Midwestern Boy: 1903 – 1926

Harold Eugene Edgerton, the first of Frank and Mary Edgerton’s three children, was born in Fremont, Nebraska, on April 6, 1903. Motors and machines of all sorts fascinated young Harold and he enjoyed taking apart broken things, figuring out how they worked, and fixing them.

Harold became interested in photography through his uncle, Ralph Edgerton, a studio photographer. Uncle Ralph taught Harold how to take, develop, and print pictures. Harold worked summers during high school at the Nebraska Power and Light Company. From sweeping floors to repairing downed lines, Edgerton liked his work because, he said, it was “a tremendous challenge [with] all kinds of things happening every day.”

After he received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1925, Harold accepted a one-year research position at General Electric in Schenectady, New York. He later recalled that it was while he was at GE, studying the large electric motors used for electricity generation, that he saw a strobe for the first time.