Guide to the Charles Adler, Jr. Collection
NMAH.AC.0351

Administrative Information

Repository Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History, 1990

P.O. Box 37012
 Suite 1100, MRC 601
 Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
 Phone: 202-633-3270
 archivescenter@si.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

This collection was donated by Charles Adler, Jr.'s daughter, Mrs. Amalie Adler Ascher on September 15, 1989.

Processing Information note

Processed by Don Darroch, volunteer, and Robert S. Harding, archivist, 1990.

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Summary Information

Repository
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator
Adler, Charles, Jr., (engineer, 1899-1980)
Title
Charles Adler, Jr. Collection
ID
NMAH.AC.0351
Date [inclusive]
1899-1980
Extent
6 Cubic feet; 15 boxes
Language
English
Abstract
The collection contains correspondence, news clippings, photographs, patents, and printed materials documenting the inventive career of Charles Adler, Jr. Adler is best known for his development of the first traffic actuated signal light in 1928.

Preferred Citation note

Charles Adler, Jr. Collection, 1899-1980, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

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Biographical/Historical note

Charles Adler, Jr. (1899-1980), a professional engineer and inventor was a life-long resident of Baltimore, Maryland. He began his career as an inventor at age 14, receiving a patent on an electric automotive brake. After attending Johns Hopkins University, he served briefly in the Army during World War I and worked at several jobs before being associated in 1919 with the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, where he developed a series of safety devices. In 1928 he developed and installed in Baltimore the first traffic actuated signal light. In 1937 he became a consultant to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, continuing to invent safety and signal devices for automobiles, trains and aircraft. He was granted over sixty United States patents. He was a licensed pilot and a member of numerous professional engineering societies. From 1953-1959, Adler served on the Maryland State Aviation Commission and he was a member of the Maryland Traffic Safety Commission from 1952 until his death in 1980.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection contains biographical information about Adler and his career. Materials relating to his professional activities include newspaper clippings, photographs and other memorabilia; his published writings include articles in periodicals and newspapers. In addition, there are patent applications, royalty receipts and correspondence, as well as lengthy descriptions of various safety devices Adler invented. Many photographs are not captioned, including images of devices Adler invented, as well as images of aircraft, automobiles, and trains. There are portraits of family members, Adler, and his associates.

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Arrangement note

The collection is arranged into six series.

Series 1, Biographical Material, 1899-1980

Series 2, Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1920-1989

Series 3, Correspondence, 1928-1975

Series 4, Patents and Inventions, 1929-1980

Series 5, Photographs and Scrapbooks, circa 1920-1930

Series 6, Publications, 1952-1980

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Controlled Access Headings

Genre(s)

  • Clippings--20th century
  • Correspondence--20th century
  • Patent applications
  • Photographs--20th century
  • Receipts--20th century.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Baltimore (Md.)--20th century

Subject(s)

  • Aeronautics and state--20th century
  • Engineers--1920-1980
  • Inventions--20th century
  • Inventors--20th century
  • Railroads--20th century
  • Traffic engineering--20th century
  • Traffic signs and signals--1920-1980

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note

Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives.

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Collection Inventory

 Series 1: Biographical Material, 1899-1980

Box Folder

Birth certificate (copies), 1899 June 16

1 1

"The Brownie," Park School Yearbook, 1914, 1917

1 2

Honorable discharge from United States Army, 1918 December

1 3

Marriage certificate, 1925 June 10

1 4

Personal recognition statements and testimonials honoring Adler, 1941-1976

1 5

Pilot's flight log; certificate of recordation, pilot certificate #171609; pilot certificate and ratings with limitations; medical certificate, student and private pilot, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1949

1 6

Memoirs and other reminiscences by Charles Adler, Jr., 1968-1980

1 7

Address books, 1969-1971

1 8

Illuminating Engineering Society Directory (Maryland Section), 1971-1972

1 9

State of Maryland professional engineer certificate, 1981 June 30

1 10

Harry Adler, last will and testament, 30 January 1970

1 11

"Adler's Album" (by Charles Adler, Jr.), undated

1 12

Biographical sketches and obituaries on Adler, list of inventions

1 13

Metal plaques and license tags, undated

1 14

Miscellaneous ephemera, undated

1 15

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 Series 2: Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1920-1989

Box Folder

Clippings from newspapers and trade journals on Adler's invention of automobile traffic warning system for railroad grade crossings (also photos of the device); correspondence with individuals in railroad industry, 1920-1924

2 1

Handwritten notes, diagrams and news clippings on devices to control automatically the speed of cars approaching railroad crossings and other dangers through magnets imbedded in highway which would act on devices in cars to control speed, 1924-1927

2A 1

News clippings, 1925

2A 2

News clippings, correspondence and photos on traffic signal actuated by sound of horn, 1926-1928

2 2

News clippings, handwritten notes and correspondence on sonic traffic light control, 1927-1928

3 1

News clippings, photographs on sonic traffic light, 1928-1929

3 2

News clippings, sonic and other traffic lights, 1928-1930

3A 1

News clippings, double filament traffic signal and devices, 1930-1939

3A 2

News clippings, traffic lights for color blind, 1931-1932

3B
Box

News clippings, articles by Charles Adler on a variety of subjects, 1932-1978

4

News clippings, "Adler's Album" a column which was a regular feature in the Baltimore Beacon, 1973-1974

4
Box Folder

Unmounted clippings from newspapers and magazines on a variety of Adler's inventions and activities, 1928-1970

4 1

Unmounted newspaper and magazine clippings on Adler and his work, 1971-1989

4 2

Unmounted clippings on Adler and his work, undated

4 3

News clippings on inventions, correspondence, and advertisements, 1939-1946

5A 1-7

News clippings, aircraft inventions; columns by Walter Winchell, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Earl Wilson, 1947-1951

5A 8-11

News clippings, Walter Winchell, Cholly Knickerbocker columns and visit of King Carol (of Romania), 1952-1954

5B 1-2

News clippings, "Adler's Album" column from Baltimore Beacon. Correspondence and photo prints honoring Adler, 1974-1977

5B 1-2

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 Series 3: Correspondence, 1928-1975

Box Folder

1928-1943

6 1

1954-1963

6 2

Maryland Traffic Safety Commission, 1956-1971

6 3

Institute of Traffic Engineers, 1965-1971

6 4

1965-1975

6 5

Royalty statements, Union Switch and Signal to Adler, 1936-1952

6 6

Grimes Manufacturing to Adler, 1949-1969

6 7

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 Series 4: Patents and Inventions, 1917-1980

Box Folder

Clock speedometer, 1970

7 1

Disabled diverter, 1971-1972

7 2

Landing indicator, 1930-1942

7 3

Spaceometer, 1918-1955

7 4

1956-1963

7 5

1964-1966

7 6

1967-1977

7 7

Aircraft tail light, 1940-1957

8 8

Various aircraft lights, 1929-1955

8 9

Various aircraft lights, 1956-1978

8 10

Aircraft collision avoidance, 1941-1963

9 11

Aircraft collision avoidance, 1965-1980

9 12

Aircraft collision avoidance Grimes Manufacturing Company, 1950-1960

9 13

Aircraft lights, Grimes Manufacturing Company, 1965-1971

9 14

Other aircraft patents, 1940-1974

10 15

Automotive traffic control, 1925-1935

10 16

Automotive traffic control, 1936-1955

10 17

Automotive traffic control, 1956-1975

10 18

Automotive devices, other, 1919-1979

11 19

Railroad and other, 1917-1980

11 20

Assignment of patents to United States Government, 1945-1973

11 21

US Patent, 1,300,094, electrical brake, 1919 April 8

11 19

US Patent, 1,394,264, crossing signals, 1921 October 18

11 20

US Patent, 1,638,793, automatic time controls (railroad), 1927 August 9

11 20

US Patent, 1,705,323, highway signal systems, 1929 March 12

10 16

US Patent, 1,889,725, signal lamps, 1932 November 29

11 20

US Patent, 1,919,874, traffic signals, 1933 July 25

10 16

US Patent, 1,978,334, signals, 1934 October 23

11 20

US Patent, 1,981,577, signals, 1934 November 20

11 20

US Patent, 1,995,816, traffic signals, 1935 March 26

10 16

US Patent, 2,015,612, traffic signals, 1935 September 24

10 16

US Patent, 2,029,211, signals, 1936 January 28

11 20

US Patent, 2,121,276, signals, 1938 June 21

10 16

US Patent, 2,212,490, airplanes, 1940 August 27

10 15

US Patent, 2,316,751, landing indicators, 1943 April 20

8 9

US Patent, 2,311,921, flasher switches, 1943 February 23

8 9

US Patent, 22,497 (reissue), signal lamps, 1944 June 20

9 11

US Patent, 2,353,380, flight indicators, 1944 July 11

10 15

US Patent, 2365038, signals, 1944 December 12

9 11

US Patent, 2,365,504, reflector lamps, 1944 December 19

8 10

US Patent, 2,447,302, position lights, 1948 August 17

8 9

US Patent, 2,556,052, diverter lighting system, 1951 June 5

11 19

US Patent, 2,605,384, aircraft position lamp, 1952 July 29

8 9

US Patent, 2,881,307, undulating aircraft light, 1959 April 7

8 9

US Patent, 2,832,059, airplane external lighting, 1958 April 22

9 11

US Patent, 2,938,192, beacon lights, 1960 May 24

9 11

US Patent, 3,183,480, anticollision lights (aircraft), 1965 May 11

9 11

US Patent, 3,619,597, aircraft beacon, 1971 November 9

9 11

US Patent, 85,143 (design), traffic signal facing, 1931 September 22

10 16

US Patent, 92,055 (design), signal cover glass, 1934 April 24

10 16

US Patent, 108,773 (design), signal cover glass, 1938 March 15

10 16

Canadian Patent, 224,361, railway crossing signals, 1922 October 3

11 20

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 Series 5: Photographs and Scrapbooks, circa 1920s-1930s

Box Folder

Early Adler family and school photo prints

12 1

Portraits of Charles Adler and others

12 2

Aircraft

12 3

Automotive, classic cars

12A 1

Automotive, other

12A 2

Railroad

13 6

Unidentified devices

13 7

Miscellaneous photo negatives

13 8

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 Series 6: Publications, 1952-1980

Box Folder

Institute of Traffic Engineers and other transportation publications, 1952-1980

14

Congressional Record and other legislative publications, and miscellaneous publications, 1957-1975

15

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