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Papers of Klopsteg, Paul E., 1905-1991

Description of Collection


Northwestern University Library. University Archives.

Evanston, IL 60201

Papers created by

Klopsteg, Paul E., 1889-

Size of collection

10 boxes

Short description of collection

This collection contains documentation on the career of Paul E. Klopsteg, who served as professor of physics at the University of Minnesota and at Northwestern University. Spanning in date from 1905 through 1991, these papers also document his involvement in military-related projects and his role as the chair of the national Academy of Science's Committee on Artificial Limbs. This collection comprises ten broad categories: biographical materials, education files, correspondence, archery files, governmental organizations files, professional organizations files, publications files, religion files, speech manuscript files, and material relating to World Wars I and II.

Language(s) of collection


Collection number:

Series 22/4/11

Biography of Paul E. Klopsteg

Paul Earnest Klopsteg was born in Henderson, Minnesota, the son of the reverend Julius and Magdalen (Kuesthardt) Klopsteg, on May 30, 1889. He obtained his B.S. (1911), M.A. (1913), and Ph.D. (1916) from the University of Minnesota. In recognition of his scientific accomplishments he was awarded honorary Sc.D. degrees by Northwestern University (1942) and Wesleyan University (1948).

Klopsteg taught physics at the University of Minnesota from 1911 to 1917. During 1917 and 1918 he worked for the U.S. Army Ordinance Department. From 1918 to 1921 he was in charge of technical advertising at Leeds & Northrup Co. in Philadelphia. He moved to Chicago to assume a position at the Central Scientific Company in development and manufacturing, which he held from 1921-1930, before serving as the company's president, from 1930-1944.

In 1943 Klopsteg was a member of the Kettering Committee which advised Northwestern University on the development of its newly established Technological Institute. The following year he was appointed professor of applied science and director of research at the Technological Institute. Klopsteg became professor emeritus in 1954. From 1961 to 1963 Klopsteg served as special consultant for science to J. Roscoe Miller, Northwestern's president.

During World War II and for several years thereafter Klopsteg was involved in several military-related projects. He served as chief of the Division of Physics and Special Devices in the National Defense Research Committee. He was also a member of the Committee's "anonymous division" involved in developing methods and devices for use behind enemy lines. Klopsteg then became deputy chief, Office of Field Service, Office of Scientific Research and Development. In this capacity he worked for a period in the Pacific region and in 1948 was awarded the Presidential Medal for Merit.

During the years following the War, Klopsteg served as chair of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Artificial Limbs. In 1950 he became a member of the panel for security measures in the Atomic Energy Commission. He also served as a member of the commission's personnel security review board. The following year he spent six weeks in Lahore, Pakistan, as a consultant to Pakistan's Education Commission. Additionally, Klopsteg was the associate director for research with the National Science Foundation from 1951 to 1958.

From 1958 to 1960 Klopsteg chaired the National Academy of Science's Committee on Meteorology which he renamed the Committee on Atmospheric Sciences. During this period he played a major role in the establishment of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, later known as the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Active in numerous professional organizations, Klopsteg was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1959) and a founder and president of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He was also an active member of the American Institute of Physics.

In 1929, stimulated by his daughter Marie, Klopsteg became interested in archery both as a sport and as a source of research problems in physics. This interest remained with him for the rest of his life, leading to productive research and the writing of many articles and two books: Turkish Archery and the Composite Bow (1934 and 1947) and, as coauthor, Archery: the Technical Side (1947). This field also led Klopsteg into a long-standing friendship with the mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner.

On June 11, 1914, Klopsteg married Amanda Marie Toedt. The couple had three daughters: Marie (Mrs. Joseph M. Graffis); Irma Louise; and Ruth Helen (Mrs. Henry L. Drake).

As a researcher who held over 50 patents, a scientist and a writer, Klopsteg made substantial contributions in several fields. He died on April 28, 1991, in Laguna Hills, California, a month before his 102nd birthday. His wife, Amanda, had died on October 31, 1990, at 98.

Scope and Contents of Collection

The Paul E. Klopsteg Papers fill ten boxes (including one half-size and one dropfront box) and span the period 1905 through 1991. They are organized in ten categories: biographical materials, education files, correspondence, archery files, governmental organizations files, professional organizations files, publications files, religion files, speech manuscript files, and material relating to World Wars I and II. Material in each category is arranged alphabetically according to folder title unless stated otherwise.

The biographical materials include a large number of certificates (Box 9, Folder 1; Box 10), calendars and diaries, many clippings on various aspects of Klopsteg's life, and a long interview (Box 2, Folder 7) dealing in detail with his activities in the American Association of Physics Teachers. A 19-page autobiographical typescript was written for the Cosmos Club (Box 4, Folder 8).

The education files contain materials documenting Klopsteg's work towards his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees. The files include laboratory data and reports, seminar papers written by Klopsteg, and copies of his master's and doctoral theses. A copy of Klopsteg's high school commencement program, and a general file on his social and academic activities at the University of Minnesota are included. This category is arranged by academic degree, in the order they were received by Klopsteg. Within each degree section, the files are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

The correspondence is separated into general files, arranged chronologically by date, and subject files, arranged alphabetically by folder title. The subject correspondence deals with Klopsteg's business, consulting, academic, and family interests. Of particular interest is a substantial folder of correspondence with Erle Stanley Gardner dealing at some length with Gardner's procedures as an author.

The archery files include correspondence and related materials, published articles, and speech manuscripts. A substantial folder of correspondence with Erle Stanley Gardner concerns their mutual interest in archery. Also of interest are four folders of correspondence with A.J. Costner, a pioneer in the resurgence of archery who also worked with the Pima Indians. Clippings also are included here. Several pertain to "Little Joe," the secret bow-pistol Klopsteg designed during World War II (Box 6, Folder 3; Box 9, Folder 3).

The files relating to the various governmental organizations in which Klopsteg was involved unfortunately are very thin. However, they help document Klopsteg's notable achievements in areas such as artificial limb research. Correspondence, notes, clippings, commission reports, progress reports, meeting agendas, membership rosters, conference programs, and typescripts of papers and remarks are scattered throughout. The World War II files document Klopsteg's involvement in the Office of Scientific Research and Development.

The professional organizations files include correspondence, programs, and event announcements. They document Klopsteg's close involvement and leadership roles in the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The publications files include a few drafts of articles and a large collection of reprints. The reprints are filed chronologically by date of publication. The archery section also includes published articles.

The religion files include a small amount of clippings, correspondence, an article published by Klopsteg on how a physicist views God, and typescripts of religious talks given by Klopsteg. The bulk of this section refers to a series of talks Klopsteg gave to the ecumenical Wednesday Breakfast Group, 1963 through 1976.

The speech files contain drafts of papers Klopsteg presented on government's role in research, recollections of Northwestern physicist, Henry Crew (Box 8, Folder 12), and several events related to the University of Minnesota such as its centennial celebration in 1958 and Klopsteg's 50th class reunion in 1961. The sections on archery, religion, and World Wars I and II also include speech-related materials.

The World War I files relate to Klopsteg's work on the chronograph which he developed in 1917-18 for studying projectile velocities. His research is documented by correspondence, research statistics, lists of expenses and notes. The World War II files document Klopsteg's association with the Office of Scientific Research and Development in the South Pacific. They are comprised of correspondence, a diary, and government identification cards. Other files in this section relate to speeches made by Klopsteg, and some of his research on the penetrometer. Klopsteg's Medal of Merit Citation for World War II is filed here.

The oversize box contains over 80 certificates Klopsteg received from a variety of organizations and activities.

The additions to this series include a first interim report and a two-volume final report of the Advisory Committee on Weather Control as well as the text of Klopsteg's speech entitled "Science in Government, and Government in Science." The Advisory Committee on Weather Control was established by act of Congress in 1953; Klopsteg was the chairman of the Advisory Committee's Panel on Effect of Atomic Weapons on Weather. The additions have been placed at the end of Box 9 of this series.

A small amount of correspondence, article reprints, clippings, and biographical materials have been added to pre-existing folders within the main body of this collection.

Restrictions on Use and Access

No restrictions.

No restrictions.

Selected Search Terms

These papers have been indexed in the International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics and Allied Sciences (ICOS) using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.


Costner, A. J.
Gardner, Erle Stanley, 1889-1970


American Association for the Advancement of Science.
American Association of Physics Teachers.
American Physical Society.
United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development.

Subject terms

Artificial limbs -- Research.
Physics -- Societies, etc.
Physics -- Study and teaching.
Religion and science.
Science and state -- United States.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Science.

Occupation terms

Physicists -- Archives.

