Nathaniel S. Keith biography

Nathaniel S. Keith

Chemist, Deceased Person

1838 – 1925


Who was Nathaniel S. Keith?

Nathaniel Shepard Keith was an American manufacturer, chemist, inventor, writer, and electrical engineer. Keith was born in Boston, Massachusetts and worked in his fathers laboratory. He was instrumental in designing, manufacturing, and installing the original electric lighting and power system in San Francisco, California. In 1884 he became editor of Electric World, co-founded the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and served as the first secretary of the organization. The AIEE merged with other societies in 1963 to become the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.


N. S. Keith grew up experimenting in his father's laboratory in New York City. He was educated in the common schools of Dover, N. H. and New York City, and attended the New York University Medical School, but never practiced medicine. He also learned the basics of chemistry in the laboratory of his father, Bethuel Keith & Co., a physician and chemist in drug manufacturer. In 1860, at age 22, he followed the Pikes Peak Gold Rush to Colorado where he spent nearly a decade mining and milling in the Central City-Blackhawk area. He experimented with various processes to work the rebellious gold ores. Although the "Keith Process" of ore crushing and smelting worked in the laboratory, he failed to perfect the system on an industrial scale. He was superintendent of several mining operations, including the well known Mammoth mine, which closed when the vein pinched out.


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Jul 14, 1838
Also known as
  • Nathaniel Keith
  • United States of America
Lived in
  • Boston
Jan 27, 1925

on July 23, 2013

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