Records of the New York Electrical Society, 1881-1948
Call Number: C 5CD N532 Shelf P
The New York Electrical Society was founded in 1881 with the purpose of serving the electrical field, but soon broadened its focus to exploring discoveries of science in all areas, in order to serve the advancement of industry. The society’s monthly lectures were followed by popular experimental demonstrations presented with the intent to educate the public, to increase public sympathy toward legislative and commercial reform beneficial to the professions, and to draw together the layman and the technician. By 1884 the Society was meeting regularly at Cooper Union, though in the 20th century many meetings were held at the Engineering Foundation’s auditorium on West 39th Street. Topics ranged widely, from strictly electrical-related subjects to lectures on color, shipbuilding, rockets, cancer, subways, termites, atomic and hydrogen bombs, motion pictures, and even the George Washington Bridge. Speakers of note included mathematician Charles Steinmetz, physicists Robert Millikan and Karl Compton, physical chemist Harold Urey, Admiral Robert Peary, orchestra conductor Andre Kostelanetz, and acoustics pioneer Harvey Fletcher.
At first the society was composed mostly of engineers, professors, telegraphers, and industrial executives, and the organization was supported only by member dues, but in the early 1920s a Company Sustaining Membership category was created, which gave the society the support of such companies as Bell Telephone Laboratories, Brooklyn Edison Company, the National Broadcasting Company, and the Springfield [Illinois] Boiler Company, as well as all the regional telephone, telegraph, and electric companies.
In 1954, as a result of declining attendance at its lectures, the New York Electrical Society was dissolved, and the remaining funds in the treasury were contributed to Cooper Union. The records of the Electrical Society were also transferred to Cooper Union, with the Cooper Archive as their permanent repository.
Extent of Collection: 7 boxes ; 8.7 linear feet.
Related Material in the Cooper Archives:
The Cooper Archives is the repository for the Papers of George F. Bateman, Dean of the Engineering Schools at Cooper Union from 1933 to 1948, who was President of the Electrical Society from 1944-1946 and a member of the Board of Directors of the Society from 1940-1947. Gano S. Dunn, president of the Cooper Union from 1935-1950, served as President of the Electrical Society from 1899-1901, and lectured on “Direct Current Motor and Dynamo Design” on November 27, 1894. For Cooper Archives material on Gano Dunn, please see the Archives card catalog in the Cooper Union Library.
Finding Aid prepared by Mitsuko Brooks and Carol Salomon, November, 2010.
The Records of the New York Electrical Society, 1881-1948 are held in the Cooper Archives of the Cooper Union Library, 7 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003.
Archives materials are available to interested researchers by appointment only.
Please contact Carol Salomon, Archives Librarian: