appointment in Military Intelligence, where he was charged with interrogating German POWs, often on the front lines. That assignment lasted from about September 1944 through the Battle of the Bulge, until the German surrender. He received three Battle Stars, a Combat Infantry Badge, and a Bronze Star. He was awarded honorary doctorates of letters (Litt. D.) by New Jersey Institute of Technology and Northern Michigan University, doctorates of engineering (D. Eng.) by Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Colorado School of Mines, and doctorates of humane letters (L.H.D.) by Denison University and Amherst College.
Dr. Kranzberg's major professional contribution has been the establishment of a new field of history: the history of technology. He was the principal founder of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), founding editor (1959-81) of its quarterly journal, Technology and Culture, and served as SHOT Secretary (1959-74) and President (1983-84).
A cofounder of ICOHTEC (International Committee for the History of Technology, a Scientific Section of the International Union for the History Science [UNESCO], he served as its vice-president from its inception in 1968. When he retired from that post at ICOHTEC'S 17th International Symposium (Hamburg, 1989), he was elected honorary president for life.
In 1979-1980 Dr. Kranzberg was national president of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society (120,000 active members in 500 chapters and clubs). Over the years, he has been a Sigma Xi National Lecturer and has served on various committees of the honorary organization.
He was Chairman (1966, 1979) of Section L (History and Philosophy of Science) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Chairman (1978-81) of the AAAS Committee on Science Engineering, and Public Policy. From 1977-1980, he chaired the Advisory Committees of the Policy Research and Analysis (PRA) and Science Resources Studies (SRS) Divisions of the National Science Foundation (NSF). An original member (1964) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's History Advisory Committee (Chairman, 1966-71, 1984-87), he also served on NASA's National Advisory Council (1984-87).
In 1989, Dr. Kranzberg was elected to the newly founded Board of the National Association for Science, Technology, and Society (NASTS), an "umbrella organization for educators, scientists, engineers, public policy analysts, public interest groups, media, and individuals interested in the impact of scientific and technological development on society." At its 1992 Annual Technological Literacy Conference, Kranzberg was honored by being the initial recipient of a NASTS Honorary Lifetime Membership.
Other activities include: Vice-President, AAAS (1966); Chairman (1957-58), Humanistic-Social Division, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEEO; Vice-President (1959), Society for French Historical Studies; Trustee (1979-), Charles Babbage Foundation; and Chairman (1972-73), U.S. National Committee of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science. He has served on the Technology Assessment Panel of the National Academy of Sciences and the NAS Committee on the Survey of Materials Science and Engineering, The National Research Council's Committee on the Education and Utilization of the Engineer, and various advisory committees of the National Academy of Engineering.
Kranzberg has been a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of the following journals: Engineering Education; Science, Technology & Human Values; Knowledge in Society; History and Technology; and Research in Philosophy and Technology; and the "Inside Technology" book series of the MIT Press. In 1980, he coordinated the Course-by-Newspaper on "Energy and the Way We Live" with 400 newspapers and was awarded a $10,000 prize by the Academy for Educational Development. He was a TV commentator on the PBS "Connections" series and lectured throughout the world, including USIA tours to India, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
He has written or edited: The Siege of Paris, 1870-1871 (1950; reprinted 1970); 1848: A Turning Point? (1959, 14 printings); the two-volume
Technology in Western Civilization (1967; Japanese, 1976; Spanish, 1980); Technology and Culture: an Anthology (1972; Arabic, 1976; Spanish 1980); By the Sweat of Thy Brow: Work in the Western World (1975 [an alternate selection of the Fortune Book Club]; Italian, 1976); Technological Innovation: A Critical Review of Current Knowledge (1978); Energy and the Way We Live (1980); Ethics in an Age of Pervasive Technology (1980); Bridge to the Future: A Centennial Celebration of the Brooklyn Bridge (1984); Technological Education/Technological Style (1986); and Innovation at the Crossroads Between Science and Technology (1989). He is also the author of over 150 articles in encyclopedias, learned journals, and scholarly collections on topics in European history, engineering education, history of technology, science-technology policy, and science-technology-society interactions.
