Business history at the Hagley Museum and Library.
du Pont, the Hagley Museum and Library has grown into a leading
resource for business historians, particularly for those interested
in the development of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
In this thorough description of the Hagley's collections, Dr. Nash
demonstrates the breadth and depth of its holdings, from the papers
of the eighteenth-century Physiocrats to those of New Deal and
past-World War II companies and business leaders.
The Hagley Museum and Library is one of the nation's leading centers for the study of business history. Its research collections--20,000 linear feet of manuscripts, 350,000 photographs, and 165,000 imprints--support a broad spectrum of scholarly programs, including a center for advanced study that grants fellowships for postdoctoral research, a graduate program in the history of industrial America offered in conjunction with the University of Delaware, and an outdoor museum that interprets the birthplace of the Du Pont company.
The library contains the records of more than one thousand firms representing the broad spectrum of American business experience. The companies range from artisan workshops like the Reading Stove Works and Joseph Elkinton's candle and soap manufactory of the early nineteenth century to the multinational corporations--Sun, Du Pont, and Sperry-UNIVAC--of the mid-twentieth.
What is now the library at Hagley began as a private collection in the Longwood, Pennsylvania, estate of Pierre S. du Pont, a former chairman of Du Pont and General Motors. Du Pont, who in a 1924 letter characterized himself as "somewhat of a crank on the subject of keeping old records," assembled a library of family books and papers dating back to the era of his great-grandfather, the French Physiocrat Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours (1737-1817). (1)
Pierre S. du Pont's collecting interests focused on the contributions his family had made to the economic development of the nation, but he also collected widely in the history of business technology. These materials were organized into the Longwood Library, incorporated in 1953. Following the death of Pierre du Pont in 1954, the Longwood Foundation assumed responsibility for the new library. Charles W. David. former librarian of the University of Pennsylvania, was hired to turn the Longwood Library into a public research facility. As models, David drew on the Huntington, Morgan, and Folger libraries, which began as private collections but were soon transformed into independent research libraries. (2)
Under David's leadership, the Longwood Library set out to document "the history of business and industry in a geographical area having the Brandywine Valley as its focal point, but extending outward to include parts of eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland." (3)
It soon became clear that Longwood's mission coincided in significant part with the goals of the Hagley Museum, which was established in 1957 to "interpret" the site of the Du Pont company's original powder yards along the Brandywine River. Hagley held on deposit the records of the Du Pont company dating from its founding in 1802 by Eleuthere Irenee du Pont (Pierre Samuel's son). The association between family and company was so intimate that the staff realized that it made no sense to keep the archives divided. In 1961 the Longwood and Hagley collections were merged. A new library, facility was built on a site 150 yards from the original E. I. du Pont family residence, Eleutherian Mills. The Eleutherian Mills Historical Library (now the library division of the Hagley Museum and Library) soon became an important repository of business history, as it began to collect both corporate archives and the personal papers of prominent men and women of business.
In the early 1960s, Harvard University's George F. Baker Library, was the only other repository, actively collecting business records. The Baker Library collections had a New England orientation, a circumstance which, as Thomas Cochran has observed, profoundly affected the historiography of American business and economic history. "New England's looms and spinning jennies came to be seen as a moving force behind the industrial revolution, while the Mid-Atlantic region's artisans, coal miners, railroad workers and iron puddlers were largely ignored." (4)
Hagley's collections focus on the mid-Atlantic region and document the history of American business from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The records trace, the transformation of the American firm from small, family-managed businesses into modern, multinational corporations. The impact of the business system as a whole on the economics and politics of American society as well as on workers and consumers can be traced in Hagley's collections.
DU PONT RECORDS
The personal and business papers of the du Pont family were the initial collections around which the library developed. When P. S. du Pont de Nemours emigrated to the United States in 1800, he Brought with him his papers describing his political career in France and his association with the Physiocrats. These letters have proved to be an important resource for students of eighteenth-century French society. Correspondence with Etienne Turgot, Victor de Riquel, Charles Tallyrand, Mirabeau, and Jacques Necker document du Pont de Nemours's public career during the ancien regime and his role in negotiating the 1786 English-French commercial treaty. The papers also describe his support of the Girondist effort to establish a constitutional monarchy and his emigration to the United States with his two sons, Victor and Eleuthere Irenee (E. I.) after the Bonaparte coup. E. I. du Pont's papers (1771-1834, 5 linear feet) date from his days as a student of chemistry at the University of Paris under Antoine Lavoisier. They document the founding of the Du Pont company powder mills on the Brandywine, his early experiments with black powder, and trace how he applied his European scientific training to this new business enterprise in America.
The records of E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Company (1801-1902, 550 linear feet) parallel the papers of its founder and are remarkably complete. They describe the organization of the company in Paris in 1801, and its evolution into an American partnership during the early decades of the nineteenth century. The records describe the financial and business negotiations which led to the founding of the company, the selection of a site, erection of the mills, installation of machinery, methods of manufacture, production, and marketing. The collection also documents the company's search for raw materials, including the importation of saltpeter from India and sodium nitrate from Chile. The efforts to sell powder to the United States government and blasting powder to railroad entrepreneurs and coal mine operators are fully described. Correspondence with Philadelphia agents documents the process by which Irish workers were recruited for the mills.
The mid- and late nineteenth century was a period of transition for the Du Pont company, when E. I. du Pont's traditional family firm began to evolve into a modern corporation. As the company expanded, it hired a group of independent sales agents to market its black powder. Correspondence of Furman L. Kneeland, New York agent for E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Company (1852-84, 75 linear feet) documents the growth of the company and traces the professionalization of the sales force. The Kneeland Papers describe the tensions that were created when management sought to exercise tighter control over semi-autonomous salesmen who operated on a commission basis. As operations expanded, Du Pont began to acquire control of competing companies and in 1872 formed the Gunpowder Trade Association, which reduced instability, in the industry and eliminated the effects of cutthroat competition. The records describe Du Pont's drive to dominate the explosives industry and the ways in which the gunpowder cartel operated to set prices and allocate production quotas. These were also the years when the company began to experiment with high explosives, and the records describe many of the early experiments with dynamite and nitroglycerine. The papers of Lammot du Pont (1831-84, 25 linear feet), founder of Du Pont's Rapauno, New Jersey, high explosives plant, document his research and development work as well as the company's effort to modernize during the post-Civil War era. (5)
Du Pont's early twentieth-century records document its transformation into a modern, consolidated, centrally administered industrial giant. (6) Pierre S. du Pont (Lammot's son) was chairman of the Board of Directors and president during this crucial period. His papers (1880-1954, 500 linear feet), along with those of John J. Raskob (1900-56, 200 linear feet), director and treasurer, describe the impact of the 1912 antitrust suit and World War I on the company. (7) The records show that the First World War launched Du Pont into a period of unprecedented growth. Wartime government contracts fundamentally transformed the company. The work force grew more than tenfold, dozens of plants were hastily built to fill the demand for war materiel, and profits soared.
In 1915 Pierre S. du Pont and John Raskob became directors of the then-struggling General Motors Corporation (GM). With du Pont as president and Raskob as treasurer, GM was transformed into one of the most profitable and technologically advanced mass production companies in the United States. The P. S. du Pont and Raskob papers are thus an important source of information on the history of General Motors (1915-46).
The rise of the bureaucratically organized modern corporation was one of the most important developments in twentieth-century American business history. As Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., and Stephen Salsbury have observed, Pierre S. du Pont created two of the most successful of these corporate giants. Their efforts can be traced in detail through Hagley's collections. (8) The records show that when Pierre S. du Pont assumed control of the Du Pont company his initial contribution was in the financial area, as he devised a system that allowed the company to finance its pre-World War I expansion internally. As Du Pont grew and diversified, the company established a decentralized administrative structure that gave senior management substantial autonomy while still assuring that long-term planning, financial control, and personnel policy were centrally coordinated. The situation at General Motors was quite different. There, decentralization had resulted in anarchy. Pierre S. du Pont had to assemble a management team that could provide central direction to GM's semi-autonomous divisions.
