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R. R. Martel Papers

Identifier: 10215-MS

Scope and Content

The small collection of R. R. Martel Papers comprise four boxes of correspondence, research notes, reports and photographs. They cover the time period of 1922 through 1935.

The collection is organized into the following series:
  1. Correspondence
  2. Long Beach Earthquake (March 10, 1933)
  3. Talks and Conferences
  4. Maps and Photos
  5. Publications


  • 1922-1935

Language of Materials



The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.

Publication Rights

Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Caltech Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.


Romeo Raoul Martel was born in Iberville, Quebec in 1890, and moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, with his family a year later. He graduated from Brown University in 1912 and taught civil engineering at Rhode Island State College for a year, and at the Mechanics Institute in Rochester, New York, for another year.

During 1915-1918, he was engaged in civil engineering work in industry. He worked as an assistant engineer for the Sayles Finishing Plants in Rhode Island and at the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad in Amarillo, Texas. In 1918, he was invited to join the faculty of Caltech, where he became a full professor of civil engineering in 1930.

R. R. Martel served as a consultant on the construction of Pasadena's San Rafael Bridge in 1921 and later consulted on the designs of the Linda Vista and Colorado Street bridges. He also served as a consulting engineer for the cities of Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, Riverside and Los Angeles. He consulted on the design of flood control structures and reservoirs for the US Army Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles, and served on the Advisory Committee of Engineering of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey between 1947-1952.

Professor Martel was one of the first engineers interested in the field of earthquake resistant structures. He was one of the founders, along with Dr. George W. Housner, of the independent non-profit Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, which was established in 1952 to promote research on safe and economical earthquake resistant structures.

R. R. Martel was a member of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers, the Seismological Society of America, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Concrete Institute, the Société des Ingénieurs Civils de France, and a past president of the Structural Engineering Association of Southern California.

R. R. Martel passed away on February 28, 1965.


1.67 linear feet (4 boxes)


The correspondence, manuscripts, reports, photos, and published papers of Romeo Raoul Martel (1890-1965) form the collection known as the R. R. Martel Papers in the Archives of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Martel was professor of civil engineering at Caltech from 1918 until his retirement in 1960. Prof. Martel was a pioneer in the earthquake-resistant design of structures and in earthquake engineering research. He also served as a consulting engineer for the cities of Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, Riverside and Los Angeles.


About a third of R. R. Martel's collection deals with the Long Beach Earthquake, which occurred on March 10, 1933. A variety of material regarding that earthquake, from related correspondence to reports, can be found in Series 2.

In 1926, Martel was a delegate of the Southern California Council on Earthquake Protection to the 3rd Pan-Pacific Science Congress in Tokyo, and again in 1929, to the World Engineering Congress there. Material regarding these conferences and others can be found in Series 3.

Martel was consultant on the design and construction of many buildings and structures, both public and private. Rare and unique photos of earthquake damage to a variety of those structures in the U.S.A. and Japan can be found in Series 4.

Rare journals and reprints from the late 1920s to the early 1930s, as well as Martel's remarks on earthquakes can be found in Series 5.

Physical Location

Archives, California Institute of Technology.

Acquisition Information

The small collection of R. R. Martel Papers were donated to the Caltech Archives by Professor George W. Housner in April 2002.

Related Material

Researchers should also examine the Papers of Robert A. Millikan, Don L. Anderson, and John P. Buwalda, as well as the oral histories of George W. Housner and Donald Hudson, which are deposited in the Caltech Archives.
Finding Aid for the R. R. Martel Papers, 1922-1935
Processed by Nurit Lifshitz.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

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

1200 East California Blvd.
MC B215-74
Pasadena California 91125 United States of America
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