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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:658 1905-2005 P762 VII

Polaroid Corporation records, series VII: records related to Meroë Morse

This series of the Polaroid Corporation records contains records related to Polaroid scientist Meroë Morse. It includes administrative records, research and development records, and photographs. Morse was one of the first women scientists to work at Polaroid.

Dates

  • 1907, 1945-1972
  • Majority of material found within 1945-1960

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.

Extent

36 linear feet (90 boxes, 2 folders)

The Polaroid Corporation records related to Meroë Morse are an artificial collection of material created by the Polaroid Corporate Archives to document Morse's long tenure as a prominent employee at the company. These are not the personal papers of Meroë Morse, but a collection of materials created by Morse in the course of her work and management of the lab at the company. The records were selected from the larger Polaroid Corporation Research and Development Records series and grouped together due to their connection to Morse. The collection is arranged in three series: Administrative records, Research and development records, and Photographs. The collection dates from 1907 to 1972 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1945 to 1960.

The administrative records emphasize Morse's management of her lab and include personnel records, correspondence, memos, and patent material. The research and development records highlight specific projects and experiments conducted by Polaroid scientists working for Morse. The photograph series contains predominantly black and white images, negatives, and test images taken by Polaroid scientists. There is significant overlap of subject matter across the three series, especially photographs, which appear in all three series.

Biographical / Historical

Meroë Marston Morse was a scientist at the Polaroid Corporation and part of Edwin Land's inner circle of confidants. Morse was born in Maine in 1923 to Celeste Osgood and Marston Morse, the renowned mathematician. She grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts and received a bachelors degree in art history from Smith College in 1945. While at Smith, Morse studied under art historian and photography enthusiast Clarence Kennedy, who had close ties to the Polaroid Corporation and its founder Edwin Land. Morse joined Polaroid in June 1945, and was assigned to the vectograph unit, helping to develop Polaroid's three-dimensional light polarizing images. In the fall of 1945, Morse transferred to the SX-70 lab, where she was involved in the research and development of Land's process of instant photography. Though she had no formal training as a scientist, Morse was promoted to manager of black and white photographic research in 1955, and rose to become the director of special photographic research in 1966. She was instrumental in the development of Polaroid's high-speed black and white films, using the diffusion transfer process. She also served as a liaison between Polaroid scientists and its consultant photographers, including Ansel Adams, Marie Cosindas, and Paul Caponigro. Morse corresponded with the consultant photographers regarding film quality experiment testing.

Morse received the outstanding graduate award from Smith College in 1968. Morse held 18 patents for her work at Polaroid and was the first woman elected fellow of the Society of Photographic Scientists and Engineers in 1969.

Meroë Morse died on July 29, 1969 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Arrangement

The material was originally arranged by archivists at the Polaroid Corporation. An effort has been made to keep that order.

Physical Location

MANU

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Polaroid Corporation records were received by Baker Library Special Collections as a donation from the Polaroid Corporation in 2006 and 2008.

Related Materials

The Polaroid Corporation Records are comprised of the company’s original corporate archives, donated to Harvard Business School in 2006. The collection is arranged into different series based on format or function. In addition to the Polaroid Corporation records, series VII: records related to Meroë Morse, the following series are open for research: Polaroid Corporation records, series I: administrative records, circa 1930-2005, Polaroid Corporation records, series II: legal and patent records, circa 1905-1995, Polaroid Corporation records, series III: research and development records, 1905-2000 (inclusive), 1930-1985 (bulk), and Polaroid Corporation Records Related to Edwin H. Land, Series V, 1927-1995. Researchers should note that there is considerable overlap in the subject matter contained in the various series, and are advised to search across all of the series finding aids for specific subjects or records.

Processing Information

Processing Information Due to the large physical size of the Polaroid Corporation records, similar records that are related as a result of being created, received, or used in the same activity have been grouped into series and an individual finding aid created for each. Each series has been assigned a roman numeral which is found in the series title and precedes all container identifiers. The order of the series does not reflect the original arrangement of the entire collection. Researchers should take care to note the full item number when requesting or citing Polaroid Corporation collection materials.
Processing Information Processed: December 2017

By: Benjamin Johnson
Link to catalog
Title
Polaroid Corporation. Polaroid Corporation Records, Series VII: Records Related to Meroë Morse, 1907-1972 (inclusive), 1945-1960 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Author
Benjamin Johnson
Date
December 2017
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English
EAD ID
bak00331

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

Contact:
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