In 1919 Irenee du Pont succeeded his brother Pierre as president of the company. His papers (1910-56, 75 linear feet) document peacetime conversion, the dismantling of the defense plants, the development of rayon (1920) and cellophane (1924), and investments in South America and Cuba.
During the 1920s and 1930s Irenee and Pierre became active in the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment and the American Liberty League. Their papers thoroughly document this involvement, containing minutes, financial reports, and other records describing the operation of these two organizations and the reasons why so many members of the business community supported them.
Both Du Pont and General Motors were on the cutting edge of technological change during the post-World War I period. In the 1920s Du Pont established a fundamental research program under the direction of Charles Stine. Records of the Wilmington experimental station (1908-45, 85 linear feet) and the papers of Preston Hoff, director of the nylon research section (1936-45, 10 linear feet) document the company's research and development efforts and trace the impact of fundamental research on product development. The development of nylon and textile fibers is thoroughly described in these records, as are the tensions that developed between scientists and managers over questions surrounding fundamental versus applied research.
On the whole, Du Pont's twentieth-century archives are much less complete than its nineteenth-century records. Hagley's collections, however, include the papers of most key executive officers. The papers of T. Coleman du Pont, president (1902-15, 8 linear feet), document the company's 1902 incorporation, its subsequent administrative reorganization, and the breakup of the Gunpowder Trade Association. The papers of Hamilton Barksdale, vice president and general manager (1892-1918, 10 linear feet), describe the formation of the High Explosives Operating Department, the effort to acquire patent rights to dynamite, and the response to wartime military demands. The records show that Barksdale played a key role in the development of modern management at Du Pont, as he attempted to rationalize the company's approaches to engineering, labor relations, and cost accounting.
Willis Harrington was vice president in charge of employee relations during the Depression decade. His papers (1929-41, 12 linear feet) trace the company's response to the New Deal, the Wagner Act, and the coming of the CIO. Harrington's files describe Du Pont's experiences with "share the work programs" during the early 1930s and with employee representation plans later in the decade.
Walter S. Carpenter had a long career with Du Pont and was president during the Second World War. His files (1926-63, 12 linear feet) span the years during which the company became identified with synthetic fibers, dyes, and plastics. They document the period of closest alliance with General Motors and describe the antitrust suits that resulted. The Carpenter papers contain correspondence with many of the leading industrialists, military men, and scientists of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. They describe the role that Du Pont played in World War II, the effects of wartime regulation, and the contributions that the company made to the development of atomic energy during the period of the Manhattan and Los Alamos projects.
The Du Pont archive also contains important record groups generated by the advertising, public affairs, employee relations, high explosives, central research and development, textile fibers, and foreign relations departments. The papers of Jasper Crane, vice president in charge of the foreign relations department (1929-46, 8 linear feet), describe the Du Pont company's efforts to increase export sales. There is also documentation on its relationships with Imperial Chemical Industries (Great Britain) (ICI) and I.G. Farben (Germany), particularly as they related to technological exchange and trade agreements.
Historians have long recognized that the railroads were the first corporations to adopt the decentralized bureaucratic form of administration that has come to characterize all modern corporations. (9) As America's first big business they launched the managerial revolution in the 1850s by creating organizations that permitted top management to coordinate operations and allocate resources. During the last decade, Hagley has been making a determined effort to preserve the historical records of the northeastern railroads which were merged in 1976 to form CONRAIL. In 1977 the library acquired the records (1833-1960, 1000 linear feet) of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. The Reading, built in 1833 as a main line linking the port of Philadelphia with Pennsylvania's anthracite coal region, by 1860 controlled more than 30 percent of the area's coal traffic. Executive Board minutes and files of absorbed companies describe the Reading's expansion in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey during the mid-nineteenth century. Correspondence of executive officers (Joseph S. Harris, A. A. McLeod, G. A. Nicolls, J. E. Wooten, and Theodore Voorhees) document both the evolution of the railroad's administrative structure and the workings of the anthracite coal combination, a cartel that set prices and allocated production quotas. The introduction of new railroad technologies including the Westinghouse air brake and John Wooten's anthracite-burning locomotive are also described, as is the impact of the Knights of Labor and the railroad brotherhoods on labor-management relations.
