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Willis Appleford Slater Papers, 1910-1937


Held at: Lehigh University Special Collections [Contact Us]Linderman Library, 30 Library Drive, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 18015

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

Willis Appleford Slater was born in the town of Polo, Illinois, on October 14, 1878. Valuing knowledge and discipline, he attended both grade and high school in the town that he was born. Post high school graduation, at the age of sixteen, he alternated between the labor force and further schooling. Three years later he would attend Valparaiso University at Valparaiso, Indiana for two years. It would be two years after that 1906 when he would attend the University of Illinois at Urbana, Illinois. He graduated here in 1906 with a Bachelor of Science in Municipal and Sanitary Engineering. He continued to study at the University of Illinois, after a two year hiatus receiving field experience and marrying Clara Mary Knodle, becoming a Research Fellow in the Engineering Experiment Station in 1908. Deciding to specialize in reinforced concrete, he graduated with a Master of Science in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics in 1910. He received the professional degree of Civil Engineer in 1912 in recognition of his research. He stayed at the University of Illinois, becoming a Research Assistant Professor in 1915. During his time at the University, he gained a reputation as a meticulous and inventive researcher, sometimes deriving mathematical formulas to solve new engineering problem, and an excellent consulting engineer, with his most notable project being the testing of the International Hall. He conducted research into his specialization and co-published “Moments and Stresses in Slabs,” which gained him much recognition. At the onset of the First World War, Slater was called by the Bureau of Standards to be an Engineer Physicist in charge of creating reinforced concrete ships for the Emergency Fleet Corporation. The research gained in this project was presented to the American Concrete Institute in 1919 and Slater was awarded the Wason Medal of the Institute in 1920. After the war, he stayed with the Bureau of Standards until 1928. In his time at the Bureau, he had many important projects, most notably the Knickerbocker Theater Incident, the Stevenson Creek Dam, and the Muncy Dam. In 1928, Slater took the position of Research Professor of Engineering Materials and Director of Fritz Engineering Laboratory. During this period, he was appointed by the Highway Research Board of the National Research Council as part of a committee to conduct an investigation of the problem of proper curing methods for concrete pavement. In 1929, he was elected vice president of Lehigh Valley section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Later that year, he died on October 5, 1931.

1878 Born in Polo, Illinois

This collection has four main sections to it: 1. Slater’s student years, in which there is only his master's thesis; 2. University of Illinois Employment, which contains many reports on tests that Slater was a consultant for and a few reports of his own, most notably the investigation paper from the Knickerbocker Theater disaster; 3. U.S. Bureau of Standards Employment, which contains many reports, calculations, and journals belonging to Slater during his industrious career at the bureau (This series includes the papers on the Stevenson Creek Dam); 4. Lehigh University Employment, which includes test reports from Fritz lab and some reports from projects he was appointed to, including the Muncy Dam.

The collection has two major categories activities before Lehigh and Lehigh years, based on that, it has been arranged in 4 series, then chronological by date: Series 1: Student Years Series 2: University of Illinois Employment Series 3: National Bureau of Standards Employment Series 4: Lehigh University Employment

In 2013, Lehigh University has been awarded a $93,700 grant by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program, funded by the Mellon Foundation to process and create finding aids for six civil engineering archival collections, including the papers of John Fisher; Blair Birdsall; Willis Slater; Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat; series of photographic prints and negatives of civil engineering testing, and collection of bridge postcards. The Project started in March 2014 and completed in March 2016.

The following book catalogued and housed with the book collection: Wegmann, Edward and Noetzli, Fred. “The Design and Construction of Dams: including masonry, earth, rock-fill, timber and steel structures, also the principal types of movable dams.” OCLC: 1828017


Lehigh University Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Kevin Augustyn
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives" Project. Created in 2008, the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program supports the identification and cataloging of special collections and archives of high scholarly value that are difficult or impossible to locate. It is administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources in Washington, D.C. Award recipients create descriptive information for their hidden collections that will eventually be linked to and interoperable with all other projects funded by this grant program.
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

