skip to searchskip to content
banner
David Sarnoff Library collections
print eadcite thisAsk Hagley
David Sarnoff Library collections

Accession 2464

Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
askhagley@hagley.org

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2020-01-10T12:12-0500

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, David Sarnoff Library collections (Accession 2464), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

icon

Descriptive Summary

Title: David Sarnoff Library collections
Dates: 1899-2015
Accession Number: 2464
Creator: David Sarnoff Library.
Extent: 1500 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: David Sarnoff (1891-1971) was president of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), one of the country’s leading manufacturers and vendors of radios, phonographs, and televisions. He established the David Sarnoff Library, to house his private papers and professional records. The collections developed further with the acquisition of papers of former RCA executives, scientists, and engineers. There are twenty collections from the David Sarnoff Library. Cumulatively it includes thousands of linear feet of documents, reports, photographs, films, and publications detailing the rise and fall of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and of Sarnoff, its longtime leader. The list of links in this resource will take you to the finding aids for collections within the David Sarnoff Library at Hagley.
icon

Administrative Information


Provenance

In 2009, along with the rest of the archival collections of the David Sarnoff Library, the David Sarnoff Library records were donated to the Hagley Museum and Library.

Existence and Location of Copies

View selected items online in Hagley Digital Archives .

Access Restrictions

Some records are subject to a 25-year time seal.

All film based materials require advanced notice for access. Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department at least 48 hours in advance of research visit.

icon

Historical Note

David Sarnoff (1891-1971) was a businessman who was a pioneer in the development of American radio and television broadcast communications. Sarnoff was president of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), one of the country’s leading manufacturers and vendors of radios, phonographs, televisions, and a wide array of consumer and military electronics products.

The David Sarnoff Library was established at the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, New Jersey in 1967, to house his private papers and focus on his contributions to the communications and electronics industries. The collections developed further with the acquisition of papers of former RCA executives, scientists, and engineers. However, the Sarnoff Corporation closed the library in 2009, following the onset of the Great Recession. Hagley obtained the Sarnoff collection records shortly thereafter. The College of New Jersey obtained the museum objects.

icon

Scope and Content

There are twenty collections from the David Sarnoff Library. Cumulatively it includes thousands of linear feet of documents, reports, photographs, films, and publications detailing the rise and fall of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and of Sarnoff, its longtime leader.

The list of links below will take you to the finding aids for collections within the David Sarnoff Library at Hagley.

icon
icon

Separated Material

The Sarnoff Collection, Roscoe L. West Hall, The College of New Jersey.

