Skip to main content

James W. Nilsson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 11/6/52

Scope and Content

This collection (1948-1986, undated) contains biographical information, consulting materials, writings, talks, course materials, and educational films. The biographical information includes newspaper clippings, personnel forms, and writings by Nilsson. The collection also contains a number of Nilsson's writings and talks, including manuscript and typescript drafts of a number of his published textbooks.

The consulting materials include case files related to consultation work Nilsson did for Iowa Power and Light Company interpreting the National Electrical Safety Code in court cases involving electrical injuries and death.

The course materials contained in the collection include information about and original footage from movies which Nilsson created to help in teaching various concepts to electrical engineering students at Iowa State University. The collection also contains files on a film project for the Education Development Center on basic electromechanical instrument movements.


  • 1948-1986, undated


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


James W. Nilsson was born June 8, 1924, in Monroe, Michigan. Nilsson received his B.S. (1948) in electrical engineering from the University of Iowa and his M.S. (1952) and Ph.D. (1958) in electrical engineering from Iowa State College (University). Nilsson served as an Instructor (1948-1952) at Iowa State, and was promoted to Associate Professor (1952-1962) and Professor (1962-1984). In 1984, he was named Distinguished Professor (1984-1987) and served in that capacity until his retirement, when he was named Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Initially, Nilsson taught in the Electrical Engineering Department at Iowa State University. In the later years of his career, he also worked in the Computer Engineering field. He wrote several textbooks on the subjects of electrical engineering and computer engineering, including numerous editions of Electric Circuits (call no. TK454.N54) and Introduction to Circuits, Instruments, and Electronics (call no. TK454.N599i). Nilsson used computers to create animated models of electrical engineering equations that he used as teaching aids in the courses he taught.

Nilsson also did consultation work for Iowa Power and Light Company interpreting the National Electrical safety code in court cases involving electrical injuries and death. Nilsson was a member of Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and Pi Mu Epsilon. He was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and served as chairman (1965 to 1966).


13.32 Linear Feet (5 records center cartons, 4 oversized boxes)


The collection is organized into four series:

Series 1, Biographical Information, 1955-1970

Series 2, Consulting, 1948-1981, undated (chronological)

Series 3, Writings and Talks, 1953-1987, undated (chronological)

Series 4, Course Materials and Educational Films, 1967-1980s, undated (chronological)

Items in related collections

RS 11/6. Iowa State University. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering records, 1884-2013

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 11/6/52. James W. Nilsson papers, 1948-1986, undated
January 22, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672