- Collection ID:
Science and Technology, Department of (NMAH)
Kranzberg, Melvin, Dr., 1917-1995
Gilfillan, Seabury Colum (college instructor)
- Physical Description:
The collection documents S. Colum Gilfillan, a charter member of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) in 1958 and his SHOT correspondence, particularly with Melvin Kranzberg.
Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The collection includes Gilfillan's correspondence during 1951 1978 and a number of papers written by him and (in some cases) published or delivered to professional societies; the dates of the papers range from 1921 to 1972. Gilfillan was a charter member of the Society for the History of Technology in 1958. His SHOT correspondence, particularly with Melvin Kranzberg, concerning several articles by Gilfillan published in SHOT's journal "Technology and Culture" constitutes a segment of the correspondence, 1957 1978. Gilfillan had made an unsuccessful attempt to organize a similar group, the Society for the Social Study of Invention in 1947. Some of the draft documents for this society are included.
Much of the correspondence concerns the ideas incorporated in Gilfillan's major work, Sociology of Invention (1935) and the Supplement to it published in 1971. Gilfillan's letters to others are complicated by his use of his own method of spelling using contractions of words and phonetic techniques to increase the number of words per page.
Also included in the collection are three "shoeboxes" of 3" x 5" cards filed alphabetically by author, representing a bibliography of writings on inventions and inventors. These cards, numbering several thousand, represent Gilfillan's research notes on his reading in his area of professional interest. Unfortunately their use is made difficult by Gilfillan's unique spelling system and the scrawled handwriting used on many of them.
The collection is arranged into three series.
Serties 1: Correspondence, 1951-1978
Series 2: Major Papers and Projects, 1921-1978
Series 3: Invention Authors and Bibliographic Notes, undated undated
Seabury Colum Gilfillan was born (1889) in St. Paul, Minnesota and was graduated (AB in Social Science) from the University of Pennsylvania (1910). He served in the U.S. Army (1917 1919) and received master and doctorate degrees in sociology from Columbia University (1920). He was acting assistant professor and associate professor of social science at the University of the South (1921 1924). He was curator of transportation and social science at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (1929 1930) and assistant professor of social science, Purdue University (1937 1938). In 1940 he was a lecturer at Northwestern University and in 1941 1950 a research associate at the University of Chicago.
Gilfillan worked as an investigator for the President's Research Committee on Social Trends, 1930 1932 and for the Natural Resources Committee, 1936. He was a charter member of the Society for the History of Technology and a member of the Sociology Association and the Eugenics Society.
Collection processed by Don Darroch, 1992
Immediate Source of Acquisiton
Donated by S. Colum Gilfillan to Wesley C. Williams, curator, History of Science and Technology Collection, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio in November 1971. Melvin Kranzberg, formerly of Case Western Reserve, transferred it to the National Museum of American History where it was received by Archives Center May 20, 1992.
Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research.
S. Colum Gilfillan Papers, 1921-1978, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Check for usage or copyright restrictions.
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012