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Mss:867 1877-1892 (1946)

Van Depoele, Charles J., 1846-1892. Charles Van Depoele Papers, 1877-1946: A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:867 1877-1892 (1946)
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Title: Charles Van Depoele papers
Date(s): 1877-1946
Date(s): 1877-1892
Quantity: 2.75 linear feet (4 boxes, 5 volumes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Charles Van Depoele papers spans the years 1877-1946 and contains the inventor and industrial consultant's work with electricity and electric power including patents, drawings, scattered legal and business papers, and photographs of some of his inventions in use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The Charles Van Depoele papers were received by Baker Library as a donation from Mrs. Helen G. Burke of Salem, Massachusetts in November 1978.

Processing Information:

Photographs processed: April 2002 by Naomi Singer, Theodore Hone, and Scott Tucker.
In 2002, the photographs within the collection were reprocessed. They were removed from their original box and rearranged according to size and theme. A typed transcription of the earlier hand-written list of photographs can be found in the control folder.

Conditions Governing Use:

This collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Van Depoele was born in Lichtervelde, Belgium in 1846. He immigrated to the United States in 1869 eventually became a successful manufacturer of church furniture. This provided him with the money to pursue his interest in electricity. He developed an electric generator in 1880 and three years later took out a patent for an electric railway. In 1888 Van Depoele sold his electric-railway patents to Thomson-Houston Electric Company of Lynn, Massachusetts.
Other patents by Van Depoele included an alternating-current electric reciprocating engine (1889), a telpher system for a car suspended from cables (1890), a coal-mining machine (1891) and a gearless electric locomotive (1894). Charles Van Depoele died in 1892.

Scope and Contents

The Charles Van Depoele papers collect his work as an inventor of electrical machines, light bulbs, drills for mining, and trolley motive power equipment. Patents and patent drawings supplemented by catalogues, business cards, and advertisements document his inventions. Business and legal records from Van Depoele Laboratory and Thomson-Houston Electric Company include correspondence, clippings, contracts, receipts, checks, and legal documents. Biographical material includes correspondence, clippings, a portion of a book, and personal legal documents. Boxes 2-4 contain a collection of 60 photographs that show some of his inventions in use at several work sites and cities throughout the United States and Canada. The bulk of the collection dates from Van Depoele's active work life from 1877 to his death in 1892, with additional estate papers from 1892-1918, and biographical material dating from 1937 and 1946.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Thomson-Houston Company
Electric lighting
Electrical machinery
Electric power
Electricity in mining
Industries -- Illinois -- Chicago.
Van Depoele, Charles J, 1846-1892