Guide to the Van Phillips Video Oral History and Papers
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0859
Creators:
Ossur North America
Ott, Katherine
Phillips, Van
Dennis, Maggie
Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.
Dates:
1991-2004
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1.35 cubic feet
3 boxes
Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Video oral history interview of Van Phillips, inventor of the Flex-Foot and other innovative prosthetic feet, conducted by Katherine Ott and Maggie Dennis, February 27, 2004, and design drawings and printed materials regarding prosthetic feet by Van Phillips, Hilary D. Pouchak, and Slobodon Djordjevic.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Approximately two hours of a video oral history interview of Van Phillips, inventor of the Flex-Foot and other innovative prosthetic feet, conducted by Katherine Ott and Maggie Dennis, February 27, 2004. In Series 2 there are design drawings and printed materials regarding prosthetic feet by Van Phillips and Hilary D. Pouchak.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into two series.
Series 1: Video Oral History, 2004
Series 2: Design Drawings and Printed Materials, 1991-2002

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
In 1976, after a waterskiing accident, Van Phillips had his left leg amputated just above the ankle. At the time he was twenty-one years old and a student at Arizona State University studying mass communications and advertising. The accident and his frustration with the prosthetic technology at the time motivated Phillips to switch his studies to prosthetics. He graduated in 1981. Happy to design a prosthetic foot with strength, flexibility, and light weight materials, Phillips began the process of bringing his ideas into reality. During this time his idea of a C-shaped foot was born. Carbon fiber with its excellent strength and flexible properties was cut into a C-shaped foot, with a sole on the bottom and a prosthetic socket above. With this design, weight applied by landing on the heel was converted into energy thereby simulating the spring action of the normal foot and allowing users to run and jump. After trying out his new design, Phillips immediately decided to quit his job, develop his design, and start a new company. Flex-Foot Inc. was formed in 1984 and demand for Phillips innovative prosthetic foot has increased ever since. While the firm was sold in 2000 to Ossur, a company based in Iceland, in 2000, Phillips still owns the patent rights to his invention and continues to contribute his ideas and expertise to research and development projects.

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by Mitch Toda, August 2004; supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.
Existence and Location of Copies
Original videos digitized in 2014. See repository for details.
Author
Mitch Toda
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The design drawings and product literature was donated by Ossur North America, on July 30, 2004. The videocassettes were donated by the Smithsonian Institution's Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History on July 30, 2004.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.
Preferred Citation
Van Phillips Oral History and Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions

Custodial History
Custodial History
Video oral history created by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Transferred to the Archives Center on March 9, 2004. Papers donated by Ossur North America, the company which bought Phillips' design, on November 11, 2003.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Inventions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inventors Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Prosthesis Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Innovative Lives Program (NMAH public program series) Title Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Videotapes -- 2000-2010 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Design drawings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oral history -- 2000-2010 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews -- 2000-2010 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Flex-Foot, Inc. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pouchak, Hilary D. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Djordjevic, Slobodon Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
URL: