- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections
- Edgerton, Harold Eugene, 1903-1990
- Harold E. Edgerton papers
- Date [inclusive]
- 50.0 cubic feet (1 record carton, 128 manuscript boxes 6 half manuscript boxes, 5 tubes, 2 pamphlet boxes, 1 half pamphlet box, 2 flat boxes, 3 cassette boxes, 1 CD box, 36 microfilm reels in 6 microfilm boxes, 9 photograph albums and 5 scrapbooks each in enclosure)
- Some materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.
- Research materials, laboratory notebooks, correspondence, autobiographical materials, audio and video recordings of Harold E. Edgerton, professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1928 to 1966, Institute Professor from 1966 to 1968, and Institute Professor Emeritus from 1968 to 1990. Edgerton perfected the stroboscope and developed photographic techniques that allowed very rapid events to be observed and captured on film. He also developed techniques for underwater exploration, using sonar devices and flash photography, and participated in many oceanographic and archaeological expeditions.
Harold Eugene Edgerton Papers, MC 22, box X. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institute Archives and Special Collections, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Harold "Doc" Eugene Edgerton, 1903-1990, BS 1926, University of Nebraska; SM 1927 and ScD 1931 in electrical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was professor of electrical engineering at MIT, 1928-1966; Institute Professor, 1966-1968; and Institute Professor emeritus, 1968-1990. Edgerton perfected the stroboscope and developed photographic techniques that allowed very rapid events to be observed and captured on film. He also developed techniques for underwater exploration, using sonar devices and flash photography, and participated in many oceanographic and archaeological expeditions. During World War II he designed a strobe lamp for nighttime aerial reconnaissance photography for the US Army Air Force and directed its use in Italy, England, and France. In 1947, with Kenneth J. Germeshausen and Herbert E. Grier, former students, he formed Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier, Inc. (EG&G,Inc.), a company specializing in electronic technology. In 1953 he began a long association with French underwater explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau, accompanying him on numerous expeditions and designing various devices for underwater photography and exploration.
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Scope and Contents of the Collection
Research projects and Stroboscopic Laboratory
Harold Edgerton's laboratory notebooks (Series 3) are a central source of information for his research activities from 1930 to 1990 as well as many other personal and professional activities. Researchers interested in what Harold Edgerton was doing at a particular time should look first in the chronologically-maintained notebooks. Notebook entries reveal names of projects in progress, equipment used, and people involved. Researchers may then consult names listed under subject correspondence (Series 2), research projects (Series 3), and technical specifications and plans (Series 3) in the finding aid to attempt to locate additional information pertaining to those projects, equipment, or people. Also, Edgerton often published his research findings within months after obtaining results in the laboratory. Researchers should look at articles with appropriate dates in the list of writings (Series 7).
An alternative research strategy would be to scan the list of writings (Series 7) by Harold Edgerton to find topics of interest among the titles. Dates of publication often followed laboratory results by several months. The researcher should note dates of articles and then consult the laboratory notebook entries (Series 3) immediately preceding the published work. These entries should contain names that will enable the researcher to continue as outlined above.
Harold Edgerton's trip notebooks supplement the laboratory notebooks, and are especially significant for his underwater research and other summer activities from 1950 to 1989. These are filed in Series 6 by date of trip. A researcher interested in what Edgerton did in a particular type of underwater investigation, or at a particular site, should scan the list of trips files in the finding aid to locate a project of interest and then make a note of pertinent dates and names found in the relevant folder. A thorough search for additional material would include looking for the names of people, equipment, and projects in the subject correspondence (Series 2), technical specifications and plans (Series 3), and research projects files (Series 3). The researcher should also consult the sonar records (Series 3) and laboratory notebooks (Series 3) by date, and writings (Series 7) by date or by scanning for relevant titles in the writings.
Harold Edgerton's activities in the Stroboscopic Laboratory at MIT are meticulously recorded in his laboratory notebooks (boxes 50-57), which are supplemented by information filed in the technical specifications and plans part of the collection (box 59, folder 6 - box 73, folder 10). It was at MIT, in the Strobe Lab or at the swimming pool and other locations, that Edgerton developed and tested his innovations in photography and in underwater equipment. His elaborate discussions and interactions with colleagues from various fields at MIT, and the ensuing cross-pollination of ideas, are well documented by his laboratory notebook entries.
Photographs of MIT laboratories and personnel, often identified by Harold Edgerton in handwritten notes, are found throughout the notebooks as well as in albums in the biographical series (boxes 119-125). These pictures provide a visual record over time of changes to labs and lab personnel.
Personal and family information
The chronology of the life and work of Harold E. Edgerton in this finding aid as well as published material located in box 4, folder 8, and box 5, folders 1-2, provides a good overview of significant names and dates in the Edgerton papers. Familiarity with these biographical sketches and outlines will help users of MC 25 navigate the collection's interconnected and complementary resources. Appointment books (boxes 152-154) also help provide an overview of activities.
This collection differs from most other collections of scientific papers in that it contains rich and varied documentation of personal activities, allowing one to trace connections between professional accomplishments and the personal background to them.
