Guide to the S. Joseph Begun Papers
Portions of this collection are digitized

Collection ID:
Begun, S. Joseph (Semi Joseph), 1905-1995
bulk 1927-1995
Collection is in
. Some materials in
Physical Description:
21 Cubic feet
46 boxes
Semi Joseph Begun was a pioneer in magnetic recording. The papers document Begun's professional career in the field of magnetic recording.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The S. Joseph Begun papers contain correspondence, memoranda, patents, printed matter, reports, speeches and writings, awards, biographical materials, and autobiographical and historical material documenting the life and career of S. Joseph Begun.
Series 1: Personal Papers, 1927-1998, is arranged alphabetically by general subject and contains materials related to Begun's education, biographical files and obituaries, and awards.
Series 2: Professional Files, 1924-1992, is organized in general chronological order. Following broad subdivisions covering his early activities in Germany and America, these materials are grouped by corporate affiliation: Brush, the National Defense Research Committee, Clevite, Gould, Science and Management, Inc., and Auctor Associates, Inc. It should be noted that Begun's involvement with various organizations often overlaps; his continuous employment with Brush, Clevite, and Gould means that similar letterheads may be found under different corporate bodies.
Series 3: Writings and Speeches, 1930-1988, documents Begun's publications and presentations, and includes drafts, correspondence, programs, printed matter, magazines, and reprints. It should be stressed that this series is not a bibliography. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series 4: Autobiographical and Historical Materials, 1888, 1930-2000, reflects Begun's efforts in his last years to write his autobiography. He wrote drafts, interviewed former co-workers such as Al Dank and Otto Kornei from the Brush Development Company, and accumulated a considerable number of articles and other materials on the history of magnetic recording. Additional materials include a copy of Begun's autobiography, My Years in Magnetic Recording: Dr. Semi Joseph Begun, as edited by Dr. Mark Clark.

The collection is organized into four series.
Series 1: Personal Papers, 1927-1998
Subseries 1, Academic Records, 1927-1933
Subseries 2, Awards, 1929-1994, undated
Subseries 3, Biographical files, circa 1935-1994; 1998
Subseries 4, Correspondence, 1946-1992
Subseries 5, Diary fragments, 1969-1970
Subseries 6, Wire Recorder, 1983-1994
Subseries 7, Financial Records, 1960
Subseries 8, Obituaries, 1995
Subseries 9, Photographs, circa 1940s-1987
Series 2: Professional Files, 1924-1992
Subseries 1, Early Career in Germany, 1929-1949
Subseries 2, Early Career in America, 1935-1948
Subseries 3, Brush Development Company, 1936-1960s
Subseries 4, National Defense Research Committee, 1942-1948
Subseries 5, Electro-Sonic Laboratories, Inc., circa, 1924, 1938, 1953-1962
Subseries 6, Clevite, 1952-1979
Subseries 7, Gould, Inc., 1968-1989
Subseries 8, Science and Management, Inc., circa, 1969-1970
Subseries 9, Auctor Associates, Inc., circa, 1968-1992
Series 3: Writings and Speeches, 1930-1988
Series 4: Autobiographical and Historical Materials, 1888 (bulk 1930-2000)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Semi Joseph Begun, a pioneer in magnetic recording, was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) on December 2, 1905. He earned an M.S. in Engineering in 1929 and a doctorate in 1933 from the Institute of Technology in Berlin for work related to magnetic recording. In 1929, he began working for Schuchhardt A.G., where he designed the first commercially successful magnetic recorder. Later, he worked for Echophon A.G. and C. Lorenz A.G., where he designed the first magnetic tape recorder for use by the German Broadcasting System. Begun emigrated to America in 1935 and worked in New York City both for the Guided Radio Corporation and independently. He and Sidney Wolf formed two companies Acoustic Consultants and Magnetone, a holding company for Begun's patents. In 1938, he joined the Brush Development Company in Cleveland, Ohio. During World War II, Begun served as a member of the National Defense Research Committee. After the war, he wrote Magnetic Recording (1949), the first textbook on the subject. In 1952, the Brush Development Company merged with the Cleveland Graphite Bronze Company to form the Clevite Corporation. Begun held several executive positions at Clevite, including Director of Advanced Development and Vice President for International Operations. He was a member of Clevite's Board of Directors and assisted in the merger between Clevite and Gould National Battery in 1968. In 1969, Begun formed Science Management, Inc., (SMI) to serve investment groups and other interested clients with the evaluation of new and existing products and to appraise management ability of new ventures with high technology products. In 1971, Begun founded Auctor Associates, Inc., a consulting firm focused on high technology markets. In 1983, he founded the Society for Prevention of Violence, a non-profit educational organization. Begun held over 50 patents and was the recipient of numerous professional awards. He died in Cleveland on January 5, 1995.

Robert Vietrogoski.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The bulk of the collection was donated by the widow of S. Joseph Begun, Mrs. Ruth W. Begun, in July 1995.
Mrs. Ruth Begun donated additional materials in October 1996 and in November 2001.
Processing Information
Processed by Bob Vietrogoski (intern), August 1996; revised by Alison Oswald, archivist, 2002.

Using the Collection
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.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Preferred Citation
S. Joseph Begun Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

More Information

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Memorandums Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Patents Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Personal papers -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Professional papers Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reports Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Speeches Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Awards Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Biography files Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Magnetic recorders and recording Topical 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