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Artifact Historical Files

Identifier: ArtifactFiles

Scope and Contents

This collection is an archival miscellany composed of materials from several sources. In general, the files contain documentation for the history of scientific artifacts, in the form of inventories, manufacturers’ catalogs, leaflets and instruction booklets, as well as publications about instruments and other printed matter. There are also a few miscellaneous pieces of correspondence connected with Robert A. Millikan and George Ellery Hale. The entire collection spans the years 1902 to 1945, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1920s and 1930s. The Bridge Laboratory inventories are annotated into the 1960s.

The first portion of the collection, boxes 1-2, is comprised of material donated by the Caltech Divisions, mainly Physics and Chemistry, and certain individuals at Caltech closely connected with the care of scientific apparatus. The inventories in box 1 are from the Norman Bridge Laboratory of Physics and may date back to the 1920s. Box 2 contains manufacturers’ information connected with apparatus purchased and used by Caltech. For the most part, none of the apparatus represented in these files is part of the Archives’ artifacts collection. For information about specific pieces of apparatus in the Archives’ collection, see the Science and Technology Artifacts files (registry).

The second portion of the Artifact Historical Files, boxes 3-4, contains materials acquired by the Archives in 1973 from the Hale Observatories. It is comprised largely of manufacturers’ catalogs related to the instruments used by George Ellery Hale at the Mount Wilson Observatory and elsewhere. The largest group of materials in this portion of the collection is from the instrument maker Adam Hilger in London.

ADDENDUM 1999: Four files of instrumentation notes from Caltech physics classes, 1968-1971, were added to this collection.

ADDENDUM 2012: Beckman Instruments, Laboratory Instrumentation, Catalog 2500, 1963. Added to Box 2, as folder 2.1.1.


  • Creation: 1902-1971


2 photographs (5 archival boxes)

Language of Materials



Archival miscellany composed of materials from Caltech Divisions and from the Mt. Wilson Observatory Director's files. Consists mostly of manufacturers' catalogs of scientific instruments. Includes inventories of Bridge Laboratory equipment from 1920s.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections Repository

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