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Materials in this collection are from the Fire Research Photographic Collection and the Structural Testing Photographic Collection. Due to the soaring volume of testing in 1909, the equipment and staff (53 engineers, chemists and assistants) of the structural materials laboratories of the Geological Survey were transferred to the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) on July 1, 1910. Well before this augmentation of the Bureau, its test program had already crowded into the last of the laboratories available at the Bureau. Planning expansion of both the Bureau's work in structural materials and that of the former Geological Survey group, Dr. Samuel W. Stratton asked Congress for new mammoth testing machines and a special building to house them. The funds were approved and a 1-million-pound crushing machine for compression tests of brick, stone, cement, and concretes; another machine with a 230,000-pound capacity; a 100,000-pound universal (compression and tension) machine; and a specially designed 2,300,000-pound Emery universal testing machine, for breakdown and exhaustion tests of girders and other large structural members. All were built to Bureau specifications. [From: Measures for Progress by Rexmond C. Cochrane, pp. 94, 96] Photographs from this effort became the Structural Testing Photographic Collection.
The Fire Research Photographic Collection documents work that began with funds appropriated by Congress in 1913 so that the National Bureau of Standards could study fire resistant building materials. Fires were claiming thousands of lives annually in the U.S., with property losses exceeding $250 million. In a joint undertaking with the National Fire Protection Association and the Underwriters' Laboratories, NBS aimed at a thorough study of the behavior and safety of building materials in various types of construction under all possible fire conditions. The study provided architects, builders, state and city building bureaus, and insurance interests with fundamental engineering data long needed but nowhere available. [From: Measures for Progress by Rexmond C. Cochrane, pp. 130-131]
For more information about the NIST Fire Research Division, see “Fire Research at NBS: the First 75 Years,” by D. Gross, in “Fire Safety Science Proceedings. 3rd International Symposium,” G. Cox and B. Langford, eds., Elsevier. Applied Science, New York (1991) p. 119-133, http://dx.doi.org/10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.3-119.
The NIST history volumes are also available for review here in the NIST Digital Archives.
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