General C. G. Morton - History

General C. G. Morton - History

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General C. Morton

General C. Morton

Major General Charles Gould Morton, USA, served in the Philippines in the Spanish-American War and subsequently on the Texas border.

(AP-138: dp. 9,950 (It.); 1. 522'10"; b. 71'6", dr. 26'6"

cpl. 494; trp. 4,766; a. 45", 8 1.1", 16 20mm.; cl. General

G.O.. Squier; T. C4 S-A1)

General C. Morton,` (AP.A~-138) was built by the kaiser Co. of Richmond, Calif., in 1943-4, acquired by the Navy on 18 May 1944; and commissioned 7 July 1944, Comdr. S. K. Hall in command.

After shakedown out of San Pedro, California, she stood out independently for Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 1 August, arriving 16 days later and loading homeward bound troops. On 20 August she got underway arrived San Francisco 3 September, sailed on to San Diego and departed there 16 September for the Russell Islands in the Solomons. Embarking troops, she proceeded to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, and thence to Noumea, New Caledonia, before putting in at San Francisco 24 October.

General C. Morton steamed to San Diego and departed with a convoy 10 November, calling at Pearl Harbor 6 days later and reaching Guadalcanal 29 November. On 3 December she sailed for San Francisco via New Guinea, Manus Island, and Noumea, arriving on the last day of 1944. After loading passengers at Long Beach, Calif., G General C. Morton stood out 11 January 1945 bound for Calcutta, India, via Melbourne, Australia, she reached Melbourne 1 February and called at Calcutta 19 days later. Returning via Melbourne, Manus, Ulithi, Tinian, and Saipan, the transport arrived at San Francisco 25 April, only to get underway again 5 May for the Southwest Pacific, Hollandia, New Guinea, Leyte, and Manila, P.I., were ports of call. General C. Morton touched at San Francisco 5 July before sailing 3 days later for the east coast. She transited the Panama Canal 17 July and put in at Boston 6 days later.

Following drydocking, the busy ship departed 12 August for France, touching at Marseilles 22 August and returning to Newport News, VA., 2 September 1945. On her next voyage, the transport sailed via the Suez Canal to Karachi,
India, and returned by the same route to New York. In early January 1946 General C. Morton repeated this trip, but sailed around the world calling at Singapore and Manila before docking at San Francisco in early March 1946.

General C. Morton was delivered to the war Department for use by the Army in May 1946. She was reinstated on the Navy List in March 1950 and assigned to MSTS Reserve. She was struck from the Navy List 29 May 1958.

General C. Morton received three battle stars for Korean conflict service.

USS General C.G. Morton AP-138

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The painful story behind modern anesthesia

In a monthly column for PBS NewsHour, Dr. Howard Markel revisits moments that changed the course of modern medicine on their anniversaries, like the groundbreaking use of anesthesia on a surgical patient on Oct. 16, 1846. Photo by Image Source.

One of the truly great moments in the long history of medicine occurred on a tense fall morning in the surgical amphitheater of Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

It was there, on Oct. 16, 1846, that a dentist named William T. G. Morton administered an effective anesthetic to a surgical patient. Consenting to what became a most magnificent scientific revolution were John Warren, an apprehensive surgeon, and Glenn Abbott, an even more nervous young man about to undergo removal of a vascular tumor on the left side of his neck.

Both Warren and Abbott sailed through the procedure painlessly, although some have noted that Abbott moved a bit near the end. Turning away from the operating table toward the gallery packed with legitimately dumbstruck medical students, Dr. Warren gleefully exclaimed, “Gentlemen, this is no humbug!”

William Thomas Green Morton. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Morton named his “creation” Letheon, after the Lethe River of Greek mythology. Drinking its waters, the ancients contended, erased painful memories. Hardly such an exotic elixir, Morton’s stuff was actually sulfuric ether.

Regardless of composition, Letheon inspired a legion of enterprising surgeons to devise and execute an armamentarium of lifesaving, invasive procedures that continue to benefit humankind to this very day.

Yet while the discovery of anesthesia was a bona fide blessing for humankind, it hardly turned out to be that great for its “discoverer,” William T. G. Morton.

Morton began his dental studies in Baltimore in 1840. Two years later he set up practice in Hartford, ultimately working with a dentist named Horace Wells. At this time, surgeons could offer patients little beyond opium and alcohol to endure the agonizing pain engendered by scalpels.

From the late 18th century well into the 1840s, physicians and chemists experimented with agents such as nitrous oxide, ether, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals without success. In an era before the adoption of daily dental hygiene and fluoride treatments, excruciating tooth extractions were an all too common part of the human experience. Consequently, dentists joined physicians and surgeons in the Holy Grail-like search for safe and effective substances to conquer operative pain.

Around this time, Morton and Wells conducted experiments using nitrous oxide, including a demonstration at Harvard Medical School in 1845 that failed to completely squelch the pain of a student submitting to a tooth-pulling, thus publicly humiliating the dentists. Although Morton and Wells amicably dissolved their partnership, Morton continued his search for anesthetic agents.

A year earlier, in 1844, during studies at Harvard Medical School (which were cut short by financial difficulties), Morton attended the lectures of chemistry professor Charles Jackson. One session was on how the common organic solvent sulfuric ether could render a person unconscious and even insensate.

An illustration of the first use of ether as an anesthetic in 1846 by the dental surgeon W.T.G. Morton. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Recalling these lessons during the summer of 1846, Morton purchased bottles of the stuff from his local chemist and began exposing himself and a menagerie of pets to ether fumes. Satisfied with its safety and reliability, he began using ether on his dental patients.

Soon, mobs of tooth-aching, dollar-waving Bostonians made their way to his office. Morton relished his financial success but quickly perceived that Letheon was good for far more than pulling teeth.

Morton’s remarkable demonstration at the Massachusetts General Hospital that long ago October morning transmogrified his status from profitable dentist to internationally acclaimed healer.

But the half-life of his celebrity turned out to be molto presto, followed by an interminable period of infamy and hardship during which he was lambasted for insisting on applying for an exclusive patent on Letheon.

In the United States of the mid-19th century, it was considered unseemly, if not outright greedy, for members of the medical profession to profit from discoveries that universally benefited humankind, particularly from a patent for what turned out to be the easily acquired sulfuric ether.

As long as Morton stuck to dentistry, many physicians argued, he could do as he liked but if he desired acceptance of Letheon by physicians and surgeons, he needed to comply with what they considered their higher-minded ideals and ethics.

Morton aggressively rejected all such suggestions, much to his detriment. There was also the issue of credit. Horace Wells demanded his share. So did Crawford W. Long, a Georgia practitioner who claimed to have used nitrous oxide and ether as early as 1842 but who was too busy to publish his findings. Morton’s former professor, Charles Jackson, argued that he, too, deserved a piece of the action.

Ether inhaler, c. 1846, developed by William T.G. Morton.

While many toyed with anesthetic agents, it was Morton who first developed a novel delivery instrument to enable ether inhalation during an operation.

The device consisted of a glass flask with a wooden mouthpiece that could be opened and closed depending on the patient’s state of consciousness.

This was critical because other experimenters, including Wells and Long, could not ensure rapid reversibility of the anesthetic state and often overdosed their patients.

Morton’s genius resided not only in his observations of the power of ether but also in his development of a crude but scientific method of regulating its inhalation, thus creating the field of anesthesiology.

Not everyone saw it that way. Vigorously combating the whispered and shouted campaigns against him, the dentist spent his remaining days trying to restore his sullied reputation. Morton died broke and embittered in 1868. It would be many decades more before Morton was rightfully returned to the pantheon of medical greats.

Morton’s search to conquer pain was a remarkable contribution to medicine and human health even if it did not turn out to be the personal and financial success he so badly craved.

Although Morton was a man of great accomplishment, he was all too human.
Sadly, like many human beings, Morton aggressively hunted for fame, glory, professional success, and ego gratification at the expense of judiciously contemplating the consequences of his actions. It was a quest that cost him dearly even as it made life– and surgically correctible illnesses — far better for the rest of us.

Dr. Howard Markel writes a monthly column for the PBS NewsHour website, highlighting the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine. He is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine and the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.

He is the author or editor of 10 books, including “Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892,” “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed” and “An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine.”

Operational history [ edit | edit source ]

General G. G. Morton (APA-138) was built by the Kaiser Co. of Richmond, California, in 1943-44 acquired by the Navy on 18 May 1944 and commissioned 7 July 1944, Comdr. S. K. Hall in command.

After shakedown out of San Pedro, California, she stood out independently for Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 1 August, arriving 16 days later and loading homeward-bound troops. On 20 August she got underway arrived San Francisco 3 September, sailed on to San Diego and departed there 16 September for the Russell Islands 39 days later in the Solomons. Embarking troops, she proceeded to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, and thence to Nouméa, New Caledonia, before putting in at San Francisco 24 October.

General C. G. Morton steamed to San Diego and departed with a convoy 10 November, calling at Pearl Harbor six days later and reaching Guadalcanal 29 November. On 3 December she sailed for San Francisco via New Guinea, Manus Island, and Nouméa, arriving on the last day of 1944. After loading passengers at Long Beach, Calif., General C. G. Morton stood out 11 January 1945 bound for Calcutta, India, via Melbourne, Australia she reached Melbourne 1 February and called at Calcutta 19 days later. Returning via Melbourne, Manus, Ulithi, Tinian, and Saipan, the transport arrived at San Francisco 25 April, only to get underway again 5 May for the Southwest Pacific, Hollandia, New Guinea, Leyte, and Manila, Philippines, were ports of call. General C. G. Morton touched at San Francisco 5 July before sailing three days later for the east coast. She transited the Panama Canal 17 July and put in at Boston six days later.

Following drydocking, the busy ship departed 12 August for France, touching at Marseille 22 August and returning to Newport News, Virginia, 2 September 1945. On her next voyage, the transport sailed via the Suez Canal to Karachi, India, and returned by the same route to New York. In early January 1946 General C. G. Morton repeated this trip, but sailed around the world calling at Singapore and Manila before docking at San Francisco in early March 1946. The ship's captain was to be discharged from the service upon arrival, the elongated second trip was due to the his desire to see as much of the world as possible while in the Navy. As a result of the delay the troops coming home from India would boo the captain whenever he appeared on deck, which resulted in them being listed as 'mutinous'.

General C. G. Morton was delivered to the War Department for use by the Army in May 1946.

In the aftermath of the 1948 eruption of Philippine volcano Mount Hibok-Hibok, USAT General C. G. Morton was dispatched from Manila to assist in evacuations. Due to a lack of wharves at Camiguin (Mount Hibok-Hibok’s location), all those fleeing had to board the ship from small craft. In the confusion no accurate number of those evacuated was available. ΐ]

She was reinstated on the Navy List in March 1950 and assigned to MSTS Reserve.

During the Korean War, General C. G. Morton was reactivated and participated in the following campaigns: Ώ]

  • North Korean Aggression, from 1 to 2 August 1950 to 8 October 1952
  • Communist China Aggression, 21 to 28 December 1950
  • First UN Counter Offensive, 10 to 11 February 1951

On 15 February 1951, 200 nautical miles (370 km 230 mi) east of Tokyo, Swedish tanker MV Christer Galen struck a submerged rock, breaking off a portion of the ship’s bow. After receiving distress calls, General C. G. Morton and SS Marine Phoenix both helped to rescue all 47 passengers and crew. Α]

In August 1952, General C. G. Morton arrived in San Francisco with 526 Army and Navy Korean War veterans, and 284 civilians from Hawaii. Β]

In 1953 (month unknown), General C. G. Morton departed San Francisco with an unspecified number of troops for the Korean War. The Troops included members of the Air Force 315th Air Division, "Combat Cargo".

Struck again from the Navy List on 29 May 1958, General C. G. Morton was sold to Central Gulf Lines in 1967 Γ] and renamed SS Green Wave. Ώ] She was scrapped in Taiwan in February 1980. Ώ]

General C. G. Morton received three battle stars for Korean War service.

A Narrative History of Mass General

In 1810, the United States could boast of only two general hospitals, the Pennsylvania Hospital (founded in 1756) and the New York Hospital (founded in 1791). Locally, the marine hospital in Charlestown tended to the needs of sailors and the Boston Dispensary addressed the ambulatory care of paupers, but no New England facility in the early nineteenth century provided round the clock medical care to members of the general public.

Rev. John Bartlett, Chaplain of the Almshouse in Boston, dreamed of establishing such a hospital, which would make state-of-the-art medical care available to the physically or mentally ill while affording improved opportunities for practical medical education. He joined with like-minded doctors and leading citizens to organize a fundraising campaign.

Dr. James Jackson and Dr. John Collins Warren were among the foremost proponents of this plan. In 1811 the Massachusetts legislature granted a charter for the incorporation of Massachusetts General Hospital and fundraising proceeded, donations ranging from $.25 to $20,000, and including such unusual gifts as a 273-pound sow. In 1816 the Trustees bought and renovated an estate in Charlestown (in an area later absorbed by Somerville) for use as the mental illness facility of Mass General. This became McLean Asylum (now McLean Hospital in Belmont).

Soon after a four-acre field in Boston's West End known as Prince's Pasture was acquired for construction of the General Hospital. The original building, The Bulfinch, opened its doors on September 3, 1821, for admission of the first Mass General patient, a saddler with syphilis, which, the records carefully note, he had contracted in New York.

Mass General in its first year of operation became the first teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. It has since been the scene of many changes, expansion and more advances in medicine than can easily be enumerated.

Ca. 1350

Inca shamans chewed coca leaves mixed with vegetable ash and dripped their cocaine-laden saliva into the wounds of patients.

Paracelsus (1493–1541)—First to use ether on animals.


WLM Rare Book Room – Digital Copies of Titles:

Rare Books: Ether and Anesthesia

Darwin Etherizes Venus Flytraps

WLM Rare Book Room – Digital Copies of Titles:

German physician and botanist Valerius Cordus (1515–1544), synthesizes diethyl ether by distilling ethanol and sulphuric acid into what he called “sweet oil of vitriol.”


WLM Rare Book Room – Digital Copies of Titles:

WLM Online Museum Exhibits:

ASA Newsletter Articles:

Cordus' Synthesis of Ether

Gold-plated "Pender Lemon" Ether Device

WLM Rare Book Room – Digital Copies of Titles:

WLM Online Museum Exhibits:

ASA Newsletter Articles:

The future “Sir Christopher Wren” and Anglo-Irish chemist Robert Boyle (1627–1691) pioneered intravenous therapy by injecting opium through a goose quill into a dog’s vein.


