Elfuns Recognized for Contributions to Archives Preservation


The Schenectady GE Elfun Society was recently recognized for its contributions to archives preservation by The Capital Region Archives Dinner Committee.  The text of the proclamation is given below. The Capital Region Archives Dinner Committee is comprised of clerks, librarians, and archivists from various private and governmental entities, including the New York State Archives, SUNY Albany and Albany County Clerk.   Each year at the dinner a local individual or organization is recognized for its contributions to archives preservation.


To see a sample of the photographic collection and GE Elfuns at work click here.


A description of the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium Research Archives is found below.


There’s more to do!  To volunteer, contact

Chris Hunter

Curator of Collections and Exhibitions

Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium

Nott Terrace Heights

Schenectady, NY 12308

(518) 382-7890, ext. 241





Text Box:  Capital Region Archives Dinner Committee






WHEREAS, the Capital Region Archives Dinner Committee and the Capital Area Archivists of New York celebrates Archives Month in New York State, October 2010, and


WHEREAS, the GE Elfun Society Volunteers, have been committed to the collection and preservation of historical records relating to GE and the development of the electrical industry,


WHEREAS, the GE Elfun Society Volunteers worked with GE Corporate Research & Development Director Arthur Bueche to preserve the 1.5 million image GE Photograph Collection in 1974,


WHEREAS, the GE Elfun Society Volunteers formed the Hall of History in 1974 as a vehicle to gather, display, and preserve valuable historical records, photographs, and artifacts that would document the story of GE and the electrical industry, forming a collection that merged with the Schenectady Museum in 1997,


WHEREAS, the GE Elfun Society Volunteers used archival materials to research and publish a series of 4 history books: Edison Era, Steinmetz Era, On the Shoulder of Giants, and Pathways of Progress, which were later combined to form The General Electric Story, as well as a photo catalog highlighting 5,000 images from the GE Photograph Collection, and


WHEREAS, the GE Elfun Society Volunteers continue to work with the Hall of History collection, now at the Schenectady Museum, including the cleaning and re-housing of an 800-box collection of GE advertising documents, the re-housing of more than 100,000 photograph prints from the GE Photograph Collection, and the creation of finding aids for  historical records,


NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we present this proclamation to


GE Elfun Society Volunteers


in appreciation of their continuing efforts to preserve and promote New York’s cultural heritage.

GIVEN, this Sixth Day of October in the year 2010, at the Edison Club by the Capital Region Archives Dinner Committee.


Brian Keough, Head, Chair, Special Collections & Archives, University at Albany


Hon. Kathleen A. Newkirk, Co-chair, Bethlehem Town Clerk and RM


Emily Allen, Archivist, NYS Archives


Robert W. Arnold, III, Adjunct Professor, College of St. Rose


Hon. Thomas G. Clingan, Albany County Clerk


Susan D’Entremont, Regional DHP Archivist, Capital District Library Council


Chris Hunter, Archivist, Schenectady Museum


C. Raymond LaFever, Coordinator, Archival Advisory Services, NYS Archives


Laura Lee Linder, Historian, Town of Charlton


Andrew Raymond, Retired, NYS Archives


Bonita L. Weddle, Senior Archivist, Archival Services, NYS Archives


Geoffrey P. Williams, University Archivist, University at Albany



Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium

Research Archives


About the Archives:

The Schenectady Museum and Planetarium’s Archives is an internationally significant collection filled with millions of advertising documents, business records, 2,000 books, 900 films, papers, 10,000 patents, and 1.6 million photographs relating to the history of the electrical industry and General Electric (GE).  The archives rank among the most important sources in the world for the history of the electrical industry.  The collection is an invaluable resource for the study of the electrification, industrialization and urbanization of American society and attracts researchers from around the world.  The archives, together with more than 40,000 objects in the museum’s collection, documents the impact of the electrical industry and the Capital Region of New York State on the modern world.


Each year, the archives receives 350 researchers and more than 1,000 research queries from 30 countries by email, telephone, fax, and mail.  Researchers range from elementary school students, teachers, college students, professors, Ph.D. students, and railroad model makers, to national media companies.  Images from the collection have been seen in a number of publications and television programs, including Scientific American, This Old House, American Heritage, American Chemical Society, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Home and Garden TV, BBC, Japanese and German television, WMHT, WGBH, National PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and the National Geographic Channel.