Dr. Kranzberg taught at Harvard, Stevens Institute of Technology, Amherst College, and Case Western Reserve University, where he established the first graduate program in the history of technology at an American university. From 1972 to 1988, he was Callaway Professor of the History of Technology at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). He is a member of the honorary societies Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Epsilon Pi Tau, and Phi Kappa Phi. His awards include: Leonardo da Vinci Medal, Society for the History of Technology (1968); Apollo Achievement Award, NASA (1969); Special Research Day Citation, Case Western Reserve University (1970); Special Recognition Award, American Industrial Arts Association (1978); and the Roe Medal, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1980). Dr. Kranzberg was one of 100 Americans presented the State of Israel's Jabotinsky Centennial Medal (1980) for eminence in the sciences and letters, and was elected (1985) an Honorary Foreign Member of the Czechoslovak Society for the History of Science and Technology, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. In 1991, the Liberal Education Division of the American Society for Engineering Education presented him its Olmsted Award for "outstanding contributions to engineering education by bringing the humanities and technology together for the mutual benefit of both." In November 1991, the Society for Social Studies of Science (SSSS) and the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) presented him the Bernal Award for "outstanding contributions to the social studies of science." At its 1994 meeting in Zaragoza, Spain, the prestigious International Academy of the History of Science elected Dr. Kranzberg to its membership.
The January-September 1976 issue (Vol. 12, Nos. 1-3) of Lex et Scientia (The International Journal of Law and Science) was devoted to Kranzberg's 1975 Mellon Lectures at Lehigh University, and the French Centre de Recherche sur la Culture Technique dedicated its June 1983 (No. 10) issue of Culture Technique to him. In 1985 The Society for the History of Technology and the MIT Press co-published John M. Staudenmaier's, Technology's Storytellers: Reweaving the Human Fabric as a "tribute" to him, and Lehigh University Press published (1989) Stephen H. Cutcliffe and Robert C. Post's, In Context; History and the History of Technology — Essays in Honor of Melvin Kranzbergr containing articles by major historians of technology.
When Dr. Kranzberg became emeritus in June 1988, the Georgia Tech Foundation established the Melvin Kranzberg Professorship in the History of Technology. The first occupant of this chair was Dr. Bruce Sinclair, former head of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto and a former student of Dr. Kranzberg. Dr. Melvin Kranzberg married tLouise Lester Clark.
Collection donated by Georgia Institute of Technology, through Dr. Melvin Kranzberg, August 24, 1988.
Collection is open for research. Collection stored off-site. Contact repository for details.
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.
Legal documents, photographs, articles, copies of correspondence, three folders of original Gray correspondence on the Gray-Bell controversy; most of the collection consists of copies of material, or printed matter, collected by Lloyd W. Taylor of the museum staff.
Divided into 8 series: (1) Correspondence; (2) Memoirs and Unpublished Manuscripts; (3) Legal Material; (4) Patents; (5) Biographical; (6) Lloyd W. Taylor; (7) Diagrams, Sketches; (8) Clippings.
Elisha Gray (1835-1901) was an inventor and the co-founder of the Western Electric Company. Gray is best known for his part in a bitter controversy with Alexander Graham Bell over the priority of invention of the telephone.
Original source unidentified.
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.
Captured German Aeronautical Documents (CGD) Microfilm
7 Microfilm reels
Collection of microfilmed translations of captured German documents mainly relating to supersonic research, swept-back wings, jet-propulsion, patents, explosives, ballistics, missiles, compressors, and other aeronautical subjects.
Scope and Contents:
This collection is an incomplete set of microfilmed translations of captured German documents mainly relating to supersonic research, swept-back wings, jet-propulsion, patents, explosives, ballistics, missiles, compressors, and other aeronautical subjects. This set contains rolls 1, 3-4, 6, 8-9, and 14.
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.
Documents are filmed in Army Air Forces Air Technical Services Command (AAF ATSC) Translation File Number order. Files numbers are in the form "CGD-#".
Biographical / Historical:
In the final days of World War II, the advancing Allied armies captured a large number of documents from the German and Japanese governments. These documents were taken to various sites in Europe and the United States for evaluation and appraisal. Those documents considered valuable were microfilmed for preservation.
AAF -- [United States] Army Air Forces
ADRC -- Air Document Research Center, USSTAF (later T-2)
AEL -- Aeronautical Engine Laboratory, Bureau of Aeronautics, United States Navy
ATSC -- Air Technical Service Command, United States Army Air Forces
AVA Göttingen -- Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt Göttingen E.V.
BuAer -- Bureau of Aeronautics, United States Navy
BuOrd -- Bureau of Ordnance, United States Navy
BuShips -- Bureau of Ships, United States Navy
DAL -- Deutsche Akademie für Luftfahrtforschung [German Academy for Aeronautical Research]
DFS -- Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug "Ernst Udet" [Ernst Udet German Glider Research Institute]
DVL -- Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt E.V. [German Avaition Research Institute]
FB -- Forschungsbericht [Research Report]
FKFS -- Forschungsinstitut für Kraftfahrwesen und Fahrzeugmotoren Stuttgart [Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart]
GDV -- Gasdynamische Versuchsanstalt [Gas Dynamics Research Institute]
HVP -- Heeres Versuchsanstalt Peenemünde [Army Experimental Institute, Peenemünde]
KWIS -- Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Strömungsforschung [Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Flow Research]
LFA -- Luftfahrtforschungsanstalt Hermann Göring E.V. [Hermann Göring Aviation Research Institute]
NAA -- North American Aviation
NavOrd -- Bureau of Ordnance, United States Navy
NavShips -- Bureau of Ships, United States Navy
NOL -- Naval Ordnance Laboratory, United States Navy
ONI -- Office of Naval Intelligence, United States Navy
UM -- Untersuchungen und Mitteilungen [Investigations and Communications]
USSTAF -- United States Strategic and Tactical Air Forces, United States Army Air Forces
VDE -- Verband Deutscher Elektrotechniker [Association of German Electrical Engineers]
VDM -- Vereingte Deutsche Metallwerke
WAC -- Wright Aeronautical Corporation
WVA -- Wasserbau-Versuchsanstalt [Hydraulics Research Institute]
ZWB -- Zentrale für wissenschaftliches Berichtswesen der Luftfahrtforschung des Generalluftzeugmeisters [Central Office for Scientific Reporting of Aviation Research]
United States Navy?, unknown, unknown, XXXX.0408, unknown
No restrictions on access
Electricity and Modern Physics, Division of, NMAH, SI. Search this
220 Cubic feet (534 boxes, 25 map-folders)
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 169)
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
Series N, Federal Government Personnel Files
Series O, Addenda Materials
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.
Patterson, Frederick D. (Frederick Douglass), 1901-1988 Search this
18.66 Linear feet (21 boxes)
1882 - 1988
President of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later Tukegee Institute; now Tuskegee University) from 1935 - 1953 and founder of the United Negro College Fund (1944). Patterson was born on October 10, 1901. Orphaned at age two, he was raised by his eldest sister, Wilhelmina (Bess), a school teacher in Texas. He studied at Iowa State College, where he received a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1923 and a master of science degree in 1927. Five years later, he was awarded a second doctorate degree from Cornell University. Patterson taught veterinary science for four years at Virginia State College, where he was also Director of Agriculture. His tenure at Tuskegee University started in 1928 and spanned almost 25 years, first as head of the veterinary division, then as the director of the School of Agriculture and finally as Tuskegee's third president. He married Catherine Elizabeth Moton, daughter of Tuskegee University's second president, Dr. Robert R. Moton. Patterson also founded the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee in 1944, the same year he founded the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The UNCF continues today as a critical source of annual income for a consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tuskegee University among them.
