Skip to main content

William D. Buckingham Papers

Identifier: Spec-Coll-00009

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of material relating to Buckingham's long career with Western Union. Of particular interest are technical data and articles on the concentrated arc-lamp. There is some business correspondence and speeches given by Buckingham, as well as patent applications.

The collection is loosely arranged by subject, as many of the materials are bound volumes, and within subject headings are arranged chronologically.


  • 1925-1968

Biographical / Historical

Born in Toledo, Ohio, on April 23, 1902, William D. Buckingham completed high school there in June, 1921. He graduated from the Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland in May 1925 and went to work for the Western Union Telegraph Company in Toledo. Following a two year training program, Buckingham went to work for the company at their Water Mill Laboratory on Long Island where he spent his entire career. He earned a second degree in Electrical Engineering from Case in 1930.

During the Second World War, Buckingham was associated with the Office of Scientific Research and Development. It was during this period that he invented and developed a concentrated arc-lamp which employed molten zirconium. For this, his most important invention, he received the Wetherill Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1954.

Another of his important contributions was his development of the sensors used in a nuclear bomb alarm system which Western Union installed in major in the early 1960's. For this, Buckingham received the company's d'Humy Award in 1962.

Buckingham was a member of Sigma Xi (Science Research Honor Society), Eta Kappa Nu (Electrical Engineering Honor Society), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. On June 15, 1964, Buckingham retired as the Senior Research Engineer at the Water Mill Lab. He died on January 19, 1965 at the age of 62.


4.59 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Finding Aid for the William D. Buckingham Papers
Finding aid prepared by Special Collections staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Kelvin Smith Library Special Collections Repository

Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland OH 44106-7151 United States