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Harold R. Edmonston
, our Man-of-the-Month, needs no introduction to the members of the Bureau. Born in 1896 in Washington, D.C., Mr. Edmonston attended local grade schools and George Washington University. In his high school days, he was well known for his athletic achievements and excelled in track, basketball, and baseball. In the Spring of 1918, he married Emily Elizabeth Harrison, and will celebrate his 25th anniversary on April 16.

When our country entered the first World War, he was quick to offer his services and served in the 472nd Engr from May 26, 1918 to Feb. 3, 1919. After the war he was employed by the New Jersey Zinc Co. in W. Va. where he worked until entering the Coast Survey on March 16, 1921. In the Survey Mr. Edmonston was assigned to the Field Records Sec. (now Survey Br.). This assignment was not for long however, and in August of the same year he was transferred to the Philippines as Asst. Chief Draftsman at the Manila Field Station where he remained until 1924.

After three years at his old job in the Field Records Sec., he was transferred to the Nautical Chart Sec. as a Cartographic Engineer. Here he supervised the construction of a series of Intra-Coastal Waterways Charts. He has a consuming interest in his work in the Bureau extending far beyond the requirements of the job, and has constantly sought and developed improvements in cartographic instruments and equipment which have resulted in considerable savings in time and money and contributed to the efficiency of the Bureau.

He assisted in the design of the projection machine; designed an instrument for checking and adjusting 3-arm metal protractors; in charge of the Coast Survey exhibit at the Philadelphia Sesqui-Centennail Exhibition; author of Cartographic Manual for Chart Compilations and of Coast Survey Standard Symbols and Abbreviations; constantly in search of better paper for field sheets and extensive research in the preservation of the old valuable records of the Bureau. In June, 1939, he became Asst. Chief of the Surveys Branch and has served in that capacity until the present time.

Mr. Edmonston has an excellently equipped machine shop in the basement of his home which he uses for making all kinds of mechanical gadgets. Had his health as a young man permitted, he probably would have specialized in mechanical engineering and undoubtedly would have been an outstanding success in this field.

Some of these mechanical nightmares would have made Rube Goldberg turn green with envy. One of these devices is a super-duper butter churner which he developed for his inlaws on their Pennsylvania farm. From the description of this mechanical brainstorm it is not certain whether the churning is accomplished before or after milking “Bossy.”

Another offspring of his genius was the conversion of a Singer Sewing Machine into a jig saw to cut out cardboard to fit contours in the construction of his relief map of the Philippines.

In the early days of radio, he was quite an ardent fan and his basement was full of wires and gadgets for extracting that coveted “peep” from his home-built receiver. He was in fact the trouble-shooter for his many friends in the office.

Another of his favorite interests is touring and in the good old days prior to gas rationing, he would migrate to Florida to bask in the sun and fish.

Few men have his ability to win friends and keep them and the “Buzzard” is happy to present him as the Man-of-the-Month.

In: “The Buzzard,” Vol. X, No. 13, pp. 1-2. April 1, 1943.




Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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