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Albert G. Ingalls pseudoscience collection

Identifier: MC-0187

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Scope and Contents

The Albert G. Ingalls psuedoscience collection primarily comprises collections of books and pamphlets assembled by Albert G. Ingalls while associate editor of Scientific American, and given to the MIT Libraries in 1940, with later additions. Much of the material rejects contemporary theories of physical sciences, particularly theoretical and planetary physics; a smaller portion builds upon contemporary science and explores hypotheses not yet accepted. A smaller portion of the collection consists of materials added in 1991 and collected by the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections.


  • Creation: 1900 - 1990


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Biographical Note

Albert Graham Ingalls, 1888-1958, graduated from Cornell University in 1914. Ingalls was a United States World War I veteran. He worked as an editor at Scientific American from 1923-1955 and helped popularize amateur astronomy and telescope making. (1) Ingalls was awarded the Astronomical League Award (1951) (2) and the Blair Medal of Western Amateur Astronomers (1954). (3)

1. Trimble, Virginia, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard Jarrell, Jordan D. Marché, and F. Jamil Ragep. Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer Science & Business Media, 2007.

2. “Previous Astronomical League Award Winners,” September 27, 2007.

3. “G. Bruce Blair Award”, Western Amateur Astronomers Accessed June 13, 2020.


8.91 Cubic Feet (15 legal manuscript boxes, 6 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.


Additional accruals are not expected.

Bibliography of Publications about MC-0187

A selection of writings about the collection formerly known as the "Archives of Useless Research."
  • Arnst, Catherine. “What Is Truth? Look It Up in Archive of Useless Research.” Reuters, January 29, 1989.
  • Asker, Jim. “Where Science Meets Lunatic Fringe: Archives of Useless Research at MIT Is Home to Works of Unique Value.” Dallas Morning News, March 27, 1989.
  • Jerusalem Post. Untitled article. May 8, 1989, sec. OPINION.
  • Connors, Ann. “They Dreamed the Impossible . . . and This Proves It.” Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1989.
  • Deseret News. “Archives at MIT Preserve the Bold, Bizarre Theories of Colorful Crackpots.” Accessed April 4, 2019.
  • Emery, Gene. “Scientific Secrets from ‘The Crackpot Collection.’” Providence Journal, April 13, 1989.
  • Goldsmith, Charles. “MIT’s Archive of Useless Research.” United Press International, January 15, 1989.
  • Higgins, Richard. “‘Useless’ Works Find Home at MIT.” Boston Globe, January 19, 1989.
  • Kanaley, Reid. “This Week’s Web Winners: Unnecessary and Useless Research.” Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, April 18, 2006.
  • Kossy, Donna. “The Archive of Useless Research.” In Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief. Feral House, 1995.
  • Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA). “MIT Preserves Weird Science.” April 9, 1989.
  • Locke, Michelle. Untitled article. Associated Press, April 1989.
  • MacDougal, Rob. “Convention of Cranks: Why the Nineteenth Century’s Golden Age of Psuedoscience May Be a Precursor of Our Own.” SCOPE Magazine, Spring 2011.
  • Mansfield, Howard. “Archives of Useless Research.” Yankee, 1993.
  • McFadden, Cyra. “Uses for ‘Useless Research.’” San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle, February 5, 1989.
  • Providence Journal. “MIT Archives Home to Weird Science, Too.” April 9, 1989.
  • Rumore, Danya. “Engler’s Ornithopter: Useless Research or an Idea Waiting to Take Flight?” Scope (blog). Accessed April 4, 2019.
  • San Francisco Chronicle. “Weird Science Has A Museum of Its Own.” April 25, 1989.
  • Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN). “Wacky Theories Enshrined.” May 7, 1989.
  • Tech Talk.“‘Useless’ Research Finds a Home in MIT’s Archives.” December 7, 1988.
Guide to the Albert G. Ingalls Pseudoscience Collection
Chris Tanguay with the assistance of Ana Maria Vargas
2019 August
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2019 August: Added file listing and additional notes.
  • 2020 June: Biographical Note by Jessika Myers added.
  • 2021 July 30: Edited by Lana Mason to remove aggrandizing terms in the biographical note description.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US