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Frederick R. Hess papers

 Record Group
Identifier: MC-48

Scope and Content Note

The papers consist of Frederick R. Hess’s personal notebooks, correspondence, scientific notes, plots, and photographs.


  • Majority of material found within 1967-1984

Language of Materials

The records are in



Open: materials are available for research.


Copyright: Permission to publish material from the collection must be authorized by the Institution Archivist.

Biographical Information

Frederick Roland (Fritz) Hess joined Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1960 as a Research Associate in electronics working for Brackett Hersey. In 1964 he was appointed to the technical staff as a Research Associate in the Department of Geophysics. In 1966 he was awarded and Insitution Fellowship for continuing education, and during the academic years 1966-1968 he was granted leave of absence to attend the University of New Hampshire. He received his Bachelor's degree in 1969. In 1971 he began working in the Department of Ocean Engineering under Earl Hays and was appointed a Research Specialist in 1977.

Prior to joining WHOI, he worked at Anton Electronic Laboratories where he assisted in the development of radiation detectors. He also worked at Emerson Radio and Phonograph Company where he was in charge of electrical and electronic standards. He served three years in the Army maintaining crypto-analytic equipment and serving as an electronics instructor. After discharge from the military, Fritz enrolled as a physics major at the University of Maryland where he worked on cosmic ray and upper atmospheric research. He spent a year at Litton Industries where he was responsible for the design and testing of various aspects of electronic countermeasures equipment for the Air Force. He then joined the National Electronics Laboratory working on angular accelerometers and underwater logs for the U.S. Navy. This was his entrance into a career in oceanographic instrument design, which he continued to pursue so successfully at WHOI.

Fritz had an ingenious and inventive mind that contributed unique and novel measurement techniques to oceanography. His use of model airplanes to collect air samples remotely from ships, his development of acoustic transducers and high frequency backscattering sonars, and his several patents illustrate the board range of his expertise. He made contributions to marine acoustics, marine geology, and ocean engineering.

Fritz was a charter member of the Marine Technology Society and was very active in professional as well as community affairs. He served for many years as the permanent secretary of the Institution's Patent Committee, and was also elected to the Staff Committee. He was an active amateur radio operator and was reponsible for experimental radio in the early 1960s as a researcher for the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS). His hobby was building and flying radio controlled airplanes, and he was president of the OTIS model airplane club. He was very active in church affairs and served as president of the congregation at Christ Lutheran Church in Falmouth.

He died on March 10, 1985.

Taken from his WHOI obituary.


1 box (1.25 lin. ft.)


The Frederick R. Hess papers contain personal notebooks, correspondence, scientific notes, plots, and photographs.


Arranged in a single series:

List of Series:

Custodial History

The custodial history of the records is undocumented.

Acquisitions Information

The papers were received from Ocean Engineering on January 19, 1987, and were stored as boxes 205 and 206.

Processing Information

First-level processing completed by Rosemary Davis.

A Guide to the Frederick R. Hess papers, 1967-1984
David Sherman
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written inEnglish

Repository Details

Part of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Data Library and Archives Repository