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Ed C. Jerman

X-ray technology developer.  Born: November 21, 1865, Indiana.  Died: 1936

Technological innovation has changed the field of medicine greatly over the last century and a Topeka resident, Ed C. Jerman, was a pioneer in the field of X-ray technology. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered a medical use for X-rays in 1895 and published his findings in January 1896. By May 1896, Jerman had produced X-rays and was to play an important role in this new field.

Ed C. Jerman was born November 21, 1865, in Ripley County, Indiana. After attending public school in Ripley, he entered Franklin College, Franklin, Indiana, in 1882. Unable to complete his final year of college because of poor health, he continued to work with electrical medical appliances such as galvanic and faradic batteries. He had become interested in these in 1879 and 1880 while assisting his physician father in keeping the various batteries used for medical treatments in working condition.

In 1889 Jerman became an employee of the Physicians and Surgeons Supply Company of Cincinnati. The company manufactured and sold electrical medical appliances and Jerman was soon promoted to foreman of the shop. Jerman later developed the "Jerman static machine," which was used by doctors as a source of power for various electrical treatments.

Jerman's was the only machine on the market large enough for X-rays so he organized the Jerman Electric Company in 1897. Jerman's machines used motors and speed controllers manufactured by Victor Electric Company of Chicago, an association that would be of importance later. He resigned from the company because of poor health and came to Topeka in search of a better climate. After treatment, he recovered from his illness and decided to move his family to Topeka.

Until 1916 he was involved in various sales and manufacturing activities but in that year he began working in the field that brought him national prominence-training health care personnel in the use of X-ray equipment.

Jerman began his activity by giving private instruction in the handling and operation of X-ray equipment. Jerman felt there was a need for extensive technical training because physicians not extensively trained in its use themselves, generally delegated X-ray responsibilities to staff members.

Jerman's idea of training people responsible for the operation of X-ray equipment was a success and the demand was more than he could handle. He approached the Victor X-ray Corporation, the medical division of General Electric. Jerman joined the Victor Company in May 1918, as head of the educational department. He employed men and women to serve as demonstrators and trainers and by 1924, 12 branches conducted five to seven-day classes throughout the nation. He wrote extensively on the subject and Modern X-ray Technic, published in 1928, served as a textbook for X-ray technicians and went through numerous printings. He directed the work of the educational department until his retirement in 1934.

He received numerous honors for his pioneer work in the field of X-ray technology. He was a charter member of the American Roentgen Ray Society and was a co-founder of the American Society of X-ray Technicians. He served several terms as president of that organization beginning in 1920 and was honored as president emeritus in 1930. He also served eight years as an examiner for the American registry board, conducting examinations of the first 1, 000 technicians to be registered. He died in Topeka in 1936, from X-ray related injuries.

Entry: Jerman, Ed C.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2004

Date Modified: January 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.