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John T. Parsons Papers

 Collection
Identifier: Ms-1987-016

Scope and Content

The John T. Papers include correspondence, memoranda, financial records, engineering drawings and specifications, files about civic affairs in Traverse City, Michigan, reading files and other materials.

Dates

  • ca. 1935-1991

Creator

Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research, except box 190 marked "Personal" in Division 10, which needs to be reviewed before access. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives for more information.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (specref@vt.edu or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

John T. Parsons (1913-2007) was a manufacturer and inventor of numerical control, which is the application of computer technology to manufacturing processes.

Parsons produced bombs and land mines for U.S. government during World War II. He conceived a machine tool for automatically producing aircraft structural shapes from punch card/tape input (1946); executed a contract to produce the world's first numerical control milling machine (1949) and monitored design and completion of the machine (1950-1952). Parsons also originated an aircraft operation that became the world's largest designer, producer, and overhauler of helicopter rotor blades and built the first all-composite airplane for the Office of Naval Research. He created many other processes involving computer applications to manufacturing and received approximately fifty U.S. patents in the fields of numerical control, marine propellers, foundry systems, and data acquisition manufacturing methods.

Parsons served as president and owner of the Parsons Corporation of Traverse City, Michigan, Detroit, Michigan, and Stockton, California (1954-1968). He was then president and owner of the John T. Parsons Company, Traverse City, Michigan (1968-1986).

Among his numerous awards, Parsons was the first recipient of the Numerical Control Society's Joseph Marie Jacquard Award as the Father of Numerical Control (1968), a recipient of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Engineering Citation as the person whose brilliant conceptualization of numerical control marked the beginning of the second industrial revolution (1975), recipient of the National Medal of Technology (1985), and recipient of the National Tooling and Machining Association's Distinguished Service Award (1987).

He died in Traverse City, Michigan at the age of 93.

Extent

ca. 258 Cubic Feet (204 boxes, 8 oversize folders, one artifact.)

Abstract

John T. Parsons (1913-2007) was a manufacturer and inventor of numerical control, which is the application of computer technology to manufacturing processes. The John T. Papers include correspondence, memoranda, financial records, engineering drawings and specifications, files about civic affairs in Traverse City, Michigan, reading files and other materials.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into the following series:

  • Series I. Division 1: Corporate Office
  • Series II. Division 2: Automotive Division
  • Series III. Division 3: Appliance Division
  • Series IV. Division 4: Ordnance Division
  • Series V. Division 5: Aircraft Division
  • Series VI. Division 6: Subsidiaries Division
  • Series VII. Division 7: Minor Products Division
  • Series VIII. Division 8: John T. Parsons Company
  • Series IX. Division 9: Personal
  • Series X. Division 10: Posters and Drawings


These series have been imposed by archivists but are based on Parson's original order and description. Materials have been kept in original order where possible. Arrangement is chronological, then alphabetical where applicable.

Physical Access

Please note: This collection is in off-site storage and requires 2-3 days notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections and Universtiy Archives for more information.

Source of Acquisition

The collection was acquired by Special Collections and University Archives in 1988 and 1999.

Existence and Location of Copies

Some of this collection has been digitized for a digital exhibit, The Products of John T. Parsons.

Separated Materials

The following publications have been separated to the Rare Book Collection:

Spur, Günter. Produktionstechnisches Zentrum Berlin : Institut für Werkzeugmaschinen und Fertigungstechnik der TU Berlin (IWF) : Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionsanlagen und Konstruktionstechnik (IPK). Berlin: Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionsanlagen und Konstruktionstechnik, Berlin, 1989. (Includes inscription in German to John T. Parsons.)

Transactions of the North American Manufacturing Research Institution of SME 1990. Dearborn, Mich.: Society of Manufacturing Engineers, North American Manufacturing Research Institute of SME, 1990. (Inscribed "John T. Parsons".)

Interlochen Center for the Arts. Alumni directory 1995. Produced for Interlochen Center for the Arts by Publishing Concepts Incorporated, The Clancy Way. (John T. Parsons's wife Elizabeth is listed as an alumni.)

Design, control and analysis of manufacturing systems : proceedings of the 27th CIRP International Seminar on Manufacturing Systems, May 21-23, 1995, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. (Inscribed "]John T. Parsons] was keynote speaker".)

Metalworking : yesterday and tomorrow : the 100th anniversary issue of American machinist / by the editors of American machinist. New York : American machinist, [1978]. (Includes profile on John T. Parsons.) (Call number: TS205 .M469 Spec Large Copy 2)

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the John T. Parsons Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the John T. Parsons Papers was completed in September 2023, as part of the project, "Piercing the Veil: Creating Access to the Archives of American Aerospace Exploration at Virginia Tech," funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

  • Duplicate copy of Metalworking : yesterday and tomorrow : the 100th anniversary issue of American machinist / by the editors of American machinist. New York : American machinist, [1978].
Title
John T. Parsons Papers, ca. 1935-1991
Status
Completed
Author
Bess Pittman, Project Processing Archivist
Date
2023 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
The processing, arrangement, and description of this collection was created as part of the project, "Piercing the Veil: Creating Access to the Archives of American Aerospace Exploration at Virginia Tech," funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) from 2022 to 2024.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Contact:
Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US
540-231-6308