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Charles Felton Scott papers

Call Number: MS 779

Scope and Contents

The Charles Felton Scott Papers consist mainly of incoming and outgoing correspondence and some miscellaneous items, including engineering brochures, reports, and invitations to speak. Largely routine, the correspondence is composed of form letters, requests for evaluations of job applicants, and business letters.

The papers are arranged alphabetically by subject or author's name in one series spanning the years 1901 to 1923. Nearly one-third of the correspondence concerns the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, of which Scott was an active member. The remaining correspondence consists of the administrative files Scott maintained at Yale. Most of the letters dealing with the American Institute of Electrical Engineers are very routine, discussing the business aspects of the organization, minutes of meetings, and guest lecturers. The letters from the Yale files are again routine, dealing with instructors, student grades, new equipment for the department and the like. There is some mention of the reorganization of Yale University which occurred around 1920.

The Charles Felton Scott Papers provide little if any insight into Scott's importance as a scientist or an inventor. The papers may be of limited use to researchers interested in the formation and development of the electrical engineering department at Yale University in the early part of the twentieth century.

The papers were acquired by the Yale University Library in February 1945.


  • 1889-1943


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown, though much of the material in this collection is likely in the public domain. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift to Yale University in 1945, and transfer from the School of Engineering.


13 Linear Feet (31 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of correspondence, reports, and papers on engineering. The largest portion concerns the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, of which Scott was an active member. Another large section is made up of Scott's administrative correspondence at Yale in the electrical engineering department (1911-1922). Also included are papers documenting Scott's employment at the Westinghouse Electrical and Manufacturing Company from 1888 to 1911 and includes correspondence, technical papers, and material for a biography of George Westinghouse. Pamphlets and other material issued by Engineers for Hoover (1928), and miscellaneous papers from the National Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor are also in the papers.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Felton Scott, born on September 19, 1864, in Athens, Ohio, was the son of William Henry and Sarah Felton Scott.

Scott received his B.A. degree from Ohio State University in 1885 and began graduate work in mathematics at Johns Hopkins University. While studying at Johns Hopkins, Scott taught mathematics and elementary science at the Baltimore and Ohio railroad apprentice school in Baltimore.

In 1887, having decided to pursue a career as an electrical engineer, Scott went to work for a construction company that was building an alternating current plant for the Baldwin Locomotive works in Philadelphia. In the summer of 1888, Scott began working at the Westinghouse Electric Company in Pittsburgh. At Westinghouse, Scott gained expertise in the application of the science of engineering to electrical problems and soon was recognized for his work on alternating currents.

Scott's first position at Westinghouse was as Nicholas Tesla's assistant. Tesla was the first person to develop a method of utilizing undulating current. Scott assisted Tesla in the development of a new inductor motor which used alternating current to transmit power. In 1890, Scott designed the first commercial polyphase alternating current motor. During this period, he was also involved in improving the transformers manufactured by Westinghouse. It was in this area that Scott made his best known technical contribution. In 1892, he designed the T-transformer, which could transform electric current from a two-phase system to a three-phase system. This transformer was used to develop the Niagara power project.

Scott welcomed the opportunity to show others the growing importance of electrical engineering. In the early part of the twentieth century, he turned from the practical application of his engineering skills to the challenge of imparting theoretical knowledge of electrical engineering to the generations which would apply electricity to all facets of their lives. As a step in this direction, he and others in the field felt it would be useful to have a single center for all existing engineering societies. In 1903, Scott took part in negotiations with Andrew Carnegie to plan the construction in New York City of a headquarters for all engineering societies in the United States. He also organized the Electric Club and founded a magazine for engineering students entitled Electric Journal.

Scott's interest in education deepened, and in 1911, he accepted a professorship in the new electrical engineering department of the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University. Yale awarded Scott an honorary Master of Arts degree that same year. From 1911 to 1933, Scott taught in the electrical engineering department. During his tenure as chairman (1920-1933), the department expanded its reputation and acquired a separate building.

Scott was a member of most of the major engineering organizations in the United States and actively promoted the field whenever possible. From 1919 to 1920 he served on the committee that formulated plans for the Federated American Engineering Societies. He represented the American Institute of Electrical Engineers on the American Engineering Council from 1920 to 1933. Scott was president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers from 1921 to 1923.

Charles Felton Scott retired from Yale University in 1933. He died on December 17, 1944.

Guide to the Charles Felton Scott Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Mary C. LaFogg
February 1978
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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