Books and Periodicals:

The Schenectady Museum has more than 2,000 rare books relating to General Electric, engineering, and the electrical industry in general. There are history books about GE, its factories and several of its researchers and leaders. There are engineering and scientific texts owned and used by GE employees.  The collection includes the biographies and written works of Irving Langmuir and Charles Steinmetz, among others.  There are also 250 different periodicals relating to GE and the electrical industry dating as far back as 1883, including the only complete sets of the “GE Schenectady Works News” and “GE Monogram” magazines.


Film and Video Collection:

The Schenectady Museum has more than 900 historic 16mm films, dating from 1915-1970, relating to the history of General Electric, as well as 900 videos from 1970-1995. Films range from advertising and educational films to raw footage of equipment tests and company picnics. Many of the promotional films were originally shown in movie theatres in the days of newsreels and cartoons.  Films include:

·         Early appliance advertising, including “The Home Electrical” (1915), “Design for Modern Living” (1937), and “Push-button Magic” (1948)

·         Rare factory scenes dating to the early 1920s, including promotional films for the Lynn, Philadelphia and Schenectady Works of GE

·         Four films featuring Thomas Edison

·         The only known film footage of Charles Steinmetz.

·         GE educational films, including “A is for Atom,” “Thunderbolt Hunters,” and “Principles of Electricity”

·         More than a dozen episodes of the GE Theater television program hosted by Ronald Reagan



The Schenectady Museum possesses one of the largest photograph collections in the world:


·        GE Photograph Collection

The 1.5 million-image GE Photograph Collection is one of the largest and most significant photograph collections in the world.  Its historic significance was recognized with a 2003 Save America’s Treasures Award from the Federal Government.  The photographs date from 1891-1970 and document nearly all activities of GE during that time period, including:

·        Factory scenes from GE plants around the country

·        GE employees, executives and researchers; and advertising images 

·        GE products, from small appliances to the largest locomotives, turbines and generators ever made. 

·        GE product installations around the world, including the use of GE motors in thousands of factories and installations of street lights that include views of downtown streets from all over the world.


·         Steinmetz Photograph Collection:

The museum has preserved the personal photographs of Charles Steinmetz.  The 1,700 glass negatives in the collection highlight the personal life of one of the top electrical engineers. Images offer insight into late 19th century family life and recreation, and illustrate the same creativity and genius Steinmetz applied to his work.



·         General Electric Research Laboratory Photograph Collection:

The history of the GE Research Laboratory (now GE Global Research Center), the first industrial research laboratory in the world, is documented with more than 100,000 photographs dating from 1910-1995.  The images include laboratory scenes, publicity photographs, and photographs of research projects.  Subjects include William Coolidge, Nobel Prize winner Irving Langmuir, and Willis R. Whitney, the first director of the GE Research Lab.


·        General Electric Appliance Design Photograph Collection:

More than 15,000 photographs and drawings showing the development of GE small appliances from 1930 until the sale of the department to Black and Decker in 1984.  The images show the development process of appliances, from conceptual drawings, clay models, and prototypes to the finished product.


Oral Histories:

The museum’s 150 oral histories primarily document the history of GE through the eyes of managers, engineers and researchers.  A section of the collection also consists of residents of Schenectady’s East Front Street neighborhood, a middle class neighborhood whose residents worked for GE and ALCO.


Papers and Business Records:

The museum holds more than 1,000 cubic feet of papers relating to the history of the electrical industry, including business records and research notes:

·         Papers from early GE executives, including Charles Coffin, Edwin W. Rice, Jr., Gerard Swope and Owen D. Young

·         Papers of C. Guy Suits, director of the GE Research Laboratory and Arthur Bueche, director of GE Corporate Research and Development

·         Communications files of the GE Research Laboratory, including press releases, publications, newsletters, and publicity photographs

·         Papers from Charles Steinmetz

·         Papers collected by GE publicist John W. Hammond while writing “Men and Volts,” an early history of GE

·         Papers from GE turbine and power engineers, including Glenn B. Warren, Charles Concordia, and Bruce Buckland

·         Materials from GE researchers including Chester Rice, Louis Navias, Allan Hay, and Anatole Gurewitsch

·         Papers of Charles Ruffner, president of Adirondack Power and Light

·         Business records and ephemera from the American Locomotive Company (ALCO), a locomotive manufacturing firm in Schenectady from 1901-1969.  ALCO formed through the merger of seven companies, including the Schenectady Locomotive Works, which dates to in 1848.


