Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0080
Creators:
Ceramics and Glass, Division of (NMAH, SI).
Steele, Richard, 1916-1980
Dates:
1948-1963.
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1 Cubic foot
3 boxes
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection, which consists of notebooks, journals, photographs, correspondence, memos, brochures, and technical drawings, is divided into three series: Sketches, Drawing Journals and Tests; Ram Company Materials; and Photographs. The papers were selected from among Mr. Steele's files by his son, Christopher. As a result, the papers included are somewhat sporadic and have many gaps. However, Mr. Steele was a conscientious record keeper, so the papers in the collection provide a good illustration of his development of the Ram process. Within the papers there are test results for water release problems, stress tests, plaster permeability tests, designs for different applications of the process, designs for dies, and other documentation. The journals he kept document his daily activities within the Ram Company in a very complete manner. Also included is a list of photographs with captions supplied by Mr. Steele's son Christopher.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is divided into three series.
Series 1: Sketches, Drawing Journals and Tests
Series 2: Ram Company Records
Series 3: Photographs

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Richard Steele (1916 1980), a ceramics engineer, was the primary inventor of the Ram press which revolutionized the ceramics industry. Mr. Steele attended classes at Ohio State University after working during World War Two as an aircraft engineer. While working at the Research Foundation at Ohio State, he and another engineer, A. R. Blackburn (commonly referred to by Mr. Steele in the collection as "Blackie"), developed the Ram process in 1948. Up until this time, the jigger method and slip casting were used to produce ceramics. The jigger method was a manual process which required great strength on the part of the operator. A large amount of time was then required for shrinkage to occur and release the casting. As a result, the process also required a large amount of space to let the pieces dry.
The Ram process, on the other hand, was an automated machine process whereby dies made of special reinforced gypsum cement (as opposed to the plastic ones used in the jigger method), are pressurized on a hydraulic press and come together to mold the piece. Air is then fed into the die to act as a releasing mechanism. The machine is capable of pressing with 60 tons of force, up to 6,000 cycles per eight hour day. This process enables one person to operate the press with ease and to produce approximately five times the number of ceramic pieces as someone using the jigger method.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Carol Dreyfus, undated
Author
Carol Dreyfus
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated to the National Museum of American History in December 1983 by Christopher Steele, son of Mr. Richard Steele.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Richard Steele Papers, 1948-1963, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Custodial History
Custodial History
Transferred to the Archives Center by the Division of Ceramics and Glass in 1984. The papers were collected as documentation for ceramic objects from the Steele family, including original Nephsy ashtrays, which were the first successful experiment done using the Ram Process.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ceramics -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ceramic engineers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ram process Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Papers Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Journals (accounts) Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketches Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ceramics and Glass, Division of (NMAH, SI). Corporate 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
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives