RCA Camden recordsCreation: circa 1913-2006
The RCA Camden plant was originally established under the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1907. In 1929, the Radio Corporation of America acquired the Victor Talking Machine Company and soon made Camden the center of its own research, development, and manufacturing. Camden remained the company's primary advanced development site until GE acquired RCA in 1986. The records document RCA’s work in the space program, electron microscopy, nuclear fusion, and other fields through research records, correspondence, reports, photographs and films.
- Creation: circa 1913-2006
- RCA Corporation (Organization)
6.5 Linear Feet
General Physical Description (AVD portion only)
(AVD portion only) 171 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. and larger. 21 photographic prints : color ; 8 x 10 and larger. 1 photographic print : color ; 7 x 7 in. 1 photographic print : b&w ; 7 x 7 in. 24 photographic prints : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. 5 photographic prints : color ; 5 x 7 in. 37 photographic prints : b&w ; 4 x 6 in. and smaller. 6 photographic prints : color ; 4 x 6 in. and smaller. 7 negatives : color ; 8 x 10 in. and larger. 27 negatives : b&w ; 4 x 6 in. 1 negative : b&w ; 3 x 5 in. 3 negatives : b&w ; 120. 1 transparency : color ; 9 x 12 in. 6 glass plate negatives : b&w ; 3 x 4 in. 1 slide : b&w ; 3 x 4 in. 28 slides : b&w ; 35 mm. 1 photographic CD. 1 business card. Paper documents. 2 negatives : b&w ; 35 mm.
The RCA Camden plant was originally established as a recording studio and research laboratory under the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1907. By 1911, it had become a large factory producing Victor's highly popular "Victrola" phonograph player.
In 1929, the Radio Corporation of America acquired the Victor Talking Machine Company and soon made Camden the center of its own research, development, and manufacturing. Although RCA moved its main laboratories to Princeton in 1942 and shifted most manufacturing to Indianapolis after the Second World War, Camden remained the company's primary advanced development site until GE acquired RCA in 1986.
The RCA Camden records are arranged in eight series:
I. Walter G. Bain papers
II. John W. Coleman papers
III. Martin L. Levene papers
IV. Edy Mozzi papers
V. Lawrence P. Nahay papers
VI. Harry L. and Harvey P. Sommerer papers
VII. Mearl W. Tilden papers
Scope and Content
The RCA Camden records document RCA’s work in the space program, electron microscopy, nuclear fusion, and other fields through research records, correspondence, reports, photographs and films. Particularly valuable are the papers and films from Harry L. and Harvey P. Sommerer, which show the activities of the RCA controlled Victor Talking Machine Company of Japan (now JVC) before the Second War.
The RCA Camden records are arranged in eight series: Walter G. Bain papers; John W. Coleman papers; Martin L. Levene papers; Edy Mozzi papers; Lawrence P. Nahay papers; Harry L. and Harvey P. Sommerer papers; Mearl W. Tilden papers; and General.
The Walter G. Bain papers contain correspondence with various organizations including Republic Aviation Corporation, the United States Air Force, General Motors Company, Midwestern Instrument, and Hergenerather Associates. Along with RCA internal correspondence, the papers also include a scrapbook, news clippings, and membership information related to a variety of organizations.
The John W. Coleman papers are composed of reports, photographs, diagrams, and correspondence related to his work on electron microscopes at RCA and Tara Tandem fusion experiments at MIT. The papers also include materials relating to nuclear fusion, ephemera from the Plasma Fusion Center at MIT, and a number of John W. Coleman's patents. Along with newspaper clippings and publications about scientific instruments, the papers also include information related to the Beverly High School Solar Photovoltaic Project in Massachusetts.
The Martin L. Levene papers include reports, proposals, publications, and notes documenting his research work. Of particular note is the material relating to the Lunar Communications Relay Unit (LCRU) optical sight first used in the Apollo 15 mission. When Levene donated the collection in 2003, he added annotations and other contextual information to many of the documents.
The Edy Mozzi papers consist largely of a disassembled scrapbook Mozzi made documenting the RCA efforts on Project Relay (1962-1965). Newspaper and other press clippings, cartoons, NASA news releases, and photos documenting the development and construction of Relay modules fill the former scrapbook pages. There are technical papers covering topics such as the launch procedures for Relay 1, the power supply problem in the Relay systems, a report written by Mozzi himself on the telemetry system, and photographs of the environmental testing process. The scrapbook also contained early stills of the first television programs transmitted, and pictures of President John F. Kennedy that were also sent across the Atlantic. Mozzi also collected clipping about the rival Telstar satellite program from AT&T. The latest contents of the scrapbook are related to a 1977 reunion of the engineers involved in Project Relay. In addition to the contents of the scrapbook, the papers include printed materials about RCA Video Tape, a 2001 interview with Mozzi from Public Radio International Reporter Paul Conlow, and materials relating to the transfer of the David Sarnoff Research Center to SRI, as well as Mozzi’s thoughts on that transaction.
The Lawrence P. Nahay papers are composed of Nahay’s work binder. These papers include resumes, work schedules and phone numbers, travel receipts, specifications, correspondence, reports, graphs, and schematics. The majority of the papers related to his day-to-day work relate to Nahay’s work on the Space Station, GWEN, and Apollo programs, particularly the design of signal systems for communications and tracking.
The Harry L. and Harvey P. Sommerer papers are primarily composed of Harvey P.'s papers, including a letterbook, Japanese business and identity cards, recreational photographs, and ephemera. The papers also include fifteen films from the 1930s, primarily in Japan.
The Mearl W. Tilden papers are composed of inspection and installation reports, notes, correspondence, schematics, notebooks, and articles related to the electron microscope.
The General series include photographs, technical reports, project plans, and reports from Victor and RCA operations in Camden.
Existence and Location of Copies
View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.
This collection contains material from the Manuscripts and Archives Department (M&A) and the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department (AVD). Box prefixes indicate which department holds an individual file or item.
Films and negatives are housed in cold storage and must reacclimate prior to viewing (Film Cans 1-15 and Box AVD-NG1). Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department at least 48 hours in advance of research visit.
Records subject to 25-year time seal.
Language of Materials
In 2009, along with the rest of the archival collections of the David Sarnoff Library, the RCA Camden records were donated to the Hagley Museum and Library.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- RCA Camden records
- Daniel Michelson and Kenneth Cleary
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description:
- Script of description:
- Language of description note:
- The collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant.