Benjamin Sutton Willis papers
Scope and Content
This collection (1835-1970, undated) contains biographical information, newspaper clippings, speeches written by Ben Willis as well as others, and correspondence regarding the WOI Radio program “Prairie Valley Intelligencer.” There are also scripts and programs to minstrel shows and poetry. From his years as a professor at Iowa State, there are slides of lab equipment and schematics used for class lectures. In addition, the collection contains a scrapbook and negatives documenting the dredging of Lake LaVerne in 1959.
- 1835-1970, undated
Language of Materials
Open for research.
Consult Special Collections and University Archives
Benjamin Sutton Willis was born to John A. and Alice C. (Jennison) Willis in Janesville, Minnesota, on February 19, 1895. He received his B.S. (1917) in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota and his M.S. (1929) in electrical engineering from Iowa State College (University). He also earned the Electrical Engineer (1926) degree from Iowa State.
Prior to coming to Iowa State, Willis worked as a Test Engineer (1917) for General Electric and as a Laboratory Assistant and Associate Physicist (1917-1924) for the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (National Institute of Standards and Technology) in the photometry and illumination section. He joined the staff at Iowa State as Instructor (1924-1927) in electrical engineering and was promoted to Assistant Professor (1927-1958), Associate Professor (1958-1963) and Professor (1963-1969).
As a teacher, Willis taught classes on circuits and machines, electromagnetic power conversion, and illumination. His main interest at Iowa State was with the machines laboratory and illumination. He wrote the laboratory instruction manual for the Electrical Engineering Department. Willis received the Alumni Citation (1958) from the Iowa State University Alumni Association and the Governor’s Citation (1961) from the State of Iowa for 35 years of service.
Willis was a lifetime member of several professional organizations, including the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, serving as chairman (1934-1935) of the Iowa Section; the American Society for Engineering Education; and the American Association of University Professors. He was also a member of Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, and the Knights of St. Patrick.
Willis was an amateur photographer, dramatist, and poet. He was a member of Ames Playmakers and wrote and performed skits on WOI Radio as editor of the show “Prairie Valley Intelligencer.” He and his wife Elisabeth also appeared in the film “The Open Door to Greater Egg Profits” (1953) produced jointly by the Feed Institute, Inc., of Des Moines and the Department of Poultry Husbandry of Iowa State.
Ben Willis married Harriett Bogarth and together they had 3 children: Marian, Alice, and John. Harriett died in April 1939 and he married Elisabeth Curtiss in 1947. Willis died on June 11, 1969, and was buried in the Iowa State Cemetery.
1.47 Linear Feet (3 document boxes, 1 half-document box)
The collection organized Alphabetically.
Released on 2018-11-01.
- Biographies (literary works) Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- Clippings (information artifacts) Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- College teachers--Iowa Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Electrical engineers--Iowa Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Iowa State University. Department of Electrical Engineering--Faculty Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Scrapbooks Subject Source: Unspecified ingested source
- WOI (Radio station : Ames, Iowa)
- RS 11/6/51. Benjamin Sutton Willis papers, 1835-1970, undated
- January 22, 2019
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note