|Library and Archives|
The pre-1930 membership records held by the IET Archives consist of the IEE’s membership application forms pre-1902 (no physical application forms exist after 1902) and also the published membership lists of the IEE. In 2013 Ancestry, the company which provides online resources to family historians, began a programme to digitise these records. Those records recently became publicly accessible via Ancestry’s website.
All visitors to the IET Archives, IET Library and Michael Faraday House, Stevenage can access the full Ancestry.com website, not just the IEE’s membership records, for free from selected computer terminals at those locations. In addition IET Members worldwide can access IEE records on Ancestry, by contacting the IET Archives with their membership number, and we will provide details on how to log in. Further information on these digitised records and how to access them can be found on the IET Archives website page with the web address, http://www.theiet.org/resources/library/archives/family-history/ancestry-index.cfm.
The digitised pre-1930 records can be used to find the membership application forms of engineers who joined either the Society of Telegraph Engineers (STE), since its creation in 1871, or who joined its successor, the Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians, which then became the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1889. Amongst the membership application forms can be found those of many noted engineers for example, Nikola Tesla. The 1891 application form for Nikola Tesla to join the IEE as a Foreign Member is reproduced below.
Jekyll and Hyde and their links to the Institution of Electrical Engineers
The link between the published membership lists and Jekyll and Hyde is a story that was told by Sarah Hale in the ‘from the vaults’ column in the IET’s Member News, March 2013. The story is repeated below;
“Most people will be familiar with the 1886 novella ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, the tale of a morally just man who transforms into an evil criminal after consuming a self-invented potion. The phrase ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ has since become a by-word to describe anybody or anything with a split personality, but where did Stevenson find inspiration for these intriguing and somewhat unusual names? As a novelist with a vivid imagination, it may be that he simply plucked them out of thin air, indeed, the name Jekyll originates from Stevenson’s native Scotland; but there is some evidence to suggest that he took these names from the first membership list of the Society of Telegraph Engineers.
The link between Jekyll and Hyde and the STE was first noticed by Rollo Appleyard in his book ‘The History of the Institution of Electrical Engineers 1871-1931’. When discussing the early days of the STE and referring to the membership list, which was published in 1872, Appleyard noted “the curious addition of Jekyll and Hyde”. ‘Jekyll’ was Lt H Jekyll, Royal Engineer, and one of the first members to join in 1871, while ‘Hyde’ was Major General H Hyde of the India Office, another prominent telegraph engineer of the time. There is also another name in the list that corresponds with a character in the novella, Frederick C Danvers, who shares a name with Hyde’s victim in the book, Sir Danvers Carew. A number of other characters also share names with civil and mechanical engineers of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Inspector Newcomen, who possibly derived his name from the famed steam engine inventor.
These links were passed off as coincidental and not pursued further until 1949, when the IEE contacted the Society of Genealogists to ask them to research into the possibility of a relationship between Stevenson and Edward Alfred Stevenson, a member of the STE who also appears in the first membership list. The IET Archives hold a copy of the report that the Society of Genealogists sent to the IEE as a result of this research. It was concluded in the report that there was no link between Robert Louis Stevenson and Edward Alfred Stevenson, and suggested that Robert Louis Stevenson may have found access to the STE membership lists via his father, who was a prominent Scottish lighthouse engineer. There may have been some truth in this, but it is also possible that Stevenson came across the membership lists another way. As well as being the son of a lighthouse engineer, Stevenson studied engineering at the University of Edinburgh. Though he would come to loathe the subject and seek a career as a writer, Stevenson developed a close friendship with his professor at Edinburgh, Fleeming Jenkin. While Jenkin was a pioneering electrical and telegraph engineer, both men shared an avid interest in poetry and theatre and took part in amateur dramatics together. When Jenkin died suddenly in 1885 Stevenson was distressed and shocked. To aid the grieving process he began writing a memoir of Jenkin that was completed in 1887.
It is Stevenson’s friendship with Jenkin that perhaps provides the strongest evidence that he was inspired by the STE membership list for his characters’ names in ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. He wrote the book at the same time as writing Jenkin’s memoir during a period of intense activity and so it is likely that his research for the memoirs may have influenced the thinking behind the novella. This idea is compounded when one actually looks at the page of the STE membership list that contains the names of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’. Col H Hyde and Lt H Jekyll are right next to each other, while Fleeming Jenkin FRS MICE, of 5 Fettes Row, Edinburgh, is two places directly below Jekyll. Did Stevenson look up Jenkin’s entry in the STE membership lists, and see the names of Jekyll and Hyde so close together and be inspired, consciously or subconsciously, to use them in his latest work of fiction?”
