The IEEE Archives is a relatively small (approximately 15 cubic meters) collection of documents and other archival material that documents the history of IEEE and its predecessor organizations AIEE and IRE.
The IEEE History Center was established in 1980 as the IEEE Center for the History of Electrical Engineering as part of the preparation for the IEEE’s 1984 Centennial. One of its first tasks was to identify and gather institutional records of the IEEE and its predecessors AIEE and IRE. These documents, photos and artifacts, plus material generated during the centennial itself form the core of the IEEE Archives collection. And since that time, the focus of the IEEE Archives has continued to be collecting IEEE’s institutional records, especially the records of the overall IEEE. There is a secondary focus on items useful for other History Center activities and projects. This has led the History Center to build a collection of photographs and a small collection of artifacts. Center Staff use this material especially in our teaching and exhibits.
Since 2009, Center staff have been reinvigorating the archives. 2009's IEEE 125th anniversary celebrations brought additional interest in IEEE’s own history. And staff had to learn more about what we had before we could begin to post relevant material here on the GHN.
In 2009, with the assistance of a grant from the IEEE Foundation, the Center replaced its obsolete early-1990s vintage database with a modern one that allows us to better catalog and locate archival material. This grant also provided for six months service of a project archivist to check, clean up and improve the records in the new database catalog.
There are many treasures among the AIEE and IRE records collected in the early 1980s, which the center has begum posting on the GHN. There are several boxes of membership records for prominent early members of the AIEE, including such notables as Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla, Charles Steinmetz, Frank Sprague and George Westinghouse. There is a program from a 1902 AIEE Banquet held in honor of Guglielmo Marconi, signed by Marconi, Bell, Steinmetz, Sprague, Michael Pupin and Elihu Thomson.
There are photos of early IRE banquets. And there are many old-style handwritten ledgers, both for accounting and membership maintenance. While perhaps less exciting to read, they show how Institute business was conducted before computers.
There is also a special “merger collection,” boxes of memoranda, meeting notes, correspondence, and related material documenting the process by which AIEE and IRE joined to form IEEE. While not officially part of the merger collection, there is also a wonderful home movie, made in 1963 by long time AIEE and IEEE Chief Accountant Thomas Bartlett, that gives a tour of the Brokaw Mansion, and the IEEE staff working there. This converted Manhattan mansion served as IRE headquarters from 1946, and housed some IEEE departments in 1963-64.
The collection of material from IEEE’s Centennial includes planning records, programs, stills and videos from the several centennial celebrations, copies of the IEEE’s centennial medal, and a collection of gifts given by peer societies, government officials, and others to IEEE in honor of its centennial.
The archives also holds the original master tape recordings for the over 500 oral histories that IEEE has done since the late 1960s with prominent individuals in our fields. Since magnetic media are not as durable as paper, the Center has now made digital copies for preservation of all of these tapes. In addition, we have used excerpts from the tapes to illustrate the transcripts of these oral histories posted on the GHN. We also have videos and documents covering IEEE’s annual honors ceremonies.
The History Center has also made an effort in the last two years to add to the IEEE Archives material that documents more recent IEEE history. Among such acquisitions are runs of IEEE’s newspaper The Institute, and several of the millennium medals IEEE issued to distinguished members in 2000.
Because of space and resource limitations, the IEEE Archives seeks only records of the overall IEEE; not records of the many IEEE organizational units. Center Staff instead help organizational units find ways to preserve their own historical records, by among other things, encouraging their posting such material on the GHN. Similarly, the IEEE Archives cannot accept the professional records of IEEE Members, though we try to help members find suitable repositories elsewhere.
We do welcome occasional donations of artifacts than we can use in our programs but please ask before sending anything). Among the artifacts that we have accepted from members are a 1940s Weston multi-meter, a small collection of vintage vacuum tubes, and a 1959 solar radio.
The Archives is located at the IEEE Operations Center in Piscataway, New Jersey.
The following is a list of documents or groups of documents from the IEEE Archives that have been scanned and made available on the GHN. Of particular note are a series of files of the AIEE records of prominent early members, and a collection of material documenting the process by which AIEE and IRE merged in 1963 to form IEEE.
Region, Section, and Society Archives
Bliss, Louis D., Bliss Electrical School Alumni Address.
Cuthbert, Thomas R. Jr., Broadband Direct-Coupled and Matching RF Networks, (Greenwood, AR: TRCPEP, 1999).
Cuthbert, Thomas R., jr., Circuit Design Using Personal Computers, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1983)
Cuthbert, Thomas R., Jr., Optimization Using Personal Computers, (New York: John Wily & Sons, 1987)
Freitag, Harlow, Electrical Engineering: The Second Century Begins, (New York: IEEE Press, 1986)
Friedel, Robert D., Lines and Waves: Faraday, Maxwell And 150 Years Of Electromagnetism, (New York: Center for the History of Electrical Engineering Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 1981).
IEEE Canadian Region, Electricity, The Magic Medium, ed. W. Harry Prevey (Thornhill, ON: IEEE, Canadian Region, 1985).
IEEE Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, Facets: New Perspectivies on the History of Semiconductors, ed. Andrew Goldstein & William Aspray (New Brunswick: IEEE Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 1997)
IEEE History Center, Sources in Electrical History 2: Oral History Collections in U.S. Repositories.
IEEE Press, "Evolution of the IEEE Logo", in IEEE Student Journal, March 1963, Page 48.
IEEE Press, A Century of Honors: The First One Hundred Years of Award Winners, Honorary Members, Past Presidents, and Fellows of the Institute, (New York: The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, 1984)
IEEE Press, Technological Competitiveness: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Electrical, Electronics, and Computer Industries, (Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 1993)
IEEE-Rutgers Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, Tracking the History of Radar, eds. Oskar Blumtritt, Hartmut Petzold and William Aspray (Piscataway, NJ: Institute of Electrical Engineers, 1994)
Mair, Alex, "Fred Heath and the Invention that Changed the World", University of Alberta Engineer, November 2003.
McMahon, A. Michal, The Making of a Profession: A Century of Electrical Engineering in America, (New York: IEEE Press, 1984)
Morton, David L., A History of Electronic Entertainment, (New York: IEEE Press, 1999).
Morton, David, Power: A Survey History of Electric Power Technology Since 1945, (New York: IEEE Press, 2000)
Nebeker, Frederik, Sparks of Genius: Portraits of Electrical Engineering Excellence, Portraits of Electrical Engineering Excellence (Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 1994)
Nebeker, Frederik, Signal Processing: The Emergence of a Discipline, 1948-1998, (Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 1998)
Ryder, John D. and Fink, Donald G., Engineers & Electrons: A Century of Electrical Progress, (New York: IEEE Press, 1983).
Swedburg, Gregory, Profiles in Engineering Leadership: Eta Kappa Nu's First Century Eminent Members, (New Brunswick, NJ: IEEE History Center & Eta Kappa Nu Association, 2004)
WT Glover & Co., Electric Wires & Cables, Salford, Manchester, August 1897. Catalogue and Price list.
Clarence E. Larson Collection - A collection of video interviews with over 40 engineers
The Future Awaits - A 1988 video, done as a recruitment tool for leadership positions in IEEE student branches on college campuses.
On the Shoulders of Giants - Promotional commercial for IEEE
EMC: Founders War Stories - A special session from the 50th Anniversary IEEE EMC conference in 2007, where several founding members of the society gave their recollections of the early days.
The Computer Pioneers Video Oral History
Electronic Developments During World War II - Originally intended to be part of a larger project about early developments in computing, these interviews and group discussions include commentary on many of the electronic developments during the World War II era which lead to advancements in computing. Participants in these discussions include Kenneth Bowles, Jay Stratton, Albert Hill, Perry Crawford, and Gordon Brown. Recorded May 12th, 1983.
Switched Output: Time-sharing at MIT - Switched Output is an oral history project produced by Richard Jay Solomon. This segment of the unfinished documentary chronicles the development of time-sharing operating systems at MIT in the 1960s. The discussion was taped on May 14th and 15th in 1983 and includes participants Fernando Corbato, Philip Morse, John McCarthy, Robert Fano, Herbert Teager, and Edward Fredkin.
Weizmann Institute - A video oral history project produced by Richard Jay Solomon, which chronicles the building of the Weizac and Golem computers at the Weizmann Institute. Spanning six DVDs, these interviews are unedited and were conducted over April 22nd - April 27th, 1983 at the Weizmann Institute, Rehoveth, Israel.