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Joseph M. Pettit Diary and Interview Transcript

Identifier: MS387

  • Staff Only


  • 1944-1980


Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


0.2 Linear Feet (one half-size document case)

Scope and Contents

The Joseph M. Pettit diary and interview transcript includes photocopies of Pettit's combined diary and research notebook compiled during his tour of duty during World War II, along with a transcript of an interview carried out by Alfred Price for his History of U.S. Electronic Warfare. Pettit's diary and interview provide details on his activities during World War II working with radar detection devices, particularly the monitoring of enemy radar and the training of personnel in the operation and maintenance of equipment. Details of his daily activities and research during a four-month deployment in India and China are outlined in the diary, and an overview of his wartime activities in Britain, the United States, and India are provided in the interview transcript.

Biography of Joseph M. Pettit

Joseph Mayo Pettit was born in Rochester, Minnesota, on July 15, 1916. Following early years in Portland, Oregon, he received a Bachleor of Science in 1938 from the University of California at Berkeley. At Stanford University, he earned an engineering degree in 1940 and his Ph.D. in 1942. His major field was engineering, with a minor in physics. From 1938 to 1940, Dr. Pettit was a teaching and research assistant at Stanford. In 1940, he became an instructor at Berkeley, a post he held until 1942.

During World War II, Dr. Pettit was engaged in radar countermeasures development in the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard University. His assignments included tours in India, China, France, and England. In 1949, he was awarded the Presidential Certificate of Merit for his wartime work.

In 1945, Dr. Pettit joined the Airborne Instruments Laboratory, Inc., in New York. Two years later, he became a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, where he was named dean of the School of Engineering in 1958. He held this post until 1972, when he was inaugurated as Georgia Tech's eighth president.

Dr. Pettit was a registered engineer and wrote numerous articles and several textbooks in the field of electronics. He was a director or consultant for several companies in the United States and abroad.

Since Pettit's arrival at Georgia Tech, the Institute has steadily progressed into the forefront of technological education. Under his leadership, Tech's research budget surpassed the $100 million mark for the first time in its history. In addition, Dr. Pettit spearheaded Tech's historic $100 million Centennial Campaign, which surpassed its goal in June 1986.

Although Dr. Pettit's death on September 15, 1986, ended his era of progressive and visionary leadership at Georgia Tech, the effects of his contributions to education and research, to Georgia Tech, and to the entire Atlanta community will be felt by many future generations.

[excerpted from the uncredited biographical note included in Dr. Pettit's funeral program]

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.


Donation from the Association of Old Crows, 1989. Accession number: 1989.0402.

Location of Originals

Items are copies of originals, which are located in the research library of the Association of Old Crows.

Processing Information

Ryan Speer and Christine de Catanzaro processed these papers in August 2011.

Joseph M. Pettit Diary and Interview Transcript
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Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA