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Edward Wilson Kimbark papers

Identifier: Coll 092

Scope and Contents

The Edward Wilson Kimbark Papers consist of correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, subject files, material pertaining to professional organizations to which he belonged, coursework relating to classes he took or taught, personal files, drawings and models, and photographs. The material documents a career lasting from 1919 to 1982.

Correspondence, 1933-1982 is arranged chronologically, with the largest portion containing exchanges with Kimbark's publishers and readers about his texts and works in progress. The remainder related to his membership in various professional groups or is personal in nature. His diaries, which he began keeping at age 17, are highly detailed accounts of his daily life. Ruth Kimbark's diaries, located in the Personal Files series, span the years 1932 to 1976; they are informative but not reflective.

The Manuscripts series contains book and article length works, both published and unpublished, as well as papers submitted to various professional organizations in the electrical engineering field. Book length manuscripts, all published, include Electrical Transmission of Power and Signals (1949), Direct Current Transmission (also referred to as High Voltage Direct Current and abbreviated HVDC, published in 1971) and Power System Stability (1956). Several noteworthy article-length manuscripts include "Bipolar Circles and Their Applications to Electrical Engineering"; "Magnetic Circuits"; "Matrix Theory"; "Ring Modulator: Theory of Ferroresonance"; "Transient Phenomena in AC Machines"; and "Vector Diagrams and Their Application to Polyphase Transformer Connections". A bibliography of Kimbarks published work is located in the Subject Files series (box 40/12) and represents only a small portion of his total output.

Technical papers of interest to Kimbark arranged alphabetically by professional organization, then author, can be found in the collection. Also included are written discussions with other engineers about these papers.

Lastly, the collection contains thirteen oversize packages of drawings used in his books, one boxed model, and one large box of photographs. The photographs include lantern slides of book illustrations and personal photographs and photo albums. Copies of volume 1 of Direct Current Transmission and volume 2 of Stability of Large Electrical Power Systems complete the collection.

Please note that there was a numbering error and boxes 46 to 48 of the collection do not exist.


  • 1919-1982


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Glass plate negatives and lantern slides are restricted due to the fragility of the format. All decisions regarding use will be at the discretion of the curator for visual materials.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Edward Wilson Kimbark was born on September 21, 1902, in Chicago, Illinois to Edward Hall and Maude (Wilson) Kimbark. At 18, Edward Kimbark entered Northwestern University where he earned his B.S. and E.E. in 1924 and 1925 respectively. Following graduation, he worked two years as a substation operator and testing lab assistant for the Public Service Company of Northern Illinois at Evanston, and two years as an instructor at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1929, Kimbark became the Assistant Curator for the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, Division of Power, a position he held for four years. It was during this time that he married, on July 19, 1930, Ruth Elizabeth Merrick. Kimbark resumed his studies in 1932, receiving an S.M. in 1933 and an Sc.D. in 1937 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began writing technical papers and discussions of others' work as a graduate student in 1935, and continued to produce a prodigious number of articles and books during his career.

Kimbark's teaching career began in earnest in 1937 with a two-year assistant professorship at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. Returning to Illinois in 1939, he joined the staff at Northwestern University's Technological Institute where he held various teaching positions and eventually became acting department chair. This tenure lasted a total of eleven years, interrupted at one point by World War II, when Kimbark edited and taught from a textbook titled Principles of Radar at MIT's Radar School. In 1948, Kimbark published the first of his three-volume magnum opus, Power System Stability (completed in 1956) and wrote Electrical Transmission of Power and Signals in 1949. Both became standard texts in the field.

The following year, Kimbark moved to Brazil to help initiate an electrical engineering program at the Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica Sao Paulo. He taught electrical power systems engineering for the next five years, using his own English-language texts but lecturing and administering exams in self-taught Portuguese. (He was also proficient in French, German, and Russian, and was a lifelong proponent of Esperanto.)

Upon his return to the United States in 1955, Kimbark accepted a position as Dean of School of Engineering at Seattle University. Concurrently he served as a part-time consultant for Bonneville Power Administration's System Engineering Branch in Portland, Oregon. In 1962, Kimbark assumed a full-time position with the BPA as head of their Network Analog Group, a post he held for fourteen years. Although he had left academia, he continued to write books and technical papers, publishing Direct Current Transmission in 1971 and editing with Richard T. Byerly Stability of Large Electric Power Systems in 1974. Edward Kimbark's years of contribution to the field of electrical engineering were rewarded with he received a Gold Medal of honor award from the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1974, and later, the Best Paper Prize from the Power Engineering Society in 1977. In addition to these special awards, Kimbark enjoyed the benefits of membership in several honorary, scientific, and professional societies, including the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Institute of Radio Engineers and CIGRE (Conference internationale de Grands Reseaux Electriques a Haute Tension).

With his wife Ruth's passing in 1976, Kimbark entered semi-retirement, maintaining his connection with the BPA for the rest of his life as a consulting engineer. His last years were shared with his second wife, Mrs. Iris V. Tattersall Kimbark, whom he married on August 26, 1977. He had no children by either marriage, and he died on February 7, 1982.


40 linear feet (73 boxes, 2 rolls, 14 packages, 2 volumes)

Language of Materials



The Edward Wilson Kimbark papers contain the personal and professional manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and subject files of Edward Wilson Kimbark, who was an esteemed electrical engineer. The collection contains published material, personal notes from academic classes both taken and taught as well as personal diaries by both him and his first wife.


Collection is organized into the following series: 1. Correspondence; 2. Diaries; 3. Manuscripts; 4. Subject Files; 5. Professional Organizations; 6. Coursework; 7. Personal Files; 8. Published Articles by Kimbark; 9. Financial Material; 10. Packages; 11. Free-Standing Volumes; and 12. Photographs.

Physical Description

73 boxes, 2 rolls, 14 packages, 2 volumes

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Edward Wilson Kimbark Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by A. Emmeli Adler
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA