Nebraska Authors

Harold Eugene Edgerton

AKA: "Doc" Edgerton

Also called "Papa Flash"

Born 1903-04-06 Fremont, NE (USA)

Died 1990-01-04
Cambridge, MA (USA)

Cambridge, MA (USA)
Mount Auburn Cemetery

Edgerton invented modern scientific high speed photography, transforming the stroboscope, an obscure laboratory toy, into a powerful photographic tool. He also made significant improvements to sonar. There is an Edgerton Center at MIT that honors his legacy by providing laboratory resources to students. In his home town of Aurora, Nebraska, the Edgerton Explorit Center honors Edgerton by offering hands-on science experiences for all ages.

MIT maintains the on-line Edgerton Digital Collections devoted to his work as a "visionary engineer."

Places Lived

Fremont, NE
Aurora, NE
Lincoln, NE
Washington, D.C.
Schenectady, NY
Boston, MA
Cambridge, MA

Author Of

  • Visual Work
  • Nonfiction


High Speed Photography; Stroboscope; Sonar; Engineering; Physics;


Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Degree, 1925, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering Degree, 1927, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Doctor of Science Degree, 1931, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Honorary Degrees:
Doctor of Engineering, 1948, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) Degree, 1969, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) Degree, 1969, Doane College, Crete, NE
Doctor of Science Degree, 1979, Washington University, St. Louis, MO



Places Worked

General Electric Company
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier, Inc.


Bronze Medal, 1934, Royal Photographic Society
Howard N. Potts Medal, 1941, Franklin Institute
Oscar, 1941, for his short film Quicker'n a Wink
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1956
David Richardson Medal, 1968, Optical Society of America
John Oliver LaGorce Gold medal, National Geographic Society
Morris E. Leeds Award, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Albert A. Michelson Medal, 1969, Franklin Institute
United States National Medal of Science
Student dormitory named after him at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he taught
Outstanding Alumnus Award, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1988
Edgarton Explorit Center named for him in Aurora, NE, 1995
Harold Doc Edgerton Day on April 6, 1997, Governor's Proclamation
“150 Notable Nebraskans”, Number 14 on the Journal Star Sesquicentennial List of Significant Nebraskans


Acacia Fraternity
American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow
National Academy of Engineers
National Academy of the Sciences
American Philosophical Society
Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain


The Mercury Arc as an Actinic Stroboscopic Light Source. 1933. (with K.J. Germeshausen)
Flash! Seeing the Unseen By Ultra High Speed Photography. 1939. (with James Killian Jr.)
Electronic Flash, Strobe. 1970.
Moments of Vision: The Stroboscopic Revolution. 1979. (with James Killian Jr.)
Sonar Images. 1986. (with James Killian Jr.)
Stopping Time. 1987.

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Harold Eugene Edgerton

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)