The bulk of personal and family information is found in the biographical series, Series 1 (box 1, folder 1 - box 9, folder 1, and boxes 117-130, 139, 140, 142, 146), which greatly enriches the collection by affording insights into Harold Edgerton's background, feelings, interpersonal relations, and recreation. Personal reflections about himself and those close to him are recorded in autobiographical fragments (box 1, folders 2-9) as well as in audiotapes made at family gatherings (boxes 139-142). Family history is preserved in photograph albums (boxes 119-125), audiotapes (boxes 139, 140, 142), and an Edgerton family tree (box 4, folder 6). Of special interest are tapes containing anecdotes about Edgerton's youthful adventures in the 1920s (box 146) and interviews with his young grandchildren (box 140).
Additional personal and family information is included in Harold Edgerton's laboratory notebooks (boxes 50-57, boxes 144-147) and travel notebooks (box 90, folder 7 - box 104, folder 7). Both sources contain regular entries of a professional nature mixed with brief notes and occasional photographs documenting personal activities, including visitors entertained, vacations taken, dinners attended, and even births and marriages.
Documentation of Harold Edgerton's personality and personal interactions is richly preserved in letters from friends, colleagues, and former students sent upon the occasion of his formal retirement from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968 (box 3, folders 5-9). These letters record memories about him and recount specific anecdotes about incidents in his life.
Harold Edgerton's personal taste in music, skills as a guitar player, and enthusiasm for singing are amply reflected by several sound recordings featuring his musical performances at family gatherings (boxes 139-142).
Photographic accomplishments, including development of innovations in stroboscopic lighting and underwater photography
Harold Edgerton learned basic photographic skills while a student in Nebraska in the early 1920s. In 1926, while a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he used a primitive stroboscope to study engines. By adjusting the frequency of the strobe's flashes to the rotation speed of the whirling parts of a motor, he was able to observe the parts as if they were stationary. In 1931 he developed and improved strobes and used them to freeze objects in motion so that they could be captured on film by a camera. In the same year he developed techniques to use the strobe for ultra-high-speed movies. Adjustments and improvements to stroboscopic technologies continued throughout his career.
His improvements to strobes and development of possible applications for them are detailed in the laboratory notebooks (boxes 50-57), where regular entries illustrate the evolution of an idea, recording inspirations, problems addressed, materials and techniques tried, often through trial and error, and workable solutions. The notebooks include photographs of equipment and diagrams of circuits as well as images illustrating the results obtained by stroboscopic photography. Additional notes, diagrams, and photos are located in technical specifications and plans (box 59, folder 6 - box 73, folder 10), research projects (box 73, folder 11 - box 83, folder 4, and box 135), writings (box 104, folder 8 - box 114, folder 10), and patents files (box 4, folder 10, and box 90, folders 2-5).
Some narrative information about the development of stroboscopes is recorded by Edgerton in the autobiographical materials he wrote in the 1970s and 1980s (box 1, folders 2-9). Additional information is found among the many newspaper and magazine articles written about his accomplishments and located in biographical folders (box 5, folder 1 - box 9, folder 1), an obituary folder (box 4, folder 8), and several volumes of scrapbooks (boxes 126-130). He also described his work with strobes in several speeches (boxes 141, 143).
Harold Edgerton's development and testing of the D-5 flash unit for nighttime photography of enemy activities in World War II is described in detail in the nighttime aerial surveillance files (box 77, folder 1 - box 81, folder 7).
His improvements to underwater photography by devising pressure-resistant camera housings and workable underwater lights and pingers (for determining the height of a photographic unit above the sea floor) are recorded in correspondence with French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau (box 14, folder 4 - box 15, folder 1) and the National Geographic Society (box 31, folder 6 - box 34, folder 13), as well as in laboratory notebooks (boxes 50-57), technical specifications and plans (box 59, folder 6 - box 73, folder 10), writings (box 104, folder 8 - box 114, folder 10), and research projects files (box 73, folder 11 - box 83, folder 4, and boxes 139, 142, 143).
Harold Edgerton was aware of the commercial and artistic value of many of his photographs, although he preferred to emphasize the scientific and human interest aspects of his work. Many of the prints which have come to be regarded as fine art are reproduced in books by him (box 105, folder 47; box 110, folder 14; and box 113, folder 8) and in anthologies reproducing his photographs in an artistic context (box 138). Exhibits and portfolios of his prints are discussed in Edgerton's correspondence with the Smithsonian Institution (box 41, folder 9), Jean Philippe Charbonnier (box 13, folder 5), Eastman House (box 16, folder 14), and Gus Kayafas (box 24, folder 2). Edgeton's friend Gjon Mili discusses the artistic meaning of high-speed photography (box 29, folder 11) in his correspondence with Edgerton, who developed many of the techniques used and popularized by Mili.
Harold Edgerton's interest in sports photography, including boxing, golf, football, and tennis, is documented by notes and prints in laboratory notebooks (box 50, folder 6 - box 57, folder 5) and scrapbooks (boxes 126-130). His correspondence with Vannevar Bush includes a discussion of baseball photography (box 12, folder 11).
Nature photography, including development of units to capture the motion of hummingbird wings without harming the animals, is discussed in Harold Edgerton's correspondence with Crawford Greenewalt (box 20, folders 6-7), the National Geographic Society (box 31, folder 6 - box 34, folder 13), and the Denver Museum of Natural History (box 16, folder 1), as well as in writings (box 104, folder 8 - box 114, folder 10), trips files, and research projects files (box 73, folder 11 - box 83, folder 4).
