Gilbert was a man of many talents. Born in 1884, he
to become a world champion pole vaulter and a graduate of
Medical School. In fact, Gilbert worked his way through
medical school by
performing as a magician.
After graduation, he opted not to
practice medicine, but instead began inventing and marketing
first being magic sets. (You have to wonder what his
folks thought of that!)
Gilbert is probably best known for his
invention of the erector set, but over the years he marketed a
popular line of toy trains and science sets as well.
produced several science sets centered around science and
Thanks to Google Books
and The Internet
, the manuals for several of these sets are
available and in the public domain today.
manualsfor the "Light Experiments," "Signal Engineering," and
"Hydraulic and Pneumatic Engineering" sets may be found on
in PDF or DjVu format. The "Sound Experiments" manual,
as well as many other A.C. Gilbert goodies are available at Jitterbuzz,com
(And while you are there, check out the site's wealth
of information on Dr. Gilbert and his toy company.)
The Science Notebook
has reproduced these manuals in HTML format on this site for
pleasure. (See links below.)
books were copyrighted in 1920, so some of the material is
These sets were unabashedly targeted at boys, as most
the day assumed that girls would not pursue careers in science
engineering. In addition, with America troops having
returned from "The Great War" (World War I), much of the
application was on things military. Also, while
experiments and activities in these books are still being done
in schools, a few of the experiments would not be
considered particularly safe today, so if you try anything in
please understand that you do so at your own risk.
Regardless, these are being provided "as is." See
manuals are broken down into chunks of approximately 25 pages
them reasonable to load. The oroginal page numbers were
preserved, and the original illustrations were used.
a fair amount of graphics, so please be patient while they
Finally, there may be some typos due to the fact that the
text files did contain some significant errors.
have been caught, but if you discover any errors, please let
and we'll try to fix them.
Gilbert "Boy Engineering"
Series Manual Pages
II Part III Part IV Part V
and Pneumatic Engineering
Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI
Gilbert Sound Experiments
II Chapter III Chapter IV
V Chapter VI Chapter VII
Gilbert Weather Bureau
III Part IV
Gilbert Chemistry Sets
1936, chemistry sets were becoming very popular among
(mostly) boys who
could afford them, and the A.C. Gilbert Company led the
way in their
manufacture. These early sets were were far more
later sets, since they were manufactured and sold in a
lawsuits or safety were much of a concern. In
1936, you could purchase a
set containing many chemicals that would be considered
and which have not been seen in a child's science set in
1936, and for many years thereafter, Gilbert Science
sets featured a
manual written by Yale University chemistry professor
and A.C. Gilbert
colleague, Dr. Treat Johnson. A careful reading of
will show that while these sets were a bit less tame
than today, a lot
of chemistry could be learned by doing the experiments
its pages. The reader will also note that the best
1936 had not quite fully figured out the structure
of the atom.
(For that matter, neither have we today.) The
errors of the time
(or perhaps better stated, the best understanding
of the time) are
reflected in this manual. Still,
this manual was excellent for its time, and it led many
young men to
Yale to study under Dr. Johnson precisely because it was
he who was the
genius behind the Gilbert chemistry sets they had played
with as boys.
with the Boy Engineering Series, this manual has been
broken down into
ten parts of approximately twenty pages each.