20th-Century Collections Guide: Science, Medicine, and Technology

Collections in this category relate to inventions, engineering, and developments in infrastructure, particularly transportation. They also document topics relating to public health and nursing.

Please note that this is not a comprehensive guide to HSP's manuscript collections relating to the history of science, medicine, and technology during the 20th-century. It is meant to serve as a starting point to help users locate collections that may be of interest to them.

See the 20th-Century Collections Guide main page.

HSP staff is regularly adding finding aids to the website. Users should click on a collection's title to see whether a full online finding aid is available.

Aero Club of Pennsylvania
Aero Club of Pennsylvania records, 1908-2011 (Collection 1742) 6 boxes (3.6 linear ft.)
The Aero Club of Pennsylvania was founded in Philadelphia on December 17, 1909, on the anniversary of the Wright Brother's first flight.  The club was created for the "encouragement and development of interest and activity in aeronautics and aviation." The initial accession dates from 1908 to 1953 and consists of: minute books, 1909-1953; record of daily activities, 1930-1932; correspondence, 1929-1950; drafts for a club history, 1932-1939; membership lists, 1945-1949; miscellaneous pamphlets, 1910-1931; and scrapbooks, 1908-1910, 1915, 1929-1932. Additions to the collection include meeting minutes, newsletters, photographs, correspondence, clippings, programs, pamphlets, and other ephemera.

Darrach, Charles Gobrecht, b.1846
Charles G. Darrach papers, 1906 -1919 (Collection 0160) 3 boxes  (0.8 linear ft.)
Correspondence and miscellaneous writings of Charles G. Darrach, Philadelphia civil and consulting engineer:  Topography of the Earth, 1906, contains maps and essays on the formation of the universe; Obligation, a Compilation, 1919, a metaphysical treatise on evolution; Folly of Philadelphia, 1918, criticism of politics, transit problems, concentration of business; The World War, 1917, correspondence on conscription in the United States Army; Port of Philadelphia, Public Utilities, 1913; National transportation and a discussion of the report on Atlantic Intracoastal Canals, 1917; Water Supply, Philadelphia, 1914-1917, a history of the water system, plans of dams and pumping plants.

Dixon, Samuel Gibson, 1851-1918
Samuel Gibson Dixon papers, 1884-1953 (Collection 1941) 10 boxes 5 volumes (4.5 linear ft.)
Samuel Gibson Dixon was a physician, a scientist, and served as first commissioner of health for the state of Pennsylvania. The bulk of the collection is made up of typescripts and printed copies of lectures, articles, and pamphlets on all the subjects that concerned Dixon from 1905 to 1918 including: public health, diseases, preventative medicine, hygiene, and sanitation.  A small part of the collection is made up of incoming and some outgoing correspondence on public health issues such as sanitary and safety conditions of rural schools in Pennsylvania. The remainder of the collection includes medical school notes, 1884; material on Dixon's pioneer research on immunity in tuberculosis; photographs; newspaper clippings; and miscellanea.

Dwyer family
Dwyer family papers, 1854-1995 (Collection 3029) 60 boxes 34 volumes (26 linear ft.)
The Dwyer Family Papers primarily consist of the papers of Edward James Dwyer, a graduate of St. John's College in Annapolis Maryland, who then attended Johns Hopkins University as a graduate student in engineering. He later became the president of Electric Storage Battery Company and served on the board of Quaker Chemical Company, Selas Corporation, and the National Association of Manufacturers. He was also a lawyer. The collection also includes many papers relating to Elizabeth MacLachlan Dwyer. The children of Edward and Elizabeth are also represented. This collection includes correspondence; class notes and thesis of Edward J. Dwyer; genealogical notes on the Dwyer, Root, Waters, MacLachlan, McDonald, and Hamblin families; scrapbooks; printed matter; and ephemera.

Engineers Club of Philadelphia
Engineers Club of Philadelphia records, 1877-1988 (Collection 3144) 59 boxes 33 volumes
(20.6 linear ft.)
The Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia has its roots in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, where numerous engineers congregated to view the latest scientific and mechanical advances. The club itself was established in December 1877 and Professor Lewis Haupt (1844-1934) was named its first president. The club’s objectives included the “professional improvement of its members, the encouragement of social intercourse among men of practical science, and the advancement of engineering in its several branches.” This collection of the club's records covers about 100 years of its history and consists of minutes, correspondence, financial papers, committee reports, minutes of committee meetings, publications, awards given by the club, records of resignations, 100th anniversary planning documents, invitations, and menus. There are also papers pertaining to club affiliates, membership, and classes, as well as several unbound scrapbooks of club mailings, copies of the club's newsletter, Bulletin, and papers pertaining to the club's published history.

Greenewalt, Mary Elizabeth Hallock, 1871-1950
Mary Elizabeth Hallock Greenewalt papers, 1769-1950 (Collection 0867) 39 boxes, 29 volumes, 23 flat files (18.2 linear ft.)
Mary Elizabeth Hallock Greenewalt (1871-1950) was a musician, inventor, lecturer, writer and political activist.  Born in Beirut to Sara (Tabet) Hallock, descendant of an aristocratic Syrian family, and Samuel Hallock, a U.S. consul, she was educated in Beirut and Philadelphia.  Hallock graduated from Philadelphia’s Musical Academy in 1893, and in 1897 studied piano in Vienna with Theodore Leschetizky.  In 1898 she married Dr. Frank L. Greenewalt, with whom she had one son, Crawford, born in 1902. A pianist noted for her interpretation of Chopin, Mary Greenewalt began in the early 1900s to investigate how gradated colored lighting might enhance the emotional expression of music.  By 1920 she had obtained the first of many patents covering a color organ designed to project a sequence of colored lighting arranged for specific musical programs.  In combining light and color as a single performance Greenewalt believed she had created a new, fine art which she named “Nourathar,” or essence of light. Although awarded eleven patents, Greenewalt spent a number of years pursuing patent infringements, finding recourse in the courts in 1932 with a judgment in her favor.  Greenewalt’s professional activities also included lecturing on music and serving as a delegate to the National Women’s Party, which was instrumental in winning women’s suffrage.  After retiring from the concert and lecture stage, Greenewalt published Nourathar: The Fine Art of Light-Color Playing in 1946.