Master's Thesis.
Box 1 Folder 1 Item 1
Scope and Contents

Willis Appleford Slater, 1910 master thesis in Civil Engineering submitted to University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), titled “A study of reinforced concrete slabs” OCLC: 428434663

Pictures depicting the construction of the brick oven for the Duhrkop Oven Company, 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Box 1 Folder 2A
Reinforced Concrete Slab Tests, 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Folder 2B Box 1
Gypsum Tests, 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Box 1 Folder 2C
Corrugated Bar Company Test Report #1, 1911-01-01.
Box 1 Folder 3
Corrugated Bar Company Test Report #2, 1911-01-01.
Folder 4 Box 1
Corrugated Bar Company Test Report #3, 1912.
Box 1 Folder 5
Corrugated Bar Company Test Report #5, 1913-01-01.
Box 1 Folder 7
Laboratory of Applied Mechanics Notebook, 1913-01-01.
Folder 8 Box 1
Corrugated Bar Company Test Report #6, 1913-01-01.
Folder 9 Box 1
Slater Notebook #1, 1914-01-01-1916-01-01.
Folder 10 Box 1
Testing Report on Shulze Baking Co., 1914-01-01.
Box 1 Folder 11
International Hall Data Log, 1915-01-01.
Folder 12 Box 1
International Hall Test Correspondence, 1912-01-01-1915-01-01.
Box 1 Folder 13

Schuster Company Testing Report, 1917-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 1
Map of California Mariposa Quadrangle, 1920-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 2
Bureau of Public Roads Data, 1921-01-01.
Folder 3 Box 2
Table of Contents to a Lehigh Testing Report, 1921-01-01.
Folder 4 Box 2
Bureau of Standards Memo, 1921-01-01.
Folder 5 Box 2
Knickerbocker Theatre Incident Papers, 1922-01-01.
Folder 6 Box 2
Duhrkop Oven Company Tests, 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Folder 7 Box 2
Data, notes, and graphs from tests, Thermocouples, strain gage, level roading, changes in level, 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 7A
Correspondence on compensation for testing, 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 7B
Schedule of testing, 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 7C
Upper and Lower Anchorage Blueprints, 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 7
Correspondences between J.C. Emley and Willis Slater about expansion and contraction in the oven and compensation for testing after that job., 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 7E
Correspondences between J.C. Emley and Willis Slater about the construction of the ovens and the possible outcomes of expansion., 1911-01-01-1915-01-01.
Folder 7 Box 2
Notes and Computations Notebook, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 8
Shear Tests of Reinforced Concrete Report, 1924-01-01.
Folder 9 Box 2
Arch Dam Investigation Folders, Willis Slater, 1925-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 10
Discussion and plan for testing of the Stevenson Creek Dam, name and corporate list of those included in the investigation., 1925-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 10A
Blueprints, 1925-01-01.
Box 2 Folder 10B
Telemeter Station diagrams and Notes on diagrams, 1925-01-01.
Folder 10C Box 2
Data from strain-gage testing, Slater’s personal notes on site, Report on strain-gage measurements., 1925-01-01.
Folder 10 Box 2
Blueprints on the Radius Meter with casting plug and locking collar., 1925-01-01.
Folder 10E Box 2
Slater’s Diary from the Stevenson Creek Dam., 1925-01-01-1926-01-01.
Folder 11 Box 2
First section of diary details the experimental process and what Slater did during the experiments., 1925-01-01-1926-01-01.
Folder 11A Box 2
Inge Lyse’s diary from the testing, 1926-01-01.
Folder 11B Box 2
Report on Stevenson Creek Dam, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 1
Thesis Paper, 1926-01-01.
Folder 2 Box 3
Diary from the Stevenson Creek Dam, 1926-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 3
Stevenson Creek Dam Data and Analysis, 1926-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 4
Blueprint of the planned design of the dam, 1926-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 4A
Sieve, strain, and temperature data and analysis, 1926-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 4B
page 30, investigation and data of the height, flow, and velocity of water passing through the dam, 1926-01-01.
Folder 4C Box 3
Telemeter and Clinometer readings on strain and deflections, 1926-01-01.
Folder 4 Box 3
Moments and Elasticity of the Dam, 1926-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 4E
Micrometer Readings, 1926-01-01.
Folder 4 Box 3
Detailed diagrams depicting strain and deflection data on the dam., 1926-01-01.
Folder 4G Box 3
Crack Analysis, 1926-01-01.
Folder 4H Box 3