The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was the Reading's primary, competitor, and their rivalry is well described in the records. As a regional carrier, the Reading was ultimately unable to compote with the Pennsylvania, the dominant railroad in the Northeast and Midwest; the Reading went into bankruptcy in 1896. The records of the Pennsylvania Railroad (1846-1960, 2,100 linear feet) document the process by which the PRR absorbed hundreds of predecessor companies to form a unified transportation network and become by 1880 America's largest corporation. (10) The minutes and board files document the initial period of construction and consolidation. Files spanning the years 1846-85 describe early methods of finance, corporate organization, and ownership. They reflect the PRR's considerable political influence and contain a good deal of information on civil and mechanical engineering, locomotive development, the formation of trunk lines, rate wars, and the rebate controversy.
As the serf-proclaimed "Standard Railroad of the World," the Pennsylvania monitored developments on most other major U.S. and foreign railroads. The records document the constant exchange of fact-finding delegations with England, France, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union. The files of the engineering department trace the export of railroad technology to Europe and the Far East. The records of the motive power department describe the development of the air brake, diesel locomotive, and electric traction and trace the impact of the railroad's considerable investment in research and development. The Pennsylvania was also an innovator in sales and marketing. The records document the road's innovative advertising campaigns. Of particular interest are reports and letters of Ivy Lee pertaining to the public relations work of the American Association of Railway Executives (1930-45), The decline of American railroading and the events leading up to the Penn Central bankruptcy are also well described, particularly in the files of David Bevan, vice president for finance, 1955-70. (11)
ENERGY-RELATED FIRMS: COAL AND OIL
Business historians have in recent years been increasingly drawn to questions surrounding energy development and utilization, since these issues are so important for understanding the history of American industrial society in the twentieth century. Hagley has the records of a number of energy-related firms, including four important coal companies. The records of the coal department of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (1855-1900, 15 linear feet and 25 rolls of microfilm) document the history of one of eastern Pennsylvania's most important anthracite producers. The archive traces the operation of the anthracite coal combination and describes labor-management relations during the period of the Molly Maguire insurrection.
Records of the St. Clair Coal Company (1870-1945, 5 linear feet) document the history of a small anthracite firm which sold coal for home heating in the Philadelphia and New York markets. The records of the Westmoreland Coal Company (1880-1975, 350 linear feet) and of the Penn Virginia Corporation (1885-1975, 150 linear feet) describe the development and growth of two of the country's largest soft coal producers. These archives document the complex series of mergers that formed the two companies.
Westmoreland was originally an anthracite company, founded by John Leisenring in 1854. In the mid-1870s, the Leisenrings organized the Connelsville Coke and Iron Company in the western Pennsylvania basin, which then held a near monopoly on coking coal. When the Leisenrings encountered the aggressive expansion of Henry Clay Frick, they were forced, by the end of the 1880s, to move their operations to southwestern Virginia, where they established the Virginia Coal and Iron and Stonega Coal and Coke Companies. Records of these firms document all aspects of mining operations, including construction, introduction of cutting machinery, labor relations, and sales strategies. The picture that emerges is not one of a stereotypical coal company with hand labor, a succession of new immigrant groups, fenced-off camps, and Baldwin-Felts guards. Rather, the transition from that world to the modern period of professionalized management and increasing mechanization is shown. Records from the post-World War II era document a period of declining employment, the outmigration of former immigrant groups, the rise and fall of the United Mine Workers, and the development of a management team that had to be increasingly sensitive to environmental issues, safety concerns, and government regulation. The archives document the efforts of the Bituminous Coal Operations Association (BCOA) to bring stability to an industry plagued by the twin crises of cutthroat competition and overproduction. The records show that by the 1930s the companies had come to rely on the United Mine Workers to force them to adhere to a fixed wage scale and uniform pricing structure. During the 1950s, UMW organizing drives were used as a weapon to force recalcitrant operators to join the BCOA, as labor and management sought to cooperate in order to modernize the collieries even though this resulted in layoffs for hundreds of thousands of miners. This collaboration grew out of the perceived necessity to defend coal's declining share of the energy market in the face of aggressive competition from the oil industry.
