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Norman H. Ricker papers, 1914-1956

Description of Collection


American Institute of Physics. Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

Papers created by

Ricker, Norman Hurd

Size of collection

0.75 linear feet
1 manuscript box
1 half manuscript box

Short description of collection

Papers of physicsist and inventor, Norman Hurd Ricker.

Language(s) of collection


Collection number:


Biographical Note

Physicist (acoustics, geophysics) and inventor. Physicist, Hughes Tool Company, 1928-1933; senior research physicist, Carter Oil Company, 1938-1958; on physics faculty at University of Oklahoma from 1959.

Scope and Contents of Collection

The papers of Norman Hurd Ricker include correspondence, notes and notebooks and one apparatus (Hughes Plunger Lift). The earliest correspondence (1917-1918) is defense-related, concerning two devices developed by Ricker: a new submarine mine and a mirror sight to detect bombs. The correspondence between 1920 and 1922 documents Ricker's research plans for oil detection using subterranean sounding, and his efforts to interest the Texas Company in starting a research laboratory. There is also one folder of correspondence and other material on the paper cone loudspeaker pioneered by Ricker. Correspondents include: Karl K. Darrow, Robert A. Millikan, C. N. Scott, and Augustus Trowbridge.

The manuscripts (1919-1966) include articles and addresses concerning acoustical and geophysical research as well as the history of science.

The early diaries (1914-1916) were kept while Ricker was an undergraduate at Rice University and the entries consist of brief descriptions of both his academic and social activities. The 1927 diary has few entries. The remaining diaries (1928 and 1930-1932) record details of business negotiations and technical projects at Hughes Tool Company.

Ricker's research notebook includes notes, drawings, and data, primarily from 1919 to 1921. The seismic notes include seismograms and travel-time charts of observations made in Texas and Louisiana in 1925 and 1926.

Restrictions on Use and Access

Researchers must have an approved access application on file in order to access archival materials.

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.


Darrow, Karl K. (Karl Kelchner), 1891-
Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953.
Ricker, Norman Hurd.
Scott, C. N.
Trowbridge, Augustus, 1870-1934.


Hughes Tool Company.
Rice University

Subject terms

Physical instruments
World War, 1914-1918.

Genre terms


Organization and Arrangement of Collection

This collection is organized into six series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Diaries
  • Series III: Employment contracts
  • Series IV: Manuscripts
  • Series V: Notes and notebooks
  • Series VI: Apparatus

Each series is arranged chronologically.

Provenance and Acquisition Information

Received from Norman H. Ricker, 1965, 1972.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Melanie J. Mueller in 2014.

Preferred Citation of Collection

Box [number], Folder [number], Norman H. Ricker papers, 1914-1956. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, College Park, MD 20740, USA.

Administrative Information


Finding Aid to the Norman H. Ricker papers, 1914-1956


American Institute of Physics Niels Bohr Library & Archives

One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740


Encoding Information

Machine-readable finding aid encoded by Melanie J. Mueller in 2014. Any revisions made to this finding aid occurred as part of the editing and encoding process.

Series I: Correspondence

Box 1 Folder 1 General correspondence, 1917-1920
Folder 2 General correspondence, 1921-1922
Folder 3 Correspondence - Western Electric/paper cone loudspeaker, 1921-1956

Series II: Diaries

Box 1 Folder 4 Diaries, 1914, 1915, 1916
Folder 5 Diaries, 1927, 1928
Folder 6 Diaries, 1930, 1931, 1932

Series III: Employment contracts

Box 1 Folder 7 Contracts, 1924-1928

Series IV: Manuscripts

Box 1 Folder 8 The theory of the thermionic modulator, containing an account of work done in the research laboratories of the Western Electric Company during the summer of 1919, undated
On the slow motion of a viscous incompressible fluid through a tube of triangular section, 1933
Folder 9 The birth of the paper cone loudspeaker, 1955
Science, then and now - remarks made by Ricker during the Golden Anniversary of the class of 1916, Rice University, 1966
The role of education in this changing world - presented before the Tulsa Sigma Xi Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1966

Series V: Notes and notebooks

Box 2 Folder 1 Research notebook, 1919-1931
Folder 2 Seismic notes, 1925-1626

Series VI: Apparatus

Box 2 Folder 3 Hughes Plunger Lift, undated