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Benjamin F. Miessner papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 2

Scope and Contents

The papers of Benjamin Miessner. Correspondence, patents, photographs, and clippings documenting the engineering and inventing career of Benjamin F. Miessner. Miessner was a pioneer researcher in electronic musical instruments and receivers, phonography, radio dynamics, directional microphones for aircraft and submarines, and aircraft radio. At the time of his retirement in 1959 Miessner had been granted over 200 patents in the U.S. and foreign countries. He also perfected the Wurlitzer organ and electronic piano. Some of the subjects included in the papers are: The Baldwin Company, Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, C.G. Conn, Ltd., electronic piano, electronic organ, fountain pen inventions and development, John Hays Hammond Jr., inventions, laboratory notebooks, Miessner Radio Corporation, phonograph recordings, Radio Corporation of America, Simon Radio, Stromberg-Carlson Telephone Manufacturing Company, hearings and reports from Congress on patents, World War II, and Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. Please see PDF Finding Aid for collection inventory.


  • 1906 - 1978


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research use.

Copyright and Use Information

Some material in this collection are in the public domain, while other material copyrights are held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Benjamin Franklin Miessner, radio engineer and inventor, was born in Huntingburg, Indiana on July 27, 1890. He was the son of Charles and Mary (Reutopohler) Miessner. Miessner graduated from Huntingburg High School in 1908 and enlisted in the U. S. Navy,and a year later graduated from the U.S. Naval Electrical School in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was then sent to a Naval radio station in Washington, D.C. to be a wireless operator. While there he invented the "cat whisker" detector and "inductor compass. He left the Navy in 1911 to work with John Hays Hammond, Jr. on wireless control of torpedoes. At around this time he also invented and developed a superheterodyne radio system. He left Hammond's service in 1912 and from 1913-1916 studied electrical engineering at Purdue University. he returned to the Navy in 1916 as and Expert Radio Aid for Aviation. In June 1916 Miessner married Eleanor M. Schulz in Buffalo, New York. They subsequently had two daughters. In the 1920s Miessner was associated with the Brunswick Balke Collender Company in Chicago. He worked as an acoustical expert and in its acoustical research laboratory, which he founded. He devised and entirely new system of sound recording and reproduction.


43.00 Cubic Feet

42 cubic foot boxes, 1 oversize box other_unmapped

0.00 Linear Feet

16.00 cubic_foot_boxes

0.00 Linear Feet

Physical Access Requirements

Need 24 hours notice for viewing this collection as it is stored off site.

Other Descriptive Information

Box 3, folder 1 includes a LS by FDR.
Benjamin F. Miessner papers
In Progress
Archives Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition

Revision Statements

  • 2020-04-24: Collection description updated by Adelle Rogers.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States