Genre terms


Material Separated from Collection

In the first accession, a collection of glass slides, several audio tapes and reels of film, and many photographs were transferred to the Archives’ audiovisual and photograph collections. Small amounts of duplicate and extraneous material were returned to Ms. Graffis. In the additional accession, ten black-and-white photographic prints and one color photographic print have been added to the University Archives' photographic collection under the main heading: Klopsteg, Paul E. Twelve black-and-white nitrate photographic negatives have been added to the University Archives' collection of nitrate negatives under the same heading. Three linear inches of correspondence, clippings, speech texts, and article reprints duplicating materials in the main body of this series were returned to Marie Graffis on February 20, 1996.

Provenance and Acquisition Information

The first accession (#91-147) was a gift of Marie K. Graffis on August 20, 1991.

The additional accession (#96-18) was also a gift of Marie K. Graffis on January 18, 1996.

Processing Information

The first accession of this collection was processed by William K. Beatty in August - November 1991.

The additional accession of this collection was processed by Kevin B. Leonard on February 20, 1996.

Administrative Information


Finding Aid to the Paul E. Klopsteg Papers, 1905-1991


This finding aid has been encoded by the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics as part of a collaborative project supported by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, an independent federal agency. Collaboration members in 1999 consisted of: American Institute of Physics, California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Rice University, University of Alaska, University of Illinois, and University of Texas.


American Institute of Physics.
Center for History of Physics.

One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740

Published in 2000

Encoding Information

Machine-readable finding aid encoded in EAD v.1.0 by Clay Redding on November 11, 1999 from an existing finding aid using NoteTab Pro and C++ scripts created by James P. Tranowski (provided by Elizabeth Dow, Special Collections, University of Vermont). Any revisions made to this finding aid occurred as part of the editing and encoding process.

Biographical Materials, 1913-1991

Boxes 1 and 2

Box 1 Folder 1 General, 1918-1975
Folder 2 Awards, 1958-1978
Folder 3 Birth Certificate, 1940
Folder 4 Calendars, 1947-1951, 1965
Folder 5 Clippings, 1911-1914, 1930
Folder 6 Clippings, 1942-1950
Folder 7 Clippings, June 8, 1948
Folder 8 Clippings, 1951-1961
Folder 9 Clippings, 1962-1969
Folder 10 Clippings, 1975-1977, 1990
Folder 11 Clippings, n.d.
Folder 12 Diaries, 1944-1946
Folder 13 Diaries, 1946-1949
Folder 14 Diaries, 1950-1951
Folder 15 Diaries, 1951-1955
Box 2 Folder 1 Diaries, 1956-1962
Folder 2 Diaries, 1962-1969
Folder 3 Financial Records, 1910-1933
Folder 4 Gardner, Erle Stanley--clippings, 1976-1977
Folder 5 Honorary Degree (Wesleyan University), 1948
Folder 6 Interview with Klopsteg, Jan. 27, 1963
Folder 7 Klopsteg Lectures, 1972
Folder 8 Membership Cards, 1930-1946
Folder 9 News Releases, 1944-1976
Folder 10 Obituaries, 1991
Folder 11 Programs (Professional Organizations), 1913-1951

Education files, 1905-1961

Boxes 2-3

Box 2 Folder 12 High School (Commencement Program), June 3, 1905
Folder 13 University of Minnesota Societies, Programs, Grades, 1907-1916; 1936; 1961
Folder 14 Verein Gemutlichkeit, n.d.

Bachelor of Science Degree

Box 2 Folder 15 Descriptive Geometry, n.d.
Folder 16 Electrical Engineering, 1910-1911
Folder 17 Electrical Engineering Lab, 1910
Box 3 Folder 1 Electrical Machinery, 1909-1910
Folder 2 Note Cards, n.d.
Folder 3 Physical Laboratory, 1909-1910
Folder 4 Physics, 1908-1909
Folder 5 Radioactivity, 1911-1912
Folder 6 Student Papers, n.d.

