- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
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Roberts & Schaefer Failures and Other Construction Photographs, circa 1947-1956
Collection Description & Creator Information
The papers consist of a mixed group of office files that reflect Anton Tedesko's multiple roles as a structural expert, engineer, and manager at the Roberts & Schaefer engineering firm over his thirty-three years with the company from 1934 to 1967, as well as his long career as a professional engineer, spanning seven decades, which included consulting, lecturing, publishing articles, and committee work. To a lesser degree, the papers also reflect Tedesko's technical education and his time at the Dyckerhoff & Widmann firm in Europe, and even less frequently, his personal life. The vast majority of materials are related to Tedesko's professional career and include blueprints and other large structural designs and drawings, project files, small preliminary sketches and calculations, cost estimates and data, correspondence regarding projects and contracts, project proposals, field test data and film reels, promotional materials, personnel files, photographs of buildings and construction sites, consulting files and reports, reference materials and clippings regarding thin-shell concrete design and German engineers, product catalogs, reports on thin-shell construction methods, lecture drafts and correspondence regarding related travels, glass lantern slides used in presentations, reports from professional conferences, drafts and reprints of articles by Tedesko, and copies of professional journals, along with correspondence and minutes for professional committee work. Personal materials, which make up a very small portion of the collection, include autobiographical writings, a small amount of personal correspondence and documents, and school notebooks from his college years, which are interspersed among Tedesko's general office files.
The collection's contents and organization reflect Tedesko's interrelated activities and functions. Although files do not usually follow a discernable arrangement scheme, original file runs have been described where they existed. Other aspects that contribute to the intermingled nature of these files include Tedesko's strategy of repurposing and reusing structural designs and concepts from earlier buildings in updated forms for newer structures, as well as his concurrent role as an administrator and engineer during most of his time at Roberts & Schaefer. Clippings, bibliographies, scrapbooks and reference files, photographs, and technical journals on German thin-shell design, from which Tedesko drew his inspiration and aesthetic, are frequently interspersed with project files. Reflecting the time when Tedesko worked for Dyckerhoff & Widmann and Roberts & Schaefer's collaborative venture, early designs, promotional materials, photographs, reference files, and reports from both firms are often interfiled. Similarly, materials surrounding Tedesko's lectures and committee participation on topics closely tied to his own work in the field can often be found together. Detailed folder contents lists, provided by Princeton University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, were included in individual file descriptions when present. Due to the varied nature of the collection, researchers are advised to do a keyword search to locate materials related to specific projects or topics, which may be found in several locations within the collection.
Of particular note is an original run of Tedesko's numbered project files for Roberts & Schaefer that span from the 1930s through the 1950s and contain preliminary drawings, calculations, office memoranda, and blueprints for many of Roberts & Schaefer's projects during the early years of thin-shell construction in the United States, including files on the Budd Manufacturing Plant in Philadelphia, the terminal for the St. Louis International Airport, the Signal Corps warehouses in Dayton, Ohio, and many other government and industrial hangars and warehouses. Also present is a run of Roberts & Schaefer cost data files that contain information about costs for specific projects, types of buildings, and particular designs and materials. There is also a complete set of reports generated by the "Lehigh tests," a set of structural tests that Roberts & Schaefer contracted with Bruno Thürlimann and Bruce Johnston of the Fritz Engineering Laboratory at Lehigh University from 1949 to 1951 to assess the structural integrity of various thin-shell design practices.
Tedesko's participation in the design of the NASA Verticle Assembly Building and Launch Complex 39 at Cape Canaveral is also prominently reflected in the papers. The Army Corps of Engineers chose a group of New York architects and engineers to form the joint venture, Urbahn, Roberts, Seelye, and Moran (URSAM), which undertook the design and construction work involved in the project. The papers include a group of correspondence among the various URSAM members between 1960 and 1966, as well as several packets of contract drawings of the launch complex and copies of NASA's specifications for the project. Additionally present are various clippings, articles, and lecture materials related to the Vertical Assembly Building.
Also present is a typescript of Tedesko's unpublished autobiography, written in the 1980s and titled "A Chronicle," that details Tedesko's early life, education, and experiences in the United States, as well as his views on his professional career.
- Custodial History:
Prior to their arrival at Firestone Library, Anton Tedesko's papers were housed at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where they were stored in file cabinets and used for over twenty years by various professors, students, and researchers. Professor David P. Billington acquired the papers from Anton Tedesko and maintained them as a part of what was then referred to as the Maillart Archive until 2014.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
Duplicate print materials were returned to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single copies may be made for research purposes. No further duplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to Special Collections Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
- Special Requirements for Access:
For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media, but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Patrons may request digital copies of original analog media, but will be responsible for the cost of digital conversion, payable in advance. Turn-around time for such requests will depend on the size and scope of the project. Requests should be directed to Special Collections Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form.
The glass lantern slides are fragile and require special handling in the reading room.
- Credit this material:
Roberts & Schaefer Failures and Other Construction Photographs; Anton Tedesko Papers, C1478, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Firestone LibraryOne Washington RoadPrinceton, NJ 08544, USA(609) 258-3184
- Storage Note:
- ReCAP (rcpxm): Box 16