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Farmer (Moses G.) papers
LSC.0771  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Biography
  • Biographical Narrative
  • Scope and Content
  • Expanded Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Title: Moses G. Farmer papers
    Creator: Farmer, Moses G. (Moses Gerrish)
    Identifier/Call Number: LSC.0771
    Physical Description: 2.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes and 1 oversize box)
    Date (inclusive): 1830-1893
    Abstract: Moses Gerrish Farmer (1820-1893) was born in Boxcawen, New Hampshire. While he was a school principal in Dover, New Hampshire, he invented a machine to print paper window shades. He invented what became the first electric fire alarm system in the U.S., discovered means for duplex and quadruplex telegraph, invented an incandescent electric lamp and in 1866, he patented a self-exciting dynamo. The collection contains correspondence to and from Moses G. Farmer, account books, diaries, clippings, photographs, and other memorabilia. The collection also contains legal and business papers regarding Farmer's patents and inventions, especially the electric railroad and fire alarm system.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical objects belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. All other rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Charles Scribner's Sons, purchase, 1962.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Moses G. Farmer Papers (Collection 771). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Processing Information

    Collections are processed to a variety of levels depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived user interest and research value, availability of staff and resources, and competing priorities. Library Special Collections provides a standard level of preservation and access for all collections and, when time and resources permit, conducts more intensive processing. These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards and best practices.
    Processed by Manuscripts Division staff.
    We are committed to providing ethical, inclusive, and anti-racist description of the materials we steward, and to remediating existing description of our materials that contains language that may be offensive or cause harm. We invite you to submit feedback about how our collections are described, and how they could be described more accurately, by filling out the form located on our website: Report Potentially Offensive Description in Library Special Collections.  

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 9912180543606533 

    Biography

    Moses Gerrish Farmer was born February 9, 1820 in Boxcawen, New Hampshire; entered preparatory school at Andover in 1832; attended Dartmouth, but withdrew because of ill health; he worked briefly in a civil engineer's office and was affiliated with various private schools in New England; married Hannah Tobey Shapleigh in 1844; while he was a school principal in Dover, New Hampshire, he invented a machine to print paper window shades; began work with the electric telegraph, eventually taking charge of the telegraph line between Boston and Newburyport,Massachusetts in 1848 he invented what became the first electric fire alarm system in the U.S.; discovered means for duplex and quadruplex telegraph; in 1858-59 invented an incandescent electric lamp; in 1866 he patented a self-exciting dynamo; appointed as electrician of U.S. Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island; consulting electrician, U.S. Electric Light Company of New York; died in 1893.

    Biographical Narrative

    Moses Gerrish Farmer, inventor and pioneer electrician was born on February 9, 1820 in Boxcawen, New Hampshire to Colonel John and Sally (Gerrish) Farmer. He died at the World's Fair in Chicago on May 25, 1893.
    In 1832 Moses Farmer entered the preparatory school at Andover, Massachusetts. He also attended Dartmouth College, but had to give up his studies due to ill health. After a brief period of employment in a civil engineer's office, Farmer was affiliated with various private schools in New England including Eliot Academy, Eliot Maine. While in Eliot, Farmer married Hannah Tobey Shapleigh on December 25, 1844. They had one daughter, Sarah Jane Farmer.
    Moses Farmer's career as an inventor began while he was principal of a school in Dover, New Hampshire. At that time he devised a machine to print paper window shades. In 1845 he became enthusiastic about electricity. His first project was to construct a miniature electric train which was first exhibited on July 26, 1847. By December of that year he had accepted a position as wire examiner of the new electric telegraph line between Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts. During this time he learned telegraphy and July 1848 was appointed operator in the office at Salem, Massachussetts. Farmer later took charge of the telegraph between Boston and Newburyport, Massachusetts and undertook opening telegraph offices along this line.
    In the meantime, Moses Farmer continued his electrical experimentation at home. In 1848 he invented an electric-striking aparatus for a fire-alarm service which he developed with Dr. William F. Channing. This system was installed in the City of Boston in 1851. Farmer became the superintendent of the system. This was the first electric fire-alarm system in the United States.
    Farmer resigned the superintendency in 1853 and worked on his various electrical ideas. In 1855, he discovered the means for duplex and quadruplex telegraph. Succeeding in depositing aluminum electrolytically in 1856, he went into the electrotyping business with several other men. The business failed in the panic of 1857.
    After the business failure, Moses Farmer experimented with electricity as a source of light and in 1858-59 he invented an incandescent electric lamp. Becoming the superintendent of a tobacco-extracting manufactory in Somerville, Massachusetts, allowed Farmer to do further experiments. In 1866 he patented, a self-exciting dynamo. His attention was then concentrated more and more upon electric power generation and distribution.
    In 1872 Farmer was appointed to the office of electrician at the United States Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island. For a period of nine years he greatly advanced torpedo warfare until his health made his resignation imperative. As far as his health permitted, he then acted as consulting electrician for the United States Electric Light Company of New York. After several years he retired with his family to their summer home at Eliot, Maine, where he established a public library.
    Moses Gerrish Farmer led the way by thirty years in many applications of electric current. His electrical patents rivalled Thomas A. Edison's. He received less fame and less profit because of his constant impulse to plunge into the unknown rather than to develop and perfect a marketable invention. Farmer's patents were purchased by the United States Electric Light Company and were later sold to Westinghouse.

    Scope and Content

    Collection contains correspondence to and from Moses G. Farmer, account books, diaries, clippings, photographs, and other memorabilia. Correspondents include inventors Joseph Henry and William Francis Channing. Also contains legal and business papers regarding Farmer's patents and inventions, especially the electric railroad and fire alarm system. Includes correspondence and papers of members of the Farmer, Shapleigh, and Little families.

    Expanded Scope and Content

    The Moses Gerrish Farmer collection was purchased in July 1962. The collection contains correspondence to and from Moses Gerrish Farmer and papers regarding his patents and inventions, especially the electric railroad and fire-alarm system. There is some biographical material in the collection including an autobiography of Farmer. Various other writings by Farmer are also present. The remainder of the collection is composed of correspondence and papers of members of the Farmer, Shapleigh and Little families, including legal papers, diaries and photographs.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Correspondence of Moses G. Farmer (Box 1).
    2. Correspondence of other family members (Box 2).
    3. Legal papers of Richard Shapleigh, Sally Gerrish Farmer's diaries, photographs (Box 2).
    4. Autobiography, biography, and biographical materials on Moses G. Farmer (Box 2).
    5. Various writings of Moses G. Farmer, insurance policies, and legal papers (Box 3).
    6. Notes re: inventions, electric railway, fire alarm system (Box 3).
    7. List of patents, patent applications and agreements, published patents (Box 4).
    8. Letters of Moses G. Farmer and miscellaneous material (Box 5).
    9. Journal of Hannah Farmer, 1844-53 (Box 6).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Diaries.
    Inventors -- United States -- Archives.
    Farmer, Moses G. (Moses Gerrish), 1820-1893--Archives.