Updated 24-XII-2018

Dr. Ward Harrison

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

Ward Harrison

Ward Harrison was an outstanding contributor to the design of various industrial, commercial and street lighting fixtures. His entire working career was spent at GE's Nela Park in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ward Harrison (16 May 1888 - 24 Jan 1970) was born in East Orange, New Jersey, the son of George K. and Abbie Augusta (W.) Harrison. He graduated with honors with a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1909.

Harrison entered the lamp business in June of 1909 in the Engineering Department of the National Electric Lamp Association. His service continued in that Department until 1 October 1912 when he became director of the Illuminating Engineering section. Harrison continued in that capacity until 1930. From 1930 to 1948 he was director of engineering. Ward Harrison retired from General Electric on 1 September 1948.

Harrison authored the book Electric Lighting in 1921 and co-authored Street Lighting Practice in 1929.

Harrison's role as manager did not prevent him from being granted patents for his design work, which are listed in the section below. He was named the prestigious IES Gold Medalist in 1949.

Quoting from the Obituary in Illuminating Engineering3:

"Dr. Harrison made many contributions to lighting practice in the fields of general illumination and street lighting. He designed the RLM standard industrial reflector, and improved luminaires for street lighting, including the first street lighting lanterns incorporating prismatic refractors. He was the inventor of the Glassteel Diffuser and the clear-top enclosed semi-indirect luminaire."
In the above quote mention was made of the RLM standard industrial reflector. This is revealed in Harrison's U.S. Patent 1,374,654. This fixture was used with the new gas-filled tungsten filament lamps. The RLM (Reflector and Lamp Manufacturers') Standard Dome is shown below, scanned from the first page of Harrison's patent.

  1. US 1,299,936, Lighting Unit, 8 Apr 1919
  2. US 1,331,062, Illumination-Measuring Device, 17 Feb 1920
  3. US D0057463, Design for a Lighting-Globe, 5 Apr 1921
  4. US 1,374,654, Lighting-Fixture, 12 Apr 1921
  5. US 1,508,184, Lighting Fixture, 9 Sep 1924
  6. US 1,536,844, Lighting Unit (with John H. Waterbury), 5 May 1925
  7. US 1,543,606, Lighting Fixture, 23 Jun 1925
  8. US 2,156,087, Illumination, 25 Apr 1939
  9. US 2,276,842, Mounting Device for Electric Lamps, 17 Mar 1942
  10. US 2,339,166, Circular Electric Lamp, 11 Jan 1944
  11. US 2,665,610, Light Directing Glass Block, 12 Jan 1954

References & Bibligraphy
  1. Book of the Incas, ca 1930.
  2. Makers of National - The Spirit and People of an Industrial Organization, Edward J. Covington, Printed by Graphic Communications Operation, GE Lighting, Nela Park, East Cleveland, Ohio 44112, 1997, pp.35-36.
  3. "Dr. Ward Harrison Dead at 81", Illuminating Engineering, Vol.65, 1970, pp.7A-8A.
  4. "A Tribute to Ward Harrison", S. G. Hibben, Illuminating Engineering, Vol.65, 1970, p.8A.