The first published membership list of the STE to which the above story refers is not one of the lists digitised by Ancestry as the list was published as part of the STE journal, but the entry as published in that journal is reproduced below.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Whilst the large majority of published books and volumes, regardless of age, are held by the IET Library, there are a small number of rare books which because of their value or fragility are held within the IET Archives.
One such volume is the ‘Carta Corografica Della Calabria Ultiore’, a volume of large maps and engravings which was published in the 1780’s and which illustrates the aftermath of the Calabrian earthquakes of 1783. The 1783 Calabrian earthquakes were a sequence of five strong earthquakes, two of which produced significant tsunamis, which hit the region of Calabria in southern Italy which at the time was part of the Kingdom of Naples. The earthquakes occurred over a period of almost two months, all with magnitudes of 5.9 or greater and which have been estimated to have cause the deaths of 32,000 to 50,000 people.
The Neapolitan Royal Academy sent an expedition to Calabria following the earthquakes which in addition to causing vast numbers of deaths, destroyed hundreds of villages, caused mountains to collapse, and changed the courses of rivers. Even the coastline was altered as a result of the earthquakes.
The expedition comprised a group of scientists including Michele Sarconi, Angiolo Fasano, Nicolo Pacifico, Padre Eliseo della Concezione and Antonio Minasi as well as architects and draughtsmen. Padre Eliseo was the individual responsible for designing the Carta Corografica, a very accurate overview of the changes experienced by the region.
One importance of this work by Padre Eliseo is that it is the first seismic map produced in Italy and it rectifies the errors in latitude and longitude in previous maps of the region. Pere Eliseo designed the maps with the help of a ‘macchina equatoriale’ which he himself had invented and which is illustrated on the last page.
In addition to the numerous plates showing views of the area there are several engravings illustrating fossils such as the following illustration of ‘echiniti’ found near Orsigliadi.
This volume had been in quite poor condition, with a significant amount of dirt, some water damage and some missing pieces of paper around the edges (not affecting the individual plates). A few years ago the decision was taken that the volume required conservation work to stop any further significant and/or rapid deterioration in the volume. A specialist paper conservator was used to clean the individual pages, and repair the edges of the plates including the filling of the holes with a specialist conservation grade paper.
The restored volume, following conservation treatment, is now wrapped in protective paper within its own ‘book box’ and is stored in the Archive Centre strongroom and through this intervention is available to be consulted by both researchers and members of the IET.
Historical records such as these can often be used by present day researchers to re-evaluate past events and develop a better understanding of seismic activity. In the case of the Calabrian earthquakes there was a paper published in 2006 in the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences titled, ‘A revision of the 1783-84 Calabrian (southern Italy) tsunamis’, which analysed historical sources to calculate that there had been 3 more tsunamis than previously estimated, and that the tsunamis had been previously underestimated and ‘erroneously considered a minor event’.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Edited: 11 July 2014 at 08:45 AM by Jonathan Cable
The IET Archives continues to receive a steady stream of fascinating deposits related to the history of engineering and technology and to key individuals who made important contributions to those sectors. Two such recent deposits are highlighted below.
Records of the STC Technical Society, latterly The Technical Society
The recent deposit comprises papers of the Society, primarily from the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and includes items such as committee minutes, details of programmes and events, and accounts.
The Society was founded as the Western Electric Engineering Society in 1912, a technical society for employees of Western Electric, which held regular technical meetings, lectures and organised visits. Western Electric began life in London as International Western Electric in 1883 (an agent for the US company Western Electric). The original notice proposing the Engineering Society was circulated amongst members of the Engineering Department on 5 September 1912.
In 1925 Western Electric's international operations were bought by ITT Corporation of the US and the company's UK operations were renamed Standard Telephones and Cables.
Soon after the end of World War II the Engineering Society was continued as the STC Telephone Technical Society (TTS). Members were then mostly electro-mechanical engineers and sales engineers with other members of the Telephone Division. Personnel engaged in, and associated with, the Manufacturing Division (Telephones) were allowed to become Associate Members subject to Committee approval. The highest number of members was just under 600 and in May 1985 membership totalled 551.
The 12 May 1989 constitution of the STC Telephone Technical Society (issue 14) shows that Full Membership was open to all employees of STC plc. Associate Membership was open to previous employees of STC plc who had retired and had been approved by the Committee. A class of Honorary Members could be elected by the Committee and there was an Associates class for people connected with Full Members.
In 1991 STC was bought by Northern Telecom of Canada (Nortel) and the name of the Society was changed to The Technical Society still referred to as TTS.
The collection has been catalogued as NAEST 227 and forms a useful addition to the collection of papers of STC, including photographs, related to its site at New Southgate (collection NAEST 211). NAEST 211 is a very large collection and is currently being catalogued as part of a long term project. The photograph below is one of the many images held within numerous albums in NAEST 211
Paul Voigt papers
Another recent addition to the IET Archives is a collection of photographs related to Paul Voigt (collection SC MSS 111/3) which joins a small collection of Voigt papers already held in the IET Archives (SC MSS 111/1-2).
Paul Voigt was born in London on 9 December 1901 and gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from UCL at the age of 21. Voigt was first employed by J E Hough Ltd in 1922 at the Edison-Bell works in Peckham, London where he was employed for his specialist wireless knowledge.
By 1926 Voigt had developed the 1st British electric recording system. Many Edison Bell products were protected by patents taken out by Voigt. After the cessation of trading of Edison Bell in 1933 Voigt set up his own company called Voigt Patents Ltd, based in Sydenham, London, and the company's 'Domestic Corner Horn' was released in 1934.
During World War II the company's main work came from maintaining its horn speakers installed in cinemas. Voigt moved to Canada with his wife in April 1950, having previously come to an agreement with the Lowther Manufacturing Company to produce the Domestic Corner Horn under licence.
Paul Voigt died 9 February 1981. [biographical information extracted from Lowther Voigt Museum website].
The collection was generously deposited by Mr E H Stubbes, a long-term supporter of the legacy of Paul Voigt and one of the main contributors to the ‘pink fish media’ website which is dedicated to promoting the legacy of Paul Voigt. For anyone interested in finding our more about Paul Voigt here is a link to that website;
There is very little material relating to Voigt known to survive and the most important photograph within the deposit is the photograph reproduced below which is a photograph of Voigt from the early 1920’s.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Edited: 07 July 2014 at 10:32 AM by Jonathan Cable
The IET Library is now able to offer all members and staff full access to ALL Key Note reports until March 2015 these range from the Aerospace Industry to the Water Industry. See a full list of reports at:
Key Note is one of the leading providers of market intelligence in the UK, on the UK, to the UK, and provides commercially relevant market insight and analysis to the business and academic world to enable them to make strategic business decisions.
Each Key Note Market Research report is made up of:
Executive Summary: A one/two page distillation of the report's main points
Market Definition: A description of the market as a whole, the specific market sectors, general trends, and factors
Market Size: The total market size by sector
Industry Background: Recent history, industry concentration, distribution channels, employment, trade associations
Competitor Analysis: The major players and their brands, advertising and promotion spend where appropriate
SWOT: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
Buying Behaviour: Trends, survey results, purchasing patterns, expenditure
Current Issues: Brand/product development, mergers and acquisitions, recent/impending legislation
Market Forecasts: 5-year forecasts and prospects
Company Profiles: Structure and financial accounts of some of the leading players in the sector
Further Sources: A directory of sources which can supply further information if required
Company Financials: Market leaders with financial results
For logon details go to:
Library earlier closing days: August and September 2014
The following dates are known dates in August and September when the IET Library at One Birdcage Walk will close early, because of an organised event taking place in the Library Room. We apologise in advance for this inconvenience. When an event takes place the Library will normally close at 5pm rather than 5.30.
Please note additional events are sometimes added and some events are TBC (to be confirmed). We will update this blog and tweet changes as soon as possible.
To follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/IETLibArch
To telephone the library: 020 7344 5461
Edited: 30 July 2014 at 01:14 PM by Mike Dunne
“more can be learned from a careful observation of small phenomena, by observation and reflection in fact, than by passing any number of examinations…”
In 1899 a paper entitled, ‘The Hissing of the Electric Arc’ was presented to the Institution of Electrical Engineers and published in its journal. The subject matter was not unusual, but this was a first for the institution: a paper written and presented by a woman.
Hertha Ayrton was a mathematician and physicist whose work applied physical principles to practical engineering problems. Born Phoebe Sarah Marks (changing her name as a teenager after a Swinburne poem), she received an usually excellent education at a London school run by her aunt, Marion Hartog. Hertha’s widowed mother thought it was very important that her daughter be well-educated, because ‘women have the harder battle to fight in the world.’
Thanks to Barbara Bodichon, the co-founder of Girton College and a family friend, Hertha was able to attend Girton and study mathematics. After graduating, she returned to London to teach and met her husband William Ayrton while attending classes at Finsbury Technical College. William encouraged Hertha to continue her work after their marriage and the birth of their daughter, but it was a legacy from Barbara Bodichon which enabled her to employ a housekeeper and free up time for research.
Arc lamps were the first practical electric lamps and would have been seen and used widely in 1899, mainly for external and street lighting. The light came from a bright white spark generated by an electric current travelling between two carbon rods. Sometimes these lamps made humming and hissing noises, and it was the hissing on which Ayrton focused her research. This hissing meant that the arc was becoming unstable and less efficient. Ayrton set out to study the phenomenon in painstaking detail, concluding that it was the result of changes in the shape of the carbon ends. She stated that a) the hissing arc was caused by a crater shape forming on one side of the carbon (this is illustrated by a series of diagrams in the Journal), and b) that the drop in current thus produced is due to the effect of oxygen reaching this crater and combining with the carbon on the surface.
Ayrton concluded by thanking the IEE for giving her the chance to present her paper. This may seem odd to us, but a few years later her request to present a paper to the Royal Society was turned down on the grounds that she was a woman (as was her application for fellowship). Her paper at the IEE, in contrast, generated an enthusiastic response. The President, the electric lighting pioneer Sir Joseph Swan, stated that ‘I am sure that we on our part feel more than honoured that Mrs. Ayrton has chosen this Institution as the medium of [her paper’s] publication.’ A lively debate on the findings of Ayrton’s research followed – the original paper is thirty pages long, with the discussion taking up another twenty. The President concluded with,
“It is the first paper we have had the pleasure of receiving from Mrs Ayrton; I sincerely hope it will not be the last. We do not have the honour of numbering among us any lady members, but I do not know any legal disability against ladies becoming members. If not, I hope we may look forward to the pleasure of numbering Mrs Ayrton among the members of the Institution before long.”
Hertha Ayrton was elected as the first woman Member of the IEE later that year.
Ayrton went on to publish a book on the arc lamp and also extended her research to the phenomena of sand ripples and vortices in water and air. This research would lead to the development of the ‘Ayrton fan’, used in the First World War to expel gas from the trenches.
IET Archives biography
WES Magnificent Women biographies:
Anne Locker, IET Library and Archives
Anne Locker, IET Library and Archives
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Edited: 23 June 2014 at 11:31 AM by Jonathan Cable
Two recent deposits to The IET Archives have a connection to the 19th century. The first deposit is an object manufactured in 1898 by a US company with an interesting British electrical engineering connection. The second deposit is a privately published biography, published in 2013, about the 19th century electrician and electrical engineer Owen Rowland.
Weston Electrical Voltmeter, 1898
The 1898 object is a Weston Electrical Instrument Co, Newark, New Jersey, USA voltmeter. It comes in an attractive wooden box and has a certificate number 2056 [IET Archives catalogue reference OPC/1/186]. The full title of the voltmeter is a Weston standard portable alternating & direct current voltmeter. The certificate, pasted into the wooden box housing the voltmeter, says that it was standardized at 101 St Martin's Lane, London on 11 November 1898 and was certified by A C Heap.
The Weston Electrical Instrument Co was founded by the British-born American electrical engineer and industrialist, Edward Weston, in 1888. Edward Weston was a British-born American electrical engineer and industrialist who founded the Weston Electrical Instrument Company. A prodigious inventor, Weston held 334 patents, and helped revolutionize the measurement of electricity. In 1886 he developed a practical precision, direct reading, portable, instrument to accurately measure electrical current.
Weston, who was born in Shropshire (England), moved to New York, USA, at the age of 20 where he found a job in the electroplating industry. In 1872 he opened a business in partnership with George G. Harris, called Harris & Weston Electroplating Co. He patented the nickel-plating anode here in 1875 and then developed his first dynamo for electroplating.
By 1875 he moved to New Jersey, and began making dynamos. His company eventually became the Weston Electric Light Company, which won the contract to illuminate the new Brooklyn Bridge.
