Edith Clarke

Museum of Innovation and Science Schenectady

One of the few woman engineers in our Company

To hold a degree of Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, to be one of the few woman engineers in our Company, and to be the only woman who has delivered a paper before the A.I.E.E., is an unusual record. Miss Edith Clarke, specialist in transmission lines in the Central Station Department Schenectady, is the woman who has achieved it.

Miss Clarke says she doesn’t know why she drifted into engineering. She went to Vassar and received her degree. After leaving college, she entered the employ of the A.T. & T. Then she went to M.I.T., where she received her Master’s degree. With this obtained she went to Schenectady to engage in untangling a few of the knotty problems which arise now and then in connection with transmission lines.

This was in the summer of 1919. But she hasn’t been in Schenectady ever since. After she had been there two years, the desire for travel seized her, and she started for Constantinople, to inculcate the rudiments of physics into the heads of a group of Armenian, Turkish, Arabian, Greek and Russian youths at Constantinople College.

A year and a half of this proved to be enough, however, and in 1923 she returned to Schenectady, to the Central Station Department, to take up her former work again.

Schenectady Gazette, Thursday, November 19, 1959

Miss Clarke Dies at 76; Retired Engineer at GE

Miss Clarke Dies at 76; Retired Engineer at General Electric and the first woman to receive an electrical engineering degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died recently in a Baltimore, Md., hospital. She was 76.

A native of Howard County, Md., Miss Clarke joined Schenectady GE in 1919 after receiving her master’s degree from MIT. She was in charge of calculations in the turbine engineering building, where she trained and directed a group of girls in the calculation of mechanical stresses in turbines. In 1921 and 1922, she taught physics at Constantinople Women’s College, Constantinople, Turkey.

Property loss from damage by lightning averages about $73,000,000 a year in the United States, not including forest fires started by the bolts.

She then returned to Schenectady and joined the central station engineering division, where she remained until her retirement in August, 1946, after 26 years of service in the company. While in Schenectady, she lived at 1269 Parkwood boulevard.

She became professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas in 1946 , retiring from that position in 1956 and moving to a farm near Clarksville, Md., where she was living at the time of her death. During 26 years with GE, Miss Clarke contributed original theory to symmetrical component and circuit analysis and long-distance power transmission.

Miss Clarke was the first woman to be made a Fellow in the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and also the first woman honored as an alumnae member by Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu. Miss Clarke, a 1908 graduate of Vassar, is survived by one sister, Mrs. Rachel C. MacGill, Simpsonville, M.d., and several nieces and nephews.

Electric power transmission

Patent for a "graphical calculator" to be employed in solving electric power transmission line problems for General Electric, Schenectady, NY, 1921