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Klopsteg, Paul E. (Paul Ernest), 1889-1991



  • Existence: 1889 - 1991


Paul Earnest Klopsteg was born in Henderson, Minnesota, the son of the Reverend Julius and Magdalen (Kuesthardt) Klopsteg, on May 30, 1889. He obtained his B.S. (1911), M.A. (1913), and Ph.D. (1916) from the University of Minnesota. In recognition of his scientific accomplishments he was awarded honorary Sc.D. degrees by Northwestern University (1942) and Wesleyan University (1948).

Klopsteg taught physics at the University of Minnesota from 1911 to 1917. During 1917 and 1918 he worked for the U.S. Army Ordinance Department. From 1918 to 1921 he was in charge of technical advertising at Leeds and Northrup Co. in Philadelphia. He moved to Chicago to assume a position at the Central Scientific Company in development and manufacturing, which he held from 1921-1930, before serving as the company's president, from 1930-1934.

In 1943 Klopsteg was a member of the Kettering Committee which advised Northwestern University on the development of its newly established Technological Institute. The following year he was appointed professor of applied science and director of research at the Technological Institute. Klopsteg became professor emeritus in 1954. From 1961 to 1963 Klopsteg served as special consultant for science to J. Roscoe Miller, Northwestern's president.

During World War II and for several years thereafter Klopsteg was involved in several military-related projects. He served as chief of the Division of Physics and Special Devices in the National Defense Research Committee. He was also a member of the Committee's "anonymous division" involved in developing methods and devices for use behind enemy lines. Klopsteg then became deputy chief, Office of Field Service, Office of Scientific Research and Development. In this capacity he worked for a period in the Pacific region and in 1948 was awarded the Presidential Medal for Merit.

During the years following the War, Klopsteg served as chair of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Artificial Limbs. In 1950 he became a member of the panel for security measures in the Atomic Energy Commission. He also served as a member of the commission's personnel security review board. The following year he spent six weeks in Lahore, Pakistan, as a consultant to Pakistan's Education Commission. Additionally, Klopsteg was the associate director for research with the National Science Foundation from 1951 to 1958.

From 1958 to 1960 Klopsteg chaired the National Academy of Science's Committee on Meteorology which he renamed the Committee on Atmospheric Sciences. During this period he played a major role in the establishment of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, later known as the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Active in numerous professional organizations, Klopsteg was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1959) and a founder and president of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He was also an active member of the American Institute of Physics.

In 1929, stimulated by his daughter Marie, Klopsteg became interested in archery both as a sport and as a source of research problems in physics. This interest remained with his for the rest of his life, leading to productive research and the writing of many articles and two books: Turkish Archery and the Composite Bow (1934 and 1947) and, as co-author, Archery: the Technical Side (1947). This field also led Klopsteg into a long-standing friendship with the mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner.

On June 11, 1914, Klopsteg married Amanda Marie Toedt. The couple had three daughters: Marie (Mrs. Joseph M. Graffis); Irma Louise; and Ruth Helen (Mrs. Henry L. Drake).

As a researcher who held over 50 patents, a scientist and a writer, Klopsteg made substantial contributions in several fields. He died on April 28, 1991, in Laguna Hills, California, a month before his 102nd birthday. His wife, Amanda, had died on October 31, 1990, at 98.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Paul E. Klopsteg (1889-1991) Papers

Identifier: 22/4/11

Researcher, scientist and writer Paul Klopsteg's (1889-1991) papers include biographical materials, education files, correspondence, archery files, governmental organizations files, professional organizations files, publications files, religion files, speech manuscript files, and material relating to World Wars I and II.

Dates: 1905 - 1991