Guide to the Elmer Gates Papers
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.1123
Creators:
Gates, Elmer, 1859-1923
Dates:
1894-1988
bulk 1894-1910
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1.5 cubic feet
5 boxes
Repository:
Papers document the life of Elmer Gates (1859-1923), an independent American inventor and psychologist. Gates developed ideas related to experimental psychology and inventions in fields such as metallurgy, electricity, microscopy, X-rays, and pedagogy. Papers include correspondence, photographs, patents, articles and clippings, writings, and estate documents.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Elmer Gates Papers contain documents about Gates's scientific pursuits and his personal life. Included are six series: Personal Papers (1879, 1922, 1981-1988), Correspondence (1894-1924, 1970s), Photographs (1890s-1910), Patents (1896-1928), Articles and Clippings (1894-1910, 1923, undated), and Writings, 1893-1916, 1971, undated. The majority of papers date from Elmer Gates's most active period, 1894-1910. The papers are arranged into six series.

Arrangement
Arrangement
This collection is divided into six series.
Series 1, Personal Papers, 1879, 1922, 1981-1988
Series 2, Correspondence, 1894-1924, 1970s
Series 3, Photographs, 1890s-1910
Series 4, Patents, 1896-1928
Subseries 1, United States Patents (issued), 1896-1928
Subseries 2, United States Patent Applications, 1896
Subseries 3, British Patent, 1901
Series 5, Articles and Clippings, 1894-1910, 1923, undated
Series 6, Writings, 1893-1916, 1971, undated
Subseries 1, Articles by Elmer Gates, 1895-1906, undated
Subseries 2, Notes, 1911
Subseries 3, Diary, 1911
Subseries 4, The Concept of Omnicosm (notes), 1893
Subseries 5, "Originality and Invention Applied to Livelihood and Business," 1981
Subseries 6, Periodicals, 1896, 1903
Subseries 7, Books, 1905-1916, 1971, undated

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Elmer Gates (1859-1923) was an experimental psychologist and inventor active at the turn of the twentieth century. Having worked independently from a personal laboratory, Gates remains a largely obscure figure in the history of science. In his day, however, Gates was known for his original ideas linked to experimental psychology, as well as his numerous and eclectic inventions for which he received more than forty patents. A sampling of Gates's inventions and innovations include a foam fire-extinguisher, an improved electric iron, methods for magnetic separation, and educational toys. In the field of psychology, Gates promoted a concept that he termed psychurgy, or the "art of more efficiently using the mind."1
Elmer Gates was born near Dayton, Ohio, in 1859, to Jacob and Phebe Gates. At an early age, Elmer displayed a marked curiosity for the sciences. While in school, he was also taught by private tutors and his parents (his father was a teacher). By the late 1870s, Elmer had begun to develop ideas about experimental psychology. He believed that scientific experiments should be applied to the processes of the mind. The purpose of "psychurgy" would be to use the mind more effectively and efficiently. By training the mind through intense introspection and concentration and by attempting to observe corresponding physiological phenomena in the brain, Gates sought to demonstrate that the mind is in effect the body, and vice-versa. The ultimate aim—philosophical and moral—was to harness the mind's potential in order to advance new ideas and to improve emotional well-being and personal character.
1 Gates, Elmer. "Can Will Power Be Trained?" Success (March 1900): 93.

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by Christopher Ruggiero (intern), June 2008; supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.
Author
Christopher Ruggiero
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated by Mary P. Gardner and C. Lee Humphries in 2008.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Unrestricted research access on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Preferred Citation
Elmer Gates Papers, 1894-1988 (bulk 1894-1910), 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.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Writings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 1900-1910 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 1890-1900 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Psychology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Psychologists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Patents Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inventors Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Personal papers -- 20th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Personal papers -- 19th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 19th-20th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Articles Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Inventions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries -- 20th century Genre/Form 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