Master of Arts Degree

Box 3 Folder 7 Mathematics, 1912-1913
Folder 8 Measurement of Magnetic Fields, n.d.
Folder 9 Moving Coil Galvanometer, 1913
Folder 10 Thesis, 1913

Ph.D. Degree

Box 3 Folder 11 Notes Summer, 1914
Folder 12 Notes, n.d.
Folder 13 Thesis, 1916

Correspondence, 1907-1990

Boxes 3-4

Box 3 Folder 14 General, 1907-1959
Folder 15 General, 1960-1975
Box 4 Folder 1 General, 1976-1979
Folder 2 General, 1980-1991
Folder 3 Allen, Robert S., 1974-1981
Folder 4 American Meteorological Society, 10/24/78-12/26/78
Folder 5 Boley, Bruno A., 1977-1986
Folder 6 Books Given To NU Library, 12/27/76
Folder 7 CENCO-Correspondence, Catalogues, Programs, 1923-1929
Folder 8 Cosmos Club, 1959-1990
Folder 9 Elmhurst College, 1942-1984
Folder 10 Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild, 1965-1970
Folder 11 Gardner, Erle Stanley, 1932-1978
Folder 12 Gardner's Books Donation, 6/1976-3/1977
Folder 13 Klopsteg Fund, 1943-1990
Folder 14 Laguna Hills Academy, 1980-1985
Folder 15 Mayflower Church, 1977-1986
Folder 16 Minnesota State Centennial, 1958
Folder 17 Probst and Langer, 1962-1986
Folder 18 Punjab University, 1950-1954
Folder 19 University Club of Evanston, 1973-1983
Folder 20 University of Minnesota, 1950-1981
Folder 21 Waterman, Alan T., 1960-1979

Archery files, 1930-1988

Boxes 5-6

Box 5 Folder 1 Awards, 1939; 1976
Folder 2 Bibliographic Cards, n.d.
Folder 3 Bow Design, n.d.
Folder 4 Clippings, 1939-1974


Box 5 Folder 5 General, 1930-1969
Folder 6 General, 1970-1979
Folder 7 General, 1980-1988
Folder 8 Archery World, 1968-1982
Folder 9 Art Young Foundation, 1935-1978
Folder 10 Bear, Fred, 1949-1982
Folder 11 Costner, A.J., 1936-1949
Folder 12 Costner, A.J., 1953-1955
Folder 13 Costner, A.J., 1956-1959
Folder 14 Costner, A.J., 1960-1972
Folder 15 Eppley, Marion, 1933-1943
Folder 16 Gardner, Erle Stanley, 1936-1946
Folder 17 Hickman, C.N., 1935-1981
Box 6 Folder 1 Hoff, Roy, 1971-1981
Folder 2 Klopsteg Library, 1952-1989
Folder 3 "Little Joe", 1958-1981
Folder 4 Miller, Myrtle and Ed, 1978-1990
Folder 5 Monroe, Paul, 1934-1952
Folder 6 Nagler, F., 1935-1981
Folder 7 Seagrave, John D., 1954-1962
Folder 8 Society of Archer-Antiquaries, 1974-1990
Folder 9 Exhibit Cards, n.d.
Folder 10 Membership Cards and Insignia, n.d.
Folder 11 Patent (Bow Sighting Device), 1934


Box 6 Folder 12 "An Archer Considers Physics", n.d.
Folder 13 "Archery: A Hobby for Physicists", n.d.
Folder 14 "Science Looks at Archery", n.d.
Folder 15 Twenty-Five Years of Archery, 1955
Folder 16 Reprints, 1943-1974
Folder 17 Research Notes, 1931-1955
Folder 18 Smithsonian Institution, 1969-1974

Speech Files

Box 6 Folder 19 "Archery: A Physicist's Hobby", 4/7/1939
Folder 20 Miscellaneous, n.d.
Folder 21 "Physics Looks at Archery", 5/15/1934

Governmental organizations, 1945-1985

Boxes 6-7

Box 6 Folder 22 Atomic Energy Commission, 1945-1950
Folder 23 CENTO, 1962
Folder 24 Commission on Amputations and Prostheses, 1946
Folder 25 Natural Academy of Sciences Committee on Atmospheric Sciences, 1960-1982
Folder 26 National Academy of Sciences "Instrumentation in Biomedical Research", 1956
Folder 27 National Research Council Committee on Artificial Limbs, 1945-1947
Box 7 Folder 1 National Research Council Committee on Artificial Limbs, 1948-1949
Folder 2 National Science Foundation, 1948-1985
Folder 3 Office of Scientific Research and Development, n.d.