Underwater exploration, including work with Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Harold Edgerton designed the first successful underwater camera in 1937 and deep sea electronic flash equipment in 1953. He developed special sonar applications to facilitate location of underwater objects and devised pingers to enable underwater cameras to be accurately positioned above the sea floor.
His expertise in the development and use of oceanographic equipment led the National Geographic Society in 1953 to arrange a meeting with French underseas explorer Jacques Cousteau, beginning a friendship and professional collaboration which lasted nearly four decades. Edgerton's trips aboard Cousteau's research vessel Calypso are described in his correspondence with the National Geographic Society (box 31, folder 6 - box 34, folder 13), in articles in scrapbooks (boxes 126-130) and biographical folders (box 5, folders 1-2), and in autobiographical fragments (box 1, folders 2-9). Travel arrangements and equipment requirements, as well as personal news items, are discussed in Edgerton's correspondence with Cousteau (box 14, folder 4 - box 15, folder 1) and Cousteau's colleagues Georges Houot (box 22, folder 7), Andre Laban (box 25, folder 3), and Jacques Piccard (box 38, folder 2). Anecdotes about "Papa Flash" (the crew's nickname for Edgerton) are found in letters to Harold Edgerton (box 3, folder 5) upon the occasion of his official MIT retirement in 1968, filed together under "Calypso." An illustrated diary kept by Edgerton's Calypso shipmate James Dugan on a voyage to Greece in 1953 serves as a log of daily events and captures the spirit of a summer with Cousteau's crew, including anecdotes about Edgerton (box 4, folder 3, and box 135).
The development and testing of underwater cameras, boomers, flash units, pingers, sonar modifications, and other oceanographic devices for Cousteau and others is described stage by stage in the laboratory notebooks (boxes 50-57). Additional information is located in the technical specifications and plans files (box 59, folder 6 - box 73, folder 10) and in the writings and speeches series (box 105, folder 43 - box 114, folder 10).
The trips series (box 90, folder 7 - box 104, folder 7) contains much material about Edgerton's participation in underwater projects. These folders often contain detailed notebooks in which he made regular entries including personal information as well as data, diagrams, and hand drawn maps. Some background information about underwater activities is located in the research projects files.
An additional rich source for underwater archaeological, geological, and biological investigations is Edgerton's correspondence (box 9, folder 2 - box 49) with his collaborators on projects. Researchers interested, for example, in Edgerton's work hunting for the Loch Ness monster should look first in the Loch Ness, Scotland, trips files and also consult correspondence with Robert Rines.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harold Edgerton's activities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began with his enrollment as a graduate student in electrical engineering in 1926 and continued until his death in 1990. These activities are reflected in several series in the collection.
His teaching and administrative responsibilities at the Institute, including teaching courses and workshops about stroboscopes (box 83, folder 6 - box 84, folder 11), supervising the operations of the Stroboscopic Laboratory (box 85, folder 1 - box 87, folder 5), and advising students regarding theses (box 87, folders 10-13), are recorded in Series 4, MIT Teaching and Administrative Materials. His concern for the intellectual development and emotional well-being of his students and former students is amply demonstrated by his correspondence with them in the subjects correspondence (box 9, folder 2 - box 49). The collection also includes a card file of his students in box 117 identifying courses they took with him, as well as anecdotes in published articles about him (box 5, folders 1-2) and "Birthday greetings, 1968" (box 4, folders 5-9).
His personal reminiscences about his work at MIT, with emphasis on his early work developing stroboscopic techniques, are recorded in the autobiographical materials in Series 1 (box 1, folders 2-9).
Business interests, including EG&G, Inc., patents, and intellectual property rights
Harold Edgerton and Kenneth Germeshausen created an informal business agreement in 1931, whereby they worked together on industrial applications of stroboscopic technology and took equipment to factories to reveal ways of improving efficiency in the operation of machinery. In 1934 they joined with Herbert Grier to form a partnership, incorporated in 1947 as Edgerton, Germeshausen & Grier, Inc. (later EG&G, Inc.). The growth and activities of this corporation, with a particular focus on Edgerton's personal contributions, are well documented in Series 5 (box 87, folder 15 - box 90, folder 6, and box 143). Edgerton's early work with Germeshausen is recorded in detail in the laboratory notebooks, particularly two notebooks kept by Germeshausesn (box 50).
Harold Edgerton filed for a patent on the stroboscope in 1933, and filed for and received many patents thereafter. These business interests are recorded in the patent files in the biographical (box 4, folder 9) as well as the EG&G series (box 90, folders 2-5).
Photographic images produced by Edgerton using stroboscopic techniques were much in demand by textbook publishers, magazines, advertisers, and others. His attitude toward the marketing of his photographs varied widely, depending upon who wanted to purchase what. His financial arrangements with commercial publishers regarding the sale of reproduction rights for his photographs are documented in correspondence regarding publications (box 114, folder 11 - box 115, folder 4). He habitually deposited money received from sale of his images into an account at MIT to defray costs for students enrolled in Strobe Lab (box 85, folder 1 - box 86, folder 11). His generosity in granting free reproduction rights to charitable and educational institutions and his distribution of souvenir postcards (containing reproductions of his photographs) to nearly everyone he met is recorded under names of individual correspondents in the subjects correspondence series (box 9, folder 2 - box 50, folder 5). Information about reproduction and sale of Harold Edgerton images in the late 1970s and 1980s is located in correspondence with Gus Kayafas (box 24, folder 2).
