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Garnet C. Brown Papers

Identifier: MS-82

Scope and Contents

SERIES I: Personal Correspondence, contains general and personal correspondence to and from Garnet Brown including all major topics and hobbies with which he was involved. Also contains checks, sales slips, and postcards. This series is arranged chronologically.

SERIES II: Garnet C. Brown, contains family sketches, awards, special interest stories, a paper G. Brown read at a Kansas City meeting, news clippings, pamphlets, booklets, and newsletters.

SERIES III: Work of Garnet Brown: Dow Chemical Company and Heli Coil Corporation, contains correspondence, diagrams, blueprints, drawings, bulletins, magazines, brochures, manuals, handbooks, and photographs documenting the years G. Brown worked with these companies. The records are arranged chronologically.

SERIES IV: Articles, Stories, Verses, contains original handwritten stories and verses by G. Brown. Includes other stories and verses saved by G. Brown.

SERIES V: Miniature Cannons, documents G. Brown’s hobby of modeling small cannons. This series contains all of his blueprints, drawings, and diagrams of his handmade miniature cannons.

SERIES VI: Notebooks and Address Books, include notebooks, hard bound books, address books, magazines, and booklets owned by G. Brown.

SERIES VII: Hobbies and Interests of Garnet Brown, contains news clippings, pamphlets, magazines, booklets, tickets, brochures, diagrams, manuals, and handbooks. The files are arranged by major topic of interests: aviation, steamboats, boats and riverboats, antique cars, and guns.

SERIES VIII: Photographs, consists of all types of photographs which include pictures of Garnet Brown and relatives, his activities with boats and antique cars, travels through Italy, and battlefields (Gettysburg). The photographs are arranged chronologically.

SERIES IX: Glass Plate Negatives and Lantern Slides, contains glass plate negatives depicting scenes such as a river, mills, covered bridge, Miamisburg train station, an overturned locomotive, and fire engine. The first eleven glass plates are size 4” x 5”, and negatives 12-17 measure 8” x 10”. The lantern slides were used in G. Brown's speech at the Kansas City Meeting concerning air screws.


  • Creation: 1890-1976


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical Note

Garnet C. Brown was an inventor designer. He helped pioneer both the aviation and the automobile industries. He was credited as the inventor of the Army's first electric bomb rack and designed the trigger motor for synchronized firing through propeller blades. His vocation was that of an engineer. Born in Springfield, Ohio on December 21, 1881, he had one brother, Horace; two sisters, Ione and Dwina. His father's forebears were of Scotch descent, and his mother's were English. The Browns chose to settle in Springfield because it was a center for farm machinery where both his father and grandfather were building reapers. For a short time Mr. Brown's family lived in Miamisburg. About 1884, his family moved to Dayton where he attended the city schools. As a 16 year old he attended classes each morning, then worked in a machine shop. The four years spent in the shop gave him the fundamentals of mechanical operations as a basis for an engineering career. He graduated from Steele High School in Dayton. Mr. Brown did not attend college.

At age twenty, Garnet was employed by the Dayton Electrical Manufacturing Company whose foreman was Charles Taylor, the Wright Brothers' mechanic.

In 1903 Garnet found employment in Toledo at the Pope Motor Car Company. From 1906 1909 he was the Service Manager (floor man) for the Imperial Motor Co. in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1912 he joined the Buffalo Electric Motor Carriage Company, where he designed electric motor cars.

Shortly after WW I began in Europe, Mr. Brown joined the Research Engineering Department of Packard in Detroit, Mich. He was with the Packard Motor Car Company from November 1914 to April 1917, working as a layout draftsman and gaining experience on some of the earliest aircraft engines. Here he helped to develop the Twin Six and developed the carburetor for Ralph DePalma's winning car at the 1915 Indianapolis 500.

Beginning in April, 1917, Mr. Brown spent ten months with the Willys Overland Company, working on design and layout of aircraft engines.

In January 1918, Garnet began working at McCook Field (North Dayton), in the Engineering Department. He helped design airplane engines and armaments, later became group leader, and invented the electric bomb rack.

Two years after the war ended, Mr. Brown became the sales engineer for the L.H. Gilmer Co. of Philadelphia; a manufacturer of automobile parts. In 1921, Mr. Brown invented the bomb release that Billy Mitchell used to sink warships during the first demonstrations of air power against ships.

From 1928 until 1936, Garnet Brown was the sales engineer for Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corp. of Detroit. His work was mostly with aircraft. He handled such products as engine bearings, cylinder heads, and other aluminum engine castings. Plus he worked with bronze and brass forgings for engine parts.

For a short period in 1937, he worked for Rov Day Piston Co. of Detroit, making high quality aircraft aluminum castings. Following this he was employed by the Dow Chemical Co. at Midland, Michigan where he worked on such diverse developments as aircraft wheels and a pump for pumping concrete down oil wells. For two years he was in charge of pattern engineering, designing and standardizing pattern equipment for large volume production of aircraft castings.

In 1942 he married Doris Louisa Dehmel, his second wife, the first Mrs. Brown died in 1934.

Mr. Brown's final employment was as sales engineer for Heli Coil Corp. for the Detroit area during WW II. Here his work centered around screw thread problems in equipment. Mr. Brown installed and repaired screw threads for Rolls Royce, Packard and many other corporations.

Mr. Brown loved to memorize and compose poetry, and competed in rifle matches. Among his treasures was a Brown Bess musket, used by Cornwallis' men at the 1781 surrender of Yorktown. At the start of the Civil War this gun was issued to his grandfather. Mr. Garnet C. Brown died April, 1976 and is buried in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio.


4.5 linear feet

Language of Materials



Brown, a native of Springfield, was a local engineer and designer who helped pioneer several inventions in the aviation and automobile industries. His papers consist of engineering notebooks, personal and business correspondence, blueprints, photographs, original stories and poems, clippings, and a collection of printed materials reflecting his various interests and hobbies.


The collection is arranged into 9 series:

Personal Correspondence
Garnet C. Brown
Work of Garnet Brown: Dow Chemical Company and Heli Coil Corporation
Articles, Stories, Verses
Miniature Cannons
Notebooks and Address Books
Hobbies and Interests of Garnet Brown
Glass Plate Negatives and Lantern Slides

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The Lantern slides used by G. Brown in his Kansas City Meeting speech must be handled with great care. Several are cracked.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Garnet C. Brown Papers were given to Wright State University Archives in April of 1979 by his wife, Mrs. Doris Brown.

Separated Materials

Two books were separated from the collection and placed in the reading room: • The Birth of an Industry by Howard Mingos, New York City, 1930. (Call number TL 521 .M5)

• A History of the United States Air Force by Alfred Goldberg, New York. Arro Press, 1974. (Call number UG 633 .G6 1974

In addition, one New York Herald newspaper dated April 15, 1865 on Lincoln's assassination:, was separated to oversize drawer Loc. 111, Folder 9, Item 11.

Processing Information

The researcher should be aware of the following before using the collection:

Most of the rough drafts for the handwritten stories do not have page numbers. Thus, the researcher will have some difficulty in reading and following the continuity of the stories. The processor has left the unnumbered pages in their original order when donated.

Correspondence has been separated into two parts, general and with his work in the Heli Coil Corporation. The reasoning behind this is that the Heli Coil Corporation correspondence contains many interoffice communications and letters to consumers. This adds cohesiveness to G. Brown's years of employment by this corporation.

Guide to the Garnet C. Brown Papers (MS-82)
Susan E. Smith
1979 May 22
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017 September: Finding aid revised according to DACS by Toni Vanden Bos.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA