Milestone-Proposal:Research and education in electronics and communications at Cruft Laboratory, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science, 1915 to 1947

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Docket #:2013-07

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Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution) Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1917 to 1945

Title of the proposed milestone:

Important research and teachings of electronics and communications at Cruft Laboratory, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

Under the leadership of Professors GW Pierce and EL Chaffee, recipients of the IRE Medal of Honor, Cruft Laboratory was the site of important university courses, published research, discoveries, patents, books and training in electronics and communications. In 1917 the first military Radio Training School was established here. In the 1940s, Cruft Laboratory participated in the gigantic national program of training of men and women of the armed forces in electronics and communications.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?


IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Boston Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Boston Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Boston Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Inside the Van Vleck Bridge joining Pierce Hall to Cruft Laboratory, Lyman Laboratory and Jefferson Physical Hall. The address is Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 19A Oxford Street, Cambridge MA 02138. See elsewhere for an image of the bridge.

Pierce/Cruft bridge

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.


Are the original buildings extant?

Yes but extensively modernized.

Details of the plaque mounting:

Will be mounted on the corridor or bridge wall joining the Pierce Hall to Cruft Laboratory.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

Space is opened to students and the general public.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

For those not familiar with New England history, BEWARE: The present owner of the site is Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, aka HARVARD SEAS. This historically famous institution was known world wide as Harvard University, and was described by the AIEE in their 1904 Boston Handbook. But now, Dean Murray, students and staff, are proud of their new name. So Harvard SEAS it is. Note that many of the references and attachments included here, bear the old label.

A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:

File:IEEE.MilestoneAwards. 1.15.2013.Cruft.pdf

A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:

File:Boston Section memo re milestones .pdf

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?


What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?


What features set this work apart from similar achievements?


References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.

1. Excerpts Cruft Laboratory, Annual Reports 1916 to 1929. attached 2. Excerpts Annual Report of the Graduate School of Engineering from 1943 to 1945. attached 3. Cruft Electronic Staff, "Electronic Circuits and Tubes" McGraw Hill, 1947 (994 pages). attached 4. Article "Naval School for Radio Electricians Established" Boston Globe, 17 June 1917. attached 5. New Combined Physics Laboratory A Modern Unit……., The Harvard Crimson, March 12, 1932. attached 6. Websites Harvard CHSI biography on Radio Research Laboratory,/is/,/8725/,/false/,/true&style=single&searchdesc=Radio Research Laboratory Harvard CHSI biography on Cruft Laboratory,/is/,/991/,/false/,/true&style=single&searchdesc=Cruft Laboratory, Harvard University 7. Web Biographies George W. Pierce IEEE GHN GW Pierce Wikipedia G. W. Pierce, 1929, Crystal detectors, magnetostriction devices, author E Leon Chaffee IEEE GHN Emory Leon Chaffee Encyclopedia Britannica

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.