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Joseph W. Richards collection


Held at: Lehigh University Special Collections [Contact Us]Lehigh University, Linderman Library, 30 Library Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18045

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Lehigh University Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Joseph W. Richards born in 1864 in Oldbury, Worcestershire, England to Joseph and Bridget Harvey Richards who had four children: Joseph William (1864-1921), Annie (1867-1879), Mary Ellen (1874-1945), Florence Harvey (1878-1944). Joseph Richards was a chemist and was an apprentice of Stevenson, who built the first locomotive. The Richards Family parents, daughter Annie and son Joseph William, came to Philadelphia when Joseph W. was around seven years old in 1871. Subsequently two more children were born in Philadelphia (Ellen and Florence). Joseph William's sisters were also prominent: Ellen became a social worker in Philadelphia and Florence got a medical doctor's degree from University of Pennsylvania medical school). Senior Joseph Richards built the first zinc factory in Philadelphia. He was given a patent regarding the soldering of aluminum. His son, Joseph William graduated from the Philadelphia school system in 1882 and enrolled at Lehigh University to study chemistry. His senior thesis was titled "Aluminium." He graduated from Lehigh in chemistry in 1886. Upon graduation he went to work in industry in his father's metal refinery in Philadelphia for a year but was brought back to Lehigh as an instructor by Professor William Chandler. In 1891 he earned his M.S. and in 1893 earned Lehigh's first Ph.D. but his dissertation was about copper not aluminum. He married Arna Marie Gadd (d. 1920). They had three children: Evelyn Packer (1888-?), Winifred [Rudolf Hommel] (1893-?), William [Will] (1890-1977). The academic year 1897-1898 Joseph W. spent at Heidelberg and Freiburg, Germany. Upon his return from Germany, he became a professor of metallurgy, mineralogy, and blow-piping at Lehigh until his death in 1921. During his career he and his family traveled extensively. He was one of the founders of the American Electrochemical Society and its first president 1902-3 and secretary 1907-21. He was a member of the American Inst. of Mining & Metallurgical Engineers (chairman of Iron & Steel Committee); Naval Consulting Board; President of Franklin Institute's Chemical Section; Engineering Division of National Research Council; American Engineering Standards Commission; U.S. Assay Commission; Chairman of Metallurgy for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition; National Geographic Society; Bach Choir; Faraday Society; Deutsche Bunsen Gesellschaft; American Chemical Society; American Iron & Steel Institute and Iron & Steel Institute of Great Britain. Joseph W. Richards received the awards: 1895 John Scott Legacy Premium and Medal for "Solder for Aluminium," 1901 John Scott Legacy Medal for "Balance for Testing White Metal Alloys" by the Franklin Institute. His most important book is "Treatise on Aluminum," 1887. He had an unselfish devotion to encouraging the interests of engineers and chemists.

This collection contains material related to Joseph W. Richards, Lehigh professor and the college's first PhD recipient, including certificates, awards, property titles, and photographs of the Richards family.

This collection is arranged topically.

The material in this collection was donated to Lehigh in 1999 by the husband of Richard's granddaughter, Kirsten Richards Vandenberg, daughter of William Richards.

All photographs housed in Lehigh Photo Collection.

Lehigh University Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Kevin Augustyn.
Lehigh University Library and Technology Services.
Access Restrictions

Access Restrictions:Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Use Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Please inquire about copyright information.

Collection Inventory

Series: Early years and Family.
Box 1 Folder 1
Scope and Contents

Copy of Bridgett Harvey Birth Certificate (great grandmother of Kirsten and Bill Richards)Joseph Richards and Bridgett marriage certificateCitizenship papers of Joseph Richards (1893)Transfer of property in Philadelphia to Mame F. GaddPapers concerning estate of Mary Ellen Richards

Series: Awards, certificates, etc.
Box 1 Folder 2
Scope and Contents

J. W. Richards: memoriam and biographyAwards to Joseph Richards by Franklin InstituteFlorence and Nellie Richards materialMemorial to Joseph Richards by American Electrochemical SocietyExhibitor's medals to Joseph Richards, Benjamin Harvey and anotherJohn Scott medal awarded to Joseph W. Richards 1895 and 1901Certificate from Dept. of the Navy to Joseph W. Richards

Winifred's biography (Rather skewed facts about grandfather, father and Lehigh University)

Series: Photographs.
Scope and Contents

10 studio photographs of Joseph W. Richards (at various ages)4 photographs of Joseph W. Richards (father)2 photographs of Florence Richards2 photographs of Ellen Richards1 photographs of tombstone of Florence and Mary Ellen1 photographs of Bridget Richards1 photographs of woman knitting1 photographs of Joseph Richards and aunt1 photographs of Richards with grandchildren Kirsten and Waldemar1 photographs Willie and Annie as children1 photographs of Richards, his son, and son's daughter1 photographs of Richards and son in Selkirks1 photographs of three children taken in 18902 photographs of Richards family (one is a copy)

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