Stephen Timoshenko

Stephen P. Timoshenko, Father of Modern Engineering Mechanics, Important Archive of Manuscript and Published Materials

Stephen P. Timoshenko, Father of Modern Engineering Mechanics, Important Archive of Manuscript and Published Materials


This fascinating archive includes important material from Timoshenko’s early career with Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, where he worked alongside other immigrant and American engineers in the 1920s, through his teaching and research at the University of Michigan, and his decision in the mid-1930s to move to Stanford University after exploring options at other major universities. Particularly important are the drafts and revisions to his magnum opus, History of Strength of Materials, published by McGraw-Hill in 1953.


STEPHEN P. TIMOSHENKO. Archive of more than 130 items related to the career of the father of modern engineering mechanics, ca. 1926-1959. Approximately 575 pp. (355 pp. manuscript, 195 pp. typescript, 28 pp. printed) + 23 photographs and 2 blueprints. Includes canvas briefcase on which Timoshenko wrote his name. Most materials in very good condition; some rust from paper clips and dirt on a few items.


Highlights and Excerpts

-          Jesse Ormondroyd “The Case against Dr. Geiger,” February 1, 1926, with Timoshenko’s analysis

Ormondroyd (1897-1975), a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, harshly criticized the instructions issued by Dr. Joseph Geiger with his vibrograph: “After producing two fine instruments for technical use Dr. Geiger issued instructions which are incomplete, misleading, and in places erroneous.” “The men who used the instruments in the Westinghouse Co. [including Timoshenko] represent fairly well the caliber of men who use them for other concerns. They spent a year in making mistakes, clarifying ideas and getting worthless tests before they arrived at the point where an intelligent set of instructions would have placed them at once in the beginning. A set of instructions to be intelligent to them should have been founded on a complete theoretical discussion of the instruments.”


-          “Discussion of the paper ‘The Strength of Pipe Flanges’ by Everett O. Waters and J. Hall Taylor.” Waters and Taylor published this paper in Mechanical Engineering in 1927.


-          Committee on Mechanical Calculations (including Timoshenko), Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, “Symbols for Mechanical Calculations” and “Rules for Determining Working Stresses,” July-August 1928.


-          Jacob Pieter Den Hartog, typescript Trip Report to investigate vibration trouble in the hydroelectric installation of the Phoenix Utility Co. in Waterville, North Carolina, March 7, 1930.

Den Hartog (1901-1989) was a Dutch-American mechanical engineer. He worked for Westinghouse Electric from 1924 to 1930. From 1932 to 1945, Den Hartog taught mechanical engineering at Harvard University, then dynamics and strength of materials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1945 to 1967.


-          Experimental Engineering Division of Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, “Report on Residual Stresses in a Present 9 x 12" Aluminum Alloy Piston (Aged, not quenched),” March 9, 1932, typescript.


-          “Calculation of the Flexibility of a Valve Seat,” December 9, 1932, report with diagrams and tables, from committee including Timoshenko for Westinghouse Electric.


-          Extensive correspondence from 1930-1936, including attempts by Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, to recruit Timoshenko. Approximately 70 letters and drafts. Correspondents include:

o   Harry E. Clifford (1866-1952), Dean and Professor of Electrical Engineering, Harvard University;

o   Jacob Pieter Den Hartog (1901-1989), Dutch-born engineer for Westinghouse (1924-1930), Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;

o   Charles Derleth Jr. (1874-1956), Dean and Professor of Civil Engineering, Berkeley, and chief engineer for Carquinez Bridge, the longest cantilever bridge in the western U.S., and consulting engineer on Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges;

o   George B. Karelitz (1895-1943), Russian-born engineer for Westinghouse (1921-1937), Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University from 1937 to his death, letter in Russian;

o   John M. Lessells (1888-1961), Scottish-born engineer for Westinghouse (1920-1931), independent consulting engineer, and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;

o   Lionel S. Marks (1871-1955), English-born Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Harvard University, and author of Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers, first published in 1916;

o   Robert A. Millikan (1868-1953), First President and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1923; and

o   Baldwin M. Woods (1887-1956), Professor of Aerodynamics, University of California, Berkeley.


-          Stephen P. Timoshenko, Proposal for Institute of Applied Mechanics at Harvard University, ca. 1931-1934


-          Boris A. Bakhmeteff, “Memorandum on Advanced Engineering Instruction and the Degree of Doctor of Engineering Science,” Columbia University, ca. 1930s.

