John W. Dorsey:

An Inventory of His Papers at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

Inventory prepared by Denise Anderson
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
Winnipeg, Manitoba
(1993)

Finding aid encoded by Julianna Trivers (January 2002)
Finding aid written in English.

Revision History

  • July 26, 2005 - MSS 82 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).


Collection Summary

Repository:
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
Elizabeth Dafoe Library, Winnipeg MB R3T 2N2

Creator:
John Worthington Dorsey

Title:
John W. Dorsey fonds

Dates:
1909-1924

Quantity:
0.5 m of textual records

Identification:
MSS 82

Language
English.

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Biography of John W. Dorsey

John Worthington Dorsey was born in Ellicott City, Maryland in 1887. In 1905 Dorsey graduated first in his class from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute which at that time was a model pre-engineering public high school. He obtained his electrical engineering degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1908. In 1910 he became a lecturer of Electrical Engineering at the University of Manitoba. He was named assistant professor in 1914, associate professor in 1936, and full professor in 1950. His career at the university extended until 1952, interrupted only by tours of duty in the First and Second World Wars.

During his university career Dorsey did a great deal of important research. He created a device called the Vitameter in 1931, used for measuring the intensity of ultraviolet radiation. He performed pioneering work in the use of high voltage mercury tubes in dust precipitators and designed successfully-operating units for local use. Before his retirement in 1952, he conducted high voltage commutation experiments and designed the Dorsey Booster Charging System.

Due to his pioneering efforts in the area of high voltage direct current studies, Manitoba Hydro named the converter station located near Rosser, Manitoba, after him--the Dorsey Converter Station.

Following his retirement Dorsey returned to the United States where he spent the last ten years of his life destitute and alone. Dorsey died on 1 January 1972, just short of his 85th birthday.

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Scope and Contents of the Papers

The collection consists primarily of John Dorsey's personal diaries and lecture books as a professor at the University of Manitoba from 1910-1920. It tells much about life at the Broadway campus of the University of Manitoba.

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Organization of the Papers

This collection is organized into 5 series

  • Diaries, 1910-1911
  • Combination Diary and Lectures, 1911-1924, [19-?]
  • Engineering Committee Minutes, 1911-1917
  • Lectures, 1911-1920, [19-?]
  • Account Books, 1909-1914

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Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection

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Custodial History

The Dorsey Collection was transferred to the Department of Archives and Special Collections by the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1987. The papers had been in its custody for several years.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Diaries, 1910-1911
BoxFolder
11 (Daily Journal) 18 Sept. 1910 - 25 Sept. 1911

- personal journal

2 (National Journal) 1 Jan. 1911 - 31 Dec. 1911

- personal journal

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Combination Diary and Lectures, 1911-1924, [19-?]
BoxFolder
13 (Minute Book) 24 Mar. - 24 Sept. 1911

- glimpses of University personalities, holiday journal

4 (Minute Book) 1 Mar. - 14 June 1912

- notes, explains where books come from, as well as notes on research

5 (Minute Book) 17 June 1912 - 14 June 1914

- good deal on investments, socializing, consultations, philosophy on his own shortcomings

6 (Minute Book) 16 June 1914 - 2 Apr. 1916

- minutes on Research Committees, Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, Winnipeg 1914 -1915, personal notes, tennis club, letters and vacation

7 (Minute Book) 18 June 1914 - 20 Jan. 1915

- lecture work, great deal of self analysis

8 (Minute Book) Mar. - Dec. 1915

- lectures, arc lamps, self analysis, discussion of war, vacations

BoxFolder
21 (Minute Book) 27 Sept.1915 - 24 Dec. 1916

- notes on financial matters, drawings, lectures, Electric Power Distribution Systems and Electric Lighting

2 (Minute Book) Dec. 1915 - [19-?]

- personal philosophy, various moods, telephone exchange

3 (Minute Book) 15 Dec. 1915 - 15 Apr. 1916

- discussion on University life, self analysis, mentions move to Fort Gary Campus, working on a telephone system

4 (Record) 17 Sept. 1920 - Dec. 1924

- mostly technical information, general use of electrical power, a few private thoughts

5 (Minute Book) 7 Sept 1921 - 13 May 1924

- lectures, drawings, radio, how radio will interest budding engineers, personal notes, faculty comments, family notes, log of marital events.

6 (Record) 10 Sept. 1921 - [19-?]

- notes and diagrams, personal philosophy

7 (Journal Book) [19-?]

- lecture material, vague mentions of possible inventions, "electric blanket" personal observations, discussions of electrical power in Manitoba

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Engineering Committee Minutes, 1911-1917
BoxFolder
28 Minutes 11 Oct. 1911 - 27 March 1917

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Lectures, 1911-1920, [19-?]
BoxFolder
31 (Minute Book) 10 Oct. 1911 - 1 April 1913

- lectures, diagrams

2 (Minute Book) 15 Oct 1911 - 29 Sept. 1915

- D.C. Laboratory and machine drawings

3 (Minute Book) 9 Oct. 1913 - Sept. 1920

- lectures, drawings, misc. notes

4 (Minute Book) 22 Sept. 1914 - 13 Oct. 1916

- lectures, notes, diagrams

5 (Minute Book) 17 Oct. 1911 - 16 Jan. 1920

- lecture notes, diagrams, course outlines, machine design for fourth year electrical engineers

6 (Minute Book) 12 Oct. 1911 - Sept. 1914

- Kinematics of Machinery, drawings, lectures, notes

BoxFolder
41 (Minute Book) 5 Oct 1911 - April, 1914

- lectures notes, misc. diagrams

2 (Minute Book) 11 Oct. 1911 - 4 April 1913

- lectures, notes, diagrams

3 (Minute Book) 2 Oct. 1913 - 19 Jan 1920

- lectures, marks, diagrams, examinations

4 (Minute Book) 7 Oct. 1914 - [19-?]

- lectures, diagrams, letters

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Account Books, 1909-1914
BoxFolder
45 (Journal) Mar. 1909 - 19 April 1913

- personal accounts

6 (Journal) 30 Dec. 1910 - 9 Nov. 1914

- personal accounts

7 (Journal) 31 Dec. 1910 - 1913

- personal accounts

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