John C. Purves papers
Scope and Contents
The papers reflect Purves's engineering and business interests, including his work as consulting engineer for E. S. Ritchie & Sons and varying degrees of ownership and management of the Automatic Compass Corporation, Purves Corporation, and the Longview Corporation. Purves's original filing system has been maintained. Correspondence files comprise most of the collection; the remainder includes notebooks, patents and patent applications, legal agreements, and corporate minutes.
Of interest are Purves's correspondence with the inventor Haig Antranikian relating to the flux-valve, along with extensive documentation of other Purves Corporation activities. In 1940 an exclusive license on a percentage royalty basis was given to the Sperry Gyroscope Company for the flux-valve. Sperry adopted this patent as a component of accurate airplane navigational equipment, which was widely marketed during the Second World War. The collection also contains correspondence with the War Production Board and Office of Housing Expediter, various social clubs, such as Delta Psi and the Cambridge Club, and Hampshire Country School, detailing Purves's other interests.
- 1934 - 1977
- Purves, John C. (Person)
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This collection is open.
Conditions Governing Use
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John Coleman Purves was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1896. He received Bachelor of Science degrees from MIT in Civil Engineering in 1918 and in Mechanical Engineering in 1920. He married Mary Temple Bradley in 1922. After working as an engineer for four companies between 1920 and 1930, Purves served as an officer and on the Board of Directors of the Automatic Compass Corporation until 1935. He then did consulting work for E. S. Ritchie & Sons, a Brookline, Massachusetts, firm that made nautical instruments.
In 1937 John Purves founded the Purves Corporation. This commercial organization was created to develop the flux-valve—an electrical coil which senses the direction of the magnetic north. Purves held controlling interest and managed the company until November 1953 when Purves Corporation stock was sold and all assets turned over to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
From 1941 to 1947 Purves served as a compliance investigator for the US Government, specifically in such agencies as the War Production Board and the Office of Housing Expediter. In 1953 he established, and was later president of, the Longview Corporation, an apartment cooperative at 983-986 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he and Mrs. Purves resided for many years. Purves was active during his college years as president of the No. 6 Club (Delta Psi), and later as chair of the Cambridge Red Cross and as a member of the Board of Trustees of Hampshire Country School in Rindge, New Hampshire.
He died on September 6, 1980.
For additional biographical information, consult the 1948 correspondence file in Box 2.
4 Cubic Feet (4 record cartons)
Language of Materials
John C. Purves received an SB in civil engineering in 1918 and an SB in mechanical engineering in 1920 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He founded the Purves Corporation to develop the flux-valve--an electrical coil which senses the direction of magnetic north. The invention was licensed to the Sperry Gyroscope Company in 1940 and became a component of accurate airplane navigational equipment widely used in World War II. The collection includes Purves's correspondence with the inventor Haig Antranikian relating to the flux-valve, along with extensive documentation of other Purves Corporation activities. Other engineering and business interests are represented by correspondence, notebooks, patents and patent applications, legal agreements, and corporate minutes.
Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.
Processing Information note
Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.
- Automatic Compass Corporation
- Bendix Corporation
- Consulting engineers Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- E. S. Ritchie & Sons
- Government consultants Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Longview Corporation
- Purves Corporation
- Purves, John C.
- Sperry Gyroscope Company
- Guide to the Papers of John C. Purves
- Ready For Review
- Elizabeth Pessek
- (Copyright 1983)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
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