WLM Rare Book Room – Digital Copies of Titles:

WLM Online Museum Exhibits:

Boyle, a Most Skeptical Chemist

WLM Rare Book Room – Digital Copies of Titles:

WLM Online Museum Exhibits:

Steve Daru Boys Club (1957)

The Boys Clubs of Tucson began on November 27, 1956 when Mr. A. H. Fahringer of Boys Clubs of America met with a committee from the Lions Club to discuss organizing a Boys Club. Through the efforts of Mr. Charles Elkins and other interested members of the Lions Club, the Boys Club of Tucson became incorporated on August 21, 1957. Judge Norman E. Green became the first president of the organization. On May 21, 1958, Mr. Robert Daru donated the property that is now the site of the Steve Daru unit. The club opened its doors in June 1963 under the direction of Mr. Ray Keating and received its charter from Boys Clubs of America on November 30, 1964.

In 1988 the original Steve Daru Clubhouse was closed and a modular clubhouse was placed in Northwest Park to house club activities. In 1992 a new clubhouse was built to replace the modular building with funds donated by Frank X. Morton. The modular building was moved to Mission Park.

Old Pueblo Boys Club (1963)

In 1962, Mr. Bill Merodias rented an old building at 164 S. Main Street for boxing. With the help of the Lions Club and the Catalina Optimist Club, the Old Pueblo Boys Club became incorporated on February 8, 1963. Mr. Robert King was elected president. In 1969, because of the urban renewal program, Old Pueblo was forced to find other facilities. The club purchased the 36th Street property and started operating, under the direction of Mr. Howard Stuckey. Old Pueblo became chartered by Boys Clubs of America in February 1970.

In 1988 the old clubhouse was replaced with a new clubhouse in Pueblo Gardens Park and renamed the Holmes Tuttle Branch.

Boys Clubs of Tucson, Inc. (1971)

The two clubs merged in December of 1970 to become the Boys Clubs of Tucson. On January 11, 1971 they became incorporated as one organization.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson (1985)

At the Annual Meeting, held on February 21, 1985, the corporation, in order to properly reflect to the community the scope of services provided by the Boys Clubs of Tucson to all youngsters, voted to change the name to Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. The name change took the format of a “DBA” (doing business as) and the legal corporate name as registered with the state remained Boys Clubs of Tucson, Inc.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Inc. (1988)

In November of 1988 the DBA was dropped and the corporate name of the club was changed to Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Inc.

Roy Drachman Boys & Girls Club (1992)

The modular buildings from Steve Daru were placed in Mission Park, refurbished and opened on November 3, 1992 as a third site of Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. The clubhouse was named for Roy Drachman who was an honorary chairman of the capital drive in 1986 and a major contributor to the Boys & Girls Club. Frank X. Morton provided the first year operating funds for this new clubhouse. Al Lothrop and the Tucson Conquistadores provided the funding to construct the Gymnasium in 1994. In 1995 the permanent Activity Center was built through strong support from the City, County and our donors. The new facility was opened for use in 1996.

Pascua Yaqui Boys & Girls Club (1999)

At the request of the Tribal Council, a Boys & Girls Club program was initiated on the Pascua Yaqui reservation on January 5. The program is funded by the Council and was originally housed in an existing tribal building. The Club moved into its own modular building in Torim Park in November of 1999. The Tribe plans to construct a permanent clubhouse in the future.

Frank & Edith Morton Clubhouse (2003)

Frank X. Morton believed passionately in the “American Dream.” He also believed in the Boys Club because it helped him live that dream. As a young boy, Frank was a member of the Boys Club of San Francisco and credited it with helping him head down the right track by providing a safe place off the streets of the tough Mission District. When he and his wife Edith moved to Tucson in the 1970’s he once again became involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs because his grandson was a member. He saw what a wonderful opportunity the club gave not only his grandson, but other youngsters as well. Being a very direct, “down to earth” person, he chose to invest in Tucson’s future and created an endowment for the operation of the Frank & Edith Morton Clubhouse. Frank Morton passed away in 1995.

The new clubhouse, which is located on the campus of Doolen Middle School, opened in November of 2003. It is a collaboration effort with Tucson Unified School District.

Harold Ashton Resource Center (2003)

Harold’s love of working with his hands led him to leave college his sophomore year and buy his first business at the age of 20. In 1946 he opened the Ashton Company, which today has grown into a very successful business employing 300-350 people. Harold supported Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson because he believed: “I am sentimental about young people now more than ever. Children develop habits, work ethics and desires that stay for the rest of their years. Organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs, which are run right, can help children develop positive patterns at an early age.”

Prior to his passing away in November 2003, Harold’s generous contribution was used to construct a new administrative space for Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, the Harold Ashton Resource Center. His generosity also endowed future programs for the children who are members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. The Harold Ashton Resource Center is located on the second floor of the Grant Road facility, above the Frank & Edith Morton Clubhouse.

Jim & Vicki Click Club (2007)

The Jim & Vicki Click Clubhouse, on the Roberts Elementary School campus, will be the second collaborative project with Tucson Unified School District. Operating funds for the first three years have been pledged by a special group of supporters designated the Jim & Vicki Click Club “Founders Circle.” Roberts Elementary School agreed to provide space for Boys & Girls Clubs staff to run its programs at their facility during construction. The Grand Opening for this club was held April 4, 2008, and the club opened for business the week of April 8, 2008.

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Until Darwin: Science and the Origins of Race

Of course it is always important to remember that the errors of the past as well as the triumphs (or heroes, which has been the subject of a series of recent blog posts elsewhere: see, e.g., posts by Thony Christie ‏ @rmathematicus and Rebekah Higgitt @beckyfh "Why whiggish won't do" ) often do not in hindsight seem so triumphal or heroic. The Royal Society’s post coincided with the death of J. P. Rushton and so serves to remind us that the errors of the past do not simply “go way”. So it is good that the Royal Society blog chose to bring attention to Josiah Nott and George R. Gliddon’s Types of Mankind, or, Ethnological researches : based upon the ancient monuments, paintings, sculptures, and crania of races, and upon their natural, geographical, philological, and biblical history and the polygenist scientific ideology which like that of the eugenicists still haunt us.

And this is a good reason to spend a few moments adding some marginal notes to the Royal Society’s post because it is difficult to address such issues, especially when the prompt is Black History Month(*) with its competing audiences and demands.

Perhaps it is a result of competing demands and audiences – as is so often the case! – that some aspects of polygenism are not always so obvious in the post. It is easy to overemphasize either the discontinuities and continuities of the polygenic theory when we try to make sense of its place in classical Natural History and later Biology (and Sociology, too). There are aspects of Natural History that are very familiar to us and yet are also indicative of fundamentally different ways of understanding the world. Though it is tempting to simply project categories such as biology and figures such as the scientist into the past, classical Natural History was not the study of life and the figure of the scientist as we know it did not exist. The scientist as a term appears at the highpoint of classical Natural History, but it is not until we have the study of life that we can finally recognize the scientist as we know it.(**) Instead of the conflation of time and perspectives found in the initial paragraph, it would be better to go further and understand the “study of race” and the catalogs of differences generated by such studies as having more than simply fascinated the 18th and 19th centuries: it was a central object of Natural History. The “study of race” consolidated race as a object of rational scientific analysis within the confines of classical Natural History just as it does today in the case of race and biology. The authority of Natural History as a science derived in part from its offer of satisfactory “systematic rules to describe and explain the differences” European nation-states found during their global expansion. “Race and racial differences” became the means to systematically understand human variety, and provide an answer the Species Question.

Forgetting this is one reason why it appears to us that “discussions of race have always been tied up with perceptions of morality, intelligence, and civilization” because race has been used since the 17th-18th centuries as the means to make sense of differences and to legitimize moralities and scientific ideologies. So it is only correct to say that race has “always been tied up with perceptions of morality, intelligence, and civilization” precisely because it appears alongside and within those “perceptions” (i. e., social relations). After all, race is itself a scientific ideology in Canguilhem’s sense of the term:

So it is more correct to say that race has “always” played its present role only if one takes as one’s historical era the c.17th - 20th centuries.

Often the discussion of human variety is taken out of this historical and social context so as to be seen as a choice between a “purely biological concept’ and “at least in part – a social and cultural construction”. Rather than this simple binary relation, Nature and Society are dialectically related, i. e., they are mutually constitutive. The one would be impossible without the other, and in our time the fields of biology, anthropology, psychology, and sociology mark this relation through their incessant search for human nature. Understanding this is key to understanding how race so fascinating to Naturalists and why it seemed to hold the answer to the Species Question.

This was the accepted approach to the Species Question in the years before the Origin of Speciesthat species are fixed and that races constitute separate species with separate origins in either nature or creation.
It may be of interest that Indigenous Races was the follow up to Types of Mankind, which was a monumental work in terms of its contributors, scope, and dedication to Samuel G. Morton. It ws the pinnacle of the work of the American School and the summation of the polygenic theory of human origins and the fixity of species. It would only be pushed aside by Darwin’s Origin of Species, a “capital dig at the parsons” Nott wrote in 1861. As Darwin would later admit in the Descent of Man, the polygenic theory had been the target of his on monogenic argument for descent with modification: ‘. when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death.’ (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, p. 235) Indigenous Races came at the end of the polygenic era rather than at the beginning, which is an impression that the section might leave with a casual reader. In fact, the following reference to Long’s 1774 History of Jamaica itself indicates that Nott and Gliddon came at the end of a long period of rational and scientific investigations. It is between the publication of Types of Mankind and Indigenous Races that we discover Gobineau’s Essai sur l’inegalite des races humaines.

Indigenous Races was for the most part the work of George Gliddon. Nott was not interested in revisiting what he considered to be the established scientific fact of the multiple origins of the races, while Gliddon was less a naturalist than a showman, popularizer, and former diplomat who idolized Samuel G. Morton to the point of robbing Egyptian tombs and graves for crania to send to Morton. He died not long after the publication of Indigenous Races from fever having sought his fortune in Central America where he had gone frustrated that he had not been selected to implement one of his projects: a camel corp for the US army to deploy in the deserts of the Southwest.

From William Stanton’s The Leopard’s Spots, still one of the best works on the American School, on Indigenous Races ***

Nott’s attention had been drawn to the publication of Gobineau’s Essai sur l’inegalite just 2 years after Types of Mankind. Nott sensed that the polygenic theory had so won the day that the dispute with religion would soon end in favor of the polygenists. There was no reason to continue arguing with John Bachman (see related posts below) and others.

Count Gobineau, therefore, accepts the existing diversity of races as at least an accomplished fact and draws lessons of wisdom from the plain teachings of history. Man with him ceases to be an abstraction each race, each nation, is made a separate study, and a fertile but unexplored field is opened to our view.
Our author leans strongly towards a belief in the original diversity of races, but has evidently been much embarrassed in arriving at conclusions by religious scruples and by the want of accurate knowledge in that part of natural history which treats of the designation of species and the laws of hybridity he has been taught to believe that two distinct species cannot produce perfectly prolific offspring, and therefore concludes that all races of men must be of one origin, because they are prolific inter se. My appendix will therefore be devoted mainly to this question of species.

Our author has taken the facts of Dr. Morton at second hand, and, moreover, had not before him Dr. Morton's later tables and more matured deductions.

Just as important to observe is Nott’s advocacy of free scientific inquiry:

Mr. Gobineau remarks (p. 361), that he has very serious doubts as to the unity of origin. “These doubts, however,” he continues, “I am compelled to repress, because they are in contradiction to a scientific fact, which I cannot refute—the prolificness of halfbreeds and secondly, what is of much greater weight with me, they impugn a religious interpretation sanctioned by the church.”

. I shall venture on a few remarks upon this last scruple of the author, which is shared by many investigators of this interesting subject.

‘The strict rule of scientific scrutiny,’ says the most learned and formidable opponent in the adversary's camp, ‘exacts, according to modern philosophers, in matters of inductive reasoning, an exclusive homage. It requires that we should close our eyes against all presumptive and exterior evidence, and abstract our minds from all considerations not derived from the matters of fact which bear immediately on the question. The maxim we have to follow in such controversies is ‘fiat justitia, ruat coelum.’ [“Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”] In fact, what is actually true, it is always desirous to know, whatever consequences may arise from its admission" (citing Prichard, Nat. Hist. of Man, p. 8. London, 1843)

To this sentiment I cheerfully subscribe: it has always been my maxim. Yet I find it necessary, in treating of this subject, to touch on its biblical connections, for although "we have great reason to rejoice at the improved tone of toleration, or even liberality which prevails in this country, the day has not come when science can be severed from theology, and the student of nature can calmly follow her truths, no matter whither they may lead. What a mortifying picture do we behold in the histories of astronomy, geology, chronology, cosmogony, geographical distribution of animals, &c. they have been compelled to fight their way, step by step, through human passion and prejudice, from their supposed contradiction to Holy Writ. But science has been vindicated—their great truths hare been established, and the Bible stands as firmly as it did before. The last great struggle between science and theology is the one we are now engaged in—the natural history of man—it has now, for the first time, a fair hearing before Christendom, and all any question should ask is "daylight and fair play."

The Bible should not be regarded as a text-book of natural history. On the contrary, it must be admitted that none of the writers of the Old or New Testament give the slightest evidence of knowledge in any department of science beyond that of their profane contemporaries and we hold that the natural history of man is a department of science which should be placed upon the same footing with others, and its facts dispassionately investigated. What we require for our guidance in this world is truth, and the history of science shows how long it has been stifled by bigotry and error. (Nott in Hotz/Gobineau, pp.505-6)
The study of race and the demand for “free scientific inquiry” are not easily disentangled and Nott’s call sounds at times suspiciously like the chants of scientists like Rushton, although Nott directed his demand towards tradition and religious authority while Rushton directed his towards rational inquiry itself.

Works such as Types of Mankind and Indigenous Races are just some of the many texts, institutions, and social relations that were important for defining race and its use as the basis for the classifications of human variety. We find the Species Question permeating the great and minor works of Natural History, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries just as we find slavery and domination.

(*) Black History Month – which for our purposes we should take to mean not only the history of Black people, but also the retrieval of the former truths that we would repress or forget. Certainly this should be a consistent activity, just as Black history should not be ghettoized to one month a year. At least, it is not, as in the United States, observed during the shortest month of the year.

(**) Some are attempting to reform Natural History and take it away from the Natural/travel log/memoirist writers, but this will be a fundamentally different Natural History, one whose practitioners will already be aware of the variability of species, natural & sexual selection, descent with modification, the expanded fossil record, genetics, the germ theory of disease, the unity of humans as one species, etc. The list could be extended further, but that should suffice to note that these efforts will, if successful, be a very different Natural History.

(***) Stephen Jay Gould based the historical aspects of his Mismeasure of Man chapter on Morton on Stanton’s text. Stanton provided a wealth of information and insights, but his purposes were not the same as Gould’s and Gould could have benefited from reading Morton, Nott, et al. in more detail.

Canguilhem, Georges, 1988. Ideology and Rationality in the History of the Life Sciences. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Cussins, Jessica. "Race and Medicine guidelines Using Race in Medicine? Seven Guidelines for Doing so Responsibly"

Gobineau, Arthur, comte de. 1853. Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines (1884 ed.). Paris : Firmin-Didot

Gobineau, Arthur, comte de. 1856. The moral and intellectual diversity of races, with particular reference to their respective influence in the civil and political history of mankind / from the French by Count A. De Gobineau with an analytical introduction and copious historical notes by H. Hotz to which is added an appendix containing a summary of the latest scientific facts bearing upon the question of unity or plurality of species by J. C. Nott (1856). J. B. Lippincott.

Morton, Samuel George and George Combe. 1839. Crania americana or, A comparative view of the skulls of various aboriginal nations of North and South America. To which is prefixed an essay on the varieties of the human species. Philadelphia, J. Dobson London, Simpkin, Marshall & co.

Morton, Samuel George. 1844. Crania Aegyptiaca: Or, Observations on Egyptian Ethnography. J. Penington

Morton, Samuel George. 1840. Catalogue of skulls of man and the inferior animals in the collection of Samuel George Morton. Philadelphia : Printed by Turner & Fisher for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Nott, Josiah Clark, 1804-1873 Gliddon, George R. (George Robins) Morton, Samuel George Agassiz, Louis Usher, William Patterson, Henry S. (Henry Stuart). 1851. Types of mankind, or, Ethnological researches : based upon the ancient monuments, paintings, sculptures, and crania of races, and upon their natural, geographical, philological, and biblical history.
Philadelphia : J.B. Lippincott

Nott, Josiah Clark, 1804-1873 Gliddon, George R. 1857. Indigenous races of the earth or, New chapters of ethnological inquiry including monographs on special departments. Philadelphia : J.B. Lippincott & Co. [etc., etc.]

Prichard, James Cowles and Edwin Norris. 1855. The Natural History of Man: Comprising Inquiries Into the Modifying Influence of Physical and Moral Agencies of the Different Tribes of the Human Family. Paris: H. Baillière.

Stanton, William. 1960. The Leopard’s Spots: Scientific Attitudes Toward Race in America, 1815-1859. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

126th Infantry Regiment

The following is taken from New York in the War of the Rebellion, 3rd ed. Frederick Phisterer. Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1912.
Colonel Eliakim Sherrill received authority, July 15, 1862, to raise this regiment in the counties of Ontario, Seneca and Yates it was organized at Geneva, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years August 22, 1862. December 25, 1864, it was consolidated into a battalion of five companies, A to E, and June 2, 1865, the men not to be mustered out with the regiment were transferred to the 4th Artillery.
The companies were recruited principally: A and B in Yates county C and I in Seneca county D, Hand K in Ontario county E at Geneva and Rushville F in the counties of Ontario and Seneca and G in Ontario, Seneca and Yates counties.
The regiment left the State August 26, 1862 it served in the Middle Department from August, 1862 at Harper's Ferry, W. Va., where it was surrendered, from September, 1862 at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill., from September 27, 1862 in the defenses of Washington, in the 1st Brigade, Casey's Division, later 22d Corps, from December, 1862 in the 3d Brigade of the same, from January, 1863 in the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 2d Corps, from June 25, 1863 in the 3d, for a time in the Consolidated, Brigade, 1st Division, 2d Corps, from March, 1864 and it was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Col. Ira Smith Brown, June 3, 1865, near Alexandria, Va.
During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, II officers, 95 enlisted men of wounds received in action, 5 officers, 43 enlisted men of disease and other causes, 1 officer, 121 enlisted men total, 17 officers, 259 enlisted men aggregate, 276 of whom 30 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.

The following is taken from The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II.
One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Infantry.&mdashCols., Eliakim Sher-rill, James M. Bull, William H. Baird, Ira Smith Brown Lieut-Cols., James M. Bull, William H. Baird, Ira Smith Brown, John B. Geddes Majs., William H. Baird, Philo D. Phillips, Ira Smith Brown, Charles A. Richardson. This regiment, recruited in the counties of Ontario, Seneca and Yates, was organized at Geneva, and there mustered into the U. S. service for three years, Aug. 22, 1862. At the close of 1864, when it had become much reduced in numbers by reason of its hard service, it was consolidated into a battalion of five companies, A to E. The regiment left the state on Aug. 26, 1862, and took part in its first fighting during the siege of Harper's Ferry, where it received the brunt of the enemy's attack and suffered a large share of the casualties at Maryland and Bolivar heights. It lost 16 killed and 42 wounded during the fighting, and was surrendered with the rest of the garrison on Sept. 15. The men were immediately paroled and spent two months in camp at Chicago, Ill., awaiting notice of its exchange. As soon as notice of its exchange was received in December, it returned to Virginia, encamping during the winter at Union Mills. The following extract is taken from Col. Fox's account of the regiment in his work on Regimental Losses in the Civil War: "In June, 1863, it joined the Army of the Potomac, and was placed in Willard's brigade, Alex. Hays' (3d) division, 2nd corps, with which it marched to Gettysburg, where the regiment won honorable distinction, capturing 5 stands of colors in that battle. Col. Willard, the brigade commander, being killed there, Col. Sherrill succeeded him, only to meet the same fate, while in the regiment the casualties amounted to 40 killed, 181 wounded and 10 missing. At Bristoe Station the regiment won additional honors by its conspicuous gallantry and sustained the heaviest loss in that action casualties, 6 killed, 33 wounded and 10 missing. The 126th haying been transferred to Barlow's (1st) division, entered the spring campaign of 1864 with less than 300 men, of whom 100 were detailed at headquarters as a provost-guard. Its casualties at the Wilderness were 5 killed, 62 wounded and 9 missing and at Po river and Spottsylvania, 6 killed, 37 wounded and 7 missing. Col. Baird was killed at Petersburg." The regiment took part in the following important battles: Siege of Harper's Ferry&mdashincluding Maryland and Bolivar heights Gettysburg, Auburn ford, Bristoe Station, Morton's ford, Wilderness, Po river, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Toto-potomy, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon railroad, siege of Petersburg, Deep Bottom, Reams' station, Hatcher's run, and Sutherland Station, and was also present in the Mine Run campaign, at Strawberry Plains, Boydton Road, Farmville and Appomattox. Commanded by Col. Brown, it was mustered out at Washington, D. C, June 3, 1865. The total enrollment of the regiment during service was 1,036, of whom 16 officers and 138 men were killed and mortally wounded, or 14.7 per cent. 1 officer and 121 men died of disease and other causes total deaths, 17 officers and 259 men, 30 of whom died in the hands of the enemy. The total of killed and wounded in the regiment amounted to 535. The percentage of killed and mortally wounded at Gettysburg amounted to over 15, and the total casualties to 57.4 per cent.

NYSMM Online Resources

Civil War Newspaper Clippings
This is also available in PDF format. These are large files however, they are exact images of the pages.

Other Resources

This is meant to be a comprehensive list. If, however, you know of a resource that is not listed below, please send an email to [email protected] with the name of the resource and where it is located. This can include photographs, letters, articles and other non-book materials. Also, if you have any materials in your possession that you would like to donate, the museum is always looking for items specific to New York's military heritage. Thank you.

Baird, William H. William H. Baird papers, 1862-1913, 1862-1864 (bulk).
85 items (ca.)
Letters, orders, accounts, receipts for issues of Major William H. Baird of the 126th New York Volunteers depositions and other papers concerning his conduct at Harper's Ferry in September, 1862 genealogical data and a photograph of Baird.
Located at the Geneva Historical Society Museum, 543 South Main Street, Geneva, New York 14456.

Bassett, Erasmus E. Erasmus E. Bassett diary, 1863.
Entries (January-April) are mainly concerned with inspection, drill, dress parade, and other activities at the Union Army camp at Union Mills, Virginia in May Bassett mentions digging rifle pits, orders having been given to fortify the place well, and refers to the movements of General Hooker's army in the area in late June the writer's unit began the march to Gettysburg, in which battle he was killed (Entry, July 2nd, completed by his brother, R.A. Bassett, who found the body on the battlefield at midnight. 1 v
Original at Cornell University.

Brown, J. Smith. Individual record of J. Smith Brown, Colonel, 126th New York Volunteers, August 1864.
Handwritten statement by Brown of Yates County, N.Y., giving an autobiographical sketch and detailed narrative of his Civil War service to 1864 as an officer of the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters in Virginia, and a description of the service of his brother, Capt. Morris Brown, Jr. (1842- 1864) in the 126th New York Regiment.
1 item (10 p.).
Located at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Campbell, Eric A. ' "Remember Harper's Ferry!" : The degradation, humiliation, and redemption of Col. George L Willard's Brigade - Part Two.' Gettysburg: Historical Articles of Lasting Interest. Eight (January 1993) 95-110.

Chadwick, John M. Gleanings from a Diary, April 30, 1863 to November 27, 1863 : John M Chadwick, Bandmaster, 126th Regiment of New York State Volunteers. 1863.

Geneva Gazette newspaper clippings : 1861-1865. Geneva, NY: Geneva Gazette.

Graham, Robert H. Yates County's "boys in blue", 1861-1865 : who they were, what they did. Penn Yan, N.Y. s.n, 1926.

Grand Army of the Republic. Grand Army of the Republic records, 1870-1931.
1 cubic ft.
Records of J.B. Sloan Post No.93, G.A.R., Penn Yan including minute book, 1870, with roster of post and notes of veteran burials minute book, 1908-1930 roll books for 1891-1913 treasurer's accounts for 1902-23 record of deaths printed programs, 1889-1914 miscellaneous receipts, leaflets and clippings. Other items are record book of reunion of 126th Regiment, New York Volunteers, 1908-31 a few printed items relating to William H. Long Post, No. 486, G.A.R. and an account book for the county organization of the G.A.R. in Chautauqua County, 1881-1913.
Located at the Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society, 200 Main Street, Penn Yan, New York 14527.

Hoyt, Charles S. A Surgeon's Diary : 1861-1865.
Original located at Cornell University.

Johnson family. The Johnson family papers, 1860-1934.
Description: 1 box.
Abstract: Contains the following type of materials: correspondence. Contains information pertaining to the following war and time period: Civil War -- Eastern Theater 1865-1897. Contains information pertaining to the following military units: 1st New York Sharpshooter Battalion 4th, 8th, and 16th New York Heavy Artillery Regiments 44th, 126th, 140th and 148th New York Infantry Regiments Dept. of Virginia Army of the Potomac (either the II or the VI Corps and probably the V Corps). General description of the collection: The Johnson Family papers include enlisted man's letters letters from camp, Petersburg, Centreville, Suffolk, Norfolk, Yorktown, Warrenton letters from civilians, during and after the war, around Naples, Ontario County, New York letter about Confederate money. Campaigns: Suffolk, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Appomattox unknown New York unit (V), 1863 and Corps II, VI, 1865.
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Kowalis, Jeffrey J. Died at Gettysburg! : "no prouder epitaph need any man covet" : illustrated biographies of the Union casualties at Gettysburg. Hightstown, NJ: Longstreet House, 1998.

Lee, Henry. Henry Lee Manuscripts.
Abstract: The Henry Lee File contains both letters and diary entries. Letters and diary entries appear to be mixed together at times. Only a transcript is available. Ontario County Historical Society at 55 North Main Street, Canandaigua, New York 14424, might have the original.

Lemunyon, William F. War Record, W. F. Lemunyon : Written July, 1898.

Lightfoote, W. G. Dedication of the monument to the 126th Regiment N.Y. Infantry on the battlefield of Gettysburg, October 3, 1888. Canandaigua? N.Y. : s.n., 1888. 44 p. 20 cm.

Lounsbury, Thomas Raynesford, 1838-1915. "In the defenses of Washington." Yale review II (1913) 385-411.

Mahood, Wayne. Written in blood : a history of the 126th New York Infantry in the Civil War. Hightstown, NJ: Longstreet House, 1997.

Murray, R.L. and David Hickey (ed.). The redemption of the "Harper's Ferry Cowards" : the story of the 111th and 126th New York state volunteer regiments at Gettysburg. 1994.

New York Volunteers, 126th Regiment. New York Volunteers, 126th Regiment papers, 1802-1897, 1862-1897 (bulk).
2.0 cubic ft.
Official papers of the 126th Regiment include correspondence, forms, court martial proceedings, quartermaster and ordnance records, volunteer enlistment papers, discharge papers, and muster rolls for officers and enlisted men. There are also letters of Theodore Hamilton to Lucas Smith. Other materials include the papers of Maj. Charles Richardson of the 125th Regiment papers and letters about monuments at Gettysburg dedicated to the 125th Regiment and to Col. Eliakim Sherrill letters of William H. Martin, 11th New York Heavy Artillery letters of William H. Shelton while in Confederate prisons in South Carolina copies of letters of Darius C. Sackett and miscellany on other regiments in which Ontario County men served.
Also in the collection are papers of Job Pearce including receipts two muster rolls for Capt. Seth Lee's Company, Cavalry, New York Militia, War of 1812 copies of the record book of Capt. Abner Bunnell and copy of paper relating to the Ontario County militia, 1802.
Located at the Ontario County Historical Society, 55 North Main Street, Canandaigua, New York 14424.

Newspaper clippings Neighbor&rsquos Home Mail.

Newspaper clippings from the Rochester Newspapers.

Papers pertaining to Colonel William H. Baird.

Partridge, Lewis T. Gettysburg : The following history, in verse, of the action of the Third Brigade at Gettysburg, . [Geneva, N.Y.], 1913.
Broadside 16 x 21 cm.
Signed at end: L.T. Partridge. Note at end: This poem was read by Mrs. Franc Fassett Pugsley, of Pittsford, at Geneva, N.Y., at the annual reunion of the 126th Regiment, August 26, 1913./ Printed in 2 columns.
Located at The Huntington Library.

Patterson, Maurice. "Band Played and Fought in Civil War." Ithaca Journal. 29 June 1974.

Pierce, Preston Eugene. The Harper's Ferry cowards : a history of the 126th New York volunteer regiment, 1862-1865. [S.l. : s.n.], 1978.

Proceedings of the re-union of the 126th Regiment, N.Y.V. : held at Seneca Point, Canandaigua Lake, New York, August 22, 1867. Canandaigua, NY: Ontario County Times, 1867.

Proceedings of the reunion of the 126th regiment, N.Y.V., held at Phelps, Ontario county, N.Y., on the 22d day of August, 1868. Canandaigua: Printed at the Ontario County Times . 26 p.
[Could find no record of this in World Cat.]

