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Howard S. Avery Papers

Identifier: Ms-1997-026

Scope and Content

The Howard S. Avery Papers contain correspondence, brochures, journals and photographs from Avery's student days at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) as well as an assortment of his professional and personal papers amassed from the years 1922 to 1995.

The collection is comprised of memorabilia from his years at VPI, including an extensive photograph collection that illustrates student life. Included with the photographs are negatives from The Bugle. The collection also includes several bullitens from VPI. The collection also contains notebooks of class notes and journals of scouting trips that give extensive information on the geology of southwest Virginia. The collection contains a VPI psalm book from 1924, a program of the dedication of War Memorial Hall in 1926, and several original layout pages from the 1927 Bugle. The collection also contains corresspondence from Avery's time at VPI. The collection also contains several blueprints that Avery used in engineering classes at VPI.

Howard Avery's personal papers contain professional correspondence, brochures, newspaper clippings, and National Rifle Association (NRA) legislation actions in which he participated. It also includes correspondence, brochures, and related documents from the Boy Scouts, the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Sierra Club, and other organizations he was involved in during his lifetime. The collection also contains records relating to Avery's time in the Army and some professional papers unrelated to his work at Abex.


  • 1913 - 1996


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

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: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

Howard S. Avery was born in Canon City, Colorado, in 1906. His family moved to Virginia when he was eleven, and he attended high school in Roanoke and college in Blacksburg. He received a B.S. in Mining & Engineering in 1927 and an Engineer of Mines degree with honors in 1928, both from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Avery was very active during his student days at VPI. He was a member of the track team, the rifle club, the radio club, and the boxing club. In 1927 he served as the photographic editor of the Bugle yearbook. He was married in 1935 to Louise Steele, and they had four children.

Following several years of mining engineering and geology work in Mexico, steel mill experience, and teaching, he joined the newly organized Metallurgical Department of the American Brake Shoe Company, now the Abex Corporation, located in Mahwah, New Jersey in 1934. He is identified with this company's research in various aspects of industrial wear. As a research metallurgist his duties involved planning and supervising research and development of alloys to resist heat, abrasion and impact. He became internationally known in the field of metallurgy, conducting pioneering work in the areas of precise creep-rupture testing, thermal fatigue evaluation, and carburizing behavior. Two of his technical papers garnered Lincoln Gold Medal awards, and he received the first Award of the New York Chapter of the American Society of Metals. He also contributed to several engineering handbooks, was issued a number of patents, and is the author of several dozen technical papers. His career at the Abex Corporation lasted until his retirement in 1971. Afterwards he continued his research career and acted as a consultant, including continuing work for Abex, through the 1990s.

Professional affiliations outside the Abex Corporation include the American Welding Society, The American Society for Metals, the Metal Science Club, The American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, The American Society for Quality Control, and the British Iron and Steel Institute. Avery also had a wide range of outside interests and participated in activities that included training Boy Scout leaders, supervision of a junior rifle club, operating an amateur radio station W2HBH, and service on the Mahwah, New Jersey Board of Education and as a Civil Defense Director. Howard Avery passed away in August 1996 in Roanoke, Virginia.


13.8 Cubic Feet (11 boxes)


Howard S. Avery graduated from Virginia Tech in 1927 with a B.S. in Mining and Engineering. He worked for the American Brake Shoe Company, later known as the Abex Corporation, as a research metallurgist from 1935 to 1971. The collection consists of Avery's personal papers and photographs related to his student days at Virginia Tech, including photos taken mainly in 1927 while Avery was the photographic editor of the Bugle yearbook. This collection also includes personal papers, correspondence, brochures, and other materials, including professional papers from before his time at Abex.


The collection is arranged in two series divided by subject matter, Personal and Professional Papers and VPI Student Years, each of which has four subseries divided by format of material.

Series I: Personal and Professional Papers, 1913-1996, consists of materials collected and created by Avery during his professional career. There are also documents relating to his hobbies. The series is arranged into three subseries: A. Documents, B. Photos, C. Journals, and D. Artifacts.

Series II: VPI Student Papers, 1923-1928, consists of records created while Avery was a student attending VPI, including schoolwork and extracurricular activities. The series is arranged into three subseries: A. Documents, B. Photos, C. Journals, and D. Artifacts.

Source of Acquisition

The Howard S. Avery Papers were donated to the Special Collections and University Archives in 1996. Archivists transferred some of Avery's personal and early professional papers from the Avery-Abex Metallurgical Collection, Ms1995-025, to this collection in August 2022.

Related Archival Materials

VT Special Collections and University Archives also holds the Avery-Abex Collection, Ms1995-025, which contains the research papers of Howard S. Avery while working as a metallurgist at the American Brake Shoe (later Abex) Company's Mahwah Research Center.

The Mahwah Museum in Mahwah, New Jersey, also holds a collection of Howard S. Avery's papers.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Howard S. Avery Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The arrangement and description of the Howard S. Avery Papers began in June 2006 and was completed in September 2006. The collection had previously been re-housed and identified. Additional description was completed in November 2014. Addtional materials were integrated in August 2022.

Howard S. Avery Papers, 1913-1996
Eric Ackermann, Archivist; Tyler Williams, Student Assistant; LM Rozema, Archivist; and Special Collections and University Archives Staff
2022 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

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

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US