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LeRoy James Leishman papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 3243

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of one scrapbook and two unpublished manuscripts. The scrapbook contains promotional literature and brochures, patents, correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, scientific literature, journal articles, scientific drawings, stock certificates and poetry. The manuscripts deal with Mormon religious topics. Also includes court transcripts, patent certificates, and magazine articles related to Leishman's activities. Dated 1909-2011.


  • 1909-2011


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Leroy James Leishman papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

LeRoy James Leishman (1896-1974) was an inventor in Utah and California. He developed the first process of transmitting images electronically, and was responsible a number of innovations in imaging, recording, and associated technologies.

LeRoy James Leishman was born on March 15, 1896 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents, James Leroy Leishman and Elizabeth Simpson Leishman, relocated to Oregon soon after his birth, where his father took a job as bookkeeper for lumber mills in LeGrand and Baker.

While LeRoy Leishman was in high school, the family relocated to Ogden, Utah, where he attended Weber Academy. At Weber Academy he met his future wife, Golda Engstrom, of Huntsville, Utah. In high school, he filed his first patents for an "arcoscope" and an adding machine. He marketed these inventions widely and they were used in schools throughout the United States. During high school, he also began work on a system to transmit photographs and images via the telegraph. He graduated from Weber Academy in 1915.

Two years following high school graduation, he married his high school sweetheart, Golda Engstrom, on September 2, 1917, in the Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During this time he continued to develop his "telegraph picture" concept, and in 1919 he established Leishman Telegraph Picture Service. Leishman Telegraph had contracts with newspapers across the United States and "telegraphed" the first photographic image across the Atlantic Ocean, which was an image of Gertrude Ederle's first attempt to swim the English Channel in 1925.

In 1923, Golda gave birth to their only child, Dorothy Jean. Following Dorothy's birth in Los Angeles, California, where the couple was living, LeRoy and Golda returned to Ogden, Utah. Because he needed to work in a larger city, the couple soon moved back to Los Angeles. Over the course of the next ten years, he was involved in a series of projects, including the invention of an "electric pick-up," a device designed to enhance the quality of phonographic records. He also developed the "Mak-a-talkie," a device by which an individual could record his or her own voice. In the mid-1920s he established a concession stand at the Ocean Park Pier where tourists could use the "Mak-a-talkie" to record their own voices.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, he turned his attention to television and radio, and in 1935 and 1936 he obtained a series of television related patents, including patents for "natural color" and "stereoscopic television." In 1937 he also obtained a patent for an "automatic radio tuner."

In the early 1940s Leishman began applying some of the principles of television to the development of a medical device that came to be known as the "Stereoscopic Fluoroscope." The Fluoroscope, which was first purchased by the United State military in 1943, enabled medical doctors to view x-rays from a three-dimensional perspective. It was especially useful in helping physicians identify foreign objects like shrapnel or straight pins in the body. Service and maintenance required trained technicians and Leishman often traveled the United States doing the work himself.

By the 1950s, Leishman had established Leishman X-Ray Engineering Company in Los Angeles and was manufacturing the Leishman Spot-Film Device. This device allowed physicians to view a patient with a normal fluoroscope and take a picture instantly of a specific area of the body. As he approached retirement, he took a position as a patent agent for a Los Angeles area law firm. In this capacity he prepared patent applications and assisted clients with their claims.

Leishman enjoyed poetry and writing, and towards the end of his life and he devoted much of his time to composing two unpublished extended essays: "Scientific Proof of God and Life Hereafter," ca. 1968-1972 and "Israel in America Before Columbus" ca. 1968-1972. LeRoy Leishman died October 14, 1974. His wife, Golda Engstrom Leishman, died 15 years later on June 22, 1989.


2 half boxes ((0.5 linear ft.) )

1 oversize box (0.5 linear ft.)

1 box (0.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Materials maintained in original order.

Custodial History

Donated by Dorothy J. Varney in 2006.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Dorothy J. Varney; 2006.


LDS scholarship and historiography (20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy 5.III, August 2007).

Processing Information

Processed; Elizabeth Ballif, student processor, and John Murphy, Curator; 2010. Additional folder processed by Kelsey Samuelsen, student manuscripts processor, and John Murphy, curator; 2013.

Register of LeRoy James Leishman papers
Elizabeth Ballif, student processor, and John Murphy, Curator
2010 June 10
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States