Guide to the Smoke Investigation Activities of the Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, Pa. Research Records, 1911-1957 AIS.1983.07

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Smoke Investigation Activities of the Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, Pa. Research Records
Collection Number
AIS.1983.07
Date
1911-1957
Extent
6.25 linear feet (5 boxes)
Abstract
This collection consists of records resulting from the Smoke Investigation Activities of the Mellon Institute of Research (Pittsburgh, Pa.) from 1911-1957. Records include investigative studies into smoke and air pollution, urban atmospheric contamination, and means of controlling the contamination, as well as health studies and records of the Smoke and Dust Abatement League, a civic organization which was engaged in framing and securing effective regulatory controls.

Preferred Citation

Smoke Investigation Activities of the Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, Pa. Research Records, 1911-1957, AIS.1983.07, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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History

The Scientific Research Institute was founded in 1910 by Andrew W. Mellon as the Department of Industrial Research at the University of Pittsburgh, with Robert Kenneth Duncan as its head. In 1913, the department was removed from the University of Pittsburgh and independently endowed by the Mellon family, and its name was changed to Mellon Institute of Industrial Research and School of Specific Industries. In 1927, it was incorporated as a separate institution under the name of Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. In 1967, the institute merged with Carnegie Institute of Technology to form Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU), although under the terms of the merger it retained its identity as an independent division within CMU.

The Smoke Investigation conducted by the Industrial Research Department of the University of Pittsburgh from 1911-1914 was the first comprehensive study of dust fall and air pollution in the United States. It became and remains the standard for investigations into the issue.

The work was funded by R.B. Mellon with $15,000 available for the first year and $6,000 for the next two. The Mellon Institute, as conceived by Andrew and Richard Mellon, was the first institution of its kind in North America established as a non-profit organization of scientists working to solve industrial problems.

The Smoke Investigation was interdisciplinary, drawing on the investigative abilities of 25 specialists to examine the problem from numerous angles. As envisioned by its planners, the study would examine the problem of urban atmospheric contamination and devise means of controlling it. Secondarily, the public would be engaged to frame effective regulatory controls. The latter objective was addressed in 1912 with the formation of a civic organization called the Smoke and Dust Abatement League.

To quote from one of the Smoke Investigation publications: "The story of the smoke nuisance is the old and oft-told story which runs through the history of American municipalities. It is the story of rapid growth in population and industrial activity, marked by wastefulness of natural resources, carelessness in regard to the future, indifference to many of the precious things of life, and a blind opposition toward anything which seems to threaten in even a remote way that which is termed 'prosperity.'"

Dr. Robert Kennedy Duncan directed the Smoke Investigation, assisted by Dr. Raymond F. Bacon. Dr. Raymond C. Benner, chemist, was Chief Fellow. The staff included Dr. W.S. Strong, physicist; J.A. Beck, attorney; Dr. H.H. Kimball, meteorologist; A.B. Bellows and O.B. McBride, mechanical engineers; A.F. Nesbit, electrical engineer; J.J. O'Connor, Jr., economist; Dr. E.H. McClelland, bibliographer; J.F. Clevinger, botanist; and C.H. Marcy, bacteriologist. In addition, 19 other specialists, many of them medical men, were available for special reports on particular phases of the investigation. Smoke Abatement Industrial Fellowships and Air Pollution Fellowships were continued at Mellon Institute in the 1920's and 1930's under the leadership of H.B. Meller and Edward R. Weidlein.

When Dr. Benner resigned in 1913, J.J. O'Connor, Jr., was named Chief Fellow and Associate Director of the Institute. O'Connor also served as public relations director for the Smoke Investigation and as the executive secretary of the Smoke and Dust Abatement League. In the next six years, he lectured tirelessly throughout the country and maintained extensive contacts with specialists and technicians working on air pollution problems in other major cities.

In a 1933 reprise of the Institute's work in air pollution over two decades, H.B. Meller pointed out that Dr. William Charles White had determined the pneumonia connection in the Smoke Investigation report. The Institute followed up the first soot study with others in 1923-24 and in 1929-30. The latter studies also demonstrated a parallelism between sootfall figures and pneumonia mortality.

As the results of the investigation started to be published, the second thrust of the project was launched. Institute staff, working through the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, organized a civic Smoke and Dust Abatement League to support the work of the Division of Smoke Inspection (which was elevated to a Bureau of Smoke Regulation in 1914). O'Connor served as the League's executive secretary for the next seven to eight years, working tirelessly to educate the public, publicizing the results of the Smoke Investigation, and lecturing all over the U.S. The League also lobbied continuously to influence the enactment of regulations for smoke abatement.

The League labored to keep the smoke pollution issue in the public's attention. It sponsored exhibits, a Smoke Abatement Week, a well publicized poster contest, and kept up a barrage of news releases on the issue. The exhibit, held in 1913 at the Western Pennsylvania Exposition Hall, attracted nearly 90,000 people. The Smoke Abatement Week in 1916, the first of its kind in the country, featured 10 meetings held before civic, scientific, commercial, and educational organizations, and smoke abatement equipment was exhibited in prominent downtown buildings. The poster competition's winning designs were featured in publications throughout the country.

During World War I, the League, as well as the Institute, took on the promotion of coal conservation as a patriotic program in a two-pronged effort to save fuel and reduce smoke through more efficient combustion.

The Institute had to have a feeling of immense pride for its contributions to the cleaning of Pittsburgh's air when the Post-Gazette commented editorially, "Little did we expect to see the day when Pittsburgh would be held up as a shining example to urbane New Yorkers, to whom anything west of the Hudson is an improbable wilderness. But it has happened and involves of all things, the matter of cleanliness.

'There is no reason why New Yorkers shouldn't breathe air as clean as the air in Pittsburgh,' according to Dr. Leonard Greenburg who assumed office this week as first commissioner of New York's new Department of Air Pollution. 'What they have accomplished in Pittsburgh...in fighting air pollution we can do here,' he concluded."

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Scope and Content Notes

This collection consists of records resulting from the Smoke Investigation Activities of the Mellon Institute of Research (Pittsburgh, Pa.) from 1911-1957. Records include investigative studies into smoke and air pollution, urban atmospheric contamination, and means of controlling the contamination, as well as health studies and records of the Smoke and Dust Abatement League, a civic organization which was engaged in framing and securing effective regulatory controls.

The Smoke Investigation Activities of the Mellon Institute resulted in the publication of nine bulletins. Various reviews of the Smoke Investigation publications pointed out, with interest, that of the bulletins, only one, No. 8, is concerned with the prevention of smoke by mechanical means, while the others are devoted to various dangers and costs associated with unabated atmospheric smoke pollution. These bulletins also reported, for the first time, the effects of the invisible pollutants, sucn as ash and sulfur gases. The first published bulletin was an outline of what the smoke investigation would cover. The second was a comprehensive bibliography of the literature. The first research report published, No. 3, Psychological Aspects of the Problem of Smoke Pollution, maintains that the chronic smoky condition of the city affects the general energy level and happiness and well being of the members of the community. Additional information on bulletions 4 - 9 is provided in the container list.

The Smoke Investigation was unique in bringing together, arranging, classifying, and indexing a valuable amount of information on the problem of smoke, its effects, and how it could be abated. The work was of immense interest to other academic institutions and other U.S. and European cities experiencing similar problems.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, Spring, 2000

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright

Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mellon Institute, 1983

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Archives Service Center Staff.

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Jennifer Marshall in June 1999. Information about the collection title and the controlled access terms was extracted from the MARC record in the University of Pittsburgh catalog Notis ID number: AKA1909.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Coal and Smoke Abatement Society (London).
  • Committee for the Investigation of Atmospheric Pollution.
  • International Association for Prevention of Smoke.
  • Mellon Institute of Industrial Research and School of Specific Industries (University of Pittsburgh)..
  • Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.
  • Smoke and Dust Abatement League (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • University of Pittsburgh. Department of Industrial Research.
  • Women's Organization for Smoke Abatement (Saint Louis, Mo.).

Personal Name(s)

  • Bacon, Raymond Foss, 1880-1954
  • Beck, J. A. (Joseph Albert)
  • Bellows, A. B.
  • Benner, Raymond C. (Raymond Calvin), 1877-1950
  • Bost, George E.
  • Clevenger, J. F. (Joseph Franklin), 1874-
  • Duncan, Robert Kennedy, 1868-1914
  • Hammerschag, Arthur A.
  • Henderson, J. W.
  • Kimball, Herbert H. (Herbert Harvey), 1862-1944
  • Marcy, C. H. (Charles Howard)
  • McBride, O. R. (Olin R.)
  • McClelland, Ellwood H. (Ellwood Hunter), 1878-1963
  • McKay, Robert J.
  • Meller, H. B. (Harry Bertine), 1878-1943
  • Nesbit, A. F. (Arthur Fleming)
  • O'Connor, John J., Jr.
  • Shiveley, P. P.
  • Strong, W. W. (William Walker), 1883-1955
  • Weidlein, Edward R. (Edward Ray), b. 1887

Subject(s)

  • Air -- Pollution
  • Air -- Pollution -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Air quality -- Pennsylvania
  • Air quality -- Research
  • Air quality management -- Pennsylvania
  • Environment
  • Environmental health -- Research.
  • Lungs -- Dust diseases
  • Natural resources -- Pennsylvania
  • Pollution -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- Societies, etc.
  • Pollution -- Research
  • Research institutes -- Pennsylvania
  • Research institutes -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Smoke -- Control -- Environmental aspects -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Smoke prevention -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Smoke prevention -- Research

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Previous Citation

Smoke Investigation Activities of the Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, Pa. Research Records, 1911-1957, AIS.1983.07, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh.

Smoke Investigation Activities Collection, 1911-1957, ais 83:7, Archives of Industrial Society, University of Pittsburgh.

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Collection Inventory

Series  I. Smoke Investigation Studies 

  BoxFolder
Outlines for Pittsburgh Smoke Investigation 11
  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor re: Smoke Investigation, 1912-1916 2
  Folder
Sootfall Study, 1912 3
  Folder
Standard Sootfall Gauge 4
  Folder
Smoke Questionnaires 5
  Folder
Study of Pittsburgh Soot, a Master's Thesis by George E. Bost, 1913 6
  Folder
Economic Study, 1909 7
  Folder
Economics of Smoke Nuisance - Miscellany (Bulletin 4) 8

Bulletin No. 4 deals with the economic cost of smoke in Pittsburgh. The study affixes a total of losses for the city at approximately $10,000,000 a year, assuming an annual cost per capita of between $16 and $17.

  Folder
Meteorological Aspects of the Smoke Problem (Bulletin 5) 9

Bulletin No. 5 was hailed as a "distinct contribution to the literature on the subject." Based on recorded statistics of the U.S. Weather Bureau, the study shows that the smoke pall increases the density of fogs, diminishes the amount of sunshine received, has a destructive effect on the blue rays of the spectrum, drastically decreases visibility, and unfavorably effects the health of the community.

  Folder
Papers on the Effect of Smoke on Building Materials (Bulletin 6) 10

Bulletin No. 6 reports on the costs of smoke on various building materials and the specific effects of carbon and tar and the corrosion produced by sulfuric acid. The study also details the cost of damage to interior decorations and speaks of the limitations placed on architectural expression in areas of chronic smoke damage and discoloration.

  Folder
Effects of Soot and Smoke on Vegetation (Bulletin 7) 11

Bulletin 7 uses direct experiments in demonstrating the mechanical clogging of pores in plants and consequent reduction of vitality. The effects of sulfuric acid pollution on plants is not examined in depth.

  Folder
Some Engineering Phases of Pittsburgh's Smoke Problem (Bulletin 8) 12

Bulletin No. 8 is concerned primarily with the causes of the production of black smoke and, secondarily, with means for its abatement. The study concludes that the major offenders are manufacturing furnaces and other structures in the business districts, locomotives and steamboats, and domestic heating plants.

  Folder
The Influence of Smoke on Health (Bulletin 9) 13

Bulletin No. 9 is composed of reports strongly pointing to increased chances of infection from tuberculosis and pneumonia for citizens living in the "Smoky City." Undoubtedly, these early studies formed a basis for the Institute's long-term involvement with pneumonia investigations.

