Guide to the School of Mechanical Engineering Records 1913-1940
Archives 374

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
School of Mechanical Engineering Records
Archives 374
Date [inclusive]
4.0 boxes
General Physical Description note
4 linear feet of shelf space
This collection contains documents generated by Washington State College’s (later Washington State University’s) Mechanical Engineering Department from the 1910s to 1940. The majority of this collection is about the projects planned and/or undertaken by the Mechanical Engineering Department during these years. Professors, and eventually department chairs, A.C. Abell and Howard Langdon gathered or authored much of the research found in this collection. This collection also includes departmental faculty correspondence as well as records of various student activities and Depression-era federal funding requirements and opportunities for Mechanical Engineering students.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description] WSU School of Mechanical Engineering Records, 1913-1940 (Archives 374)

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

Mechanical Engineering courses were offered at Washington State College (WSC) from the school’s beginning in the 1890s. In 1917-1918, the Department of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering was incorporated into the College of Mechanic Arts and Engineering during a WSC reorganization. By the time Professor Howard Langdon became department chair in 1933, the College of Mechanic Arts and Engineering had officially separated. Langdon replaced Professor A.C. Abell as Mechanical Engineering department chair following Abell’s sudden death from paralysis on December 31, 1932. Langdon served as chair until 1944.

Prior to his death, Abell had gathered research and taken notes on designing and operating a new power plant for WSC. Both before and after Abell’s death, Langdon contributed to this research. In late 1933, the Mechanical Engineering Department was placed in charge of designing, writing specifications for, and supervising the installation of a new power plant at WSC, replacing the power plant that had heated the campus for nearly thirty years. Langdon served as the Chief Engineer for the design and construction of the new power plant. Funded by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), the power plant began operating on October 25, 1935 and the WPA contract for the project was deemed officially complete on December 1, 1935.

During this same period, two other New Deal programs assisted the Department of Mechanical Engineering. From 1933-1935, selected students received funding to stay at WSC through the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). The National Youth Administration (NYA) replaced FERA following the 1935 enactment of the WPA. Like FERA, the NYA provided work-study programs for selected college students throughout the United States, including WSC’s Mechanical Engineering students. Both programs intended to prevent students from dropping out of school and flooding the job market. These federal programs helped the Mechanical Engineering department survive the Depression, providing necessary funding for student tuition, jobs, and campus projects.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection consists primarily of documents such as blueprints, photos, data diagrams, materials testing lab books, and research papers detailing the research and projects of WSC’s Mechanical Engineering Department. Most of these projects took place on WSC’s campus although a few projects were undertaken by the department on behalf of off-campus entities, including local high schools, hospitals, and companies. Materials dedicated to the design and installation of the 1930s WPA-funded campus power plant figure largely in this collection, with research for the proposed power plant beginning in the 1920s.

Additionally, the collection contains correspondence between WSC Mechanical Engineering faculty and students needing federal aid in order to continue attending college during the Great Depression as well as the federal relief project sheets used to create and track the work-study opportunities provided to selected students. This collection also includes papers and pre-written dialogue for bi-weekly radio talks in the 1930s that shared the latest research of Mechanical Engineering faculty as well as updates on student activities. Other materials provide the minutes, programs, and activities generated by Mechanical Engineering students and their faculty sponsors in Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Student Activity Committee. There are also materials from the 1937 glider accident during which two Mechanical Engineering students, Cloyd Artman and Frank See, were killed during a demonstration in front of the WSC Aero Club (headed by Professor Howard Langdon). Letters, witness testimonies, newspaper reports, and photos of the crash scene are included among these materials.

This collection also contains a substantial amount of faculty correspondence, largely generated by Professor Howard Langdon during his tenure as department chair and covering a variety of topics including his own research, department issues, changes in curriculum, and student matters.

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Arrangement note

This collection is arranged in two series.

Series 1 is arranged into two subseries, each arranged alphabetically. Subseries 1.1 consists of materials on WSC’s power plants. Some of this material describes additions and revisions made during the 1920s to the decades-old power plant, but most of the material is either research to develop a new power plant or materials describing the designing and building of the WPA-funded power plant in the mid-1930s. Subseries 1.2 consists of materials on general research performed by the Mechanical Engineering Department in WSC’s Machine Shop and Materials Testing Laboratory.

Series 2 is arranged into two subseries, each arranged alphabetically. Subseries 2.1 contains materials pertaining to Mechanical Engineering faculty, including correspondence, faculty research reports, and faculty participation in community clubs such as Pullman’s Kiwanis Club. Subseries 2.2 contains materials pertaining largely to Mechanical Engineering students. These materials consist primarily of paperwork from a variety of student clubs, programs, committees, and societies.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 2018
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open and available for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Copyright restrictions apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The materials in this collection were transferred to the Washington State University Libraries’ Manuscripts, Archives, & Special Collections on December 14, 1988 by the WSU Architecture School and retained as accession UA88-47.

Processing Information note

This collection was processed by Laura Briere in August 2017 to January 2018. An alphabetical order was imposed on the pre-existing, approximate alphabetical order in both series of this collection.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

WSU MASC also holds Mechanical Arts and Engineering College Records, 1892-1943 (Archives 156), and Mechanical Engineering Department Records, 1910-1976 (Archives 31).

Separated Materials note

This collection was separated from other materials in UA 88-47 during processing. These other records contain materials from Washington State College’s Architectural Engineering department from the 1920s through the 1950s (Archives 375). They also contain materials generated by Washington State College’s architect Stanley Smith through his WSC campus projects and his private practice projects from the 1920s-1940s (Cage 888).

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • State College of Washington. College of Mechanical Arts and Engineering--History
  • Washington State University. College of Mechanical Arts and Engineering--History


  • Colleges and Universities
  • Mechanical engineering--History

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Research Files 

Subseries 1.1: Washington State College Power Plant 

Box Folder

Blueprint, Forced Draft Unit, Washington State College 1930s 

1 1

Blueprint, Water Tube Boilers, Washington State College 1930s 

1 2

Boilers, General, Washington State College 1930-1931 

1 3

Boiler Test Data, Washington State College Power Plant 1926-1934 

1 4

Calculations for Proposed Steam Plant, Deck Beam Calculations 1935 

1 5

Charts for Flow of Water in Pipes 1930s 

1 6

Coal Weighing 1933 

1 7

Coal Weighing Devices 1932-1935 

1 8

Condensers, Heat Transfers 1919-1931 

1 9

Condensers, Temperature Notes and Research 1913-1928 

1 10

Heat Exchange Research (Langdon) 1930 

1 11

Heating, Research, Drawings, Blueprints 1927-1937 

1 12

Heating Schedule Data 1928 

1 13

Heating, Temperature Data 1927-1937 

1 14

Piping, Cost Data, Etc. 1933-1935 

1 15

Power Plant, Misc. 1932-1934 

1 16

WSC Power Plant Stokers, Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. Blueprints, Contracts 1933-1935 

1 17

WSC Power Plant Stokers, Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. Correspondence, Contracts 1933-1935 

1 18

Pulverized Coal Systems, Correspondence and Data 1927-1932 

1 19-20

Pumps 1928-1931 

1 21

Pumps, Data, Blueprints, and Correspondence 1934-1936 

1 22

Refractories, Correspondence and Research Materials 1931 

1 23

Sketches and Blueprints, Boilers and Auxiliary Equipment, Washington State College 1934-1935 

1 24

Steam Delivery Charges Data 1927-1931 

1 25

Steam Distribution Data and Research Papers (A.C. Abell) 1928-1931 

1 26

Steam Distribution Data and Research Papers (A.C. Abell) 1930-1931 

1 27

Steam Load Data 1930 

1 28

Steam, Research Book 1929 

1 29

Steam/Turbine Cost, Delivery, Temperature Data (A.C. Abell) Undated 

1 30

Total Electrical Load Data (A.C. Abell) 1930 

1 31

Vacuum Vent Valve Blueprint/Design 1927-1937 

1 32

WSC Hydro-Jet System Blueprints 1930 

1 33

Welders' Qualification Records (Power Plant Equipment) 1935 

1 34

Welders' Test (Power Plant Equipment 1930s 

1 35

Subseries 1.2: General Research 

Annual Report, Amalgamated Fuel Burners Union 1932 

1 36

Auto-Engines' Class Notes (A.C. Abell) Undated 

1 37

Blueprint, Beam loads, Washington State College Undated 

1 38

Blueprint, First Floor 1934 

1 39

Concrete Costs 1923 

1 40

Data and Equipment Correspondence 1927-1930 

1 41

Data and Equipment Correspondence 1929-1930 

1 42

Extensometer and Compressometer (Hydro-Static) WSC Research 1928 

1 43

Fan Motors and Drivers, Gymnasium 1927 

1 44

Francis Adams High School, Blueprints, Consultation, and Sketches 1931 

1 45

Franklin Grade School Heating Calculations, Pullman, WA Undated 

1 46

Fuel, Correspondence and Research 1930-1932 

1 47

Fuel, Correspondence and Research 1931 

1 48

Heating Costs, Commons Building; Troy Hall 1925 

1 49

Heating, Morrill Hall Blueprints 1914-1920 

1 50

Heating Plant Research (Langdon; Mechanical Engineering Dept.) 1932-1938 

1 51

Heating Research 1937-1938 

2 1

Heating and Ventilation Undated 

2 2

High Temp. Testing of Metals, Blueprints Undated 

2 3

Infiltration of Air in Buildings, Misc. 1921 

2 4

Laboratory Observations 1933 

2 5

Materials Testing Correspondence 1930-1931 

2 6

Materials Testing Correspondence 1929-1932 

2 7

Materials Testing Field Data, Public Works Administration 1934-1936 

2 8

Materials Testing Field Data, Public Works Administration 1934-1938 

2 9

Materials Testing Field Data, Public Works Administration 1936-1938 

2 10

Materials Testing Lab Book, Alloy and Mild Steels 1931-1934 

2 11

Materials Testing Lab Book, Concrete 1927-1928 

2 12

Materials Testing Lab Book, Concrete 1928-1929 

2 13-14

Materials Testing Lab Book, Concrete 1928-1929 

3 1

Materials Testing Lab Book, Concrete 1929-1932 

3 2

Materials Testing Lab Book, Concrete 1930-1932 

3 3

Materials Testing Laboratory Data, Concrete Compression 1929-1930 

3 4

Measuring Device, WSC Research 1927-1928 

3 5

Refrigeration and Insulation Data, WSC 1925-1932 

3 6

State Hospital, Medical Lake 1934 

3 7

Steam Laboratory Observations 1908 

3 8

Stoker Research (Roslyn Cascade Coal Co.) 1930-1938 

3 9-10

Temperature and Wind Velocities, Pullman, WA 1912-1921 

3 11

Testing Research 1931 

3 12

Unfinished Projects, Washington State College 1927-1935 

3 13

Weather Conditions over a Ten Year Period, Pullman, WA Undated 

3 14

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Series 2: Administrative materials 

Subseries 2.1: Mechanical Engineering faculty 

Box Folder

Correspondence, Catalog Changes, Sample Testing 1932-1936 

3 15

Kiwanis Correspondence 1935-1936 

3 16

Kiwanis Correspondence 1938 

3 17

Letters, General 1934-1935 

3 18

Library and Staff Correspondence 1934-1939 

3 19

Staff Letters 1937-1938 

3 20

General Correspondence 1940 

3 21

Curriculum Changes 1935 

3 22

Faculty Research Report 1935 

3 23

Subseries 2.2: Mechanical Engineering students 

Box Folder

American Society of Mechanical Engineering, 5th Annual Pacific Northwest Student Conference 1937 

3 24-25

ASME Contact and Membership Correspondence 1940 

3 26

ASME Correspondence (General) 1940 

4 1

ASME Luncheon and Dinner 1940 

4 2

ASME Program Material and Address List 1940 

4 3

Civil Works Administration (CWA) Student Employment 1933-1934 

4 4

Glider Accident, Cloyd Artman and Frank See 1937 

4 5

Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) 1934 

4 6

Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and the National Youth Administration (NYA) 1935 

4 7

National Youth Administration 1936-1937 

4 8

National Youth Administration 1937-1939 

4 9

Prospective Students (Dept. of Mech. Eng.) 1936-1939 

4 10-11

Radio Talks, Department of Mechanical Engineering 1936-1937 

4 12-14

Senior Inspection Trip 1938 

4 15

Sigma Xi Correspondence 1936-1938 

4 16

Sigma Xi and Phi Kappa Phi 1929-1938 

4 17

Student Activities Committee 1936-1938 

4 18-19

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