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Irwin B. Fieldhouse Interview, 1997-1998

Identifier: 031.07.01

Oral interviews of Prof. Irwin Fieldhouse, the first employee of Armour Research Foundation. Primarily his reminiscences of people and projects connected to ARF and IITRI. Interviews were conducted on 12/8/1997, 4/21/1998, and 5/27/1988. Each tape is ca. 60 minutes long. A typed transcript of the interviews is also included in the collection. See index of topics discussed in "Extended Information" paragraph below. Item listing: 1999.13.1 Tape of 12/8/1997 interview and diskette 1999.13.2 Tape of 4/21/1998 interview 1999.13.3 Tape of 5/27/1998 interview and diskette 1999.13.4 Transcript Index of Topics Discussed in Irwin Fieldhouse Interview (numbers refer to transcript page numbers): --TAPE 1; SIDES A & B, Page No.-- AIT, 1. Professor Penn, 2. Chemical Engineering, 3. Prof. Olaf Hougen, 3. (Linton?) Grinter, 4. James Peebles, 5. (P. C.?) Huntley, 6. Armour Research Foundation, 6. Joseph Finnegan, 7. Size of research projects, 7. Harold Vagtborg, 8. Thomas Poulter, 8. First ARF employee, 10. Max Jakob, 10. Poulter/Snow Cruiser, 10-15. F. A. Wade/Snow Cruiser, 13. Wade's log at Library of Congress, 15. First Employee of ARF, 15. Hal Leedy, 16. Flushing toilets/Pentagon, 17. Poulter & John Yellett, 17. Institute for Gas Technology, 17. Stanford Research Institute, 18. Lectures by Ralph Peck, 18. Max Jakob, 19. Enrico Fermi, 19. Ice lab, 20. Manhattan Project, 19. Karl Menger, 21. Marvin Camras, 22. Golf Ball testing machine, 22. Thomas Poulter, 23. Harold Vagtborg, 23. Jesse Hobson, 25. Camras/Recorders for WW II, 25. ARF building-33rd and Dearborn, 26. Weaponry, 26. Le Van Griffis, 26. Ahmad Kafadar, 26. Gatling gun, 27. Gary Nothmann, 27. Steve Frankel, 27. Western Shade Cloth Co., 27. Blackout shades, 27. Neighborhood relations, 27. Mecca building, 28. Temporary building, [presumably, government surplus], 28. War training program, 30. Vagtborg's departure, 30. Hobson becomes director, 30. IIT/IITRI relationship, 31. Walter McGran, 31. Shroud of Turin, 31. Fire Protection Engineering, 32. Computer programs for nuclear weapons, 33. Gary, Ind., 33. "Arsonists", 34. Nuclear testing, 34. (N. b., transcript is missing for the last three to four minutes of tape 1. Topics discussed continued as follows.): Bill Rostiker. Max Hansen. Ross Stoker. Dr. Delante. Metallurgy research. Don McPhearson. Powder metallurgy. Ralph Barnett. The Chicken Man. --TAPE 2; SIDE A, Page No.-- Tom Poulter, 1. Liquid fuel cars, 1. Funding, 1. General Hammond, 1. Industrial money, 2. Mellon Institute, 2. Battelle, 2. Southwest Research Institute, 2. Southern Research Institute, 2. Midwestern Research Institute, 2. Stanford Research Institute, 2. Max Jakob, 3. Dr. Carl Anderson, 4. John Fitzpatrick, 4. U. S. Golf Association, 4. Golf clubs, 4. Anderson and Fieldhouse code, 5. Tiger Woods, 5. Sunkist Apple Pie, 5. Marvin Camras, 7. Louie Grote Reber, 8. O'Donnell, 8. ARF March, 9. Prestini bowls, 9 or 10. Charles Eames chairs, 10. Photos on the walls, 10. Kafadar, 10. Recoilless gun, 11. Frere, 11. Herren, 12. First technical woman at IITRI, 13. Mrs. Fieldhouse, 13. Fieldhouse's family, 14. S. I. Hayakawa, 15. Jack Teagarden, 15. Paul Torda, 16. "Blue Flame", 16. Interprofessional Projects, 16. Rush Medical School/IIT joint program, 16. U. of Chicago/IIT joint program, 17. Mandelco, 17. "Two and a Half", 17. Louis Gershon, 18. The Bakery Restaurant, 18. Mort Klein, 18. John J. Schommer, 19. Ted Erickson, 20. Evan Fey, 21. Col. Fabian, 22. Riverbank Acoustical Lab, 23. --TAPE 2, SIDE B, Page No.-- Col. Fabyan, 1. Paul Torda, 2. Alvin submersible, 2 [n.b., Prof. T. Paul Torda was involved in this research project]. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 2. Mort Klein, 3. Walter McCrane [McCrone?], 4. Shroud of Turin, 5. Nuclear testing effects, 6. Maurice King, 6. Bruschke, 7. Artificial heart project, 7. Corn drying project, 7. Orville Reddenbacher, 8. Microwave ovens, 8. Jack Bridges, 8. Henry Linden, 8. Miro Aluminum Pot & Pan Co., 9. Peebles and Anderson, 9. Spiegel Mail Order Co., 9. Coal stoves, 9. Fitzpatrick, 9. Pearl, 9. Whiting Corp., 10. Crane brakes, 10. Air vents, 10. Armour Meat Packing Co., 11. Pill making machines, 11. --TAPE 3, SIDES A & B, Page No.-- WWII, 1. Parachutes, 1. Submarine detection, 2. Scatter bomb, 4. Project Cannonball, 4. NASA's V-2 rocket, 4. Heat pump, 5. Wound/burn research, 6. Natick Labs, 6. Blankets/gloves, 6. Fire protection research, 8. Atomic bomb, 8. Gary, Ind., 8. Intentional fires, 8. Special weapons research, 10. Snow, 11. Underground city/Greenland, 11. De-icing aircraft wings, 12. Aircraft noise, 13. SST, 13. Windmills, 14. Thermal electric, 15. High speed train/TGV, 15. American Power Conference, 15. Kezius, 15. Monty Percasin, 15. Hydroponics, 16. Vitofarms, 16. Food safety, 17. Golf ball testing, 19. IIT/IITRI relationship, 19. Failure of high tech development, 20. Contract research institutions, 21. Future of IITRI, 22. [end]


  • 1997-1998


Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Research

Collection Size

4 Series

Biographical Note

Irwin B. Fieldhouse (1915-2005), Armour Institute of Technology class of 1938, was an employee of Armour Research Foundation and IITRI working in the Chemical Engineering department. Interviews were conducted by Dr. Leonard Reiffel ('1947, '1948, '1953), former Deputy Director of NASA's Apollo Program and on-air science commentator for CBS. Before joining NASA, he was group vice president for IITRI. Armour Research Foundation (ARF) was one of the first private, not-for-profit contract research laboratories in the United States. Begun in Chicago in 1936 by Armour Institute of Technology (AIT), ARF was acquired by Illinois Institute of Technology in 1940 when IIT was created by the merger of AIT and Lewis Institute. Re-named Armour Research Foundation of Illinois Institute of Technology, it was later reorganized as the IIT Research Institute (IITRI). Under all its iterations, the laboratory conducted research for commercial and government sources, expanding to an international operation. Per IIT President John L. Anderson's April e-newsletter to the campus community, "In 2002, Alion purchased the non-life-science assets of IIT Research Institute.... IITRI remains an IIT-controlled company and is led by David McCormick, who is also professor of biology at the university.... [In March 2010] the university received a cash exchange for our final holdings of bonds and warrants in Alion...." Source: IIT Archives (Chicago)


Formerly 1999.013


Primarily short anecdotes; can serve as a source to identify people or activities that merit more research. Note that people are frequently identified only by last name and that spellings have not been verified in the transcript. (I corrected some errors. C. Bruck)


Catherine Bruck, University Archivist 3/31/1999

Part of the Paul V. Galvin Library. University Archives and Special Collections Repository

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Paul V. Galvin Library

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