Proceedings of the reunion of the veterans of the 111th and the 126th reg'ts N.Y. vols., held at Gettysburg, Pa., June 10 and 11, 1886. Canaudaigua, N.Y. : Times book and job printing house, 1886. 38 p.
Located at The Huntington Library.

Residents of the 25th Congressional District, State of New York. Petition of Alfred Chissom to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton regarding Chissom's desertion, October 12, 1865 1865.

Richardson, Charles A. Capt. Richardson's Letters 1868.

Rose, George I. Diary of George Iriving Rose, August 14, 1862 to September 3, 1863 : 126th New York Volunteer Infantry. 1863.

Ryno, John L. John L. Ryno Civil War diaries : 1862-1864.

Sackett, Darius C. Civil War Letters of Darius C. Sackett of Ontario County, N.Y., Aug. - Nov., 1862 : From the library of Irving W. Coates who probably copied them from the originals in the hands of the Sackett family. 1862.

Scott, Winfield. Pickett's charge as seen from the front line, a paper prepared and read before California commandery of the Military order of the loyal legion of the United States, February 8, 1888, by Chaplain Winfield Scott, late Captain 126th New York. 15 p.

United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 126th (1862-1865). 126th New York Infantry records,1862-1865.
The collection consists mainly of muster rolls, but there also some vouchers and allotment rolls, and some other miscellaneous papers. These include a military pass, but most are receipts and routine correspondence addressed to Levi C. Ball and dealing with soldiers' pay one letter encloses a duplicate check. A few documents pertain to the 125th New York Regiment.
0.4 linear feet (1 oversize box).
Located at the New York Historical Society, New York, NY.

War Department. Office of the Judge Advocate General. Court Martial of Uriel D. Belles : Lieutenant of the 126th New York Volunteers, August 22, 1863. Elk Run, VA: War Department. Office of the Judge Advocate General, August 23, 1863.

Willson, Arabella M. Disaster, struggle, triumph adventures of 1000 "boys in Blue," from August, 1862, to June, 1865, by Mrs. Arabella M. Willson. Dedicated to the 126th regiment of New York State volunteers. With an appendix containing a chronological record of the principal events in the history of the Regiment, and the personal history of its officers and enlisted men. Prepared by the Historical committee of the Regiment. Albany, Argus co., printers, 1870. 593 p. maps, plates (illus., maps, ports.). "Biographical sketches," officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted men by companies, [337]-582.

Wirtz, Edmond. "Past People, Past Places : Colonel Eliakim Sherrill." Geneva Historical Society Newsletter. (JAN 1991).

Wolcott, Walter, 1859. The military history of Yates County, N.Y. : comprising a record of the services rendered by citizens of this county in the army and navy, from the foundation of the government to the present time. Penn Yan, N.Y. Express Book and Job Print. House, 1895.

Yost, George L. Civil War Letters of George L. Yost, 1862 -1863 : 126th New York Volunteer Infantry.

Youngs, Georgs S. Civil War Miscellaneous Collection
(Jul 19, 1862-Dec 31, 1864.
Located at the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.

Youngs, George S. Letter, 9 July 1864.
2 leaves and 13 pages.
Letter, 9 July 1864, from George S. Youngs (1843-1922) of Company G, 126th New York Infantry serving as Provost Guard for the II Corps, Army of the Potomac, at Petersburg, Virginia, to his mother Effie Youngs (b. ca. 1806) describing conditions at II Corps headquarters, mentioning General Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), and providing news of friends serving with him. Youngs also sent letters, 1818-1838, related to the Chandler family of Hanover County, Virginia, that he collected from their home when the Union army passed through the area. These letters contain information of branches of the family that settled in Hanover County and in Orange County, Vermont.
Accession 51839. Located at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia.
Thank you to Ed Worman for pointing out this resource.

General Electric History

Innovation at General Electric in the field of semiconductors in the 1950s occurred at two main sites: Syracuse and Schenectady. It centres on the pioneering work of Harper North, Robert Hall and William Dunlap at Schenectady and that of John Saby at Syracuse in the period 1948-51. By the time the silicon controlled rectifier, the Diac and Triac were developed in the period 1957-1963 General Electric had assembled a significant team of researchers and engineers at Syracuse, Schenectady and the Clyde rectifier plant.

The Schenectady laboratories date back to 1900 when Willis Whitney, a chemist from MIT, was hired to be its foundation director. Its alumni include some famous names in science and technology such as William Coolidge who worked on medical X-ray technologies, the Nobel prize winning chemist Irving Langmuir and Albert Hull who developed the magnetron and other vacuum tubes. In 1950 the laboratory moved to the Schenectady suburb of Niskayuna.

At Syracuse, Electronics Park was the headquarters for electronics research, development and was General Electric’s main electronics manufacturing site (radio, radar, television and similar equipment). Construction began in 1946 on a park like site of 150 acres and phase one was completed early in 1948. The Electronics Laboratory moved there in February 1948.

The Schenectady laboratories were intended to investigate more basic research whereas the Syracuse laboratories were there to support production. But researchers at both sites all had considerable freedom to investigate new technologies and undertook novel developments. The culture of innovation was also strong at Clyde which was a manufacturing site.

The invention of the cavity magnetron in Britain and the potential for high resolution radar led to a large scale development programme managed by the Radiation Laboratory at MIT. This included the development of new crystal rectifiers: a redeployment of very old technology now revisited because vacuum tubes could not operate at the GHz frequencies being used. But to meet military standards the humble cat’s whisker crystal detector needed to become a reliable detector.

General Electric was a contractor in the programme and represented by Harper North in the more academic “crystal meetings” which were dominated by researchers from the Radiation Laboratory and the University of Pennsylvania. [Henriksen 1987]

The overall purpose of the General Electric contract was to investigate germanium as a possible improvement over silicon which was the dominant crystal in use. [North 1946]

At General Electric North made germanium from its oxide under hydrogen at 650 C and then fused it into a crystalline mass by heating it at 1015 C. The purity of the resulting germanium (as indicated by its resistivity) was crucially dependent on the quality of the oxide, processing conditions and control over the purity of the hydrogen.

Extensive work was undertaken on germanium dopants, antimony being preferred over phosphorous which was also investigated.

To produce detector cartridges a doped ingot was sliced into 0.02 inch wafers, polished and rhodium plated on one side diced into 0.07 inch squares. These were soldered to the cartridge stud and finally highly polished. Heat treatment and chemical etching were found to be undesirable for radar detectors.

North undertook an extensive investigation of welded point-contact diodes where the contact was welded to the germanium by passing a high current briefly through the unit. Due to their negative resistance characteristics these had high gain but were not used because of their high noise. Unlike conventional point-contact diodes, they were, however, excellent rectifiers. Using germanium with high levels of antimony doping, North obtained very low forward resistance at only 0.4 volts. [Torrey 1948]

North’s coaxial cartridge design followed the dimensional outline of the Sylvania silicon 1N26 but typically utilized antimony doped germanium. The assembly was sealed into silver plated steel tube with low-loss glass. Use of antimony doping (n-type germanium) gave reversed polarity compared to conventional silicon diodes. [Drawing from Torrey 1948]

General Electric 1N23A cartridge [Courtesy Jan de Groot]

First Diodes

The first diodes released by General Electric were based on the North wartime research and the subsequent development of Harper North and his team.

The first diodes released commercially by General Electric were the G5 series submitted for RMA registration in June 1948. They were general purpose small signal types and used North’s welded germanium technology. These were the G5A, G5B, G5C and G5D which corresponded to the series 1N49-1N51.

