Scott Lewis wears so many hats at ENR it can be hard to keep track of them. As ENR’s editorial research director, he is effectively ENR’s archivist, digging up past coverage for other editors and responding to queries from ENR readers seeking all sorts of industry information and data. In essence, he is ENR’s historian, and this holiday season his enthusiasm is peaking for a remarkable digital archive of ENR’s content from the publication’s founding in 1874 through 1922. The ENR collection is contained in the HathiTrust archive, a large-scale collaborative digital repository from research libraries. Its content was digitized via the Google Books project and the Internet Archive digitization initiative as well as by individual libraries. The ENR collection stops in 1922, after which copyright applies. Material prior to that year is free for anyone to access.
“What you’ll notice first is that ENR was quite different back then,” says Lewis. “Every issue contained several lengthy articles about significant projects written by their chief engineers. And the magazine devoted more coverage to the topic of public health, as water and wastewater treatment were still-developing fields.”
A native of the New York City, Lewis joined ENR in 1997 after having worked 17 years as a researcher at NBC News. His travel for ENR has taken him to Nigeria, and his personal vacations have included India, Egypt, Morocco and much of Europe. He has a fondness for industrial works and infrastructure. Even a Pennsylvania bike ride with his brother was an excuse to stop and admire a high masonry viaduct.
Closer to home in the lower Hudson Valley, Lewis can often be found roaming the region’s trails and hills with his family’s energetic dachshund-pitbull, Koa. The little dog easily keeps pace, says Lewis, who has a famously long stride.
On the job, Lewis usually takes the lead in enforcing ENR’s copyright when content is appropriated without proper license. He compiles the Pulse section of contracts and opportunities (see p. 53). He writes occasional articles on industry milestones, such as a three-part series on the Interstate Highway System, and produces popular features on top 10 and world record-setting structures, such as drinking water plants, base-isolated buildings, arch dams and elevators and escalators. He also co-wrote this week’s obituary of industry mentoring champion Charlie Thornton (see p. 15).
On the eve of ENR’s 150th anniversary, Lewis hopes you’ll take a few minutes this holiday season for a trip back to the digital archive of ENR and engineering history. You can find it at catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000495103.