The Sun company records (1902-75, 450 linear feet) and the papers of the Pew family (1876-1975, 150 linear feet) trace the history of the energy industry from the perspective of petroleum. The archives date from the last quarter of the nineteenth century and describe Sun's origins in western Pennsylvania. The correspondence of Joseph Newton Pew documents early attempts at exploration and the construction of a pipeline to connect Sun's oil fields to the Pittsburgh market. Sun, however, did not become a significant producer until after the 1901 Spindletop strike in Beaumont, Texas. This enabled it to build a large refinery in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, and to market its crude oil in Europe. The records illustrate Sun's penetration of the European market in the 1910s and show that its attempts to compete with Standard Oil for domestic customers were largely unsuccessful until the 1930s, when Sun began to develop a differentiated product line featuring "Blue SUNOCO." The company's sophisticated marketing and franchise strategies are described in the records.
In the late 1930s Sun took a calculated risk and supported the research of Eugene Houdry, a French chemical engineer who was developing a catalytic process for cracking petroleum molecules to produce high octane gas. The records show that this project assumed critical importance during World War II, when the demand for high octane aviation fuel became acute. The Sun archive contains more than twenty linear feet of Houdry's correspondence, laboratory notebooks, and reports. Like the Du Pont company's Preston Hoff files, these records illuminate the tensions between scientists and those business managers who tended to look for a fast and direct connection between research and profits. After the Second World War Sun moved to license the Houdry process in Europe and the Soviet Union. The records document that effort and the attempts of the State Department to discourage the expert of this technology to the Soviet Union.
HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH
At Hagley, records documenting the history of technology span the period between the early nineteenth and mid-twentieth century. The records of the Philadelphia Quartz Company (1831-1975, 40 linear feet) describe the development of soluble silicates during the 1850s and how this technology was applied to the development of detergents during the Civil War period and to radar and television in the post-World War II era. The records of the Pennsylvania Power & Light Company (1855-1960, 1000 linear feet) trace the history of the electric power industry in eastern Pennsylvania. The archives document the industry's tentative beginning using the Edison system of direct current and show how the development of alternating current allowed small inner city utilities to expand beyond their original urban centers. The complex interaction between business and technological history is documented in the PP&L records. In the 1890s when the Westinghouse company began marketing its alternating current system, entrepreneurs found that they could establish electric light companies with relatively modest investments. As a result, hundreds of small entrepreneurs entered the business and tried to carve out a portion of the market. The PP&L records document the resulting savage competition, which resulted in lower prices and profits. They also show that, after 1905, the introduction of large turbo generators and high voltage transmission lines allowed utilities to centralize their generating and distribution facilities. This launched a consolidation movement that rationalized the industry into a series of great power networks and completed the first Western technological revolution of the twentieth century. (12)
The introduction of the computer launched the second such revolution. In the early 1950s the name "UNIVAC" was synonymous with "computer." Hagley has recently acquired the records of the Sperry-UNIVAC company (1942-70, 1,000 linear feet). This archive traces the history of the computer beginning in the mid-1940s when John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert began working on the ENIAC (the first electronic digital computer) at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering. Correspondence, engineering reports, and laboratory notebooks illustrate the development of the first two generations of computers. In 1947 Eckert and Mauchly organized their own company and began designing UNIVAC I, which was to become the first computer to be commercially marketed. The records document their struggle to raise capital, meet production deadlines, and attract customers. In 1950, aider the death of their most important financial backer, Eckert and Mauchly were forced to sell their company to Remington Rand, which never managed to capitalize fully on the technological advantage that had been given to them. How IBM, which in 1950 was perceived as five years behind UNIVAC, came to dominate the computer industry in only three years is a fascinating story that is well described in the UNIVAC archives. The interrelationships among technology, corporate organization, and marketing strategies are evident in these records, as are UNIVAC's attempts to license the computer and the antitrust suits that resulted. (13)
In the United States nearly 70 percent of the practicing scientists and engineers are employed in industrial research. The records of the Directors of Industrial Research (DIR) (1923-75, 10 linear feet) indicate many of the concerns shared by the men and women who worked in corporate research and development--concerns such as efforts to exchange information on patent strategies, government regulation, and laboratory salary structures. Most corporations engaged in industrial research, including AT&T, General Electric, Kodak, RCA, IBM, Du Pont, General Motors, and Ford, were represented in DIR.
IRON AND STEEL
The history of the mid-Atlantic region's iron and steel industry is well represented in Hagley's collections. The archives include the records of Lukens Steel (1790-1960, 250 linear feet), Bethlehem Steel and its predecessors (1850-1960, 150 linear feet), and Alan Wood Steel (1727-1937, 100 linear feet). Taken together these collections document most major developments in the iron and steel industry, including the transition from hand puddling to the Bessemer converter, to the open hearth furnace; the horizontal and vertical integration of production and distribution facilities; the adoption of modern management techniques, and the marketing of steel to the railroad and automobile industries and to the government. The records trace the process by which U.S. Steel and Bethlehem came to dominate the industry. They also describe the industry's reliance on immigrant workers and its response to the Depression of the 1930s, the New Deal, the Wagner Act, and the Steel Workers Organizing Committee.
The records of Bethlehem Steel are of particular interest as they document efforts to adopt both European technology and Frederick Taylor's system of scientific management. Bethlehem Steel was one of the nation's largest producers of armor plate and all important naval contractor. The archive demonstrates Bethlehem's relationship with the United States government and efforts to export war material to Europe and Latin America. (14)
LABOR, MANAGEMENT, AND POLITICS
During World War I many of the largest U.S. companies began developing sophisticated strategies for dealing with organized labor, which had begun to make its presence felt both in the workplace and in the political arena. Firms like Bethlehem, U.S. Steel, and Du Pont began hiring professional personnel managers to design uniform wage scales, grievance procedures, safety regulations, and pension policies. This rationalization of personnel practices is thoroughly documented in Hagley's collections. Minutes and reports of the Special Conference Committee, which was organized in 1919 by Du Pont, General Motors, Bethlehem Steel, International Harvester, Goodyear, U.S. Rubber, and AT&T, show efforts to formulate a uniform approach to industrial relations. The records of the Special Conference Committee itself were destroyed in the 1940s, but some minutes and reports survive in the archives of the Du Pont company and Bethlehem Steel. While this material is fragmentary, it provides a candid view of corporate labor policy as it evolved during the interwar years.
The records of the National Industrial Conference Board (1916-60, 150 linear feet) in many ways parallel those of the Special Conference Committee. Established in 1916 by eleven major trade associations to foster "the maintenance of harmonious relationships between employer and employees and between both and government," the Conference Board reflected the attitudes of those members of the business community who defined themselves as progressive. Reports and minutes (1916-48) illustrate the NICB's positions on industrial relations, scientific management, incentive wage systems, the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Wagner Act, the challenge of the CIO, wartime government regulation, and postwar reconversion.
The politicization of American business is also documented in the records of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) (1900-70, 750 linear feet). Organized in 1895 to promote "domestic and foreign trade," NAM within a decade became the leading advocate for those businesspeople who opposed the progressivism of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. Unfortunately, most of NAM'S pre-1935 records were destroyed before the archives came to Hagley. Its records, however, do demonstrate the ways in which conservative businesspeople responded to the challenges presented by the New Deal, the rise of industrial unionism, and the activist state from 1980 to 1970. Files trace NAM'S lobbying campaigns and describe its efforts to influence public opinion and set the terms of political debate during the post-World War II period. The archives illustrate the attitudes of the business community on a wide variety of economic, social, and political issues including international trade, foreign policy, the cold war, McCarthyism, national defense, education, civil rights, the environment, taxation, antitrust legislation, and occupational health and safety.
