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Willis Appleford Slater Papers

Identifier: SC MS 0100

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The scope of the collection includes four series: 1. Slater's student years, in which there is only his master's thesis; 2. University of Illinois Employment, containing test reports that Slater consulted for, most notably the investigation paper from the Knickerbocker Theater disaster; 3. U.S. Bureau of Standards Employment, which contains reports, calculations, and journals belonging to Slater during his time at the bureau, including papers on the Stevenson Creek Dam; 4. Lehigh University Employment, which includes test reports from Fritz lab and project reports, including the Muncy Dam project.


  • Creation: 1910 - 1937

Access Restrictions:

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Use Restrictions:

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice:

Please inquire about copyright information.

Historical/Biographical Note:

Willis Appleford Slater was born in the town of Polo, Illinois, on October 14, 1878. At the age of 19, he attended Valparaiso University at Valparaiso, Indiana for two years. Two years later in 1906 Slater furthered his studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana, Illinois, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Municipal and Sanitary Engineering. Following his graduation, Slater married Clara Mary Knodle and also became a Research Fellow in the Engineering Experiment Station in 1908. Deciding to specialize in reinforced concrete, he graduated with a Master of Science in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics in 1910, also from the University of Illinois. He later received the professional degree of Civil Engineer in 1912 in recognition of his research, and stayed at the University of Illinois, becoming a Research Assistant Professor in 1915. At the onset of the First World War, Slater was called by the Bureau of Standards to serve as an Engineer Physicist, creating reinforced concrete ships for the Emergency Fleet Corporation. The research gained in this project was presented to the American Concrete Institute in 1919 and Slater was awarded the Wason Medal of the Institute in 1920. After the war, he stayed with the Bureau of Standards until 1928, when he took the position of Research Professor of Engineering Materials and Director of Fritz Engineering Laboratory at Lehigh University. In 1929, he was elected vice president of the Lehigh Valley section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Later that year, he died on October 5, 1931.


5 Linear Feet : 3 boxes + 5 blueprints (in flat folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is composed of the papers of Willis A. Slater, a Lehigh University civil engineering professor, chair of the department and director of Fritz Engineering Laboratory. The papers give insight into Slater's professional career as a civil engineer, particularly his work with reinforced concrete. The items contained in this collection range from 1910 to 1937 and include reports, blueprints, diaries, correspondence, photographs, and notebooks. Of particular interest are Slater's papers on the construction of the Stevenson Creek Dam.

Acquisition Information

Materials transferred in August 2001 from Civil and Environmental Engineering Department by Eleanor S. Nothelfer, librarian at Fritz Engineering Library.

Related Material

Fritz Engineering Laboratory "Project 237" Documents, SC MS 0143

Separated Material:

Separated Materials in Large Folder

Kevin Augustyn
November 22, 2011
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)