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Guide to The Royden Thornberg Papers
2003-43  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing History
  • Related Collections
  • Other Finding Aids
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content Summary
  • Indexing Terms

  • Title: The Royden Thornberg Papers
    Date: 1895-1955
    Collection number: 2003-43
    Collectors: Thornberg, Royden
    Extent: 4 linear feet
    Repository: History San Jose Research Library
    San Jose, CA 95112
    Abstract: Papers of Royden "Roy" Thornberg, telegrapher, radio operator, inventor, and proprietor of the Thornberg Electrical Works on Natoma Street in San Francisco, California. Includes business records, radio operator materials, reference notebooks with research on electricity, electrical and mechanical equipment, and electrical and radio equipment brochures.
    Physical location: History San Jose Collection Center
    Languages: The majority of the collection material is in English with the exception of one periodical in French.

    Access

    The papers are available for researchers by appointment through the Curator of Library and Archives.

    Publication Rights

    The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgement, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    The Royden Thornberg Papers, 2003-43. History San Jose Research Library, San Jose, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The Thornberg Papers were originally donated to the Foothill Electronics Museum in 1970, and were received by History San Jose in 2003 as part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics.

    Processing History

    Partially processed in 2003, and completed in 2013 by History San Jose Research Library staff.

    Related Collections

    This collection is directly related to the rest of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics (2003-1) by provenance and by subject matter; original correspondence between Thornberg and Gilson Willets is part of the Perham History Files (2003-33).

    Other Finding Aids

    History San Jose's PastPerfect catalog, which includes many digitized images, is searchable at http://historysanjose.pastperfect-online.com, and contains complete folder- and item-level records for these papers.

    Biography

    Royden Thornberg was born October 6, 1891, in San Francisco, California, and worked as a telegrapher, radio operator and inventor, as well as proprietor of the Thornberg Electrical Works on Natoma Street in San Francisco. Thornberg inherited the electrical business from his father, A. F. Thornberg. Much of their work between 1907 through 1915 involved installation and maintenance of marine wireless equipment. As part of this marine work, Thornberg himself tested the equipment on board the ships until new operators could be "broken in." This led to jobs as an operator with many wireless telegraph companies between 1908 and 1924, including Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, Massie, De Forest Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Company, and Federal Telegraph Company using the Poulsen Arc system. Thornberg earned his Commercial Radio License, Second Class, in March 1915, and the service record on his license documents his time on the U.S.S. Arizona between March and December 1915 under Lt. Commander H. R. Patterson.
    Thornberg was also an inventor; his "Electrical Disinfector and Deodorizer" was patented in the U.S. on 19 June 1917, and he developed several other devices including chemically-treated fuel to repel insects. During World War II, Thornberg and his colleague, John Jardine, built motor generators for power supplies to U.S. Navy radar equipment. The shop also handled maintenance of relief sumps and automatic pumping plants in San Francisco buildings. Thornberg Electrical Works closed its doors between 1953 and 1956 after Jardine and Thornberg's wife passed away in succession, and Thornberg became too ill to maintain his business. (Source: Letters from Royden Thornberg to Gilson Willets, 1956, Perham History Files, History San Jose Research Library and Archives).

    Scope and Content Summary

    Papers of Royden "Roy" Thornberg, telegrapher, radio operator, inventor, and proprietor of the Thornberg Electrical Works on Natoma Street in San Francisco, California. Includes business records, radio operator materials, reference notebooks with research on electricity, electrical and mechanical equipment, and electrical and radio equipment brochures. One notebook, dated 1895, is signed "A. F. Thornberg," and may have belonged to Roy's father, who is listed as the proprietor of Thornberg Electric Co. circa 1931.
    Of note are the technical drawings and descriptions for Royden Thornberg's inventions, including his "Sanitary Electric Deodorizer and Disinfectant," patented in 1917, "Fumer-Fuel," a chemically treated camp fuel to be used as an insect repellent, and the "Geo-chronoscope."
    Also of interest are Thornberg's radio operator materials, including his diary from his service on the U.S.S. Arizona, with handwritten reference notes (1915); Thornberg's original exam for the International Correspondence School's "Introduction to Radio" course (1930); a typed list of Pacific Coast Radio Stations, "correct for month Nov. 1917;" a brochure for the Pacific Radio School located at 735 Larkin Street, San Francisco; and four badges.
    Two folders of personal ephemera reflect an interest in spiritualism, philosophy, music, and possible membership in the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.

    Indexing Terms

    These and related materials may be found under the following headings in online catalogs.

    Subjects

    Thornberg, Royden, 1891-
    Thornberg, A. F.
    Thornberg Electrical Works (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Inventors--United States--California.
    Stores, Retail--Electric equipment.
    Radio operators.
    Business records.
    Family-owned business enterprises.
    San Francisco (Calif.)

    Genres and Forms of Materials

    ephemera
    research notes
    photographs
    account books
    notebooks