Scope and Content note:
The Frederick Douglass Patterson Collection comprises 18.66 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, research material, published writings, photographs, audiovisual material, scrapbooks, diplomas, awards, and other materials chronicling the personal life and professional career of Frederick D. Patterson.
The collection is comprised of glimpses into the life of Dr. Patterson. The little correspondece that survived is located in Series 2: Career, Series 3: Correspondence, and Series 4: Organizations. Some of the correspondence takes the form of congratulatory notes from 1953 during Patterson's transfer from Tuskegee Institute to the Phelps-Stokes Fund, located in Series 2. There is also a personal note sent to Patterson's wife, Catherine Patterson, from George Washington Carver in which he describes peanut oil as a good massage oil.
The collection is arranged by series and chronologically therein:
1. Biography: This series provides insight into Patterson's family life through primary documents. It is comprised of family wills, insurance policies, and his autobiography. Sub-series are arranged alphabetically by title.
2. Career: This series contains materials from Patterson's long professional career in the field of higher education, including his tenure as present of both the Tuskegee Institute and the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Sub-series are arranged chronologically.
3. Correspondence: This series contains letters sent to Patterson (and his wife) of a personal and professional nature. Several letters relate to Patterson's personal business "Signs and Services," which was a small billboard advertising company. There are also letters from George Washington Carver. The series is arranged chronologically.
4. Organizations: This series contains material from the various foundations Patterson founded and to which he belonged, including the R.R. Moton Fund and the College Endowment Funding Plan. He is especially noted for developing the United Negro College Fund. The series is organized alphabetically by sub-series title.
5. Honors: This series contains the awards, citations, and resolutions Patterson received during his lifetime. Folders are organized chronologically.
6. Subject Files: This series comprises articles, employee vitas, and other documents collected and organized by Patterson. Among the subjects in the files are higher education, Negroes, segregation, civil rights, and employee records. There is no key to this system.
7. Photographs: The Photograph series mostly documents Patterson's tenure at Tuskegee University. The series includes images of Patterson and various other notable figures during formal functions at the university. Noteworthy personalities include George Washington Carver, Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.
8. Printed Materials: This series contains books, programs, and other documents from Patterson's personal collection. The series is organized alphabetically by author's last name.
Frederick Douglass Patterson was born on October 10, 1901 to parents William and Mamie Brooks Patterson, in the Buena Vista Heights area of Anacostia in Washington, D.C. The youngest of six children, Patterson's parents died of tuberculosis before he reached the age of two years, his mother when he was eleven months old and his father a year later. Following his parents' death, the Patterson children were split up and sent to live in the homes of family and friends as stipulated in his father's last will and testament until he was seven years old, Patterson lived in the Anacostia area with a family friend he called "Aunt Julia."
When he was seven years old, Patterson's older sister Bess (a recent graduate of the Washington Conservatory of Music) decided to seek employment in Texas and took him with her. Many of their parents' family still lived in the state, which allowed Patterson the opportunity to spend months with various aunts and uncles, while his sister taught music throughout the South. After completing eighth grade, Patterson joined his sister at the Prairie View Normal School, where she taught music and directed the choir. Patterson attended the school for four years, during which time he developed an interest in veterinary medicine.
In 1920, Patterson enrolled at Iowa State College as a veterinary student. He graduated in 1923 and moved to Columbus, Ohio, to join his brother John. While there, he took the Ohio State Board exam for Veterinary Medicine. Although he became certified, a lack of money prevented him from practicing. Four years later he received a teaching offer from Virginia State College (VSC) in Petersburg, Virginia, which afforded him the opportunity to work within his profession. While at VSC Patterson took a leave of absence and returned to Iowa, in 1926, to pursue a Master's degree in veterinary medicine.