Harold Edgerton's research for the military began in 1939 when he was asked by the US Army Air Force to design a strobe lamp strong enough to allow nighttime aerial photography of enemy activities on the ground. Development and testing of this equipment, including the D-5 flash unit and other devices, continued until 1944 and included trips by Edgerton to Ohio, Italy, England, and France. These activities are documented by reports, photographs, blueprints, and correspondence in nighttime aerial surveillance in World War II files (box 77, folder 1 - box 81, folder 7, and boxes 136-137), as well as in a sound recording made by Edgerton and others (box 143).
Photography of nuclear weapons testing was undertaken by Harold Edgerton and his partners, Kenneth Germeshausen and Herbert Grier, in 1947, under contract to the Atomic Energy Commission. The commission thereafter hired them to create timing and firing systems for bomb tests; EG&G, Inc., the corporation they founded, continued to perform such functions for many years. These activities are described in EG&G company history files (box 89, folder 16).
Edgerton's dealings with the US Navy, regarding bathyscaphe lights, sonar, and other matters, are documented in the subject correspondence series (box 44, folder 11 - box 45, folder 4).
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Organized into seven series: Series 1. Biographical Materials; Series 2. Subject Correspondence Files; Series 3. Research Materials (Subseries 3A. Laboratory Notebooks; Subseries 3B. Sonar Research Materials; Subseries 3C. Technical Specifications and Plans; Subseries 3D. Projects); Series 4. Massachusetts Instititute of Technology Related Materials; Series 5. EG & G, Inc. Records; Series 6. Trip Materials; Series 7. Writings and Speeches.
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections (Copyright 1993)MIT Libraries
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139-4307
The collection is open for research; however, access to MIT records is governed by Institute record policy.
Intellectual Property Rights
Access to collections in the Institute Archives and Special Collections is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.
Conditions Governing Use
Condition of media needs to be reviewed. Use of some audiomaterials may require production of listening copies.
Location of Copies
Laboratory notebooks have been digitzed as part of the Edgerton Digital Collections (EDC) Project and can be found at http://edgerton-digital-collections.org/notebooks
Selected audio recordings were reformatted to digital master and use files in 2004 and 2005. Use copies on CDs are in the collection, box 163; use cassettes are in box 164.
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Related Archival Materials note
- George Eastman House, Still Photograph Collection, Rochester, New York
- Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
- Edgerton Digital Collections, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Instruments and Visual Materials
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum
- Instruments and Photographs
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History; Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
- Edgerton Explorit Center, Aurora, Nebraska
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Controlled Access Headings
- Laboratory notebooks.
- Photograph albums.
- Edgerton, Harold Eugene, 1903-1990
- Action photography.
- Aerial reconnaissance.
- Art and photography.
- College teaching.
- Electrical engineering--Research.
- Electrical engineers.
- Electronic flash photography.
- Inventions--20th century--United States.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology--Faculty.
- Motion picture cameras.
- Motion study.
- Nature photography.
- Night photography.
- Nuclear weapons --United States.
- Photography in oceanography.
- Photography, High-speed.
- Photography--Equipment and supplies.
- Photography--Scientific applications.
- Scientific instruments.
- Sidescan sonor.
- Strobe Alley.
- Underwater cameras.
- Underwater exploration.
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Flash! Seeing the Unseen by Ultra High-speed Photography, by Harold E. Edgerton and James R. Killian, Jr. 2d. ed. Boston: C. T. Branford Co., 1954.
Electronic Flash, Strobe, by Harold E. Edgerton. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970.
Moments of Vision: The Stroboscopic Revolution in Photography, by Harold E. Edgerton and James R. Killian, Jr. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1979.
Stopping Time: The Photographs of Harold Edgerton, foreword by Harold Edgerton; text by Estelle Jussim; edited by Gus Kayafas. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1987. Includes biographical outline and bibliography of Edgerton's works.
Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold E. Edgerton and the wonders of Strobe Alley, introduction by James L. Enyeart; biographical essay by Douglas Collins; historical notes by Joyce E. Bedi; edited by Roger R. Bruce. Rochester, N.Y.: Pub. Trust of George Eastman House; Cambridge, Mass.: distributed by MIT Press, c1994.
"Harold E. Edgerton, 6 April 1903 - 4 January 1990," by Gerald L. Wilson, in The Electron and the Bit: EECS at MIT, 1902-2002, edited by John V. Guttag, pp. 63-66. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005.
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Series 1. Biographical Materials
The biographical materials series (box 1, folder 1 - box 9, folder 1, and boxes 117-130, 135, 139, 140, 142, 146) brings together in an alphabetical sequence Harold Edgerton's fragmentary writings about himself, articles about him and his accomplishments, material documenting his family relationships and private life, and résumés, lists, and other papers that provide an overview of his life.
