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Kranzberg Phoenix Scholarship

This scholarship was established by a gift from Dr. Melvin Kranzberg to honor his wife, Les, who achieved success in the field of public education. Mrs. Louise Lester was a GSCW graduate in 1951.  She was a principal and is now retired.  Mrs. Kranzberg requested that the scholarship be awarded to female education majors over the age of 30.

The following is an article about Dr. Kranzberg that appeared in the New York Times Dec. 9, 1995.

Melvin Kranzberg, 78, Historian of Technology

By LAWRENCE VAN GELDER
Published: Saturday, Dec. 9, 1995

Melvin Kranzberg, a scholar who helped establish the study of the history of technology and explained its impact on society, died on Wednesday at his home in Atlanta. Dr. Kranzberg, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was 78.

The cause was cancer, said August Giebelhaus, a professor of history at Georgia Tech and a longtime colleague.

Dr. Kranzberg co-founded the Society for the History of Technology in 1958. From then until 1984, he was the editor of its quarterly journal, Technology and Culture.

"His life's work was to assert the autonomy of this discipline," Professor Giebelhaus said. "It was not just applied science, and it was not just a minor part of economic history, but it was a discipline in itself.

Dr. Kranzberg argued that technological development could not be understood without seeing how it was linked to society.

He wrote or edited 11 books and wrote more than 150 scholarly articles; he also popularized his field in newspaper articles.

In a 1968 article, he wrote: "Engineers, in general, live in the suburbs, vote Republican and mouth the cliches of conservatism. Actually, if unwittingly, they are greater social revolutionaries than many wild-eyed political radicals.

"Without necessarily meaning to, they invent new products, processes, systems and devices that produce profound socio-cultural transformations."

The automobile self-starter, he wrote, freed women and children to see the world and electric washers, driers, vacuum cleaners, supermarkets and telephones freed women for "drinking, loafing, heavy thinking about issues like Vietnam and even jobs, the same as men."

"Radicals" like the inventors Watt, Fulton, McCormick, Edison and Marconi, he said, changed the face of the world.

Early in the computer era, he foresaw immense social upheaval, but he remained optimistic, as he generally was about technological change.

Writing more than 25 years ago, he said, "There is no doubt that many individuals will be thrown out of their jobs by automation, and the process will accelerate with every passing year. At the same time computers are speeding and extending the advance of science and technology at a pace never before witnessed in history. This, we know, will create new lines of productivity, new and better jobs, new professions and untold wealth."

Dr. Kranzberg was born on Nov. 22, 1917, in St Louis. He studied history and economics at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1938. At Harvard University he earned a master's degree in 1938 and a doctorate in 1942.

During World War II, he served in the Army in Europe as a sergeant in military intelligence, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and interrogated German prisoners on the front lines. He won the Bronze Star for finding crucial enemy gun emplacements.

Originally a specialist in modern French history, Dr. Kranzberg taught at Harvard, the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., and Amherst. In 1952 he joined the faculty of at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. There, while developing a history course for engineering students, he shifted to the history of technology.

He was appointed a professor at Case in 1959, and left in 1972 to become the Callaway Professor of the History of Technology at Georgia Tech. When he retired in 1988, he became a professor emeritus, and the institute named a professorship in the history of technology in his honor.

His awards included the NASA Apollo Achievement Award, the Roe Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the State of Israel's Jabotinsky Centennial Medal for eminence in science and letters, the Olmstead Award of the American Society for Engineering Education and the Bernal Award of the Society for Social Studies of Science.

Dr. Kranzberg is survived by his wife, the former Louise Lester of Atlanta; two sons by a previous marriage, John and Steven, both of St. Louis; a brother, Maurice, also of St. Louis, and four grandchildren.

 

 

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