After five years at VSC, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute offered Patterson a position running the veterinarian hospital and teaching veterinary science. He moved to Tuskegee, Alabama in 1928. While at Tuskegee, Patterson decided to pursue a Ph.D. in bacteriology at Cornell University. During his year and a half leave from Tuskegee, Patterson completed his coursework and wrote his dissertation. After he returned to Tuskegee, a serial killer murdered three people, including the head of the Department of Agriculture. Confronted with this tragedy, school officials quickly offered Patterson the vacant position, which he accepted in 1934.
Robert R. Moton, second president of Tuskegee, retired in 1935 and a search was soon commenced to find the next president for the school. Patterson, in the meantime, pursued more personal matters when he met and married Catherine Moton (with whom he would have a son) in June 1935. By then he was already hired to take his now, father-in-law's, position as President of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.
As president of Tuskegee, Patterson made several changes and many additions to the institution. He increased faculty housing for professors; integrated the Board of Trustees' meeting meals and eventually arranged for both balck and white members to eat at one table; shortened the name to Tuskegee Institute; and established the Department of Commercial Dietetics in 1935, the veterinary medicine program in 1942, and the engineering program in 1948. While many considered Patterson's changes important achievements, it was his development of the Commercial/Military Aviation Program that would bring the school distinction and fame.
Patterson first attempted to develop the aviation program in 1939. The government fostered the development of such programs by subsiding the expenses. All a university had to do was present able-bodied instructors and willing pupils. Tuskegee had both. By 1940 the United States Air Force was interested in integrating its forces. In order to do this they needed trained black pilots. Tuskegee was the perfect place to provide the needed pilots since the school was situated in an all-black environment where students could concentrate on learning to fly without having to worry about racist reactions from their fellow classmates. To accommodate this program, the Tuskegee Army Air Base was created. Tuskegee pilots flew missions throughout World War II and would later be recognized for their bravery.
An important part of Patterson's duties as president was fund-raising. By 1943 he found it increasingly difficult to find ample sources of funds to run the Institute. He came to realize Tuskegee and similar black colleges would benefit if they pooled their funding resources and asked for larger amounts of money from philanthropic individuals and organizations as a collective. Working together would cut fund-raising expenses; this in turn would leave more money for the colleges to use as they wished. Patterson named his new creation the United Negro College Fund (UNCF); it would go on to raise millions of dollars for the nation's historically black colleges. He served as the first president of the organization.
During the fifteen years Patterson served as president of Tuskegee, he hosted many famous personalities, including W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Pearl Buck, and Andre Segovia. He developed a lasting relationship with George Washington Carver, who had been a professor with Tuskegee since the days of Booker T. Washington.
Patterson served on many organizational boards in addition to his educational work. His involvement with the Phelps-Stokes Fund would ultimately lead Patterson to leave his beloved Tuskegee Institute to apply his educational philosophies on a broader scale. In 1953 the Fund approached Patterson and offered him the presidency of the organization. Patterson, feeling he needed a change, accepted the offer. He resigned from Tuskegee that same year and moved to New York to begin a new life.
Organized in 1911, the Phelps-Stokes Fund supported African, African American, and Native American education and worked on solving housing problems in New York City. Patterson's interest in African education began before he joined Phelps-Stokes. In 1950 the World Bank/International Bank Commission to Nigeria hired him to "evaluate the resources of Nigeria and…to study the educational programs and the organizational structure of advanced education." Through his work with the Fund he continued his efforts to improve the educational opportunities for Africans and help them move beyond colonialism. Patterson traveled extensively throughout the west coast of Africa in support of these goals.
In addition to forming the UNCF, Patterson created two other organizations (the Robert R. Moton Institute and the College Endowment Funding Plan), during the mid 1960s and 1970s. Each was designed to improve funding efforts for historically black colleges. The Robert R. Moton institute began as an off-shoot of the Phelps-Stokes as a site for conferences to address the Fund's primary concerns. Patterson's idea for the Institute came from a desire to put to use a piece of property inherited after Moton's death. Empathy with the frustrations of college presidents regarding the restricted funding for institutional expenses led Patterson to create the College Endowment Funding Plan. The Endowment was designed to alleviate this situation by providing matching funds to eligible colleges. The Endowment made its first payment in 1978. Unfortunately, by the 1980s, the Moton Institute lost most of its government funding due to federal cutbacks. This resulted in reductions to the Institute's programming.
It was not until Patterson was well into his eighties that he began to retire from his life of public service. On June 23, 1987, President Ronald Reagan presented Dr. Patterson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest possible honor that can be bestowed upon a civilian, for his service in higher education and his role in creating funding sources for the nation's historically black colleges. A year later Frederick Douglass Patterson died at the age of eighty-seven.
undated -- Xavier University
1941 -- Virginia State College
1941 -- Wilberforce University
1953 -- Morehouse College
1956 -- Tuskegee Institute
1961 -- New York University
1966 -- Edward Waters College
1967 -- Atlanta University
1969 -- Franklin and Marshall College
1970 -- Virginia Union University
1975 -- Bishop College
1977 -- St. Augustine's College
1982 -- Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
1984 -- Stillman College
1985 -- Payne College
undated -- Association for the Study of Negro Life and History Carter
undated -- The Southern Education Foundation, Inc. Distinguished Service Citation
undated -- The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Texas Association of Developing Colleges Annual Leadership Awards
1950 -- Christian Education department, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Inc. Citation for Distinguished Service
1953 -- Bethune-Cookman College, the Mary McLeod Bethune Medallion
1953 -- John A. Andrew Clinical Society at Tuskegee Institute, Citation for Distinguished Service in the Cause of Humanity
1953 -- Tuskegee Institute, Certificate of Appreciation for 25 Years of Service
1957 -- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Beta Lamda Sigma Chapter, Bigger and Better Business Award
1960 -- National Alumni Council of the UNCF, Inc. Award
1963 -- National Business League, Booker T. Washington Award
1965 -- Booker T. Washington Business Association, Certificate of Acknowledgement
1970 -- Moton Conference Center Award
1970 -- Tuskegee National Alumni Association, R.R. Moton Award
1972 -- American College Public Relations Association, 1972 Award for Distinguished Service to Higher Education
1972 -- UNCF F.D. Patterson 71st Birthday Award
1975 -- National Business League, Booker T. Washington Symbol of Service Award
1976 -- Phelps-Stokes Fund, Continuous Creative and Courageous Leadership in the Cause of Higher Education for Blacks
1977 -- Yale Alumni Associates of Afro-America, Distinguished Service Award
1979 -- Alpha Phi Alpha Education Foundation Inc., Distinguished Educator Award
1979 -- Tuskegee Institute Alumni Association Philadelphia Charter Award
1980 -- The Iowa State University Alumni Association, Distinguished Achievement Citation
1980 -- Gary Branch NAACP Life Membership Fight for Freedom Dinner 1980, Roy Wilkins Award
1980 -- State of Alabama Certificate of Appreciation
1982 -- St. Luke's United Methodist Church Achievement Award
1983 -- Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Distinguished Service Award
1984 -- Booker T. Washington Foundation, Booker T. Washington Distinguished Service Award
1984 -- The Ohio State University Office of Minority Affairs, Distinguished Humanitarian and Service Award
1985 -- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, Eta Zeta Lamda Chapter Civic Award
1985 -- United States, Private Sector Initiative Commendation
1987 -- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc of New York State, Founders Day Award
1987 -- Presidential Medal of Freedom
1987 -- Brag Business Achievement Award
1987 -- Phelps-Stokes Fund, Aggrey Medal
1941-1971 -- Southern Educational Foundation, Inc., Board Member
1943-1988 -- United Negro College Fund, Founder, President, and Member
1960s-1988 -- Robert R. Moton Memorial Institute, Founder
1970s-1988 -- The College Endowment Funding Plan, Founder
undated -- American National Red Cross, Board of Governors Member
undated -- Boys Scouts of America, National Council Member
undated -- Citizens Committee for the Hoover Report on Reorganization of Federal Government, Board Member
undated -- Institute of International Education, Advisory committee Member
undated -- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Life Member
undated -- National Business League, President and Board Member
undated -- National Urban League, National Committee Member
undated -- Phelps-Stokes Fund, Board of Trustees Member
undated -- President's Commission on Higher Education for Negroes
undated -- Southern Regional Education, Board of Control Member
Additional biographical materials in the Dale/Patterson Collection of the Anacostia Community Museum Archives.