These were followed by the G5E (1N63) that December, G5G (1N65) and G5F (1N64) in 1950 [RMA Release 670]

In 1950 the package outlined changed to the newer format illustrated below. In addition the G5 series was extended to include hermetically sealed ceramic cases as the G5K, G5L and G5P (1N69, 1N70 and 1N81) from 1950. [RMA release 891B, 1951, RMA release 1016 1951]

The G range of welded germanium diodes was extended with the G6 and G7 series. The G6 diode was intended as a VHF detector and meter rectifier and the G7 series for UHF applications. A summary of the range is shown in the following data sheets (click on these thumbnails for full resolution). For the story of their manufacturing process see "Welded Germanium Diodes."

The G8 matched pairs and G9 bridge rectifiers completed the commercial G series. By now alloy junction rectifiers known then as “diffused junction rectifiers” were in development. The G10 rectifier made a brief appearance as noted below.

Robert Hall returned to General Electric Research Laboratories Schenectady just as Bell announced its point-contact transistor. Hall had just graduated PhD from Caltech and had previously worked at the laboratories on a range of projects including the Harper North Wartime radar diode project. Dr Albert Hull was Assistant Director of the Laboratory. He was known for his collegial management style with a relaxed approach to the research agenda of his staff members. Hall recalls that Hull came in with the reprint of the Physical Review letters that announced the transistor [Bardeen 1948] and said “Robert here’s an interesting development from Bell Laboratories. It looks like something pretty new and exciting. Would you like to look into it and see if there’s anything interesting there.” [Choi 2004]

General Electric had all the knowhow it needed to duplicate the Bell design quickly. North’s diode programme had diodes that could handle 100 volts back voltage which was state of the art at that time. (Purdue University produced the high back voltage germanium for the Bell point contact transistor.) North’s diode programme and related research ensured it had a manufacturing understanding of the key technologies:

High back voltage poly-crystalline germanium

Assembly and encapsulation.

Its first designs were crude with two pins for the collector and emitter with the base connection through the case in the manner of the Bell Type A. No socket was available and users were recommended to use a 5 pin subminiature tube socket using positions 2 and 3 for the collector and emitter and to create a base connection by inserting phosphor-bronze strips in positions 1 and 4 and bending them so they contacted the transistor case.

The transistors were known as germanium triodes or germanium whisker transistors. Two types were produced evolving from prototype coding through the familiar “G” designation in use for its point-contact diodes and finally adopting RMA registration:

The prototype numbers appear in early data sheets and in a General Electric price list dated June 1 st 1951 in which the new SX-4A and Z2 transistors were priced at a massive $29 each.

The two transistors had the same mechanical and electrical characteristics but the switching transistor was tested for “trigger action” or negative resistance. [General Electric 1950 courtesy Jack Ward]

From 1952 the transistors had 3 pins with the base connection being soldered to the outside of the transistor’s case.

Early General Electric G11 and G11A point-contact transistors.[Courtesy Jack Ward]

Production General Electric G11 point-contact transistor [Courtesy Jan de Groot]

Hall had the opportunity to take a more fundamental approach to support semiconductor development.

Hall studied the addition of donor and acceptor elements. He found that he could make N-type germanium by adding arsenic but the end that solidified first came up P-type due to a mysterious impurity that turned out to be boron. This crystal was a rectifier which Hall called a “barrier-less” rectifier. “I realized sometime later that this was a very broad P-N junction and obeyed the same laws that Bill Shockley had worked out for P-N junctions“ [Choi 2004]

Hall decided to make a more efficient rectifier by taking most of the germanium away and putting donor and acceptor impurities on opposite sides. Because they both have low melting

points indium (acceptor) and antimony (donor) are good candidates for an alloy diffusion experiment. Hall assembled a wafer of germanium with a drop of indium on the top and antimony on the bottom. This was situated on a metal plate and heated in an hydrogen atmosphere to obtain alloying. It rectified: “It was very leaky in the reverse direction but it had remarkably good forward characteristics. It would carry several amperes at only a volt or so.” [Choi 2004] Previous rectifiers had only been able to pass a few milliamps. Hall improved the reverse characteristics by etching (which removes excess dopant that has diffused across the surface of the germanium).

Hall began making large area rectifiers 5mm square by this process and used water cooling for improved power. He was able to make devices that could pass 100s of amperes in one direction and block a 100 volts in the other. “So I could handle many kilowatts of power with these rectifiers which were rather phenomenal.” [Choi 2004]

By 1949 the work was sufficiently advanced to be transferred to the Electronics Laboratory at Schenectady as a production development project while the more theoretical work continued at the Research Laboratory.

Hall assumed that he was doping his junctions through diffusion into germanium. Crawford Dunlap had already been working on impurity diffusion in germanium and when learning of Hall’s success proposed a joint paper on diffused rectifiers. “Dr. Dunlap became aware of the work I was doing, and he called me into his office and proposed that we produce a joint paper on diffused rectifiers. And I was rather taken aback by this, because as far as I can see, he hadn’t contributed anything to this. I did not make use of any of his work. I don’t know if he had any diffused results.” [Choi 2004]

In 1950 Hall and Dunlap published Hall’s work on P-N junctions made by diffusing donors and acceptors from opposite sides of a germanium wafer. They discussed their approach for optimizing both the forward current and reverse voltage and showed why the alloy junction approach pioneered at General Electric gave better dopant profiles across the junction compared to those achieved by melt solidification.

“The non-linear impurity distribution which is required may be obtained by thermal diffusion of the donor and acceptor impurities into opposite sides of a wafer of semiconductor. Germanium diodes have been prepared in this manner which will withstand inverse potentials of the order of 100 volts and which will pass 500 amp/cm2 at one volt in the forward direction.” [Hall 1950]

They noted that the I-V characteristics of their rectifiers were similar to those of selenium or copper oxide but that the current densities were 1000 times better.

This work was patented by Dunlap evidently because the General Electric’s attorneys considered Dunlap had made the inventive step. The application covered the preparation of single or multiple junction units for rectifiers, thermoelectric junctions, photoelectric junctions and transistors. Dunlap’s patent describes junction formation by

diffusing donor or acceptor impurities into a semi-conductor body already doped with impurities of opposite conductivity. The assembly is fired and by controlling the firing time and temperature the degree of penetration of the impurity is controlled. The penetrated area changes to the opposite conductivity and a PN junction is formed. Contacts are made by soldering wires or connectors to the surface dopant and the wafer. [Dunlap 1950] On the left is a schematic for the General Electric G-10 power rectifier. It features heating sinking through its base. Loads of several kilowatts could be handled by this design. [Hall 1952]

The G-10 was an early prototype that was offered in pilot scale quantities from October 1951 according to its advertising "The Truth about Transistors" in Tele-Tech for May 1952 and in a two page spread in Tele-Tech for January 1952 "These rectifiers are now in pilot production." But the G-10 was never commercialized. Finis Gentry recalls “The G10 Rectifier was a germanium rectifier about the size of a quarter and about 3/16' thick. The case was made of copper with the anode insulated from the cathode by a rubber O ring. This did not provide sufficient hermetic protection so it was replaced by the hermetically sealed 4JA2 germanium rectifier.” [Gentry 2009]

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  1. Baramar

    Yes it's the imagination

  2. Gardashicage

    Certainly. It was and with me.

  3. Porteur

    I agree with all of the above-said. Let us try to discuss the matter.

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