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Ralph J. Satterlee papers and photographs

Identifier: MSS-220

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, newspapers and newspaper clippings, publications, photographs and films created or collected by Ralph J. Satterlee in Muncie, Indiana ranging from 1900 to 2000 regarding his life and times, his work with Warner Gear and the Gear-O-Gram magazine, his coverage of the Indianapolis 500, and his career as a freelance writer and photographer.


  • 1900-2000

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections.

Biographical Note

Ralph J. Satterlee, son of Muncie tailor H. F. Satterlee, was a member of the 1928 Muncie Central High School basketball team that won Muncie's first state championship. After high school, he worked for the Ball Brothers Company in various capacities before joining the workforce of Warner Gear in April 1942. He was appointed editor of the company's Gear-O-Gram magazine approximately two years later. In addition to his editorial work, Satterlee also provided many of the articles and photographs for the publication and regularly covered the Indianapolis 500 which featured the presentation of the Borg-Warner Trophy to the winner. His race coverage became too close for comfort in 1971 when he and other members of the press were injured after the pace car carrying Astronaut John Glenn crashed into the stands. Satterlee retired from the Gear-O-Gram in September 1972 and became a freelance writer and photographer.


8.1 Cubic Feet (: MSS.220 (5 boxes); OVA.220 (1 box); P.065 (10 boxes); POVA.084 (1 Box); POVB.065 (1 Box); PN.065 (8 Boxes); F.013-F.025 (13 film reels).)

Language of Materials



Arranged in the following series and subseries:

Series 1: Satterlee, Ralph correspondence, manuscripts and personal papers, 1908-1912, 1929, 1942-1999

Series 2: Satterlee, Ralph Indianapolis 500 and racing programs, 1961-1973, 1999

Series 3: Satterlee, Ralph newspapers and newspaper clippings, 1928, 1940-1941, 1952-2000

Series 4: Satterlee, Ralph Warner Gear papers, 1945-1972, 1979

Series 5: Satterlee, Ralph oversized papers, 1900-1903, 1928-1937

OVA.220: oversized scrapbooks, sketchbooks, and papers, 1900-1903, 1928-1937

Series 6: Satterlee, Ralph photographs, 1900, 1930-1936, 1947-1972, 1988

P.065: Photographs, 1900, 1949-1972, 1988

P.065: Autographed photographs, 1930-1936, predominant undated

POVA.084: Oversized photographs, circa 1960s

POVB.065: Oversized photographs, Oversized photographs, 1947-1972

Series 7: Satterlee, Ralph films, 1947-1962

Custodial History

This collection was received by Archives and Special Collections as a donation from Louise H. Satterlee on 2002/03/27.


No further additions are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of the Gear-O-Gram and photographs related to the Indianapolis 500 are available electronically in the Ball State University Digital Media Repository:

Gear-O-Gram Magazines:

Satterlee, Ralph J. Indianapolis 500 Photographs:

Related Archival Materials

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie IN:

MSS.178: Warner Gear Division collection

MSS.185: Borg-Warner Corporation Gear O' Gram magazines

P.027: Bill Yohler, Warner Gear Division photographs

P.066: Roger Pelham photographs

POVA.018: Warner Gear executives oversize photographs

POVA.281: Warner Gear basketball team photograph

POVC.013: Bill Yohler, Warner Gear Division photographs

POVC.066: Roger Pelham oversize photographs

PSC.019: Warner Gear Retirement Group photograph

PSC.160: Warner Gear photograph

SC.050: Warner Gear Corporation and Borg Warner Corporation Gear O' Gram newsletters

SC.092: Warner Gearette: A Warner Gear Division newsletter

SC.469: Roger Pelham Collection of Indianapolis 500 ephemera

SC.506: Warner Gear history

SC.515: Story of the Warner Gear Division of the Borg Warner Corporation for Use in Junior High Schools

V.218: Memories of Roger Pelham: A Tribute to Roger Pelham and Ralph Satterlee video

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2003 March by B. Gordy. Finding aid revised 2005 Dec. by A. Morrison. Arrangement revised and DACS compliant EAD finding aid created 2014/02/21 by Stephen Jones.

Ralph J. Satterlee papers and photographs
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Repository Details

Part of the Stoeckel Archives of Local History Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA