|Charles P. Steinmetz|
Volume: 8 cubic feet
Charles Steinmetz (1865-1923)
Summary of Life:
Charles Steinmetz (1865-1923) was one of the foremost inventors, scientists, engineers, researchers, and mathematicians of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. His most important work was performed at General Electric (GE) from 1892-1923. Steinmetz was born Carl August Rudolph Steinmetz in Breslau, Germany on April 9, 1865.
Steinmetz enrolled in the University of Breslau in 1883 where he studied advanced mathematics, physics, and astronomy. Involvement in socialist activities and impending legal action forced him to flee to Zurich, Switzerland in 1888. Steinmetz came to the United States in 1889 by the invitation of his roommate Oscar Asmussen, and began working for Rudolph Eickemeyer as an assistant draftsman.
General Electric purchased Eickemeyer’s company in 1892 and Steinmetz joined GE’s Calculating Department in Lynn, Massachusetts. Steinmetz was transferred to Schenectady with the Calculating Department in December 1893 and was placed in charge of the department in early 1894. As head of the Calculating Department, Steinmetz unofficially became chief engineer of the company, and as the Calculating Department grew, he became responsible for much of the design work in the company.
From 1902 to 1914 he chaired the newly created Union College Department of Engineering. In 1911, Steinmetz was appointed to the board of education, and in 1912 was elected its president. In 1913, Mayor George Lunn created the board of parks and city planning for which Steinmetz was elected chariman. Mayor Lunn was reelected in 1915 with Steinmetz as president of the common council.
Description of the Collection:
The materials in the collection focus on Steinmetz’s early life in Germany, his technical work at General Electric, and his personal photography. It includes correspondence, research notes, drawings, blueprints, and graphs from Charles Steinmetz’s research at Eickemeyer’s and General Electric; Typed manuscripts of Steinmetz’s books and articles; Steinmetz’s research notebooks; Photograph albums with photographs taken by Steinmetz and a small number of Steinmetz glass plate negatives and early family photographs from Germany; Large amounts of materials from his family and early life in Germany written in German, including family legal documents, student notebooks, and various certificates relating Charles Steinmetz and his half-sister Clara; A small box of tools used by Steinmetz. The bulk of the material relates to his research. Personal correspondence and information on his civic duties are less represented in this collection.
Photography was Steinmetz’s favorite hobby. The photographs capture nature and family life around the Schenectady area.
Legal documents from his family and student notebooks from the University of Breslau.
3. Articles, Books, and Lectures
A variety of topics from Steinmetz’s varied interests, including science, mathematics, engineering, corporate welfare, education, socialism, government, and World War I.
4. Research Notebooks and Notes
Topics include motor development, alternating-current theory, hysterisis, transient phenomena, and arc lamp research are all represented here, along with the notebook from Steinmetz'’ poker game, the “Society for the Adjustment of Differences in Salaries.”
The letterbooks are bound and contain both personal and business correspondence.
6. Certificates, Awards, and Patents
Steinmetz received over 200 patents during his lifetime. He received honors from several colleges, including Harvard, Union College,and the University of Pennsylvania, and awards from a variety of organizations. Also included are memberships to professional organizations and his citizenship certificate issued in 1896 in Schenectady County Court.
Newspaper clippings related to Steinmetz’s work, appearances, and civic activities.
8. Blueprints and Sketches
Steinmetz’s work at Eickemeyer from 1891-1892, focusing on an alternating-current railway motor. The series also contains sketches Steinemtz made in 1895 of a canoe motor.
9. Family and Pamphlet Files:
Folders of items collected at the Historical Society by and about Steinmetz. Includes reminiscences of contemporaries, the restoration of his electric car by Union College, some group photographs, clippings relating to Camp Mohawk and his home in the GE Realty Plot, which was torn down in 1946 after a failed attempt to convert it into a historic site. The family folder contains correspondence between Steinmetz and his family, originally in German, and with partial English translations and family photographs.