Friday, September 21, 2007

What They Did for Their Summer Vacation

The summer of 2007 was the summer of volunteers for the Library, and most of them are local high school students. What started with one in the fall of 2006 has snowballed into twelve. They hail from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North and perform a variety of invaluable archival services, ranging from cataloging to sorting to rehousing to digitizing RCA collections of documents and periodicals.

Kunal Deopare, the pioneer, started scanning the lab notebook pages of RCA Labs staff who contributed to the invention of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) in the 1960s. Swapnil Mhatre joined him a few weeks later and after scanning to PDF format several hundred 1940s and 1950s RCA Princeton engineering memos and technical reports, he started in full-time last summer on scanning the 31 volumes of RCA Engineer, 1955-86. These illustrated magazines, published four to six times a year, contain articles by technical and managerial staff on new and old technologies, from radio and TV antennas to space cameras to solid-state lasers and computers, and how they fit in the company's changing strategies for return on investment.

Over the winter of 2006-7, they were joined by Ujaas Barvalia, Adnan Khan, Kishore Ryali, Hamad Masood, and Kirin Masood, joined in the scanning and downloading of reports, and did the preliminary sorting and weeding of the collections of John Coleman, biophysicist and super-electron microscope designer, and Charlie Wine, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at the David Sarnoff Research Center. Over the summer, with Jonathan Slawitzky, they removed the oxidizing (rusting) metal fasteners and foldered some 2,500 Princeton Engineering Memos between 1952 and 1969, and are gearing up for the Princeton and Zurich Technical Reports.

In addition this summer we saw Rohit and Renuka Reddy, and Vidya Nandarpurkar and Aleesha Shaik come on board. Rohit is busy digitizing and formatting for the history of the invention of electronic color television at RCA's Princeton Labs, 1945-54, while Renuka is carefully typing into a spreadsheet the somewhat chaotic handtyped index to the Labs' newsletter, Radiations (so named in a contest by Labs staff member Lawrence Giacoletto to reflect RCA's use of electromagnetic phenomena in its products). Last but hardly least, over the summer Vidya Nandarpurkar typed in the annual tables of contents for RCA Review, the company's elite technical journal, 1952-86, into a spreadsheet and then scanned to PDF all the Reviews' contents from 1936-64 before school started. She recruited Aleesha Shaik to join her, and Aleesha has rehoused and relabeled in archival (acid- and lignin-free) envelopes some 2,500 4x5 photonegatives for the Carl Byoir RCA collection, before joining the PEM rehousing project. Executive Director Dr. Alex Magoun couldn't ask for a more productive and dynamic group of students, who are doing so much to preserve the legacy of invention and innovation at one of the country's greatest companies!

photo by Frank Wojciechowski