  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor re: Smoke Investigation Bulletins 14
  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor with Periodicals 15
  Folder
Publicity on Smoke Investigation 16
  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor with Inventors 17
  Folder
Proposal to form Company to Market Smoke Prevention Apparatus 18
  Folder
Sootfall Study, 1916 19
  Folder
Study of Effect of Smoke from By-Product Coke Ovens, by R.R. Shiveley 20
  BoxFolder
Smoke Investigations in the United States 221
  Folder
Smoke Investigations in Other Countries 22
  Folder
Recent Progress in Smoke Abatement and Fuel Technology in England, a thesis by Robert J. McKay, 1922 23
  Folder
Smoke Abatement Industrial Fellowship No. 3 -- H.B. Meller, 1929 24
  Folder
Articles by H.B. Meller, 1924-1939 25
  Folder
Air Pollution Industrial Fellowship No. 4 -- H.B. Meller, 1933-1936 26
  Folder
LWD Project -- Lasley Report, by H.B. Meller, 1935 27
  Folder
Anthracite Institute, Industrial Fellowship No. 1 -- L.B. Sisson, 1932-1936 28
  Folder
Smoke Abatement Fellowship -- H.B. Meller 29

Series  II. Pneumonia Studies -- Air Pollution Fellowships 

  Folder
Pneumonia Work -- Reports, 1922-1923 1
  Folder
Papers on Pneumonia Research, 1932 2

Section: Research Reports 

  BoxVolume
 1930-1932 31
  Volume
 1934 2
  Volume
 1935-1936 3
  Volume
 1937 4
  Volume
 1938 5
  BoxVolume
 1939 41
  Volume
 1940 2
  Volume
 1941 3
  Volume
 1942 4
  Folder
Electrical Precipitation, by W.W. Strong, 1913 30
  Folder
Sootfall Study -- WPA Study, 1938 31
  Folder
Air Pollution Work, 1950s 32

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Series  III. Smoke and Dust Abatement League, Pittsburgh, Pa. 

  Folder
Organization and Minutes of Smoke and Dust Abatement League, 1912-1919 1
  Folder
Membership, Financial Statements -- Smoke and Dust Abatement League, 1913-1918 2
  Folder
Correspondence of Dr. Arthur A. Hamerschag, President of Smoke and Dust Abatement League 3
  Folder
Smoke and Dust Abatement League Committee Reports, 1913-1917 4
  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor with Pittsburgh League Organization Members 5
  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor re: Smoke and Dust Abatement League Memberships, Committee Appointments, etc. 6
  Folder
History of Smoke and Dust Abatement League, 1912-1917 7

Includes Exhibition 1915.

  BoxFolder
History of Smoke Abatement in Pittsburgh, by J.J. O'Connor 58
  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor with Journalists 9
  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor, 1914-1918 10
  Folder
Lectures by J.J. O'Connor 11
  Folder
Smoke Abatement Week October 23 - 28, 1916 12
  Folder
The Objects of Pittsburgh's Smoke Abatement Week 13
  Folder
Exhibition of Smoke Abating Appliances, 1917 14
  Folder
Samples of Cards, Stationery, and Other Printed Materials of the Smoke and Dust Abatement League 15
  Folder
Allegheny County Smoke Ordinances 16
  Folder
Pittsburgh Smoke Inspection Office 17
  Folder
Correspondence of J.J. O'Connor and J.W. Henderson 18
  Folder
Annual Reports of Bureau of Smoke Regulation 19
  Folder
Poster Competition, 1918 20
  Folder
Bureau of Mines Conservation Poster 21
  Folder
Western Pennsylvania Conference on Air Pollution, 1934 22

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Series  III. National and International Work on Smoke Abatement 

  Folder
Coal Smoke Abatement Society, London -- Conference, 1905 1
  Folder
Coal Smoke Abatement Society, London -- Conference, 1909 2
  Folder
Coal Smoke Abatement Society, London -- Conference, 1911 3
  Folder
Coal Smoke Abatement Society, London -- Conference, 1912 4
  Folder
Committee for the Investigation of Atmospheric Pollution 5
  Folder
International Association for Prevention of Smoke 6
  Folder
Smoke Inspector Offices -- Other than Pittsburgh 7

Series I, Folder 19

  Folder
Women's Organization for Smoke Abatement -- St. Louis 8
  Folder
Abatement Leagues in Other U.S. Cities 9
  Folder
Chicago Investigation into Electrification of Railroads 10
  Folder
National News Clippings 11
  Folder
International News Clippings 12
  Folder
International Association for the Prevention of Smoke. 9th Annual Convention, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sept. 9 - 11, 1914 13
  Folder
Smoke Prevention Association (formerly International Association for the Prevention of Smoke). 10th Annual Convention, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sept. 8 - 10, 1915 14

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