Duane Pearsall Collection


Duane Pearsall Collection


Small Businesses, Fire Protection Engineering, Venture Capital --United States, United States. Navy, World War II


This collection includes business and personal records of Duane Pearsall, developer of the home smoke detector. Records of Statitrol, the smoke detector company Mr. Pearsall founded, plus records of committees and organizations promoting Small Business, are part of the collection. Also included are prototypes and models of smoke detectors. Mr. Pearsall was a strong supporter of WPI's Fire Protection Engineering program. He was a charter member of the Fire Protection Engineering Board of Advisors, and in 1980 provided the financial impetus to help support the program by offering to match any gifts up to $10,000 to the program for five years.

Mr. Pearsall was named Small Business Man of the Year in 1976, and "Fire Protection Man of the Year" in 1980 by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. He received an honorary doctorate from WPI in 1996. He was the first recipient of the Center for Firesafety Studies Herrick Drake Commemorative Award in 1987, and was presented with the WPI Presidential Medal in 2004.


Duane Pearsall




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1922 - 2010


The material housed in the Duane Pearsall Collection was collected and maintained by Pearsall during his life, and then maintained by his family after his passing. The papers were gifted to the Gordon Library Archives in batches from Marjorie Pearsall, Pearsall’s wife, beginning in 2010. The collection was completely and finally transferred to the Archives in December, 2013.

Date Modified

2015 - 2017

Collection Items

Duane D. Pearsall documents
The Duane D. Pearsall manuscript collection MS055 at WPI, includes business and personal records of Duane Pearsall, developer of the battery-powered home smoke detector. Records of Statitrol, the smoke detector company Mr. Pearsall founded, plus…

Pearsall images
The Statitrol Corporation newsletters were an effective communication tool that created a channel for employees to learn about new developments, and it was also used to recognize high achievers and employee milestones throughout the company.

SBA Congratulatory Award Notes and Letters Scrapbook
This group of items for an exhibit is a scrapbook assembled by Pearsall with special memories of congratulations from friends, family and business associates, in letters, cards and personal sentiments.

Small Business Person of the Year for 1976 Scrapbook
This exhibit is a collection is a 69 page scrapbook compiled by Pearsall with memories of his awards with photographs, correspondence, letters and cards of congratulations and the celebration of him by all that know him.

Duane Pearsall
Ensign Pearsall completed one year of training and was commissioned as Ensign

VPB-128 Insignia
VPB-128 Bomber Squadron insignia depicts Captain Marvel of comic book fame to represent the man behind the machine in all phases of a successful bombing mission.

Pearsall in Iceland 1943
Pearsall the Naval Navigator

The Newlyweds
Mr. and Mrs. Duane Pearsall wedding photo taken of Duane and Marjorie in Des Moines Iowa

Citizenship award
Duane Pearsall in his senior year of high school received a citizenship award for student of the year, an annual honor when classmates in grades 9 - 12 cast a vote.

Junior and Duane Pearsall with their Rollfast bicycles
Sheldon Pearsall Sr. purchased two new Rollfast bicycles, one red and one blue, at a bargain price using the nest egg of money Junior and Duane earned working after school.

Pearsall family in 1940
A Pearsall family photograph, sitting from left to right are eldest sibling and sister Betty at 19 years, brother Maynard at 9 years old, brother Sheldon Jr. at 17 years old, father Sheldon Sr., Duane at 18 years old, brother Curtis at 7 years old,…

Lieutenant (j.g.) Duane Pearsall
Duane Pearsall photograph was cut out of his 1943 Naval Air Yearbook documenting the fourth class to graduate Hollywood Florida training Feb 1943 to June 1943, image taken from the National Flight log #835.

Duane Pearsall Standing in  Statitrol Factory
Duane Pearsall stands between two rows of female workers at work benches at the Statitrol factory.

Duane Pearsall and President Gerald H. Ford Standing
Photograph of Pearsall with President Ford, two unknown men standing on the right.

Duane Pearsall and President Gerald H. Ford Shaking Hands
Duane Pearsall and President Ford shake hands.

Small Business Person of the Year Recognition Letter
Letter signed by President Ford congratulating Duane Pearsall on being named Small Business Person of the Year.

Duane Pearsall
Duane Persall gesturing.

Duane Pearsall with SmokeGard smoke Detectors
Duane Pearsall seated at desk. He holds a melted Smoke Gard in his left hand. A second Smoke Gard sits on the desk.

Duane Pearsall Standing Outside
Duane Pearsall stands outside on a balcony wearing a long winter coat. Office buildings and the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains are visble in the background.

Certificate of Membership
1954 certificate of membership to the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating engineers.

Duane Pearsall with President Gerald Ford
Photograph of Duane Pearsall standing for a photograph with President Gerald Ford.

Duane, Marge and Sheldon Pearsall
Pearsall, with his wife Marge and father Sheldon, in Washington DC for the National Small Businessman of the Year awarded him in 1976 by President Ford.

Navy Air Training Center Certificate
Navy Air Training Center Certificate designating Pearsall as a Naval Aviator.

Franklin-Jefferson Award Coins
Franklin-Jefferson Award Coins.

Institute of American Entreprenuers Certificate
Institute of American Entreprenuers commemorate Pearsall achievements as Entreprenuer of the Year.
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