Catalogue Number: 3253
Diploma of graduation in theoretical and applied optics
Sub-Category: Certificate, diploma
Corporation: Spencer Optical Institute
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: 1906
Time Period: 1900 to 1939
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: New York
Publisher/Manufacturer: Spencer Optical Institute
Description Of Item: Framed diploma of graduation, 420 x 335 mm, issued by the Spencer Optical Institute for Joseph Speirs in thin black frame, glazed. The diploma is dated November 7 1906 and signed under seal by the President and the Surgeon in Charge certifying that Joseph Speirs had qualified by examination in theoretical and applied optics.
Historical Significance: A number of Australian optometrists undertook courses of study offered by private institutions and optical companies in the USA in the early years of the 20th century, usually by correspondence rather than attendance. There were as many as 60 privately owned colleges offering optometry courses in 1890 in the USA which thinned out to about 40 in the first decade of the 20th century. When optometrists were first required by law to be registered in Victoria in 1936, 15 of the 338 registered had a qualification or a certificate from a USA optometry course (See Cole History of Australian optometry 2015 page 11,12 and 71). It can be assumed that several optometrists in other States of Australia had pursued a course of study with a USA institution. Joseph Speirs was one of them as this diploma attests. He was an optometrist from Wagga NSW (See Aust J Optom 1951 page 415). He is also recorded as an attendee as a country optometrist at the 9th NSW optometrical congress conference in 1931 (Aust J Optom Nov 1931 p 19). He is named among the pioneers (foundation member?) of the NSW association (founded in 1904) at a dinner celebrating the 30th anniversary of the association. (Aust J Optom June 1934 page 300). The Spencer Optical Manufacturing Company was one of the early ophthalmic manufacturing laboratories in the USA. It was an existing company in 1858 when James E Spencer bought it from his retiring employers and then renamed it eponymously a few years later. It grew to a sizeable company by 1897 employing 2500 people. It made lenses, spectacle frames, ophthalmic instrument, magnifiers, binoculars and opera glasses. It was acquired by the American Optical Company in 1935. The is certificate shows that the Spencer Optical Company provided courses in optometry, as many optical companies did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
How Acquired: Donated by Optometry Australia
Date Acquired: Jan 2017
Condition: Good except certificate is stained
Location: Archived journals room Unit 2