In 1887, having left the generator and lamp business, he established a laboratory, and the following year the Weston Electrical Instrument Company began trading. In 1888 he developed a practical precision, direct reading, portable, instrument to accurately measure electrical current. The Weston Standard Cell, developed in 1893, was recognized as an international standard and was used by the National Bureau of Standards for almost a century to calibrate other meters.
Weston became a U.S. citizen in 1923 and in 1932 Dr Edward Weston received the IEEE’s Lamme Medal ‘for his achievements in the development of electrical apparatus, especially in connection with precision measuring instruments’.
Biography of Owen Rowland (1820-1877)
Two copies of this Owen Rowland biography, written by Michael J Cooke, were recently deposited with the IET by the author, one copy with the IET Archives and one copy with the IET Library.
This is the first account of Owen Rowland’s activities. Rowland was appointed by William Fothergill Cooke as his resident engineer in 1844 for the construction of the first long-distance telegraph in Britain, and he was commissioned in 1857-58 to install the country’s first ‘truly overhead’ telegraph lines. If this wasn’t enough Rowland set up two periodicals in the early 1860’s, The Electrician and The Telegraphic Journal, and in the 1870’s ran a ‘weather forecast and storm warning’ service supplying daily forecasts to newspapers at a time when the Meteorological Office had stopped doing this.
The IET Archives’ copy of this volume has an archive catalogue reference SC MSS 255 and is one of several privately published, unpublished, or draft biographies held by the IET Archives.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Edited: 12 June 2014 at 10:53 AM by Jonathan Cable
In the first half of the 20th century a decision was made to relocate the objects held in the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) Museum. Since then objects have not been part of the IET Archives’ collecting policy. However, this does not mean that there are no objects in the IET Archives or under the care of the archivists or that objects do not, very occasionally, get added to the IET Archives.
The IEE started its electrical museum in 1901, in part due to the accommodation problems being experienced by the Victoria and Albert Museum (previously called the South Kensington Museum) which in 1901 included science collections – the Science Museum came formally into independent existence in 1909. Even in 1901 the IEE Council were making arrangements for the ‘South Kensington Museum’ to receive objects of public interest from the IEE collection on loan.
Early in 1923 the IEE Council and the Science Museum agreed to transfer the bulk of the IEE’s museum collection to the Science Museum amounting to several hundred objects. A further batch of historic objects was loaned to the Science Museum in 1953 and in 1994 the IEE converted its entire loan collection at the Science Museum into a gift.
Objects currently held by the IET Archives
Whilst the IET Archives usually decline offers of historic objects, and instead work with potential donors to find other homes for these objects, objects can still be found in the IET’s collections. These objects may be gifts to the IEE/IET and its Presidents and officials. Many such gifts were received in 1971 when we celebrated our centenary. On occasions small objects accompany manuscript donations to the archives such as medals awarded to individuals. Others have important associations with engineering history such as a small section of the transatlantic cable.
Some of the more unusual objects found in the archives include tea towels. One of the most frequently consulted collections is that of the records of the Electrical Association for Women (collection reference NAEST 093) which was formed in 1924. This collection includes a series of tea towels (NAEST 093/10/02) which the EAW used to explain the use of certain electrical items in the home. Tea towel subjects include ‘connections for standard plugs’, ‘which fuse’, and reading a meter.
The IET Archives only this week received the deposit of 2 tea towels (accession 2014-04), one of which included a new design not currently held in NAEST 093/10/02.
Large objects held in the IET Archives
Most of the objects still remaining in the archives are small items but there are some larger things such as the IET’s portraits, which are under the custodianship of the IET Archives. The largest single object that we currently hold is the metal railway locomotive nameplate ‘The Institution of Electrical Engineers’.
This sign is a significant item of railway heritage and is item serial number 437 (not designated), registered number 2002/07, on the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board's list (replaced the Railway Heritage Committee in March 2013). It is described on that list as 'locomotive nameplate: The Institution of Electrical Engineers (86607)'. The item is considered a 'disposed item' within the IET's jurisdiction.
Usually when talking to one of the IET’s archivists you will hear them say that the IET does not hold or accession objects. Whilst true as a general rule, you will now know to take this statement with a very small pinch of salt!
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Edited: 10 June 2014 at 10:52 AM by Jonathan Cable
The library has one new addition to its printed serial collection. The title of the journal is Modern Railways, donated by the IET Member Mr Clive Price from his many years of assemblage mainly from 1993 through to January 2014. This journal series has been found to be one of our most popular subject titles and has been reviewed for a continuous subscription by the library.
This journal is aimed at professionals in the railway industry as well as individuals with a general interest in the state and developments of the British railway network.
The Modern Railway website defines it as: ‘providing in depth coverage for all aspects of the industry, from traction and rolling stock to signalling and infrastructure management, Modern Railways carries not only the latest news but also analysis of why those events are happening’.
It is a privilege to bring to your notice that Modern Railways Journal from 1993 to the latest publications is available in the library collection for all your research and reference needs.
Written by Ezekiel Peters-Ugowe
Edited: 09 May 2014 at 03:54 PM by Mike Dunne
One of the new features we have is the Library Link setup APP. You can download this to your Apple or Android device. From here you can search the Library catalogue, check what you have on loan and renew items if overdue, view the front portal and new items of stock. To access you will need a password, which is PASSWORD.
If you would like more information on these or any other library related item please contact.
Written by Dawn White
From the new online catalogue members can maintain their own Library details. If your details are incorrect or you have changed address please let us know by following these simple instructions:
Log onto the IET homepage using your username and password
On the left hand side you will see MY PORTAL, click on this, then click details.Check the details we have for you are correct, if not click on EDIT and send us an email with the corrections. Once we have amended your Library details we will then reply and let you know this has been completed.
Written by Dawn White
Edited: 23 April 2014 at 08:36 AM by Mike Dunne
We now have available for members to search the database package Engineering Source from Ebsco.
Engineering Source offers a broad range of engineering-related content. The comprehensive full-text database is designed to support the information needs of engineers at all levels, including research, planning, product development, management and the supply chain.
The collection provides full-text coverage of information relevant to many engineering disciplines, including: Aerospace, Biomedical, Civil, Electrical, Environmental, Mechanical, Software and Structural engineering.
Engineering Source indexes over 3,000 publications, including journals, monographs, magazines and trade publications, all directly dealing with engineering-related issues. Energy-focused monographs, books, conference papers and proceedings are also included
This database offers 1850 full text titles, including such well known journals as:
IEEE Internet computing
IET Microwaves, Antennas & Propagation
For a full list of journal coverage- go to EbscoHost-Publications- Engineering Source publications.
Engineering Source can be search alongside our other Ebsco based resources- Business Source Corporate, Sustainability, Greenfile and General Science- using the general search screen.
To access EbscoHost- log on to the IET website- Resources- Virtual Library-EbscoHost.
Engineering Source is also available on the Ebsco Discovery Service
Edited: 28 March 2014 at 02:36 PM by Mike Dunne
One of the collections in the IET Archives, rediscovered as a result of the move of the archives out of Savoy Place, is an album of transatlantic telegraph ephemera which contains material from the period 1862 to 1872 (catalogue reference SC MSS 254). The album, titled, ‘Atlantic Telegraph 1865’ is likely to have belonged originally to Sir Peter FitzGerald, the 19th Knight of Kerry (1808-1880). Sir Peter was a Vice-Treasurer of Ireland in the last ministry of Sir Robert Peel and he succeeded his father as an Irish landlord, residing on Valentia Island just off the coast of mainland Ireland.
Valentia is important in the history of the transatlantic telegraph cable as it was the location of one end of the cable that was successfully laid over the period 1865 to 1866 and Sir Peter devoted much of his time and efforts to ensure that the laying of the cable was a success.
The album contains press cuttings, letters, photographs and other paper-based ephemera primarily related to the 1865-1866 Atlantic telegraph cable. There is a significant amount of correspondence with noted politicians of the time such as a letter from William Ewart Gladstone when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, letters from Sir Robert Peel, 3rd Baronet, the Irish Secretary in Palmerston's ministry, and letters from Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe. There is also a significant amount of correspondence and ephemera related to those closely involved with the 1865 Atlantic telegraph cable such as the Atlantic Telegraph Company and officers/passengers on the various ships involved with the cable laying operations.
The relevance of a thimble to the transatlantic cable was mentioned to us recently by a thimble researcher, Anne Jansen, who was made aware of a ‘thimble letter’ contained within the album, having heard about it from Tessa O’Connor at the Valentia Heritage Centre in 1988. A press cutting in the album next to the letter says:-
“The contents of a lady’s thimble would hardly be expected to constitute a very powerful instrument. They would scarcely have been thought capable of one of the most astonishing feats ever performed by science. The Chairman, however, of the Atlantic Telegraph Company informs us that this little instrument has actually achieved such a feat. By way of experiment, the Engineer of the Company joined the extremities of the two cables which now stretch across the Atlantic, thus forming an immense loop line of 3,700 miles. He then put some acid in a lady’s silver thimble with bits of zinc and copper, and by this simple agency he succeeded in passing signals through the whole length in little more than a second in time.”
