Finding Aid for the

James Lafferty Papers,



2.6 Linear Ft.


Finding Aid Compiled by

Joshua Hauck-Whealton

June 2010


Schenectady Museum Archives

15 Nott Terrace Heights

Schenectady, NY 12308

(518) 382-7890, ext. 241


Creation of this finding aid was supported by a grant from the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics





Biographical Note:


Dr. James Lafferty was born in April 1916 in Battle Creek Michigan.  He attended the University of Michigan where he received his Bachelors degree and then his doctorate degrees in physics and electrical engineering.  In 1942, Dr. Lafferty first entered General Electric as a research associate. 


Lafferty was recognized in 1946 for developing the VT Proximity fuse.  He received 67 US patents protecting his works and wrote at least 40 technical papers.  Lafferty is credited with the invention of the lanthanum boride cathode and hot-cathode magneton ionization gauge.  In 1979, he was honored by the IEEE with the Lamme Award for his work with vacuum switches.


In 1956, Lafferty served as manager at General Electric’s Physical Studies Section.  In 1968, he became manager of the General Physics Laboratory, and in 1978 he became manager of the Power Electronics Laboratory.  Lafferty began developing an Electric Vehicle program for GE in 1975, which led to the creation of the Centennial Electric Car in 1978.  He is now remember for his work on electric and hybrid vehicles



Scope and Content Note:


The Lafferty papers consist of materials relating to electric and alternative fuel powered automobiles. These include publications, press releases, correspondence, photographs, clippings and reports.  There are also several sets of slides for presentations and a number of filmstrips and video cassettes of television programs dealing with electric cars.


There is no material about Lafferty’s work with vacuum technology or his service with the American Vacuum Society.




Box and Folder List:


Box #1



  1. Alternative Fuels, Clippings, 1976, 1990-1992
  2. Alternative Fuels, Clippings, 1993-1998, undated
  3. “Basic Research for Advanced Auto Technology” Conference, 1979
  4. “The Clean Fuels Report,” J.E. Siner Consultants, 1992
  5. Department of Energy Annual Reports to Congress, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Programs, 1989-1993
  6. Department of Energy Annual Reports to Congress, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Programs, 1994-1995
  7. Detroit Edison, Pamphlet, 1985
  8. Ecology 90 Conference, Conference Materials, 1990
  9. “Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology International” Journal, 1995
  10. “Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology International” Journal, 1998
  11. Electric Car Development Consortium, Press Release, 1979
  12. Electric Power Research Institute, Publications, 1985-1987
  13. Electric Power Research Institute, Publications, 1988-1990, undated
  14. Electric Test Vehicle One, Press Release, Reports, Photographs, 1979
  15. Electric Vehicle Council, Correspondence, 1978-1980
  16. Electric Vehicle Test Facility, Tennessee Valley Authority, Article, Publications, 1983, undated
  17. Ford Motor Company, Electric Vehicles, Correspondence, Publications Photographs, 1991, undated
  18. Ford Motor Company, Electric Vehicle Symposium, Conference Materials, 1986
  19. GE 100/Centennial Electric Vehicle, Correspondence, Photographs, Report, 1978-1979, undated
  20. GE Hybrid Vehicle Program, Interim Report, 1981
  21. GE Reports, Electric Vehicles, 1976-1977, 1980-1981
  22. General Motors, Electric Vehicles, Clippings, Report, 1990-1991
  23. IEEE Articles, Electric Vehicles, 1992-1995
  24. Iron/ Air Battery, Correspondence, Publications, Report, 1989-1990
  25. Peugeot J5 Electric Vehicle, Clippings, Correspondence, 1990, undated
  26. Southern California Edison Company, 1989-1991
  27. “Summary on 1989 Air Quality Management Plan,” Southern California Association of Governments, 1989
  28. Sweden, Electrical Vehicles, 1989-1990, 1995-1996, undated
  29. Sydkraft Electric Car, Press Release, Publications, 1989-1990, undated


Box #2



  1. Testimony before US House Committee on Science & Technology, Battery Development for Electric Vehicles, 1979
  2. Testimony before US Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Electric Vehicles, 1979
  3. Unique Mobility Inc., Clippings, Leaflets, Press Releases, 1989-1990
  4. Unique Mobility Inc., Press Kits, 1989-1990
  5. Unique Mobility Inc., R&D Reports, 1989-1990
  6. Unique Mobility Inc., SEC Annual Report, 1989
  7. Vehma International Inc., Electric G-Van, Correspondence, Notes, Publications, Reports, 1989-1990, undated
  8. Volkswagen Jetta City STROMer, Correspondence, Pamphlets, 1990, undated


Box #3


“The Electric Car – A New Beginning,” US Dept. of Energy, Filmstrip, undated

“Lafferty Film” Parade, Film Strip, undated

GE 100 Electric Car Documentaries, VHS Cassette, 1985

“The Electric Adventure” Video Cassette, undated

“Noonday,” Electric Cars, May 27, 1980

San Francisco Television Show feature on Electric Vehicles, Video Cassette, 1979

GE 100 Test Track in Detroit, Filmstrip, undated

Vaval Research Lab, Electric Van, Filmstrip, undated

WXYZ-TV Special Report on Electric Cars, Video Cassette, March 26, 1981

“Delta Car,” filmstrip, undated

ETV-1 30mph Barrier Crash, Filmstrip, undated

“Electric Vehicle Film,” Filmstrip, undated

GE 100 Original Film, Filmstrip, undated

Paint Electric Vehicles, Filmstrip, undated

Electric Vehicle Parade in Washington D.C., Filmstrip, undated

 Owan Spahn Show, Ed Springer & JM Lafferty, Audio Cassette, May 17th, 1979



Slide Box #1


“Electric Vehicle”, undated

Department of Energy Talk, undated

“Electric Cars in Europe,” undated

“Electric Cars USA,” undated

Detroit ASMA Meeting, EV1 at Meeting, undated

GE ETV-1 Electric Car, undated


Slide Box #2


“Kiawa Island,”undated

GE 100, National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, undated

Modeling ETV-1, undated