Finding aid for the Abe Silverstein Papers

Abe Silverstein Papers
Western Reserve Historical Society
Phone: 216-721-5722
Silverstein, Abe
5.21 linear feet (6 containers and 1 oversize folder)
Abe Silverstein (1908-2001) a giant in the field of aerospace engineering and development, was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. He received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, in 1929, and a Mechanical Engineering professional degree, in 1934, at Rose Polytechnic Institute. Silverstein began his professional career with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), in 1929, at the Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. There, he helped design and, later, was placed in charge of the full-scale wind tunnel. In this facility he directed important research that led to increased high-speed performance for most of the United States combat aircraft of World War II. In 1943, he was transferred to the NACA Aircraft and Engine Research Laboratory (later named, NACA Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory) at Cleveland, Ohio. As chief of the Wind Tunnel and Flight Division, Silverstein directed research in propulsion aerodynamics in the Altitude Wind Tunnel. These investigations led to significant improvements in both reciprocating and early turbojet aircraft engines. He also pioneered research on large-scale ramjet engines. Following World War II, Silverstein was responsible for the concept, design and construction of the nation's first supersonic propulsion wind tunnels. The investigations in these facilities greatly contributed to the development of present-day supersonic aircraft. In 1949, he was placed in charge of all research at Lewis and in 1952 was appointed Associate Director of the laboratory. Silverstein was called to NACA Headquarters in Washington, D. C. in 1958 to plan the organization and programs for a new space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to be built around NACA as its core. Subsequently, he was appointed Director of NASA's Office of Space Flight Programs that included the development of both manned and unmanned spacecraft. He initiated the Tiros weather satellites and communication satellites. He directed the task forces that carried out the Mercury manned flights. This activity laid the groundwork for the Gemini and Apollo programs and the latter's success in landing men on the moon. Dr. Silverstein returned to Cleveland in 1961 as Director of the NASA Lewis Research Center, responsible for the development of advanced space power and propulsion systems. Under the latter program, he was the guiding force behind the creation of the Centaur launch vehicle. From its first successful launch in 1963 to the end of the century, Centaur was the workhorse of the American space program, propelling spacecraft to the moon and to the outer planets and both scientific and commercial satellites into earth orbit. Dr. Silverstein retired in 1969 with 40 years of government service. He went on to work for Republic Steel Corporation, in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1970-1977, where he helped develop pollution controls. In addition to his professional career, Dr. Silverstein was active in community and civic affairs. He was instrumental in the founding of Beth Israel-The West Temple of Cleveland in 1954. His concern for human rights led to his involvement in the Cleveland Council on Soviet Anti-Semitism, serving as President, 1965-1969. Silverstein's interest in guiding youth to constructive endeavors led to his active participation with Boy Scouts of America in city, district, and local levels. He served as a Trustee of Cleveland State University, Case Western Reserve University, and the Cleveland Natural History Museum; a member of the Baldwin-Wallace College Council of Cleveland Business and Industrial Leaders, the Carnegie-Mellon University Mechanical Engineering Visiting Committee, the Advisory Board of Deaconess Hospital, and the Cleveland Federal Executive Board. The collection consists of awards and honors, biographies, correspondence, papers and reports, press articles, talks and addresses, personal material, and books. Of particular interest are talks containing reminiscences of Dr. Silverstein's involvement in decisions that shaped early space programs.
MS 4985
closed stacks
The records are in English