My grandparents had long been friends with an old bachelor named Arthur Moulton (29 November 1920–20 December 2013), who was well into his 80s by the time I knew him. He’s long been a mysterious man to us—an opaque career, some complaints about storage fees in Switzerland for his Krugerrand savings, and many eccentric beliefs. (Indeed, I’m convinced that his misguided practice of caloric restriction & subscription to Life Extension Foundation, which he conducted in a poor fashion by eating at local restaurants instead of preparing his own high-nutrition CRON-style recipes, led to his extreme frailty and eventual falling, which put him in the hospital where his many health problems were discovered, and he then died there.)
I’ve long prided myself on my search skills, and reminded of Arthur by his declining health, I thought on 15 June 2013 it might be an interesting exercise to dig up everything I could from public online sources, while relying on only the vaguest details about him (full name and age), as an exercise in “OSINT”, as it were. My family was also interested in anything I could dig up. I managed to find a fair bit of information on him and his brother, Roger. (As it happens, reading his family’s obituary for him (memorial pamphlet with additional photographs) I noticed I had missed a few things, but overall, did fairly well.)
I give my process & results below, with my reasoning as best as I can reconstruct it.
Arthur Bernard Moulton; American Caucasian male, ~92 (29 November 1921—20 December 2013), retired, lived in Maryland, believed to have worked for intelligence or defense agencies in unknown but possibly classified capacities during the Cold War (claims to have witnessed several atomic “shots” including at White Sands and in the south Pacific but not at Bikini Atoll).
I start searching general databases with a query like
"Arthur Bernard Moulton" OR "Arthur B Moulton" OR "Arthur Moulton":
- PACER: no hits in Maryland district or bankruptcy court
- JSTOR: nothing
- EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete: nothing
- Web of Science: nothing
- Google News Archives: nothing
- New York Times: nothing
- Unz.org: nothing
Association of Former Intelligence Officers, McLean Office Building, 6723 Whittier Ave., Suite 303A, McLean, VA 22101, Tel: 703-790-0320. Membership Directory. 1983. 103 pages. AFIO is a national organization of about 2500 members, with a smaller number active at national conventions and local chapters. It is not necessary to be a former intelligence officer to join, as long as you support the principles of the organization. Some journalists have joined just to get the membership directory, hoping to find retired officers willing to grant an occasional interview or comment on various issues.
- MOULTON ARTHUR B
- MOULTON ROGER D
As NameBase cautions, we cannot infer much from the inclusion, but it makes a useful start because it gives us another person to look for. Googling this “Roger D. Moulton”, I find his WWII enlistment record which tells me the following useful information: Roger Moulton was born in 1921, was a white male with a highschool education, and enlisted 1943 in Bangor, Maine. Is this Arthur’s younger brother?
We can find out by looking at US Census data which is released after 72 years; so luckily, the 1940 census was released in 2012. (This explains my failure to find this data ~2009.). Arthur’s 1940 Census entry tells us that in 1940 he was aged 19 (b. 1921, New Hampshire); he had a widowed mother Ida D (b. 1884, Michigan), a brother Roger D (b. 1922, Maine), & a sister Jean R (b. 1927, Minnesota). (Family legend confirms that Arthur’s mother was indeed widowed; supposedly, his father was working with some other men on some sort of electrified wire and they all were electrocuted while Arthur watched as a young boy.) We get more detailed information by reading the scanned census form: Ida, Arthur, & Roger are listed as having graduated highschool but Jean had completed only her first year of highschool. The 3 siblings had attended school at some time ‘since March 1940’. No one in the family, including the “lodger” Richard Brant, was employed at the time (except for Ida doing housework). Issues here include: why does the census birth-year 1922 for Roger differ from the enlistment record 1921? He was 22 when he enlisted () so there was no need to lie. How did Arthur’s father die? Was one lodger really enough to pay their bills? What did Arthur and Roger do in between 1940 and 1943, given that they had apparently graduated highschool but were not in the military (the US officially entered WWII on 11 December 1941) and Roger’s “Civilian Occupation” is “Undefined Code” in the enlistment paper?
Google Scholar’s patent search turns up 2 patents and a citation to possibly a third patent:
filed 6 April 1954, #2858477 “Ring Circuits” to Arthur B. Moulton, San Diego CA; not assigned
This invention is in ring circuits and specifically is ring circuit utilizing gas filled tubes only. One object of the invention is to provide a ring one gas filled tube for each stage. Another object of the invention is to provide a of the nature mentioned requiring no source such as is usually required. Other objects will be apparent from a reading of specification and claims. The drawing is a schematic diagram of a ring to my invention.
filed 5 March 1956, #2933682 “Frequency Measuring Apparatus” to Arthur B. Moulton, San Diego CA, and Joseph A. Webb, La Mesa CA; patent was assigned to General Dynamics Corporation, San Diego
This invention relates to electrical measuring apparatus, and, more particularly, to apparatus for measuring a difference in frequency between two alternating voltages.
filed 21 June 1971, #3676802 “Submarine Propeller Cavitation Noise Simulator” to Francis J. Murphree & Paul S. Catano (Winter Park & Orlando of Florida, respectively); assigned to “The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy”
Abstract: Simulation of submarine propeller cavitation as it varies with speed and depth of submergence is effected by feeding a frequency proportional to blade rate to a counter which is periodically read out and reset at a rate proportional with the square root of pressure. The read out is used to control noise attenuator means including a one of N decoder and N attenuators scaled to produce relative noise according to a curve characteristic of the submarine to be simulated. The noise output is modulated in pulse width and repetition rate by a function generator controlled by the counter read-out.
… [pg6] Conversely, of course, the pulses go from wide to narrow as cavitation decreases. To this end, the blade rate analog input on line 22 is also applied via line 22_a_ to a voltage to frequency convert 104, the output of which is fed via line 106 as the triggering input to the one-shot 100. The one-shot 100, may conveniently be of the type described in U.S. Pat. No. application Ser. No. 50,259 of Arthur B. Moulton, assigned to the assignee hereof, and is adapted to have its unstable or triggered period controlled in duration by the voltage input from the function generator 96…
I am unable to find anything about that application. It may be classified but the Navy, as of 2012, holds only 29 secret patents (out of a total of 5321 such patents, out of >6 million patents ever issued), so it’s possible that the patent application was simply rejected or abandoned.
Patent #2 is interesting for being assigned to General Dynamics Corporation, what is now one of the largest defense conglomerates in the world. But in 1956 it was much smaller, had recently bought the airplane manufacturer Canadair and had only adopted that name in 1952, then purchasing Convair in 1953; they began building all sorts of military airplanes, the Atlas ICBM, and civilian airliners. The original Convair plant was located in San Diego, where Arthur is listed as filing the patent from in 1954. In that year, Convair was either manufacturing or developing the Convair B-36, Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, Convair B-58 Hustler, and the SM-65 Atlas (substantially modified partway through the design process due to successful H-bomb tests). The patent seems like it could’ve been useful for any of these.
Google Books turns up 6 potentially useful hits; in chronological order:
the 1946 Annual Report of the Portland, Maine public library on pg114 mentions
…Medbury, Mrs. Arthur B. Moulton, Miss Marcia Merrill, Mrs. Mary Mulkern…
The names are listed in an unknown context (the book is still in copyright); while he was single in the 1940 census, in 1946, Arthur would have been ~25 and so could be married, and he is not due in California for another 8 years. This is may be another red herring: the Maine Marriage History archive turns up 3 marriages for a “MOULTON ARTHUR B” in 1903 and 1933, which cannot be this Arthur (who was not even alive in 1903) but the women involved are well within living distance of 1946.
Under Electronics (ISSN 0883-4989), volume 63 (1963), “FREE REPRINT of the MONTH”, pg123:
“Chart Gives RLC Values for Critical Damping” by Arthur B. Moulton, P.O. Box 24, Livermore, California
This article is a reprint from the May 31, 1963 issue of electronics. Selecting component values for generating a critically damped transient in a simple RLC circuit is a cut-and-try under conditions frequently not in practice. Component selection is made easier by the normalized graphs given in this article. One copy per person only, if more are required regular reprint costs apply.
Arthur would be ~42. A family story reports him working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as might be expected given his previous career and the location, but a search of the LLNL site failed to turn up anything. Archives of the defunct magazine are not available online, but a request was successful in producing a scanned copy; unfortunately, it includes no useful details beyond what the snippet provided.
Professional Engineer, volume 43 (1973) includes 3 advertisements (pg64, 71, 76) for
Arthur B. Moulton, P.E.
