Harold E. Edgerton— 1989 Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology

Award Citation:

Dr. Harold Eugene Edgerton - inventor, scientist, teacher and friend - it is the Archaeological Institute of America's honor to award you the Pomerance Science Award for the outstanding contributions that have so helped the archaeological community over the past half century.

Dr. Edgerton, known affectionately as "Doc," has earned international recognition for his achievements in the fields of stroboscopy and ultra-high-speed photography, as well as the development of sonar. Holder of 45 patents, Dr. Edgerton’s pioneering research laid the foundation for the development of the modem electronic speed flash. He perfected the use of stroboscopic lights in both ultra-high-speed motion and still photography: capable of showing objects moving at a speed beyond the perception of the human eye, such as bullets or hummingbirds in flight. His work led to the critical achievement of photographic night reconnaissance for our pilots in World War II and the photography of ~atomic explosions. His documentary film, "Quicker'n a Wink," won an Oscar from the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Edgerton’s development of watertight cameras and strobes as well as side-scanning sonar and sub-bottom profiling so have opened up new doors for both the underwater archaeologist and geologist. With sonar, Dr. Edgerton mapped the entire sunken city of Port Royal, Jamaica, and located the long-lost Civil War ironclad Monitor sunk in 230 feet of water off Cape Hatteras, to mention only a few of "Doc's" sonar discoveries for archaeology. He has worked closely with Jacques-Ives Cousteau in exploring sea floors throughout the world. Currently, he is developing sonar for positioning equipment in the sea and for the exploration of the sub-bottom.

Dr. Edgerton was born in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska before coming to M.I.T. for his M.S. and D.Sc. He is now Professor Emeritus at M.I.T., where many students have loved him and profited from his remarkable teaching over the years. Dr. Edgerton is one of the founding partners of E. G. & G. (Edgerton, Garmeshausen and Grier), a company specializing in electronic technology. Dr. Edgerton is the author of many books and articles, including: Moments of Vision (1979); Flash, Seeing the Unseen (1954); Electronic Flash, Strobe (1979); and Sonar Images (1985).

When once asked the secret of his long and creative career, "Doc" replied, "Work like hell, tell everyone everything you know, close a deal with a handshake, and have fun."

There is no one more beloved by the archaeological community than "Doc" Edgerton. As a scientist, we honor you for your unique inventions that have so helped so many archaeologists do their work. As a long-time friend, we thank you and give you our enduring affection.

Dig Deeper

Email the AIA Facebook Instagram YouTube Twitter
Subscribe to the AIA e-Update

Sign Up!