As early as 1965, Harold Edgerton began assembling photographs, articles, and notes for possible inclusion in an autobiography. These early compilations coincided with his impending official retirement from MIT in 1968. Between 1975 and 1988, he wrote a number of autobiographical fragments (box 1, folders 2-9) totalling approximately 200 typewritten pages and filed them in envelopes variously labelled "An Autobiography" and "Book." These fragments do not form a connected narrative, but rather record his recollections of episodes in his personal and professional life, touching upon his ancestry, childhood, and family, and expanding more upon ideas developed, trips taken, and people met. He reminisces in these pieces about his early experiences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the development of stroboscopes and their application to industrial uses and photographic techniques; World War II aerial surveillance; collaboration with oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau and others in underwater explorations; and other matters. The photographs he brought together in these autobiographical folders between 1965 and 1988 include images of Edgerton's family and colleagues; pictures of equipment, places visited, experiments, and underwater sites; and prints illustrating ways in which high-speed photography reveals previously unseen phenomena. The autobiographical fragments written by Harold Edgerton, however, do not fully illuminate the importance he attached to the many articles and photographs he gathered for the book.
The materials Edgerton gathered for inclusion in the projected autobiography have been arranged in an order reflecting the way in which they were assembled by him. Materials from each dated envelope have been kept together. Under each date, however, materials have been separated into folders of autobiographical fragments, folders with copies of photographs (box 2, folders 1-8), and folders with copies of printed materials (box 1, folders 10-11).
An isolated note on one of the autobiographical envelopes suggests that Harold Edgerton may have intended to use the title "Experiences" for his projected life story. "Experience" was a word he often used as a substitute for "experiment" in describing his work in the laboratory.
Additional information about equipment and techniques developed by Edgerton and the recognition given to his work is found in an extensive chronological arrangement (box 5, folder 4 - box 9, folder 1) of writings by and about him, 1930 to 1988 (maintained in his MIT office), as well as in five scrapbooks (maintained by his mother, Mary Edgerton), 1931 to 1975 (boxes 126-130). These materials document Harold Edgerton's work with high-speed photography and oceanographic exploration, his interest in sports photography, his collaboration with Jacques Cousteau, his participation in events at MIT, and other matters. Harold Edgerton's personality and the significance of his work are detailed by several hundred letters from friends and colleagues on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday and official retirement from MIT in 1968 (box 3, folders 5-9).
His ancestry, childhood, schooling, early career, family relationships, and other matters are documented in seven photograph albums, ca. 1889 to 1930 (boxes 119-125), and thirty-two audiotapes made between 1946 and 1979 (boxes 139-142). Handwritten notes identify many of the people and places depicted in the photographs. Names of people speaking or playing musical instruments on the sound recordings are identified by Edgerton's spoken introductions on most tapes. These materials amply reflect his interpersonal relations, joie de vivre, mannerisms, and wit.
Address lists undated
Addresses of companies, individuals, and subjects, index card files 1964 and before
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Fragments written by Edgerton 1975-1986
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Fragments written by Edgerton 1979-1990
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Fragments written by Edgerton 1981-1984
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Fragments written by Edgerton 1985
Autobiographical materials: Undated fragments compiled by Edgerton 1987
Autobiographical materials: Undated fragments compiled by Edgerton 1988
Autobiographical materials compiled by Edgerton 1965-1967
Autobiographical materials compiled by Edgerton 1988
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Photographs, personal (from envelope labelled "important photos") undated
Autobiographical materials: Undated photographs, personal, compiled by Edgerton 1965-1967
Autobiographical materials: Undated photographs, personal, compiled by Edgerton 1981-1984
Autobiographical materials: Undated photographs, personal, compiled by Edgerton 1988
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Photographs, professional (from envelope labelled "important photos") undated
Autobiographical materials: Photographs, professional, compiled by Edgerton 1965-1967
Autobiographical materials: Photographs, professional, compiled by Edgerton 1981-1984
Autobiographical materials: Photographs, professional, compiled by Edgerton 1988
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Quotations and poems undated
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Quotations saved for inclusion undated
Autobiographical materials assembled by Harold Edgerton: Trip reports undated
Notebook - High speed motion picture studies of insects and other research notes, July 1938-April 1941, personal diary, September 1948-July 1989 (added in 2008) 1938-1989
Course notes undated
Diagrams of apparatus, re-drawn by Harold Edgerton in 1988 and labelled "historically important" undated
Edgerton, James - copy of Hope papers signed by John Adams in 1798 undated
Edgerton, Frank - commemorative bookplate for Harold Edgerton's father undated
Edgerton, Frank - documents created by Harold Edgerton's father (undated) and assembled by Harold Edgerton 1988
MIT seal presented to Harold Edgerton at banquet and humorously altered 1985
Notes and diagrams undated
Stroboscopic patterns undated
Washington, George - copy of letter (1776) regarding need for a Cape Cod canal undated
Awards and citations 1941-1989
Correstpondence regarding awards 1936-1989
Awards: Harold Edgerton interviewed by Volta Torrey on WGBH-TV after being named outstanding New England Engineer for 1958. 1959 February 25
Awards: LaGorce Medal award ceremony at National Geographic Society 1968 December 11
Awards: National Medal of Science ceremony and presentation of award by Richard M. Nixon 1973 October 10
Biography (proposed) 1975-1983
Birth certificate 1903
Birthday greetings: A - C 1968
Birthday greetings: D - G 1968
Birthday greetings: H - L 1968
Birthday greetings: M - R 1968
Birthday greetings: S - Z 1968
Calypso trip, with Harold Edgerton singing cowboy songs for Cousteau's crew 1959
Calypso diary (A Trip to Greece on the Calypso), by James Dugan 1953
Location of Copies
Also on microfilm.
Curricula vitae undated
Diplomas, commissions, and certificates of promotion 1907-1937
Dixon, Mary Lou, and her children conversing with Harold Edgerton 1957 August 27
Dixon, William, Janice, and Mary Ann: Harold Edgerton discusses winter sports and other matters with grandchildren 1960
Edgerton, Esther: Edgerton family members including Harold Edgerton record memories about Esther Edgerton 1983 September
Edgerton family reference materials and correspondence circa 1900-1990
Edgerton family reunion and discussion in Aurora, Nebr. 1946 July 14
Edgerton family tree (1589-1968) circa 1968
Edgerton, Frank: celebration of 80th birthday, with anecdotes about family history 1955 September 30
Edgerton, Frank: Harold Edgerton and Welch Pogue discuss Pogue's experiences with his father-in-law at a ranch in Nebraska 1979 September 17
Edgerton, Frank: honored by Aurora, Nebr., Rotary Club on occasion of 50th wedding anniversary, with anecdotes about Edgerton family 1952 April 2
Edgerton, Frank and Mary: celebration of 50th wedding anniversary with discussion of courtship and marriage 1952 April 2
Edgerton, Frank and Mary: celebration of 60th wedding anniversary with family reunion and anecdotes about family history 1962 April 2
Edgerton, Frank and Mary: family gathering and discussion with Harold Edgerton (2 January 1957) and Harold Edgerton conversations with Mildred Davis (8 June 1958) and Jack Pogue (2 May 1959) 1957-1959
Edgerton, Frank and Mary: family gathering and interview by Harold Edgerton regarding his parents' trip to Europe 1958 April 12
Edgerton, Harold and Esther: celebration of 50th wedding anniversary with musical performances and reminiscences about their wedding and other events 1978 February 25
Edgerton, Mary Coe: celebration of 80th birthday with reminiscences about her childhood and marriage 1955 March 2
Edgerton, Mary Coe: celebration of 90th birthday and family reunion with conversation about family matters and US history 1965 February 20
Edgerton, Mary Coe: celebration of 94th birthday with family reunion and discussion of family history 1968 March 8
Edgerton, Robert: Edgerton family sing-along and conversation featuring Robert on banjo 1973
Edgerton, Robert: musical performance and discussion with Harold Edgerton 1960 December 25
Edgerton, Robert: shepherd's pipe performance and demonstration on television with discussion by Harold Edgerton and Esther Edgerton 1960 January
Edgerton, Robert and Carol: family discussion with Harold and Esther Edgerton undated
Edgerton, William: memorial concert featuring his favorite music 1957 May 19
Haramundanis, John (foreign student guest at Edgerton home): interviewed by Harold Edgerton 1955 October 19
Honorary degrees 1948-1985
Honorary degrees, memberships, and awards (list) 1936-1986
Membership certificates 1923-1983
Mili, Gjon: Harold Edgerton and associates discuss proposed photographic exhibit 1974 April 12
Motorcycle trip, Harold Edgerton's reminiscences about adventures in the 1920s 1976
Musical performance by Harold Edgerton and his children 1955 October 15
Musical performance by Harold Edgerton, Robert Edgerton, and Jan Dixon (4 April 1972) and interview by Harold Edgerton of foreign student guest John Haramundanis (2 February 1958) 1972, 1958
Nebraska State House, Harold Edgerton's presentation of strobe light (September 1967) and Mary Lou Dixon discussion with Harold Edgerton and Esther Edgerton (7 April 1968) 1967, 1968
Obituaries and tributes 1990
Obituaries: "Tribute to Doc Edgerton," with Charles Wycoff and Charles Miller, WMBR-FM Radio 1990 January 16
Passports issued to Harold Edgerton 1928-1984
Patents and research, Harold Edgerton's reminiscences about, in address to Harvard Club 1968 April 29
Patents granted to Harold Edgerton (list) 1942-1966
Photograph files (lists of subjects) 1975-1987
Photograph albums, personal and family-related (7 albums) circa 1889-1930
Photographic exhibitions (lists) 1936-1982
Scrapbooks (5 volumes) 1931-1975
Writings about Harold Edgerton undated
Writings about Harold Edgerton, table of contents undated
Writings about Harold Edgerton, assembled by him 1930-1951
Writings about Harold Edgerton, assembled by him 1952-1966
Writings about Harold Edgerton, assembled by him 1967-1975
Writings about Harold Edgerton, assembled by him 1976-1986
Writings about Harold Edgerton, assembled by him 1987-1988
Appointment books 1932-1946, 1948-1949
Appointment books 1950-1967
Appointment books 1968-1985
Biographical Sketch 1966 July
Donation of books to MIT engineering library (Barker Library) 1985
Guestbooks from program in honor of Edgerton 1990 March 7
Map to Edgerton home circa 1951
Phone directory circa 1980s
Photograph: Harold and Frank Edgerton, Aurora Nebraska 1960
Tax returns 1931-1933, 1935
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Series 2. Subject Correspondence Files
The subject correspondence series (box 9, folder 2 - box 49, and box 142) brings together in a single alphabetical arrangement professional and personal correspondence. While the bulk of material in the series concerns Harold Edgerton's work, a substantial amount of personal information is also included. The series contains no correspondence between Edgerton and his family (see Series 1), or material pertaining to EG&G, Inc. (see Series 5), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (see Series 4), or publications (see Series 7). The series does include correspondence about trips taken by Harold Edgerton and research in which he participated. Researchers interested in Edgerton's trips should look first at appropriate folders in the trips series to discover names of those he travelled to work with, and then consult his correspondence with that person or institution for additional information. Research activities recorded by Harold Edgerton in his laboratory notebooks are frequently also discussed in correspondence with individuals identified in the notebook entries.