BANKS AND OTHER FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
In recent years Hagley has made an effort to document the role played by financial intermediaries in the economic life of the mid-Atlantic region. The library's holdings now include the records of the Pennsylvania Company for Insurance on Lives and Granting Annuities (1809-1947, 250 linear feet), the Philadelphia National Bank and its predecessors (1802-1955, 150 linear feet), Bank of Delaware (18541905, 100 linear feet), Wilmington Savings Fund Society (1831-1964, 35 linear feet), and Artisans Saving Bank (1861-1964, 45 linear feet). These collections trace the history of a wide variety of Pennsylvania and Delaware financial service institutions from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. The archives include records of banks of discount and deposit, trust companies, savings banks, building and loan companies, urban and neighborhood banks. Collectively they describe the growth, merger, acquisition, and consolidation process that characterized the history of banking in the mid-Atlantic region. They show that the larger eighteenth- and nineteenth-century state-chartered banks functioned almost as public utilities and were instrumental in providing the credit necessary for canals, turnpikes, schools, and other public projects. Small local banks provided credit for merchants, mechanics, and farmers, while urban savings banks served the city and its immigrant wage earners. The impact of the National Banking Act of 1864, the clearinghouse system, the Federal Reserve, the Depression, New Deal legislation, war and postwar prosperity on mid-Atlantic banking can be traced through these records.
The clothing and textile industry, which played such a key role in the economic life of the mid-Atlantic region during the nineteenth century, is well documented in the records of Joseph Bancroft & Sons company of Rockford, Delaware (1830-1969, 425 linear feet). This archive demonstrates the industry's changing technology, its efforts to cope with organized labor, and competition from low wage firms in the South and in the Far East. In 1908 Henry Gantt went to work for the Bancroft Company, where he unsuccessfully attempted to install Frederick Taylor's system of scientific management. In the 1950s the company introduced the "Ban Lon" and "Everglaze" product lines. Records describe the marketing of these products and the licensing of patents. (15)
The technology and business strategies employed by the leather industry in many ways paralleled that in clothing and textiles. The records of J. E. Rhoads Sons, Inc. (1727-1969, 190 linear feet) document the history of the oldest surviving leather company in the United States. The archives of Amalgamated Leather Companies (1880-1967, 50 linear feet) place the industry within its international context and describe the importation of hides and the export of finished products.
IMPRINTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND GUIDES
In addition to its archives and manuscripts, Hagley has a 170,000-volume imprint collection. Included are most standard American history monographs with a strong emphasis on industrial and technological history. The library also collects company annual reports, trade publications, newsletters, employee magazines, and advertising literature. Researchers have found the 20,000-volume trade catalog collection particularly valuable. Trade catalogs not only document the history of advertising but also often contain information on technology and the manufacturing process. In recent years, historians of technology and students of material culture have begun to make imaginative use of Hagley's trade catalog collections.
Most modern corporations have photograph departments, and as a result business archives usually contain numerous pictures. The 350,000 images in Hagley's collections tend to fall into six broad categories:
1. Plant and shopfloor views documenting machinery and the work process. These photographs have proved very useful to social historians and historians of technology.
2. Product photographs generated by the advertising department.
3. Photographs of managers, workers, and executives.
4. Plant photographs (interior and exterior views). These often document the construction and installation of machinery.
5. Public relations photographs documenting public events, company picnics, site dedications, and other contributions to the community.
6. Photographs of worker housing, company towns, and the plant's physical setting.
Researchers working in Hagley's collections often find that they can make use of photographic evidence to understand how a piece of machinery worked or how a factory was organized. In many cases pictorial material provides a better understanding of technological processes, shopfloor relations, and the archaeology of a factory site than do printed sources.
Over the years the library has published a series of collection guides. John Beverly Riggs's Guide to Manuscripts (1970) with its Supplement (1975), is an extremely useful tool, as it both describes and indexes the collections. Recently, Hagley has begun to compile a number of guides to its special collections. This series now includes Corporate Images: Photography and the Du Pont Company, 1865-1922 (1984), Pennsylvania Power & Light Company, a Guide to the Records (1985), and A Guide to Iron and Steel Pictures in the Hagley Museum and Library. A guide to the trade catalog collection is now scheduled for publication.