Bakhmeteff (1880-1951) had been the only ambassador of the Russian Provisional Government to the United States, 1917-1922. He was professor of civil engineering at Columbia University from 1931 to his death, with a specialty in hydraulics and hydraulic engineering. He became an American citizen in 1934.


-          Stephen P. Timoshenko, “Working Stresses for Columns and Thin-Walled Structures,” typed paper; published in the Journal of Applied Mechanics 1 (1935): 173-83.


-          Timoshenko’s Membership Certificates as Associate Fellow (1935) and Fellow (1936) of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences.

The Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (IAS) was established in 1932 as “a sort of club for gentlemen engineers and a professional society that would enable elite specialists to interact with colleagues in other disciplines.” The first Honorary Fellow was Orville Wright, but the prohibition against women members barred Amelia Earhart from membership. Headquartered at Rockefeller Center in New York, the IAS published the Journal of the Aeronautical Sciences monthly from 1935 until the IAS merged with the American Rocket Society in 1963 to form the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


-          Stephen P. Timoshenko, “Theory of Structures Lectures for 1938 Spring”


-          Program for the Presentation of the Lamme Medal for Achievement in Engineering Education to Timoshenko by the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, June 1939.


-          Printed Announcement of Timoshenko lecture by the Russian Society of Engineers in San Francisco, Friday, March 29, [1940?], in Russian.


-          Nicholas R. Rodionoff to Stephen P. Timoshenko, July 19, 1949, in Russian.

Rodionoff (1885-1964), an émigré from Russia, arrived in the United States in 1923. He began working at the Library of Congress in 1925, and from 1930 to 1944, led the Slavic Program there.


-          Photograph of Timoshenko and others at the 1953 annual meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in New York City.


-          Michael S. Troitsky, pamphlet on bridge design published in Belgrade, 1943, in Serbian.

Trioitsky (1917-2003) earned a doctorate in structural engineering from the University of Belgrade in 1943, then worked for twelve years as chief bridge engineer for the Foundation Company of Canada. He was later a professor of civil engineering at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. In the 1960s, Troitsky developed the famed bridge building competition that draws entries from engineering students from across North America and Europe.


-          Materials related to Timoshenko’s History of Strength of Materials, published by McGraw-Hill in 1953, including an abstract declaring that “The book is written principally for students of engineering schools on basis of lectures given by the author during the last twenty years,” research notes, page proofs, typed and handwritten sections to be inserted, and comments by reviewers.

Considered this work “the great Timoshenko epic” one reviewer wrote, “Even if he had not written any of his wonderful texts, this sweeping magnum opus on the history of strength of materials would have ensured eternal fame for this professor author par excellence.”


-          Michael S. Troitsky, “On the Determination of Ice Pressure on Bridge Piers,” August 27, 1959.


-          “Approximate Calculation of Stresses Due to Fit Pressure,” typed report, n.d.


-          “Explicit Formulas for Symmetric Bending,” typescript, n.d.


-          Assessment of a vibrometer produced by the Vibration Specialty Company for use in power plants, n.d.


-          “An Improved Theory for Suspension Bridges,” n.d.


-          “Case of Hinges at the Supports,” n.d.



Stephen P. Timoshenko (1878-1972) was born in the Ukraine and educated in Russia, graduating from the St. Petersburg Institute of Engineering of Ways of Communication in 1901. He taught engineering in Russia, Germany, and Ukraine, and published the first edition of his Strength of Materials textbook in Russian. When the White Army’s Armed Forces of South Russia took Kiev in 1919, Timoshenko left, ultimately arriving in Zagreb, where he taught at the Zagreb Polytechnic Institute. He delivered lectures in Russian but used as many words in Croatian as he could so that his students could understand him.  Timoshenko moved to the United States in 1922. He worked at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation from 1923 to 1927, when he became a professor at the University of Michigan and established a program in engineering mechanics. In 1936, he became a professor of engineering at the University of Stanford, where he taught until his retirement in 1944, though he continued to teach as an emeritus professor and write. Other of his important works include Theory of Elasticity and Engineering Mechanics. In 1957, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers established the Timoshenko Medal for distinguished contributions to applied mechanics and awarded the first medal to Timoshenko himself. In the early 1960s, he wrote his autobiography, As I Remember, which was published in Russian in 1963, and in English in 1968.




Item: 66173

Price: $20,000.00
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Stephen Timoshenko
Stephen Timoshenko
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