In February, the University Archives acquired the papers of Thomas Clark Shedd, Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois from 1925 through 1958. Comprising correspondence, publications, photographs, a field notebook, and even a slide rule, Shedd’s papers document his research on railway and bridge design as well as his interest in teaching and the development of the structural engineering curriculum. This acquisition is important not only for shedding light on his career and research, but also for his influence on the Department of Civil Engineering (now Civil and Environmental Engineering), especially in terms of its instructional mission. Most notably, his papers include a great deal of correspondence with his colleague and long-time friend, Hardy Cross, Professor of Civil Engineering at the U of I from 1921 to 1937. Shedd’s papers thus complement the University Archives’ substantial collection of administrative records and personal papers relating to civil engineering, including Hardy Cross’ papers.
In 1950, Nathan M. Newmark began work on perhaps the most important project of his career—the design and construction of the earthquake-resistant Latino-Americana Tower in Mexico City. This was to be no ordinary building, however, given the difficulties of construction on the city’s unique geological strata prone to seismic activity. As Professor of Civil Engineering, Newmark had been at the University of Illinois since 1930, first as a student and then as a faculty member since 1937. Having a reputation as a brilliant researcher, Newmark’s expansive knowledge of structural engineering earned him many accolades. Shortly after the 43-story building was completed in 1957, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico City. Amid the destruction, the Latino-Americana building remained standing and intact, “as a symbol of the value of painstaking attention to detail in aseismic design.” Continue reading “Capturing and Preserving Engineering’s History”