Hagley welcomes research in its collections, and offers a full range of services, including interlibrary loan, photocopying, microfilming, and photographic reproduction. Grants-in-aid or other assistance are often available to qualified scholars. Through its research collections, its joint graduate programs with the University of Delaware, its Center for Advanced Study, its publications, and its museum, Hagley contributes to America's understanding of its business civilization. The Hagley Museum and Library has an enduring commitment to the field of business history.
(1) Pierre S. du Pont to H. Fletcher Brown, 7 July 1924, in Pierre S. du Pont Papers. According to customary usage, the Du Pont Company is spelled with an upper-case D, and du Pont in the family name with a lower-case d.
(2) Recently, Hagley joined these and other similar institutions when it was chosen for membership in the Independent Research Libraries Association.
(3) Collection development policy statement for Dr. Charles David Papers, box 1.
(4) Thomas Cochran, Frontiers of Change (New York, 1984).
(5) The papers of Henry du Pont (1822-89, 35 linear feet) and Francis Gurney du Pont (1880-1904, 18 linear feet) also provide good documentation of company history during these years.
(6) Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of American Industrial Enterprise (Cambridge, Mass., 1962).
(7) As a result of this antitrust action Du Pont had to divest itself of many of its most important black powder and high explosive manufacturing plants. The Hercules and Atlas companies were established as part of the settlements to operate these properties. This is well documented in the Atlas Company rat, orals (1912-60. 500 linear feet). Atlas was acquired by ICI in 1972 and became ICI Americas.
(8) Alfred Chandler, Jr., and Stephen Salsbury, Pierre S. du Pont and the Making of the Modern Corporation (New York, 1964).
(9) Chandler, Strategy and Structure, 20-24.
(10) Hagley is currently working with seven other repositories to appraise and divide the 360,000-cubic-foot Pennsylvania Railroad Archive. Hagley is accessioning board minutes, a microfilm copy of the hoard file, and records of key operating departments. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Is acquiring the original board file presidential correspondence (1899-1960) and financial records. The five other repositories (Temple University, New York Public Library, the Bentley Library, New Jersey State Archives. and Pennsylvania State University) are dividing divisional and developmental records along subject and geographic lines.
(11) Other transportation companies represented in Hagley's collections include the Red Arrow Lines Records (1848-1973, 100 linear feet), and Delaware Coach Company (1880-1960; 150 linear feet). These records document the development of commuter trolley, railroad, and bus service in the greater Philadelphia-Wilmington area. Papers of William L. Austin (1875-1940, 12 linear feet) describe his career with Baldwin Locomotive Works and the role he played in promoting the sale of locomotives and railroad technology in Europe and the Far East.
(12) Hagley also has the records of Delmarva Power (1880-1960, 100 linear feet), which tell a somewhat similar story with an emphasis on rural electrification. The records of the Philadelphia Electric Company (1890-1940, 36 reels of microfilm) document the history of one of the country's most important urban electric companies.
(13) Other Hagley collections that may he of interest to business historians with a technological bent include: Leeds & Northrup (1869-1952, 25 reels of microfilm); Boeing Vertol helicopter division of Boeing Aircraft (1943-67, 150 linear feet); Link-Belt Company (1851-1908, 725 drawings); Fritz Water Wheel (1899-1956; 200 linear feet), and Campbell Water Wheel (1020-75, 53 linear feet): S. S. White Dental Manufacturing Company records (1847-1960, 40 linear feet), and Phoenix Bridge Company (1880-1960, 200 linear feet).
(14) The shipbuilding industry, which was closely related to iron and steel, is represented by several collections. These include the records of Pusey and Jones (1848-1945, 25 linear feet) and Harlan and Hollingsworth (1870-195(, 200 linear feet).
(15) Smaller collections include: the records of Charles I. Du Pont and Company and Du Planty & McCall of Hagley, Delaware. the first cotton manufacturer in the Wilmington area (1810-.35, 5 linear feet); records of Du Pout, Bauduy & Company (1809-59, 7 linear feet), and records of William Whitaker & Sons of Philadelphia (1809-1971, 15 linear feet).
MICHAEL NASH is curator of manuscripts at the Hagley Museum and Library.
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|Title Annotation:||description of collection of materials in prominent business library|
|Publication:||Business History Review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1986|
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