Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Earl I. Sponable papers, 1928-1968

Summary Information

Abstract

Earl I. Sponable was a chemist, Chief Engineer and Director of Research for Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation and its subsidiaries, 1926-1962. He was active in many aspects of research and development in broadcast and movie media, particularly in early sound film.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1185
Bib ID 4079356 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Sponable, Earl I., 1895-1977
Title Earl I. Sponable papers, 1928-1968
Physical Description 123 boxes (123 boxes, 4 oversize folders, 1 pkg. nitrate film (missing as of 2018))
Language(s) English .
Other Finding Aids

Legacy Finding aid

Access

The following boxes are located off-site: 2-120, 122-124. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Access to nitrate film samples stored in Reprography Dept. freezer requires several days advance notice. Nitrate film samples lost as of 2018; last seen in 2000 in the Preservation Department Freezer.

Arrangement

Arrangement

Selected materials cataloged remainder listed and arranged. This collection is arranged in 11 series. Materials within each series is arranged alphabetically.

Description

Summary

Correspondence, memoranda, reports, laboratory notebooks, technical drawings, film samples, screen samples, photographs, and printed material of Sponable. The collection is almost entirely technical and commercial in nature and relates especially to Movietone News and to the Fox laboratories' work with color film, television, theater television and the Eidophor System, and Cinemascope. Also, files relating to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, of which Sponable was a member and officer. There is cataloged correspondence from Sir Edward Gordon Craig, Lee deForest, Samuel Lionel Rothafel, Spyros P. Skouras, and Darryl F. Zanuck.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Other Finding Aids

Legacy Finding aid

Restrictions on Access

The following boxes are located off-site: 2-120, 122-124. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Access to nitrate film samples stored in Reprography Dept. freezer requires several days advance notice. Nitrate film samples lost as of 2018; last seen in 2000 in the Preservation Department Freezer.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Earl I. Sponable papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 09/--/89.

Revision Description

April 2020 PDF replaced with full finding aid, YH

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
35mm (photographic film size) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Diary Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Drawings (visual works) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Engineering drawings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Laboratory notebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Laboratory notebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mechanical drawings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Patents (licenses) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographic prints Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reports Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
blueprints (reprographic copies) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
minutes (administrative records) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Audio amplifiers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Broadcasting Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Case, Theodore W., 1888-1944 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chemistry, Technical Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chemists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Color motion pictures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Color motion pictures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Color motion pictures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Color photography -- Films Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Color photography -- Research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
De Forest, Lee, 1873-1961 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Eidophor system Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Electrical engineering Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Electrical engineering -- Research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Engineers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mechanical engineers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Motion picture projectors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Motion pictures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Motion pictures -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Movietonews (Firm) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Optics -- Study and teaching Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photography -- Research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photography, Stereoscopic Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Printing -- Technological innovations Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Projectors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Radio -- Transmitters and transmission Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rothafel, Samuel Lionel, 1881-1936 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Skouras, Spyros P Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sound engineers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Television Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Television and theater Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Television broadcasting Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theater television Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theaters -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theatre Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wide-screen processes (Cinematography) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zanuck, Darryl Francis, 1902-1979 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Earl I. Sponable was born in Plainfield, N.Y., 18 September 1895, attended public schools and in 1916 received the degree of Bachelor of Chemistry from Cornell University. Following his graduation he established, with Theodore W. Case, the Case Research Laboratory at Auburn, N.Y., holding the position of Chief Research Chemist. During World War I he was a civilian consultant to the Naval Experimental Station at New London, Connecticut, working on secret infra-red signaling systems. He remained at Case Laboratories until 1925, working primarily on electrical and mechanical components of sound-on-film recording and reproducing; in the early 1920s he achieved successful television transmission on a closed-circuit system.

Sponable joined the Fox Film Corporation in 1926, and was their Chief Engineer and Director of Research until 1962. He held approximately twenty patents, primarily relating to sound on film, and was the primary developer of the Movietone News newsreels. He was an active member of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (later the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) and served as its president in 1949-1950. He died on 16 November 1977.