Early 20th century publisher sought to explain practical applications of electricity in a 10-volume series

by Dr. Lee Gray, EW Correspondent

In 1917, Theodore Audel & Co. of New York, publisher of technical manuals and educational materials, published a 10-volume series titled Hawkins Electrical Guide. The series’ namesake was Nehemiah Hawkins (1834-1928), a wellknown author, editor and owner of Theodore Audel & Co. The series was described as “A progressive course of study for engineers, electricians, students and those desiring to acquire a working knowledge of electricity and its applications.”[1] The title page for each book included two simple statements that announced the educational and editorial approach: “The thought is in the question. The information is in the answer."

This approach was explained in the preface to the series, which was included in volume one:
“The Guides are written partly in the question-and-answer form, as this style of presentation has met with hearty approval, not only from those of limited education, but also from the better informed. . . . The special aim of the author has been to give short and direct answers, in such plain language as to preclude a misconception of the meaning. With this in view, the answer gives simply the information, sought by the question. The answer is limited to one paragraph so that the reader may concentrate upon the fact or facts demanded by the question. Any enlargement of the answer or specific explanations of items contained therein, are presented in separate paragraphs. With this plan of separating the answer, as it were, from items of secondary importance, and making it short and simple, its content is more forcibly impressed upon the mind of the reader.”