Search billions of records on













Contact info









Harold Eugene Edgerton, son of Frank Eugene and Mary Nettie (Coe) Edgerton.                                                                             PHOTO



April 6, 1903; Woodbine, Harrison Co., IA.  (SSDI)


January 4, 1990; Boston, Suffolk Co., MA.  (SSDI) (OB The Record  1/5/1990)


Mount Auburn Cemetery; Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA.  (GI)



February 25, 1928; Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA.


Esther May Garrett, daughter of William Everett and Clara (Sharp) Garrett.



September 8, 1903; Giltner, Hamilton Co., NE.  (SSDI) (OB MIT Tech Talk  3/13/2002)


March 9, 2002; Charleston, Charleston Co., SC.  (SSDI) (OB MIT Tech Talk  3/13/2002)


Mount Auburn Cemetery; Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA.  (GI)



  1. Mary Louise, b. April 21, 1931; Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA.
  2. William Eugene, b. August 9, 1933; Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA.
  3. Robert Frank, b. May 10, 1935; Cambridge, Suffolk Co., MA.


The following obituary for Harold Eugene Edgerton was published in The Record, Northern New Jersey on Friday, January 5, 1990:


“Harold "Doc" Edgerton, a pioneer in strobe and underwater photography and a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died of a heart attack Thursday.  He was 86.  Edgerton died at Massachusetts General Hospital after suffering a heart attack at the MIT faculty club, where he was having lunch, MIT said.  


The achievements of Edgerton spanned many decades.  His revolutionary work in the use of strobe lights captured images long hidden to the naked eye.  His famous photographs of a drop of milk splashing on a tabletop and of a bullet piercing an apple showed the world what time looks like when it is frozen.  Edgerton's strobe lamps enabled the Allies to track enemy movements at night during World War II.  His strobes were used to photograph the first atomic tests.  His work in sonar helped locate underwater wrecks and is used by undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau.  "If it comes, it comes," Edgerton once said of his ideas and inventions. "It'll come by inspiration and God almighty and hit you right in the middle of the night."


Edgerton, a native of Nebraska, had been at MIT since 1926, when he enrolled as a student in electrical engineering.  Officially retired from MIT in 1968, he lived in an apartment next to the campus and still came into his office five days a week.  "I got stuck," he said.  "But it's given me a very nice place to work."  Most weekdays, Edgerton could be found in his laboratory at MIT, just off MIT's "Strobe Alley," where his work is displayed.


In addition to his inventions, Edgerton and two former students in 1947 started a company, EG&G, specializing in electronic technology.  Now a multi-million dollar engineering concern, the company was under contract to the military and designed and operated systems that timed and fired U.S. nuclear bomb tests.  At a recent meeting of the Archaeological Society of America, Edgerton offered words of advice to a group gathered to honor his life's achievements.  "Work like hell, tell everyone everything you know, close a deal with a handshake, and have fun," Edgerton told the audience.


He was awarded a national medal of technology by President Reagan in 1988.  Undersea explorer Cousteau used some of Edgerton's sonar equipment, and the two collaborated in locating the British Army ship HMS Britannia, which was sunk by a mine off the Greek coast during World War I. Cousteau nicknamed Edgerton "Papa Flash."   Also, his Edgerton-Benthos underwater camera was used to photograph the shipwreck of the Titanic when it was discovered in 1986.  He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Esther, a daughter and a son.”


The following obituary for Mrs. Esther May (Garrett) Edgerton was published in MIT Tech Talk on Wednesday, March 13, 2002:


“Esther Edgerton, widow of ‘Doc’ Edgerton and benefactor of the Institute, dies at 98


Esther Edgerton, widow of MIT Professor Harold E. “Doc” Edgerton, died last Saturday (March 9) at the home of her granddaughter, Janice Dixon Key, in Charleston, S.C., where she lived for the last four years.  She was 98 years old.


An open house, hosted by Professor J. Kim Vandiver, will be held at the MIT Edgerton Center, Room 4-405, on Saturday, March 16 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. following the funeral service at Payson Park Church in Belmont.  Interment will be at Mount Auburn Cemetery.


Edgerton, the former Esther May Garrett, was born in Hamilton County, Neb. on Sept. 8, 1903.  She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, music and education from the University of Nebraska, also her husband’s alma mater.  A skilled pianist and singer, she attended the New England Conservatory of Music and taught in public schools in Aurora, Neb. and Boston.


Edgerton was active in the International Chapter P.E.O. Sisterhood for 74 years.  She was a member of the Payson Park Church in Belmont and the MIT Matrons.


The Edgertons, longtime residents of Belmont and Cambridge, established the Edgerton Research Vessel at the New England Aquarium and endowed the Edgerton House dormitory and several scholarships and chairmanships at MIT.  Natives of Nebraska, they also funded the Edgerton Explorit Center in Aurora, Neb.


Along with the Germeshausens and Griers, the Edgertons funded the EG&G Education Center (Building 34) at MIT and Mrs. Edgerton sponsored exhibits at Boston Museum of Science with Polly Germeshausen. Professor Edgerton, a pioneer in strobe photography and underwater photography, was co-founder of the electronic technology firm Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier Inc.


Edgerton is survived by a son, Robert Frank Edgerton of Seattle, seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.  Professor Edgerton died in 1990.  A son, William Eugene Edgerton, and a daughter, Mary Louise Edgerton Dixon, have also died.”