This collection offers many examples of Greenewalt’s creative processes.  Correspondence details the development and manufacture of her color console and the legal battles surrounding her patents.  A photo album also documents Greenewalt’s creation of her light color console.  In addition, there is a draft autobiography, a family history, copies of patents, miscellaneous personal correspondence, blue prints and drawings, concert programs, news clippings, lecture and radio broadcasts manuscripts, scrapbooks, two small volumes in Arabic, and numerous brochures and pamphlets pertaining to electrical lamps and theatre lighting.  Artifacts include Greenewalt’s recording of Chopin made in 1920, a gold medal awarded in 1926, copper printing plates, and experimental, painted materials.

Madeira, Edith, 1865-1951
Edith Madeira papers, 1900-1951 (Collection 2053) 2 boxes (0.4 linear ft.)
Edith Madeira (1865-1951) served as the chief nurse for the American Red Cross Commission to Palestine from June 1918 to January 1919.  The Commission was formed “to look after the sickness and starvation of the civilian population in the occupied area of Palestine.” The papers of Edith Madeira consist of typescript letters, 1917-1919; her “Report for Nursing Service” detailing the Commission’s work in Palestine; Madeira’s nursing diploma and license; memoirs detailing her voyage to Palestine, by way of South Africa and the Indian Ocean; memoirs featuring her service in Palestine and surrounding regions; and lastly, a scrapbook filled with photographs, memorabilia, and a few plant specimens.

Mills, Charles K. (Charles Karsner), 1845-1931
Charles K. Mills scrapbooks, 1863-1941 (Collection 0424) (3.3 linear ft.)
Charles K. Mills was born in Falls of Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, on December 4, 1845.  He attended Central High School, although a year of service in the Civil War delayed his graduation until 1864.  He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School in 1869 and received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the same university in 1871.  He was married to Clara Elizabeth Peale in 1873, and with her had four children.  Dr. Mills was a preeminent neurologist who did much to advance his field in Philadelphia, having established the nervous ward of the Philadelphia General Hospital in 1877 and founded the Philadelphia Neurological Society in 1884.  He was instrumental in the reform of the city’s General Hospital and he advocated improved health and sanitary conditions in many public sectors.  Dr. Mills was a professor emeritus of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught from 1877 to 1915, and a member of and frequent lecturer to many medical organizations.  In 1923, he was elected president of the American Neurological Society.  Dr. Mills died May 28, 1931, at the age of eighty-five.

Dr. Mills’ eleven scrapbooks, 1863 to 1931, document his professional career, but contain very few materials from his educational and military careers. Letters of appointment and re-appointment to various medical organizations, as well as notices of Dr. Mills' frequent lectures before these organizations, constitute the bulk of the volumes. Dr. Mills’ lecture transcripts and reports on his medical research are pasted throughout the scrapbooks, as are many University of Pennsylvania course schedules for the period during which he taught there.  Newspaper clippings report on Dr. Mills’ involvement in several major events of his day, including the reform of the Blockley Almshouse and the post-mortem examination of Charles Guiteau, who was executed in 1882 for the assassination of President Garfield.  Dr. Mills was also a poet and devoted historian of the Falls of Schuylkill, his cherished childhood home.  He published several poems, mainly inspired by historical topics, many of which can be found in the scrapbooks, and wrote a book on the history of his birthplace, an excerpt of which is contained in a newspaper clipping. Dr. Mills’ obituaries are the last items in the scrapbooks.

Philadelphia Drug Exchange
Philadelphia Drug Exchange records, 1861-1957 (Collection 1835) 1 box 10 volumes (2.5 linear ft.)
The Philadelphia Drug Exchange was founded in 1861 to promote the interests of the local drug and allied industries. These records include: minutes, 1861-1955, of the board of directors and of annual meetings; roll of officers and members, 1861-1912; circulars, 1873-1877; and annual reports, 1875-1957.

Philadelphia General Hospital. Women's Advisory Council
Women's Advisory Council of Philadelphia General Hospital records, 1915-1957 (Collection 1710) 13 boxes 5  volumes (5.8 linear ft.)
The Woman's Advisory Council of Philadelphia General Hospital was a hospital auxiliary originally organized to advise the Philadelphia Director of Health on conditions at the hospital. The Council’s goal was to spur improvement and maintenance of higher sanitation standards and eliminate overcrowding at the hospitals.  Under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Health, the Council was initially responsible for all city hospitals, but focused primarily on Philadelphia General Hospital, then known as Blockley Hospital. Records include correspondence, minutes, hospital shop reports, journals, bills, and receipts.  There are some papers of the Social Service Auxiliary, Philadelphia General Hospital, 1945 1950.

Vauclain, Samuel M. (Samuel Matthews), 1856-1940
Samuel Matthews Vauclain papers related to the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission, 1915- 1930
(Collection 1900B) 7 boxes (5 linear ft.)
Papers of Samuel Matthews Vauclain as a member of the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission on the planning, construction, and operation of the bridge, now named the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.  They include: correspondence, much of which is with Ralph Modjeski, chief engineer; minutes of the Joint Commission Executive Committee; financial reports; blueprints and maps; photographs; scrapbooks.  There are also 6 blueprints of the Remington Arms Company plant built by The Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1915 under Vauclain's direction.