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Special Collections Research Center

William D. Buckingham Papers

Kelvin Smith Library: Special Collections Research Center


Biography | Scope and Content | Boxlist

Quantity:  4.84 linear feet

Restrictions: The Special Collections Research Center is open to any interested researcher upon presentation of a valid CASE ID or other valid official identification card. The Center is open to other researchers by appointment only.

Acquisition: This collection was donated to the Case Archive of Contemporary Science and Technology by Mrs. Marjorie Huddle Buckingham in 1968.

Biography: William D. Buckingham (1902-1965)

Born in Toledo, Ohio, on April 23, 1902, William D. Buckingham completed high school there in June, 1921. He graduated from the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland in May 1925 and went to work for the Western Union Telegraph Company in Toledo. Following a two year training program, Buckingham went to work for the company at their Water Mill Laboratory on Long Island where he spent his entire career. He earned a second degree in Electrical Engineering from Case in 1930.

During the Second World War, Buckingham was associated with the Office of Scientific Research and Development. It was during this period that he invented and developed a concentrated arc-lamp which employed molten zirconium. For this, his most important invention, he received the Wetherill Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1954.

Another of his important contributions was his development of the sensors used in a nuclear bomb alarm system which Western Union installed in major in the early 1960's. For this, Buckingham received the company's d'Humy Award in 1962.

Buckingham was a member of Sigma Xi (Science Research Honor Society), Eta Kappa Nu (Electrical Engineering Honor Society), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. On June 15, 1964, Buckingham retired as the Senior Research Engineer at the Water Mill Lab. He died on January 19, 1965 at the age of 62.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of material relating to Buckingham's long career with Western Union. Of particular interest are technical data and articles on the concentrated arc-lamp. There is some business correspondence and speeches given by Buckingham, as well as patent applications. Some materials originally listed as part of the collection are now missing from the collection, and one photograph album of Buckingham's college (Case) fraternity life is at the Case Western Reserve University Archives.

The collection is loosely arranged by subject, as many of the materials are bound volumes, and within subject headings are arranged chronologically.

Box Folder

Folder Title

1 1

"Construction and Study of a Smooth Artificial Transmission Line" By William Buckingham and Frederic B. Schramm for the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering at Case, 1925; bound with “The Design of an Artificial Transmission Line by Thurston D. Owens.

1 2

Materials relating to Buckingham's apprenticeship with Western Union, 1925-1927; includes report entitled “A Study and Design of a Simplified High Speed Telegraph Printer” done for Western Union and submitted as thesis for Electrical Engineer. degree at Case in 1930).

1 3

"Concentrated Arc-Lamps" 2 copies, ca. 1945

2 1 Correspondence and drawings. November
2 2

Technical data, graphs, and photographs of concentrated arc-lamps

2 3

Technical reports, graphs, blueprints, and photographs of concentrated arc-lamps and their applications

2 4

Reprints of published articles, some by Buckingham on the concentrated arc-lamp

2 5

Miscellaneous reprints and copies of material relative to Buckingham's activities at Western Union

2 6

Patent file, including Mrs. Buckingham's account of Buckingham's patent for sealing pipes

2 7

Correspondence relative to the transfer of the Buckingham Collection to the Case Archive of Contemporary Science and Technology 1965-68

2 8

Materials relative to the Wetherill Medal and the d'Humy Medal and Buckingham's receipt of them


Sigma Xi Certificate of Election to Membership, May 19, 1925


Case School of Applied Science B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Diploma, May 28, 1925


Case School of Applied Science Degree of Electrical Engineering. Diploma, May 29, 1930

3   The University of the State of New York - Education Department

"License to Practice Professional Engineering in the State of New York,” January 11, 1941


The Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of Mechanic Arts.


Certificate of Award of The John Price Wetherill Medal, October 20, 1954


Two views of the Wetherill Medal. Photographs


The Western Union Telegraph Company "The F.E. d'Humy Award,” September 26, 1962


Diploma from the Jesup M. Scott High School, Toledo, Ohio, June 17, 1921


Diploma certifying elevation to "Member in the Institute of Radio Engineers,” April 1, 1955


Scrapbook: Materials relating to the Zirconium Concentrated Arc-Lamp. Bound in white leather


Scrapbook. Materials relating to Other Inventions on which Buckingham worked. Bound in red leather.


Scrapbook. Materials relating to the display of Buckingham's work, letters, photographs, reports, from Sears Library. Bound in black scrapbook.


Material missing from the collection since production of the first finding aid in 1968:

  • A device for demonstrating the Arc-Lamp
  • One box of slides regarding photography with and without the Arc-Lamp
  • One box of concentrated Arc-Lamps

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