Updated 18-XI-2018

Dr. Charles Francis Brush

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.

Charles Francis Brush

Charles Francis Brush (17 Mar 1849 - 15 Jun 1929) was born in Euclid Township (near Wickliffe), Ohio and obtained his early schooling in Cleveland. In 1869 he graduated with a degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Michigan. He obtained a Master's degree from the same institution and then a Ph.D. degree from Western Reserve University in Cleveland. In 1877 Brush devoted himself entirely to the development of electric lighting. In this area he excelled and gave the world the arc lamp in 1878. It was also through these efforts that some attention was given to the incandescent lamp and it can be said that the future Cleveland-based industry was due to Brush's activities. Although a lamp based on English patents was manufactured in Europe earlier, introduction in the States was delayed for some time.

Arthur Bright6 claimed Brush manufactured incandescent lamps by 1883. This is probably true but an early lamp design using Lane-Fox patents did not prove successful so the actual production date is taken here to be 1884-1885. Although Brush's main activities involved the arc lamp there is no doubt about his influence regarding the introduction of incandescent lamp manufacture in Cleveland.

In the year 1879 Charles F. Brush created the first street lighting in the United States when he introduced his new arc lamp in downtown Cleveland. He was also the first person in the world to use windpower to operate incandescent lamps. The Brush house on Euclid Avenue had 350 incandescent lamps ranging in candlepower from 10 to 50; it also contained two arc lamps.

References & Bibliography
  1. "The Brush Factory at Cleveland", The Electrical World, Vol.6, 1 Aug 1885, p.43.
  2. Electricity, Vol.8, 20 Feb 1895, p.65
  3. "The Cleveland Convention", Electricity, Vol.VIII, No.7, 27 Feb 1895, p.89.
  4. "The Arc-Light", Charles F. Brush, The Century Magazine, Vol.LXX, No.1, May 1905, p110.
  5. "Charles Francis Brush, Inventor of the Brush Electric Arc Light and a Noted Scientist of Cleveland," Advance Press Service, B131, 27 Mar 1909.
  6. "The Electric-Lamp Industry: Technological Change and Economic Development from 1800 to 1947", Arthur A. Bright, Jr., The Macmillan Company, New York, 1949.
  7. "Charles F. Brush and the First Public Electric Street Lighting System in America", Mel Gorman, The Ohio Historical Quarterly, Vol.70, Apr 1961, p.128.
  8. "Charles Francis Brush in Who Was Who in America, Vol.1", Marquis Publications Building, Chicago, 1966, p.156.
  9. "The General Electric Story, 1876-1986, A Photo History", Hall of History, Schenectady, New York, 1989.
  10. "What's in a Class 60 Name (No. 60 098, Charles Francis Brush)", George Toms, Written for the Brush Transport Enthusiasts Club, 1992.
  11. "The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History", edited by Von Tassel & Grabowski, p.133.