This collection contains artifacts catalogued in the ACM Objects Collection.
The Frederick Douglass Patterson papers were donated to the Anacostia Community Museum in 2001 by Frederick Douglass Patterson, Jr.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
The Frederick Douglass Patterson papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
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The collection documents the inventive career of physicist and engineer Robert W. Kearns. Kearns invented and patented in 1967 the windshield wiper system with intermittent operation (US 3,351,836), among other inventions. The papers include notebooks, correspondence, reports, memoranda, photographs, patents, drawings, and trade literature.
Scope and Contents:
The collection includes notebooks, correspondence, reports, memoranda, photographs, patents, drawings, and trade literature. Kearns held patents related to circuitry which are integral to electronic intermittent windshield wipers. The windshield wiper documentation consists of patents, correspondence, and a set of drawings from November 16, 1967 for Tann Company. Other documentation includes Kearns's work with the engineering firm Kearns and Law (brochures, shop orders, agreements); his National Bureau of Standards work, which consists of his personnel file and notebooks detailing his highway skid resistance research; and subject files that cover a range of topics that interested Kearns, such as radar, speed control, and electric cars. At the heart of the collection are 32 invention notebooks (1963-1986) belonging to Kearns as well as engineers he worked with including John Quan, Brian Ivan Brown, and Timothy Kearns, son of Robert Kearns. Bound, paginated, and dated, the notebooks contain sketches, schematics, calculations, data, telephone numbers, and details about materials, costs, testing data, and descriptions for many of Kearns's projects. The notebooks present a comprehensive overview of his ideas and are significant to understanding his creative process and how his ideas changed or did not change over time. The majority of the notebooks are arranged in chronological order and therefore researchers can see Kearns's work unfold. Many of the notebooks are stamped with a "PO" to indicate a "protective order" followed by a number, and many of the notebooks were used during court proceedings. The protective order restricted access to notebooks which were filed with the court, or to be filed with the court at a future date.
The collection is arranged into ten series.
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1957-1991
Series 2: Notebooks, 1954-1994
Series 3: Patents, 1957-1985
Series 4: Kearns and Law Engineers, 1957-1962
Series 5: Kearns Engineers, 1967-1985
Series 6: National Bureau of Standards, 1967-1972
Series 7: Ford Motor Company (Engineering Technical Education Program), 1964-1966
Series 8: Windshield Wiper Materials (Kearns vs. Ford Motor Company), 1962-1993
Series 9: Subject Files, 1965-1999
Series 10: Correspondence, 1989-1999
Biographical / Historical:
Robert William Kearns was born in Gary, Indiana on March 10, 1927 to Martin W. Kearns and Mary E. Kearns. One of three children, Kearns grewup in the Detroit area, graduating from the University of Detroit, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (1952); Wayne State University, Masters of Science in Engineering Mechanics (1957); and Case Western Reserve University, Ph.D. in engineering (1964). Kearns also earned certificates in nuclear reactor control from Argonne National Laboratories (1958 and 1959). He was a Corporal in the United States Army, assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the Strategic Services Unit (SSU); the Central Intelligence Group (CIG), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA.) from July 31, 1945 to November 29, 1946.
Prior to joining the military in 1945, Kearns worked at Mercury Engineering Company (1943-1945) in Detroit as a draftsman preparing engineering shop drawings. After the war, Kearns joined the H & A Tool and Die Company (1946-1947), also in Detroit, as a draftsman preparing engineering shop drawings for the manufacture of the individual parts for machinery and special dies. Through the University of Detroit Cooperative Program with the National Bureau of Standards, he participated in an engineer in training program (1949-1952) where he executed a variety of standardized tests on engineering materials. He held a variety of engineering positions: designer/draftsman with Peerless Design Company, Detroit (1952); junior engineer with Burroughs Corporation Research Laboratories, Philadelphia (1952-1953); and engineer with Bendix Aviation Corporation, Detroit (1953-1957) where Kearns supervised and directed of a group of engineers responsible for the design of computer components, servomechanisms, control systems and related devices. Other duties included planning, liaison with other Bendix divisions, establishing test equipment requirements, as well as technical specifications and reports. In 1957, Kearns joined the faculty of Wayne State University, Department of Engineering Mechanics, as an assistant professor (1957-1963), later becoming an associate professor (1963-1967).
Kearns also established two independent businesses, the engineering firms of Kearns and Law (1963-1976) and Computer Central (1965-1976). Founded with partner Kenneth J. Law, an electrical engineer, Kearns and Law provided industry with consultation, research, design, and development services in the fields of computers, automatic controls and instrumentation. Computer Central manufactured a series of control components such as the Linear Range Comparator, Sign or Equality Binary Comparator, Identity Comparator, Dual Brush V-Scan Encoder Electronics, Gray Code to Binary Code Encoder Electronics, and Digital Difference to Analog Converters. Kearns served as Detroit's Commissioner of Buildings and Safety Engineering (1967-1971), where he acted as an administrator, overseeing professional engineering activities such as building inspections. Kearns moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland in 1971 to become principal investigator for the highway skid resistance program at the National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (1971-1976).
In 1967, Kearns invented and patented an electronic windshield wiper system with intermittent operation (US 3,351,836). Previous wiper systems were controlled by vacuum tubes. He installed his device on his 1962 Ford Galaxy and met with Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corporation in 1963 with the goal of manufacturing his idea and being a supplier to the auto industry. Kearns tried to commercialize the wiper through the Tann Corporation. In 1969, Kearns's intermittent windshield wiper was installed on Ford cars without his knowledge. He ultimately filed suit against Ford for patent infringement in 1978 (representing himself as Kearns Associates), seeking $141 million in damages (a figure eventually raised to $325 million). Kearns's purpose in pursuing litigation was not a cash award. Rather, he wanted the rightful ownership. In all, he filed lawsuits against 26 car manufacturers and other companies concerning the same patent (US 3,351,836). In July 1990, a federal jury ruled that Ford had unintentionally infringed on Kearns's patent and awarded him $10.2 million. In June 1992, Kearns was awarded $11 million from Chrysler. Kearns held over 30 patents, with the majority relating to windshield wipers.
Kearns died in 2005. He married Phyllis Hall (1932-2013) in 1953, divorcing in 1989. The couple had six children: Dennis Kearns (b.1954); Timothy Kearns (b.1956); Patrick Kearns (b.1958); Kathleen Corsetty (b. 1961); Maureen Kearns (b. 1964); and Bob Kearns (b. 1967).
Collection donated by the Estate of Robert W. Kearns, through Dennis Kearns and Maureen Kearns, 2016.
Collection is open for research. Some health-related materials in Series 6: National Bureau of Standards are restricted until 2055.
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.