The letter in the album, relating to this thimble, is reproduced below;
The letter, dated 12 September 1866 is from Latimer Clark, who acted as an engineer for the Anglo-American Telegraph Company at the time (the engineer referred to in the press article) and went on to become the 4th President of the Society of Telegraph Engineers (predecessor of the IET). The letter sent to Emily Fitzgerald, daughter of Sir Peter, says,
“Mr Latimer Clark presents his compliments to Miss FitzGerald and begs to return her thimble with many thanks, assuring her that when containing a little acid and a fragment of zinc, it formed the most efficient battery, and messages were readily transmitted by its means through both the Atlantic cables, even when they were joined together in a loop at Newfoundland, so as to form a circuit 3742 miles in length. Valentia September 12 1866.” The album contains a small image of Emily next to the letter and the press cutting. The photograph is shown below.
“Mr Latimer Clark presents his compliments to Miss FitzGerald and begs to return her thimble with many thanks, assuring her that when containing a little acid and a fragment of zinc, it formed the most efficient battery, and messages were readily transmitted by its means through both the Atlantic cables, even when they were joined together in a loop at Newfoundland, so as to form a circuit 3742 miles in length. Valentia September 12 1866.”
The album contains a small image of Emily next to the letter and the press cutting. The photograph is shown below.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Edited: 21 March 2014 at 09:09 AM by Jonathan Cable
The Online library catalogue will not be available to members between Monday 3rd March 2014 – Monday 24th March 2014 inclusive. A new improved library management system is being installed.
This upgrade will ensure efficient seaching and a better user experience, allowing users to find what they need, when they need it.
To request or renew books during this period please contact the Library enquiry desk:
Library tel: +44(0)20 7344 5461
More information concerning the new library system will be available shortly.
Edited: 12 March 2014 at 03:41 PM by Mike Dunne
Knovel is specifically focused on the engineering community. It is an interactive full-text database of scientific and engineering handbooks and references. It aggregates content from a variety of sources including well known publishers such as Elsevier, PennWell, Oxford University Press, Fairmont Press and Taylor & Francis.
The IET subscribes to 458 electronic full text books from Knovel.
To access the service:
Sign into the IET website and go to:
For further help:
See the attached Hints and tips for using Knovel
Go to Knovel's Support Centre
Edited: 12 February 2014 at 09:57 AM by Mike Dunne
||Hints and tips for using Knovel1.pdf (108 KB)
The IET's new Archive Centre is due to open to members and the public at the end of February. Visitors to the Archive Centre will need to arrange the timing of their visits in advance to allow time for the retrieval of collections from offsite storage (further details regarding visiting arrangements will appear on the library and archives pages of the IET website in due course). The core collections will be stored onsite with the remaining collections stored in a specialist facility in Oxfordshire - these collections will be retrieved as and when required for consultation by researchers.
The new Archive Centre comprises an archive office, where staff and researchers will be located, and a strongroom which will hold the IET's core collections including rare books and items temporarily retrieved from offsite storage.
The move of the archive office from its temporary home at Michael Faraday House in Stevenage is now complete and planning is underway for the transfer of the ‘permanent' collections into the strongroom at Savoy Hill House.
In the last days at the old home of the archives in Savoy Place three pictures of Savoy Hill House were discovered and given to the archives team. It is rather fitting that these three framed pictures now adorn the walls of the new Archive Centre in Savoy Hill House. The pictures, all taken from the same viewpoint, are reproduced below and show; Savoy Hill House in 1926 (a caption describes the picture as the BBC building from the time when the BBC was based at Savoy Hill House); again in 1949 showing the bomb damage to one corner of the building; and finally in 1966 with the bomb damage repaired and the corner of the building rebuilt.
Savoy Hill House - October 1926 (archive reference IET/SPE/1/19/1)
Savoy Hill House - January 1949 (archive reference IET/SPE/1/19/2)
Savoy Hill House - June 1966 (archive reference IET/SPE/1/19/3)
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
Need some help getting started with your research?
The IET library carries an impressive array of material from historic journals through to up-to-date articles, books and business reports on our Virtual Library. Having settled down in our new home-from-home at 1 Birdcage walk, we are now pleased to be able to offer one-to-one research sessions to our members of up to an hour in length.