Much of the correspondence documents Harold Edgerton's interactions with scientists and engineers from around the world seeking his advice or other assistance in carrying out projects. These interactions reflect the high regard in which Edgerton was held by an international group of colleagues and document the wide range of projects to which his photographic and sonar innovations were successfully applied. The letters reflect his availability and enthusiasm for interesting projects and problems.
Of special interest is Harold Edgerton's extensive correspondence with French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, for whom he developed underwater photographic systems and with whom he made many trips aboard the research vessel Calypso (box 14, folder 4 - box 15, folder 1). Their correspondence discusses technical aspects of making and testing equipment, underwater research activities, and travel plans. It also documents the long friendship between Edgerton and Cousteau following their introduction to one another by the National Geographic Society in 1953. Similar details of underwater exploration are found in Edgerton's correspondence with several of Cousteau's associates: Georges Houot (box 22, folder 7), Andre Laban (box 25, folder 3), and Jacques Piccard (box 38, folder 2).
Edgerton's interest in underwater research, as well as nature photography, is documented by a large quantity of National Geographic Society correspondence, which includes material about Calypso voyages (box 31, folder 6 - box 34, folder 13).
His participation in oceanographic research involving his photographic and sonar techniques is documented throughout the series. Of particular significance and interest, however, is his correspondence with Willard Bascom, regarding the deep scattering layer (box 10, folder 7); George Bass (box 10, folder 9) and Robert Marx (box 28, folders 12-13), regarding shipwrecks; Lloyd Breslau, regarding underwater seismic profiling (box 12, folder 1); Olivier Leenhardt, regarding general topics in oceanography (box 25, folder 9 - box 26, folder 1); Elisha Linder, regarding underwater Israeli archaeology (box 26, folders 7-8); Edwin Link, regarding use of mud penetrators (box 26, folder 10 - box 27, folder 1); Frank McWhorter, regarding oceanographic macrophotography (box 27, folders 10-11); Robert Rines (box 39, folder 4) and Ian Morrison (box 30, folder 5), regarding exploration of Loch Ness for plane wrecks, stone circles, and unknown creatures; Peter and Joan Throckmorton, regarding general topics in ocean exploration (box 43, folders 1-2); Gleb Udintsev, regarding the Mid-Atlantic Rift Valley and US-USSR cooperation in underwater studies (box 43, folder 10); and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, regarding oceanographic projects and equipment (box 47 - box 49).
Harold Edgerton's interest in land-based nature photography, including studies of the rapid movements of bats, hummingbirds, and rattlesnakes, is documented by his correspondence with the Bleitz Wildlife Foundation (box 11, folder 8), the Denver Museum of Natural History (box 16, folder 1), and Crawford Greenewalt (box 20, folders 6-7).
Charitable activities as well as maintenance of old ties in Nebraska are documented in folders of correspondence which he labelled "Aurora, Nebraska" (box 10, folder 3) and "University of Nebraska" (box 46, folder 1). Correspondence with Life photographer Gjon Mili illustrates the close personal ties between Edgerton and Mili and reveals something about Mili's opinions regarding high-speed photography as an art form (box 29, folder 11). Exhibits of Harold Edgerton's photographs are discussed in correspondence with Jean Philippe Charbonnier (box 13, folder 5), Eastman House (box 16, folder 14), and the Smithsonian Institution (box 41, folder 9). Edgerton's gift of historical equipment to the Smithsonian is also documented in the latter folder.
Information about patents and other legal matters is found in correspondence with Rines & Rines (box 39, folder 5), a law firm that handled Harold Edgerton's legal affairs for many years. There is little correspondence earlier than 1950.