icon

Series Descriptions and Inventory

David Sarnoff Research Center records (Accession 2464.09) , 1899-2008, bulk 1942-1995
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.
Scope and Contents note
The David Sarnoff Research Center (DSRC) in Princeton, New Jersey was the central research organization for the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) from 1942 to 1987. Following GE’s acquisition of RCA in 1986, the DSRC was donated to SRI International as a contract research laboratory. Renamed the Sarnoff Corporation in 1997, it was integrated into SRI in 2011. The records document the pioneering research of its scientists and trace the history of the organization from its establishment into the 21st century.
David Sarnoff papers (Accession 2464.55) , 1871-1983
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.
Scope and Contents note
David Sarnoff (1891-1971) was the iconic leader of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) for most of the company's history. For many years the only Jewish executive in the communications field, Sarnoff was highly influential in the development of radio and television. The focus of the David Sarnoff papers is the original David Sarnoff Collection assembled by Sarnoff to celebrate his career. However, the papers also include the extensive photographic, publicity, and administrative files created by his staff at RCA and a substantial audiovisual component.
Robert W. Sarnoff papers (Accession 2464.04) , 1944-1979
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.
Scope and Contents note
Robert W. Sarnoff (1918-1997), son of RCA founder David Sarnoff, became president of NBC in 1956 and succeeded his father as president of RCA in 1965. This collection consists of films, videos and sound recordings dating from 1953 to 1979 documenting the life and career of Robert W. Sarnoff. The collection has been organized into six series: Events, Meetings, Press and media coverage, Speeches, Travel, and General.
Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America engineering drawings (Access 2464.83) , 1905-1921
This collection is entirely in the Manuscript and Archives Department.
Scope and Contents note
The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Corporation of America was founded in 1899 as the American branch of Guglielmo Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company of London. Because of its emphasis on providing radio transmitter receivers for ships and fostering oceanic communications, the U.S. Navy commandeered the company during World War I. After the war, both government and industry colluded to buy out the British company; they created the Radio Corporation of America in its stead in 1919. This collection includes around 1,300 engineering and technical drawings from the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America . Subjects depicted range from circuit diagrams, wiring layouts, and switchboard schematics to architectural plans for aerial towers and carrying case designs.
RCA Camden records (Accession 2464.76) , circa 1913-2006
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.
Scope and Contents note
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.
RCA Harrison records (Accession 2464.71) , 1924-1987
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.
Scope and Contents note
RCA’s plant in Harrison, New Jersey was (originally founded in 1882) was acquired by RCA in 1930 and was the company's primary producer of receiving tubes for consumer, industrial, and defense electronics until the plant closed in 1976. The records consist primarily of the papers of engineers Ralph R. Fichtl and Otto H. Schade, Sr. on television and receiving tube development. Files include reports, ephemera, photographs, patents, and correspondence on their work and RCA Harrison in general.
RCA/Thomson Lancaster records (Accession 2464.74) , 1929-2006
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.
Scope and Contents note
The Radio Corporation of America (RCA)’s Picture Tube Division, later known as the Video Component and Display Division, was headquartered at a research and production facility in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1987, the French firm Thomson Consumer Electronics acquired RCA’s consumer electronics business, including the Lancaster plant, and operated the facility until Thomson shut down its consumer electronics operations in 2005. Materials in the collection document a diverse array of activities at the RCA/Thomson Lancaster plant between the facility’s early days of operation and its closure. Corporate memoranda, correspondence, product technical data, photographs, and audiovisual materials trace the development of RCA/Thomson’s picture tube product line. Corporate publications chronicle major moments in company history.
RCA News and Information Department photographs (Accession 2464.68) , 1860-1985, bulk 1900-1983
This collection is entirely in the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department.
Scope and Contents note
The RCA News and Information Department served a public affairs role for RCA corporate headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The collection contains photographs and negatives created or commissioned by RCA that document much of RCA’s history and activities. Many of the photographs were organized by the News and Information Department into subjects that cover the history of radio, television, communications, and consumer electronics, with a particular emphasis on RCA”s role in that history. Additional photographs are grouped by RCA division and document their specific achievements, with the RCA laboratories being especially prominent. This collection also contains a large number of photographic negatives that were taken by the public relations firm, Carl Byoir & Associates, which showcase many of RCA’s products, events, and facilities.
RCA Missile and Surface Radar Division photographs (Accession 2464.31) , 1953-1981
This collection is entirely in the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department.
Scope and Contents note
The Missile and Surface Radar Division (MSRD) of the Radio Corporation of America operated as a primary government and military defense contractor from 1953 to 1986, developing and implementing advanced radar systems. The photographs in the collection depict instrumentation, radar equipment, control equipment, and research facilities at both the MSRD and the Navy AEGIS Combat System Engineering Deveopment Site in Moorestown, New Jersey.
RCA Solid State Division records (Accession 2464.75) , 1950-2003
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.
Scope and Contents note
The RCA Solid State Division (SSD) was responsible for leading RCA’s research, development, and manufacturing in semiconductors, integrated circuits, and optoelectronics. The records consist of the papers of scientists and administrators from the division’s facilities in Somerville, New Jersey and Findlay, Ohio.
RCA technical reports (Accession 2464.69) , 1924-1992
This collection is entirely in the Manuscripts and Archives Department.
