Over the years, NGI has hosted a number of renowned engineers from abroad who wished to immerse themselves in Terzaghi's methods, projects, experiences, life and work. One of these visitors, Professor Richard Goodman, produced the book "Karl Terzaghi: The Engineer as Artist" as a result of his visits in the Terzaghi Libray.

The Terzaghi Library became a reality at NGI because of the friendship and vigilance of NGI's first director, Laurits Bjerrum. When Bjerrum visited Professor O. Frölich in Vienna in 1957, he observed Terzaghi's papers left haphazardly in a corner. Bjerrum wrote to his friend Karl Terzaghi and asked him if he could review and catalogue each of the documents, and then send them to him at Harvard University.

When the sorting and cataloging was completed, Karl Terzaghi, perhaps understanding the historical value and potential future interest of the documents, told Laurits Bjerrum to keep the documents and use them as source material. Subsequently, without NGI's knowledge, Karl Terzaghi bequeathed his entire works and technical documents to NGI. As late as 1992, upon the death of Ruth Dogget Terzaghi, NGI was still receiving documents for the Terzaghi Library.

The Terzaghi Collection

  • Vienna material (until 1940s)
  • Harvard material (until 1963)
  • Consulting reports, publications, manuscripts, notes
  • Diaries and agendas, autobiographical material , photographs, drawings by Terzaghi
  • Documents in Ruth Terzaghi's estate
  • Medals, tokens of appreciations (including honorary doctoral degrees)

The collection offers insight into Terzaghi's personality, work methods, performance, his relationship with other colleagues and clients and activities he appreciated. The documents and life story point out to a brilliant, fearless and enthusiastic personality, who dominated the soil mechanics and foundation world for decades.

An anecdote about Karl Terzaghi and his quick witty response is given by Cameran Merza who was a graduate s tudent at University of Illinois (1965-67) recalling that either Don Deere or Ralph B. Peck told the following:

Karl Terzaghi was in the witness Chair in a courtroom  as an expert witness (some time in the late 1950's). The opposing lawyer quoted  KvT from his 1943 Theoretical Soil Mechanics book and asked Terzaghi if that is not what he had written. Terzaghi said "Yes". "Then," replied the lawyer triumphantly, "the testimony you just gave contradicts what you wrote, does it Dr. Terzaghi?". Those who knew KvT in the courtroom were hushed into disbelief until Terzaghi replied: "Sir, you think I am such a vegetable that I have not learned anything new since then?"

Study of the Terzaghi documents

NGI has welcomed researchers and practitioners alike who were interested in studying the Collection and works of Karl Terzaghi. A total of 18 geotechnical colleagues have come to work in the library as Terzaghi fellows (link).

Professor Richard E. Goodman was one of these Terzaghi fellows in the mid-1990s. He visited NGI over several periods to write his biography "Karl Terzaghi: The Engineer as Artist".

Terzaghi bibl Goodman 72dpi


Information and enquiries about visiting the Terzaghi Library should be sent to dokumentsenter@ngi.no