Muncy Dam Collection, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 5
Calculations, data, and notes from the construction and planning of the Dam, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 5A
Correspondence between Willis Slater, S.C. Hollister, J.D. Carpenter of Gannett, Seelye, & Fleming Engineers, Inc., and Charles E. Ryder, chief engineer of the Water and Power Resources Board in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Folder 5B Box 3
Gannett, Seelye, & Fleming Engineers, Inc., March 28, 1928, “Specification: Concrete Arch Dam on Glade Run for Muncy Water Supply Co. Muncy, Pennsylvania.”, 1928-01-01.
Folder 5C Box 3
Correspondence between Slater, Ryder, Hollister, and Carpenter discussing the specifications and the due date for the report on the dam., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 5
Muncy Water Supply Co. blueprints on the topography of the surrounding area of the dam and the design of the dam itself, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Folder 5E Box 3
Correspondence between Slater and Frederick H. Weed, Chief Engineer for Gannett, Seelye, & Fleming Engineers Inc. discussing the suggestions made by Slater., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 5
Correspondence between Slater and Ryder discussing Slater presenting his results of the investigation, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Folder 5G Box 3
Fred A. Noetzli, Memorandum: Raising of the Stevenson Creek Dam, 1928-01-01.
Folder 6 Box 3
Correspondence between Fred A. Noetzli, Alfred D. Flinn of the Engineering Foundation, H.W. Dennis of the Southern California Edison Company, Charles Derleth Jr. of the University of California, and J.L. Savage, chief designing engineer of the Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation, discussing Noetzli’s idea to raise the Stevenson Creek Dam and test it to failure., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 6A
Blueprint of Noetzli’s proposed raising of the dam., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 6B
Report on the Civil Engineering Inspection Trip, 1929-01-01.
Folder 7 Box 3
C1 Cement Papers, 1929-01-01-1934-01-01.
Folder 8 Box 3
Correspondents between Inge Lyse, Research Associate Professor of Engineering Materials at Lehigh, and the Lehigh Portland Cement Company discussing the testing and acquisition of cement at Lehigh University for testing at Fritz Lab., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Folder 8A Box 3
Blueprint of data from the testing of Lehigh Portland Cement Company cement in Fritz Lab., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 8B
Correspondents between Inge Lyse, Lyman J. Briggs, acting director of the Department of Commerce Bureau of Standards, H.E. Newcomer of the Cement Reference Laboratory of the Bureau of Standards, discussing the inspection of Lehigh University’s cement laboratory., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 8C
Correspondents between Inge Lyse and Thaddeus Merriman (Lehigh Class of 1897) of the Board of Water Supply City of New York Engineering Bureau discussing cement testing and acquisition., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 8
Correspondence between Inge Lyse and Morris Black, owner of Morris Black Building Material, Machinery, discussing what cements would be provided to Lehigh for testing., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 8E
Letter from the American Society for Testing Materials, R. E. Hess, Assistant Secretary, informing about the inspection of cement laboratories., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Folder 8 Box 3
List of different brands of cement tested in this testing period at Lehigh., 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Folder 8G Box 3
Hydraulic Laboratory Bulletin, 1937-01-01.
Box 3 Folder 9

Cost Investigation of Floor Systems Blueprints, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Case 10 Item 1
Cost Investigation of Floor Systems Hotels and Office Buildings, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Item 1A Case 10
Cost Investigation of Floor Systems Hospitals and Apartments, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Case 10 Item 1B
Cost Investigation of Floor Systems of Store Buildings, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Item 1C Case 10
Unlabeled Blueprint for Cost Investigation of Floor Systems, 1910-01-01-1937-01-01.
Case 10 Item 1

Print, Suggest