Scope and Contents note
The Radio Corporation of America (renamed RCA Corporation in 1969) was best known for its pioneering radio and television development and manufacturing. In addition to consumer electronics, RCA was a major player in the development of electronics for industrial and military applications. The RCA technical reports contain thousands of detailed scientific reports on RCA’s research and development in electronics. Most were created for internal use, but contract proposals and reports for nearly 700 different contract projects are also included.
David Sarnoff Library records (Accession 2464.73) , 1960-2009
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.
Scope and Contents note
The David Sarnoff Library was established at the David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, New Jersey in 1967 as a showcase for the accomplishments of long-time Radio Corporation of America (RCA) head David Sarnoff. After five years of activity, the Library was largely moribund until the arrival of Alex Magoun as Curator (later Executive Director) in 1998. Under his leadership, the Library expanded its mission to include the history of RCA in general and the David Sarnoff Research Center in particular. Due to lack of funding, the David Sarnoff Library closed in 2009. The collection documents the creation and evolution of the Library through board of directors records, correspondence, reports, oral histories, and photographs.
Alexander Magoun advertising collection (Accession 2464.81) , 1888-1989
This collection is entirely in the Manuscripts and Archives Department.
Scope and Contents note
Alexander Magoun was the curator for the David Sarnoff Library from 1998 until 2000. After earning his Ph.D. in American History from the University of Maryland in 2000, he led the David Sarnoff Library as the Executive Director from 2000 until 2009. This collection includes advertisements from RCA and other companies for radios, televisions, phonographs, and other consumer electronics.
RCA Astro-Electronics Division records (Accession 2464.70) , 1910-1993
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.
Scope and Contents note
The RCA Astro-Electronics Division (AED) led RCA’s research and development efforts in space technology from the beginning of the space race to the acquisition of RCA by GE in 1986. The records consist primarily of the papers of scientists Bert Sheffield, Max Mesner, and Charles Vose documenting RCA’s pioneering research. In addition, the Art Gompper Astro Print Shop collection provides insight into the administrative and promotional side of AED.
RCA product information (Accession 2464.77) , 1904-1994
This collection is entirely in the Manuscripts and Archives Department.
Scope and Contents note
The Radio Corporation of America (renamed RCA Corporation in 1969) was best known for its pioneering radio and television development and manufacturing. In addition to consumer electronics, RCA was a major player in the development of electronics for industrial and military applications. The collection contains extensive documentation of RCA’s consumer and industrial products and components. Files include manuals, technical data, advertisements, technical bulletins, catalogs, and training materials.
Charles B. Jennings photographs, scrapbook boards, and other materials (Accession 2464.21) , 1863-2006, bulk 1946-1999
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.
Scope and Contents note
Charles Jennings (1916-2006) served for more than forty years as RCA Global Communications’ primary liaison in Japan, figuring prominently in the development of post-World War II Japanese communications systems. The collection consists primarily of black and white and color photographs, albums, advertising posters, papers, and unbound scrapbook boards of photographs and ephemera. The images predominantly relate to Jennings’ business and personal life during his time in Japan, addressing the themes of Japanese and trans-Pacific telecommunications activities, particularly relating to RCA; postwar Japanese-American business and informal diplomatic relations; and life in postwar Tokyo.
Consumer electronics history collection (Accession 2464.79) , 1920-2015
Collection entirely in the Manuscripts and Archives Department.
Scope and Contents note
This small collection consists of non-RCA material collected by the David Sarnoff Library, as well as clippings relating to the library's closure and the establishment of the Sarnoff Collection at The College of New Jersey. Files include promotional and technical literature from RCA competitors and radio and television training courses.
RCA publications (Accession 2464.82) , 1919-2000
This collection is entirely in the Manuscripts and Archives Department.
Scope and Contents note
The Radio Corporation of America (renamed RCA Corporation in 1969) was best known for its pioneering radio and television development and manufacturing. In addition to consumer electronics, RCA was a major player in the development of electronics for industrial and military applications. The collection contains promotional and technical publications, including brochures, scientific journal articles, and serials; which document the activities of RCA and its successors.
RCA Corporation collection of television and company history photographs and audiovisual material (2464.78) , 1953-2009
This collection is entirely in the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department.
Scope and Contents note
For over fifty years the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was one of the country's leading manufacturers and vendors of radios, phonographs, televisions, and a wide array of consumer and military electronics products. The Radio Corporation of America was incorporated in Delaware on October 17, 1919, and changed its name to RCA Corporation on May 9, 1969. This collection is primarily made up of moving images and sound recordings collected by the David Sarnoff Research Library relating to the RCA corporation dating from 1953 to 2009. There is a set of photographs related to the Nippon Television Network and two photograph albums, one of 30 Rockefeller Center and the other containing waveform and photo-radio equipment. This collection is organized into eight series: Broadcast programming, Communications, Events, History, Meetings, Popular recordings, Reference materials, and Nippon Television Network.
Records of other RCA divisions (Accession 2464.80) , 1908-2001
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.
Scope and Contents note
The Radio Corporation of America (renamed RCA Corporation in 1969) was best known for its pioneering radio and television development and manufacturing. In addition to consumer electronics, RCA was a major player in the development of electronics for industrial and military applications. The Records of other RCA divisions include documentation of RCA's research and development before the Second World War, as well material from the famous patent dispute case Armstrong v. Radio Corporation of America and National Broadcasting Company.