During the session one of our librarians will provide you with a general overview of our digital and print resources, provide tips on search techniques and assist you in locating and accessing relevant material.
Whether you are conducting research for business, academia or personal interest we will be happy to help.
For further information, or to book a session please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7344 5461
The library at One Birdcage Walk has recently acquired the following reference books:
Spon's mechanical and electrical services price book 2014.
DAVIS LANGDON ENGINEERING SERVICES
621(058) DAV REFERENCE
Library location: One Birdcage Walk
Providing detailed pricing information across the full range of mechanical and electrical services, together with higher-level costs for a diverse range of systems and different building applications.
To view some sample pages
Who's who 2014: an annual biographical dictionary.
A & C BLACK
Library location: One Birdcage Walk
92 A & C REFERENCE
"Who's Who 2014 is the 166th edition of the world's longest established and most comprehensive general reference book, brought right up to date for the year ahead. The first autobiographical reference book in the world and, after 166 years, still the most accurate and reliable resource for information supplied and checked by the entrants themselves".
Written by Alison Freeman
Edited: 14 January 2014 at 02:17 PM by Mike Dunne
All IET book sales are available through the following avenues:
Online: via the Resources section of our website
Telephone: +44 (0) 1438 767328
Fax: +44 (0) 1438 767375
The IET Library at One Birdcage Walk only sells the Fellows' and Members' ties.
The papers of Professor Brian P Smith, a former President of the Institution of Production Engineers (IProdE), have recently been deposited in the IET Archives. The Institution of Production Engineers was formed in 1921 and changed its name to the Institution of Manufacturing Engineers (IMfgE) just prior to its merger with the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1991.
The IET Archives holds the archives of the IMfgE/IProdE, including a comprehensive set of organisational papers. These include a full set of Council, General Meeting and Committee minutes as well as presented papers for the whole 1921-1991 period. Despite this, the IET Archives holds very few personal papers of prominent members and individuals associated with the IMfgE/IProdE. The exception to this is a small collection of Presidents' papers from the period from 1979 to 1988 when the relevant individual was in office.
The offer of the Brian P Smith papers from the Smith family therefore came as a very welcome offer particularly as they cover not just the period that Brian P Smith was President of the IProdE (1974), but also his whole life. After serving a full apprenticeship at Royal Ordnance Factories from 1941-46, he was one of a small team which established a new tool industry in the Cumberland Development Area, and was its General Manager when he left to join PA Management Consultants Ltd in 1949. He was appointed PA's Director of Research in 1959 and became Managing Director of the UK company in 1966. He became Chairman of the UK company and Managing Director of the international company in 1972 and subsequently Director of Development of the international company.
In 1976 Brian P Smith resigned his permanent position with PA to become an Associate Consultant with them, and on 1 January 1977 became the first Wolfson Professor of Design Management at the Royal College of Art. In this role his aim was to bring closer together the worlds of industry and design, and to build their mutual understanding and respect. He was a member of the Design Council and served on its Finance and General Purposes Committee; he was nominated by the Duke of Edinburgh as Vice-President of the Royal Society of Arts in 1976.
Building on his training as an engineer, his interests in management were to analyse the less tangible aspects of leadership, communications, human behaviour and design. He believed that such subjects were susceptible to a scientific approach and to practical training and that they were at the root of organisation and management performance.
The deposited collection consists primarily of Smith's published papers / articles, and notes / hand-outs for the many talks and speeches on management that he gave during his lengthy career as Managing Director of PA Management Consultants. However, there is also a wealth of additional material about Smith's life including, his own book of verse, his leisure and travel diaries, his journal, images of his many paintings (examples shown below) and audio recordings of two of his speeches including his speech at an IProdE dinner in 1974. The journal and travel diaries are particularly interesting as they cover Smith's thoughts and musings on a very wide range of topics.
Correspondence with a wide variety of senior government members and officials, Buckingham Palace and well known individuals such as the actress Joanna Lumley, the American jazz music impresario Norman Granz and the journalist Bernard Levin can be found in the collection.
The collection is titled, 'Papers of Professor Brian P Smith', and has been catalogued as collection SC MSS 251. It can be consulted in the IET Archives once the new archive centre opens in early 2014.
Written by Jon Cable
Edited: 06 February 2014 at 01:17 PM by Library and Archives Moderator
FuseTalk Standard Edition - © 1999-2014 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.