Professional organizations, 1919-1988

Box 7

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Box 7 Folder 4 General, 1958-1987
Folder 5 Correspondence - Abelson, P.H., 1963-1980
Folder 6 Correspondence - Carey, W.D., 1976-1983
Folder 7 American Association of Physics Teachers, 1958-1988
Folder 8 American Institute of Physics, 1947-1985
Folder 9 American Physical Society, 1919-1921

Publications, 1913-1965

Box 7

Box 7 Folder 10 Advertisements (Books), n.d.
Folder 11 "The Indispensable Tools of Science", 1960-1961
Folder 12 "Instrumentation in Biomedical Research", 1957-1962
Folder 13 Letters to the Editor, 1954-1962
Folder 14 (Physics), n.d.
Folder 15 Reprints, 1913-1919
Folder 16 Reprints, 1920-1924
Folder 17 Reprints, 1945-1949
Folder 18 Reprints, 1950-1959
Folder 19 Reprints, 1960-1965
Folder 20 Reprints, n.d.

Religion Files, 1927-1978

Boxes 7-8

Box 7 Folder 21 Clippings and Programs, 1962-1963
Folder 22 Correspondence, 1923-1977
Box 8 Folder 1 "Physicist Views God As A Vast Creator", 1962

Talks on Religion

Box 8 Folder 2 First Congregational Church, 1927-1938
Folder 3 Miscellaneous, 1932-1978
Folder 4 Wednesday Breakfast Group, 1962-1972
Folder 5

Speech Files, 1935-1982

Box 8

Box 8 Folder 6 "Gallimaufry", 1974-1982
Folder 7 International Conference on the Chemistry and Physics of Nonmetallic Crystals, 8/30/1961
Folder 8 Minnesota Centennial, 4/30/1958
Folder 9 Miscellaneous, 1957-1958
Folder 10 "The Nature of the Scientific Enterprise", 3/26/1961
Folder 11 Punjab University, 3/22/1951
Folder 12 "Recollections of Prof. Henry Crew", 10/12/1972
Folder 13 "Science and Technology in the Economic Picture", 2/25/1935
Folder 14 "Support of Basic Research from Government", 5/1959
Folder 15 "Support of Research and Education-A New Approach", 3/16/1959
Folder 16 University of Minnesota 50th Reunion, 5/25/1961
Folder 17 "University Participation in Atomic Energy Program", 5/11/1950
Folder 18 "What Science Needs", 7/17/1958

World War I, 1917-1917

Box 8


Box 8 Folder 19 Scientific Data, n.d.
Folder 20 Correspondence, 1917
Folder 21 Correspondence, 5/1918-7/1918
Folder 22 Correspondence, 8/1918-7/1919
Folder 23 Expenses and Notes, 1917-1918

World War II, 1940-1948

Boxes 8-9

Box 8 Folder 24 Correspondence, 1943-1948
Folder 25 "Hawaiian Diary - Notes on Trip to Central Pacific Area", 3-4/1944
Folder 26 Identification Cards, 1940-1945
Box 9 Folder 1 Medal of Merit Citation and Correspondence, 1948; 1966-1967
Folder 2 Miscellaneous, 1942-1945
Folder 3 Penetrometer, 1942-1945; 1958
Folder 4 Speech Manuscripts, 1940-1941
Folder 5 Advisory Committee on Weather Control: First Interim Report, February 1956
Folder 6 Advisory Committee on Weather Control: Final Report (Volumes I and 11), ca. 1958
Folder 7 Speech: "Science in government, and Government in Science," American Metereological Society and Section Of Meteorology, American Geophysical Union, April 27, 1960
Box 10 Certificates, 1905-1979


Beadle, George W.

Date of correspondence: January 15, 1961 SEE Box 3, Folder 15

Dirksen, Everett M.

Date of correspondence: December 22, 1958 SEE Box 3, Folder 14

Eisenhower, Dwight D.

Date of correspondence: May 26, 1959 SEE Box 3, Folder 14

Gardner, Erle Stanley

Dates of correspondence: 1932-1978 SEE Box 4, Folder 11

Gardner, Erle Stanley

Dates of correspondence: 1936-1946 SEE Box 5, Folder 16

Hesburgh, Fr. Theodore

Date of correspondence: October 29, 1984 SEE Box 4, Folder 2

Hoover, Herbert

Date of correspondence: September 1, 1957 SEE Box 3, Folder 14

Lindburgh, Charles

Date of correspondence: December 5, 1947 SEE Box 6, Folder 27

MacArthur, Douglas

Date of correspondence: November 6, 1944 SEE Box 8, Folder 24