Vol. 11, No. 2
May 1999

Mercurial Matters


Antonio Meucci in Cuba

Planning for 2000

David Sarnoff Library


Hugh Slotten Receives Grants

Flashback to the Sixties: Bridging an Earlier Communications Gap

The Marc-Auguste Pictet Prize

Rereading the Supreme Court: Tesla's Invention of Radio

New Journal for Multimedia History

Book Review:
Media in America

Have Slides/Viewgraphs, Will Travel

The Vacuum Tube Museum at Manhattan College

Contact Us


David Sarnoff Library

The Sarnoff Corporation, successor to the RCA Laboratories in Princeton, maintains a number of holdings relating to David Sarnoff and research and development at RCA and administers the David Sarnoff Library (DSL), the late chairman's memorial. For the historian of communication technologies, the DSL contains Sarnoff's speeches, addresses, and articles; his testimony before congressional committees, the Federal Regulatory Commission and the Federal Communication Commission, and in E. H. Armstrong's suit against RCA; copies, sometimes retyped, of "landmark" memos from early in his career; his 1911 diary; RCA annual reports and minutes of annual meetings; Elmer Bucher's 56-volume typescript history of radio, Sarnoff, and RCA, of which the pre-WWII sections are useful; papers relating to Sarnoff's military service; typed histories of RCA's work on radar and flying bombs; and papers relating to the acquisition of Victor Talking Machine Company.

The Sarnoff Corporation has available as well a number of RCA resources beyond those associated with the DSL. These include the corporate PR files of photos, press releases, speeches, articles, and interviews of David Sarnoff; files of photos and press releases on RCA Labs R&D; RCA Lab files of the latter; RCA Lab annual reports, dating to the mid-1930s; RCA Lab notebooks up to 1970; RCA Labs and RCA Communications technical reports; catalogs for these reports and others to which Lab staff had access; RCA Victor and RCA Service Notes and Service Data; Committee Reports of the NTSC color TV panels, 1952-3; Lab and RCA serial publications; thousands of awkwardly organized negatives of Lab and RCA technologies; the library of the labs and its runs of journals; a variety of artifacts; and more.

The corporate PR files represent apparently all that was saved from the corporate archives when GE cleaned house in Rockefeller Center in 1986. Their size (ten file cabinets) indicates the volume of the records we have lost. Also, not all of the technical reports are duplicated at the Hagley Museum and Library, which has the technical and historical collections of RCA's Camden plant, and the DSL may have numbers they are missing. The lab PR files often contain background material on individuals and technologies derived from a variety of sources. Note that this is not the site for NBC history; for that check with State Historical Society of Wisconsin at (http://www.shsw.wisc.edu/archives/readroom/masscol.html), or the Library of American Broadcasting in College Park, Maryland (http://www.lib.umd.edu/UMCP/LAB/).

Alex Magoun works halftime at Sarnoff as its curator while finishing his dissertation, so his time for answering inquiries is limited. Nonetheless, the Sarnoff Corporation holdings are available to scholars, who are invited to make arrangements with Magoun (amagoun@sarnoff.com) to use them.