Electronic Design, Integrated Circuit Systems, Analog Computers, Radio, Dc. Motors, Reports, Photography
P.O. Box 149, Laurel, Md. 20810
Laurel, Maryland, incidentally, is located near the NSA’s headquarters. Arthur would be ~52. There turns out to be a possible explanation for this: in the ’70s, Arthur’s brother Roger was working for the NSA as a contractor on an unusual pair of computers (see later section), and so it would make sense for him to be living near the headquarters such/ as the town Laurel, and if Roger is there, then there are many reasons Arthur might be: renting a room from Roger, wishing to be near Roger, drawing on connections for work, etc.
Atlas World Press Review, volume 25 (1978) includes 2 advertisements (pg57) for
LIBRARY RESEARCH, any subject. Three great libraries this area. Arthur B. Moulton, P.O. Box 149, Laurel, Md. 20810
Arthur would be ~57.
The final 2 hits turn out to be useless without any snippets: History of the town of Arlington, Massachusetts, pg339, Cutter & Cutter 1988 (likely useless, hard to see how Arthur could figure in it); Ossipee, New Hampshire, vital records, 1887–2001, Roberts 2002, pg399 (possibly a birth entry)
A general Google search is not fruitful, initially turning up only the global-warming denialist “Global Warming Petition Project” includes an Arthur B. Moulton; it restricts signatures to “Americans with university degrees in science”, but a degree in electrical engineering would presumably count. A more intensive trawl through every available hit for a heavily filtered search (
"Arthur Bernard Moulton" OR "Arthur B Moulton" OR "Arthur Moulton" -lawyer -bishop -"Moulton Simpson" -"William Arthur" -"Jr." -"Moulton Allen" -"Arthur H" -"J. Arthur" -Foweraker -"Charles Arthur" -"Edward George") turned up nothing useful except what is probably his phone number and the existence of a ham radio operator also named Arthur B Moulton. (I misread the page initially: when I saw “Scotland”, I assumed it was a ham radio in, well, Scotland; but if you read the page carefully, you see “Scotland” is in the City column, and the state is “MD” or Maryland—he lived in Scotland, Maryland. Most confusing.)
On an intuition, I append “electrical engineering” to the search and immediately turn up a perfect
e-yearbook.com hit which lists “ARTHUR B. MOULTON Electrical Engineering”—from the University of Maine, 1943, with a Roger D. Moulton. Bingo! The site demands an absurd fee for the original image, but scans of the university yearbook are available and it is relatively trivial to download, find the relevant page, extract it from the PDF, and upload it:
We find as predicted:
Arthur B. Moulton
Electrical Engineering / York Village
Dean’s List 2a.
And likewise his busy brother:
Roger D. Moulton
Electrical Engineering / York Village
Main Masque 2,3; Scabbard and Blade 3; M.O.C. 2; A.I.E.E. 3; Radio Club 3; Vice President, I.S.O. 3; Men’s Student Senate 3; Dean’s List 1b, 2a, 2b.
This unexpected re-appearance of his brother Roger prompted me to search for Roger some more, and I hit pay dirt. It turns out that the people who worked on two early NSA supercomputers, the IBM 7030 Stretch and the Harvest, have held reunions. In the collated org chart and the apparently-current contact information, we find the entry “Roger D. Moulton org nsa harvest silo memory contract”.
Unfortunately, further details seem hard to find. Aside from a mention on a York High School reunion page, the hits for Roger D. Moulton are contaminated by some chemist’s papers/citations/patents.
I have to admit defeat at this point—I’ve checked all the databases I can easily think of, so for followup, I created a Google Alert in case additional materials surface on the public web (
"Arthur Bernard Moulton" OR "Arthur B Moulton" OR "Arthur B. Moulton" OR "Roger D. Moulton" OR "Roger D Moulton"). We’ll see. But by 28 December 2013, nothing useful had appeared.
The brief family obituary for him provides this core biographical sketch:
Arthur attended McIntosh Business School in Dover, NH and graduated from the University of Maine in 1942, with a B.A. in Electrical Engineering and was also a member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineering. Arthur joined the Navy and served in World War II as a Radar Engineer. After time in the service, Arthur went to work for Singer Corporation. He purchased his “little cottage” in Scotland, MD in the 1960’s where he enjoyed his retirement until his passing. He enjoyed photography, chatting on his ham radio, traveling, spending time on Point Lookout State Park, the Chesapeake Bay as well as spending time with friends and family.
Overall, consistent with my findings but I missed the Singer Corporation part, and the ostensible retirement, although the hits suggest he kept working part-time or on a freelance basis and may not have lived in Scotland full-time starting in the 1960s, even if he bought the cottage there then.