Skip to main content
Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

The Navy Department Library

Related Content
  • Communications--Visual –Signals, Radio and Voice
Document Type
  • Manuscript
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Leo C. Young, Radar Pioneer (1891-1981)

An Inventory of His Collection

Table of Contents

Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents


Detailed Description of the Collection


Index Terms

Administrative Information

Overview of the Collection


Navy Department Library


Leo C. Young (1891-1981)


Leo C. Young Collection


1923-1958 (inclusive)


1943-1958 (bulk)


6 Folders


Leo C. Young and Dr. Alfred Hoyt Taylor made the first US observations of the radio reflection phenomenon that lead to the creation of radar in the United States Navy. The bulk of the collection consists of published sources and unpublished documents describing Young's career achievements and his contribution to the development of radar.


The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Leo C. Young

Leo C. Young was born on 12 January 1891 and grew up in a rural part of Ohio near Van Wert. His interest in wireless began in 1905 when he constructed his first radio receiver and progressed throughout his teenage years. In 1913, Young was invited to set up a powerful amateur radio station at Fort Wayne High School. The one-kilowatt transmitter became the central control station for the Navy-Amateur Network. Young worked directly with Navy Radio Station NAJ, located at Great Lakes, Illinois, in administering this network.

When World War I came along, both the Army Signal Corps and the Navy were interested in enlisting his services for the war effort. Young enlisted as a radio specialist in the Naval Reserve Force soon after the United States declared war on Germany in the early part of 1917. After short operating assignments at Navy stations around the Great Lakes, Young was assigned to duty in radio research and development duties at Great Lakes where he was detailed to work directly with Dr. A. Hoyt Taylor, then District Director of Naval Communications. This began an association that was to continue until Dr. Taylor's retirement in 1947.

Both men were soon transferred to Belmar, New Jersey, where Taylor was the communications officer in charge of several high-power stations on the East Coast. Young worked on the development of low-frequency radio receiving equipment until 1918 when he was ordered to Washington to join in the establishment of the Naval Aircraft Radio Laboratory, first at the Bureau of Standards until 1919, then at the Naval Air Station at Anacostia, Maryland, where he worked on high-frequency radio propagation. Taylor served briefly as head of an experimental division of the Naval Air Station at Hampton Roads, Virginia, where research on aircraft radio was undertaken. The pair was reunited in 1919 when Taylor was placed in command of the Naval Aircraft Radio Laboratory.

During 1922, Taylor and Young observed reflections of high-frequency radio waves from ships on the Potomac River as they passed between a transmitter and a portable receiver. This led to a radar development project directed by Taylor, and a 200-MHz radar was ready for installation on a ship by 1937. When the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) was established in 1923, Taylor became superintendent of its Radio Division and Leo Young one of his leading researchers.

In 1930, Leo Young was placed in charge of a research project at the NRL that resulted in the first detection of aircraft by reflected radio waves. Four years later, he was responsible for research that led to the development of the first system using radio pulses for range determination of stationary or moving objects. This system became known as radar, an acronym for radio detection and ranging.

Young continued to work at the NRL as a research scientist until his retirement in 1961. His many honors included the Presidential Certificate of Merit from President Truman in 1946, the Stuart Ballantine Medal of the Franklin Institute in 1957, and the Navy Department's Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 1958.

Leo Young was also a pioneer in amateur radio and helped conduct the original research that led to the utilization of high frequencies for worldwide radio communications. In recognition of his contributions to the field of radio, the Quarter-Century Wireless Association awarded him a 50-year gold certificate in 1966.

Mr. Young died on 16 January 1981 in Forestville, Maryland.

Return to the Table of Contents

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of articles and biographical data on Leo C. Young, three photographs of Young taken at various times during his career, notes prepared by Young on the early development of radar, information of the awards received by Young during his career, and a commemorative booklet on the twentieth anniversary of the Naval Research Laboratory.

Return to the Table of Contents


The collection is arranged by subject into four archival folders.

Return to the Table of Contents

Detailed Description of the Collection

Articles and Biographical Data on Leo C. Young

- "Leo C. Young, W3WV," by Lang Bourland.
- "The Leo Clifford Young Story," by E.B. Redington.
- "Pioneer Radar Developer is Former Van Werter," by Doug Geny, Times Bulletin, Van Wert, Ohio, 24 September 1964.
- A.I.E.G. Biographical Outline for Edison Medal Candidate.


- Early photograph of Young wearing radio headphones, date unknown.
- Young at his desk, circa World War II.
- Young receiving an award from unidentified naval officer, date unknown.

Notes on the Development of Radar

- "Outline of Early Radar Dates," by L.C. Young, c. 10 August 1945.
- "Notes Prepared by L.C. Young Prior to Radar Press Release at NRL, August 9, 1945."

Institute of Radio Engineers Awards

- Recommendation for IRE Medal of Honor.
- IRE Founder's Award Nominating Letter.

Twentieth Anniversary of the Naval Research Laboratory

- Commemorative booklet: "Celebration of Twenty Years of Naval Research 1923-1943,
Naval Research Laboratory, Anacostia, D.C., July 12, 1943."
- Group photograph.


- Miscellaneous reports, memoranda, and memorabilia.

Return to the Table of Contents


Restrictions on Use

Manuscripts are unavailable for loan and must be consulted in the library. Photocopying of manuscripts is generally prohibited, though the use of digital cameras by researchers to reproduce non-copyrighted materials is permitted. Permission to photocopy a limited number of pages may be granted by the reference staff, contingent upon the physical state of items. All photocopying of materials shall be done by the reference staff, or under their close supervision. The use of personal scanners by non-library staff personnel must be approved by the reference staff on a document-by-document basis (Reference: Naval History and Heritage Command Instruction [NAVHISTCENTINST] 5070.1C.).

Return to the Table of Contents

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Personal name:

Young, Leo C.


Radar -- History

Return to the Table of Contents

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Historical Manuscripts, Navy Department Library, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC, Leo C. Young Collection.

Processing Information

The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Thomas Wildenberg in October 2006.

Published: Wed Jan 24 16:53:44 EST 2018