Advertising and Trade Literature:

The museum has collected more than 1,000 cubic feet of advertising and trade literature relating to GE consumer and industrial products:

·         A large collection of Advertising and Sales Promotion Department Trade Literature featuring advertising, service and operation information for GE products from 1900-1970.  Most of the literature relates to industrial products but the collection includes a significant amount of materials on consumer products.

·         GE magazine advertisements for consumer products

·         GE Appliance and Electronic Service Manuals for nearly every GE consumer product from 1920 to 1975

·         GE Comic Books from 1946-1958 that teach about scientific principles and the electrical industry.


Patents:  The museum has a large collection of more than 10,000 patents, including early steam turbine patents, the patent collection of the GE Research Laboratory and patents belonging to esteemed scientists and engineers, including Thomas Edison, Ernst Alexanderson, Irving Langmuir and Charles Steinmetz.


Radio and Television Collections:

A special strength of the Schenectady Museum’s archives is its radio and television history collections.  The Capital Region and General Electric have made major contributions to radio and television history, beginning with the equipment for the first voice radio transmission in 1906 and the first home television broadcast in 1928.  Photographs show the development of broadcasting, including early radio sound effect demonstrations in the 1920s and local television programs during World War II.  The collections include:

·        13 rolls of experimental pallophotophone sound-on-film recordings of 1929 and 1930 radio broadcasts

·        More than 20,000 photographs of radio and television receivers and transmitters

·        Pioneering television station WRGB’s history collection, including more than 5,000 photographs

·        Nearly 6,000 images showing broadcasting at pioneering radio station WGY

·         Radio and television scripts from the 1930s through the 1960s

·         Large collection of memorabilia from Howard Tupper, a Capital Region radio and TV broadcaster for 48-years

·         Collection of Kolin Hager, the first WGY announcer and long-time WGY station manager


GE Photograph Collection Listed by Major Subject:



·         Street lighting of main streets and highways: 15,000

·         Fairs, trade exhibits and world’s fairs: 14,000

·         Sports stadiums: 1,500

·         Radar: 6,500

·         Military: 5,000

·         Thomas Edison: 1,000

·         GE Global Research 100,000


Transportation: (58,500)

·         Locomotives: 30,000

·         Trolleys and streetcars: 10,000

·         Ships: 5,000

·         Traffic lights: 5,000

·         Automobiles and trucks: 4,500

·         Airplanes and airports: 4,000


Manufacturing Scenes Outside GE: (55,000)

·         Electrical and automobile industry: 11,000

·         Steel mills and metal manufacturing: 25,000

·         Mining and mining equipment: 4,500

·         Textile mills and rubber factories: 4,000

·         Paper mills and lumber companies: 3,500

·         Sugar refineries, food production: 3,000

·         Agriculture and machinery: 2,500

·         Printing and publishing: 1,500


Home Appliances: (80,000)

·         Radio and television: 40,000

·         Lamps and light bulbs: 20,000

·         Refrigerators: 7,500

·         Fans: 7,000

·         Other household appliances: 5,500


Power Generation: (118,000)

·         Steam Turbines: 22,000

·         Gas Turbines: 7,000

·         Generators: 26,000

·         Power Plants: 20,000

·         Large Steam Turbine and Generator Department: 43,000


Industrial: (159,000)

·         Motors: 44,000

·         Transformers: 50,000

·         Meters and test equipment: 65,000


GE Factories and Manufacturing: (334,500)

·         Schenectady Works: 80,000

·         West Lynn and Lynn River Works: 35,000

·         Pittsfield Works: 17,000

·         Erie Works: 12,000

·         Fort Wayne: 10,000

·         Philadelphia: 4,000

·         Employees, groups and visitors: 70,000

·          Association Island Management Retreat: 6,500