Abbadi, Mostefa el undated
Abe, Kiyoshi undated
Abel, Robert B. undated
Aberdeen Proving Ground 1953-1968
Abraham, Norbert undated
Abulafia, Jeannette undated
Academic Press Inc. undated
Academy of Applied Sciences 1970-1980
AccuScan, Inc. undated
Acquaviva, Margaret undated
Adams, Charles F. undated
Adams, Dennis undated
Adams, Jeanne undated
Adams, Joseph C. undated
Adirondack Museum undated
Adkins, Walter undated
Adler, A. Peter undated
Adler, Ellik undated
Advanced Training Institute of America undated
Adventures in Education undated
Adventures Unlimited undated
Advertising Associates, Inc. undated
Aerojet-General Corporation undated
Ahlburg, H. undated
Aicher, John D. undated
Air Force Office of Scientific Research undated
Akademi d. Wissenschaften undated
Akhurst, Enid S. undated
Aksyenov, A. A. undated
Alabama Academy of Science, Inc. undated
Albany Institute of History and Art undated
Albright, Alan B. undated
Alden Electronic and Impulse Recording Equipment Company 1960-1969
Alden Research Foundation 1963-1968
Aldus Books Limited undated
Alexander, Nick undated
Alkire, Randy undated
Allen, Arthur A. undated
Allen, Barry undated
Allen, Robert D. undated
Allen, Victor undated
Allen Street Gallery undated
Allison, George B. undated
Allison, Travis undated
Almagor, Gideon undated
Alonzo, Jason undated
Alost, J. A. undated
Alpine Geophysical Associates, Inc. undated
Altenbach, Scott undated
Alter, Eunice undated
Amadon, George F. undated
Amarillo Art Center Association undated
Amendola, Plinio undated
American Academy of Arts and Sciences undated
American Air Lines undated
American Association for the Advancement of Science undated
American Association of Physics Teachers undated
American Brake Shoe Company undated
American Council of Learned Societies undated
American Geophysical Union undated
American Heritage Research 1974-1975
American Institute of Physics undated
American Museum of Marine Archaeology undated
American Museum of Photography undated
American Oceanic Organization undated
American Optical undated
American Overseas Petroleum Limited undated
American Philosophical Society 1972-1986
American Photocopy Equipment Co. undated
American Physical Society undated
American Rolex Watch undated
American Scientific Glassblowers Society undated
American Society for Engineering Education undated
American Society for Macro-Engineering, Inc. undated
American Society of Mechanical Engineers 1974-1986
American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, Inc. 1979
American Speedlight Corporation undated
American Telephone and Telegraph Company undated
American University undated
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Amherst College undated
Amon Carter Museum undated
Amoskeag Company undated
Anaconda American Brass Company undated
Analytical Systems Engineering Corporation undated
Anchor Engineering Corporation undated
Ancient Mediterranean Research Association undated
Andersen, Wayne undated
Anderson, D. V. undated
Anderson, Dick undated
Anderson, Francesca S. undated
Anderson, Fred undated
Anderson, J. Hilbert undated
Anderson, Leland I. undated
Andrea, Ralph E. undated
Andreas, John M. undated
Andriopoulos, Nicholas A. undated
Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, Limited undated
Antebi, Elizabeth undated
Applegate, Rex undated
Applied Products Corporation undated
Applicon, Inc. undated
Aquadro, C. undated
Aqua-Tech, Inc. undated
Archaeological Institute of America undated
Arenberg, Henry X. undated
Arens, H. J. A. C. undated
Arenson, Sarah undated
Arentzen, E. S. undated
Armand Hammer Foundation undated
Armstrong, Adam undated
Arndt, G. undated
Arnold, K. C. undated
Aronson, Sanda undated
Asaff, Ernie undated
Asahi Sonorama Co., Ltd. undated
Ash, Richard L. undated
Ashe, Reid undated
Associated Electrical Industries Limited Research Laboratories undated
Associated Press undated
Association for Field Archaeology undated
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Association of Science-Technology Centers undated
Astro Nautical Research, Inc. undated
Athanas, Anthony undated
Atlantic Refining Company undated
Atlantic Research Corp. undated
Attard, John undated
Atwill, John F. undated
Audio Productions, Inc. undated
Aurora, Nebraska 1964-1990
Ausman, Neal E. undated
Austin, Barbara undated
Australian Museum undated
Avchen, Michael undated
Avinan, Daniel undated
Ayres, Waldemar A. undated
Babai, Parviz undated
Babaud, Jean undated
Bach Auricon, Inc. undated
Bachrach Photographers undated
Backus, Dick undated
Bailey, Robert F. undated
Bainbridge, Kenneth T. undated
Bajer, Frank undated
Baker, James undated
Baker, Wirt undated
Bakler, Nathan undated
Baldini, Vittorio undated
Baldwin, Frederick C. undated
Baldwin Piano Company undated
Balgooyen, Thomas G. undated
Ball, R. H. undated
Ball Corporation undated
Ballard, Robert undated
Ballistic Research Laboratory undated
Balog, John A. undated
Balonis, J. N. undated
Bangs, Ed undated
Bank of Boston undated
Barber, Richard T. undated
Barker, Ivan undated
Barkman, Lars undated
Barnes, Phil undated
Barritt, K. D. undated
Barstow, Ormond undated
Barton, Otis undated
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute undated
Bascomb, Willard N. 1971-1988
Bass, Donald 1959
Bass, George 1967-1987
Batchelder, Nancy undated
Bates, Bradford undated
Bates, Philip K. undated
Bates, Ronald C. 1986-1988
Batoff, Mitchell E. undated
Batty, R. S. undated
Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. 1958-1963
Beach, Philip E., Jr. undated
Beacon Society of Boston undated
Beaird, Royal undated
Beamish, Peter C. undated
Beaver, Chris undated
Beaver, John R. undated
Beck, Harald undated
Becken, Bradford undated
Becken, Eugene D. undated
Becker, Donald undated
Becker, John S. undated
Beckman Instruments 1960-1968
Beckman & Whitley, Inc. undated
Becton, Henry undated
Beeker, Jack undated
Beerst, Th. Joos de ter undated
Beeson, Eric undated
Belcher, Robert E. undated
Belfiore, James S., Jr. undated
Bell, Larry 1977-1982
Bell, Richard 1980
Bell & Howell Company 1957-1962
Bell Telephone Laboratories 1957-1980
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Bemis, Alan C. undated
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