Bristol Brass Company Records
Scope and Content
The collection consists of meeting reports, correspondence, contracts, pension plans, reports, contracts, financial statements, employee retirement records, photographs, annual reports, budgets, personnel records, meeting reports, printing plates, labor agreements, Board of Directors meeting reports, tax records, payroll and salary registers, and earning reports.
- Creation: undated, 1911-1982
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.
The Bristol Brass Company was founded as the Bristol Brass and Clock Company in 1850, the creation of sixteen industrialists from Bristol clock and Waterbury brass interests who hoped to profit in the booming clock industry of Bristol, CT. Although the company never manufactured clocks, only the brass mechanisms for the timepieces, it was many years before it changed its name to Bristol Brass Company. Starting with only sixteen workers, the company had become the largest employer in Bristol with 375 employees by 1880. By the turn of the century, it produced a variety of goods ranging from lamps for railroad passenger cares, souvenir spoons, and sterling silver flatware.
During World War I, the company prospered as the mill worked around the clock to produce war materials such as brass cartridge cases, bullet jackets, shells, truck parts, and ship fittings. In 1915, a new rolling mill was built at the plant to accommodate this increased expansion and a work force that had grown from 300 in 1914 to 1,000 in 1918. The company, however, had severely overextended itself during the war years and it suffered from the drastic reduction in armament production and the recession that followed the Armistice. Deeply in debt, the company was forced to sell its spoon and cutlery shops to the American Brass Company of Waterbury.
The company rebounded from its slump and sales soared when it began making parts for the burgeoning automobile industry in the 1920s. It produced radiator tanks, tubing, and other parts used in automobile manufacturing. The company also updated its facilities to meet expanding demand. The manufacture of brass was put on an assembly line basis that increased production and reduced labor costs. New machines, electric furnaces (to replace steam-generated ones), and even scientific research laboratories were installed in this effort to modernize the plant.
The Great Depression marked the end of these boom years for Bristol Brass. By 1932, the company had laid off one-third of its workers and those still employed were working shorter weeks at less pay. The National Recovery Act codes of the New Deal allowed the company to turn some profit in 1933 and it also benefited from a modest recovery in the automobile industry in the late 1920s, but the recession of 1937-1938 again brought a downturn in the company's fortunes.
Only the increased military spending of World War II brought good times back to Bristol Brass. Its main product during the war was shell cases. Organized labor established itself as a permanent fixture at Bristol Brass during the war when the employees joined the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. After the war, when many unions conducted anti-Communist purges, this union was replaced by the more moderate and less politically active Local 1500 of the United Auto Workers. Like many manufacturing companies, Bristol Brass struggled in the post-war economy. The amount of brass used in automobiles declined over the years and the brass industry soon became a victim of foreign competition. The disastrous slump in the automobile industry during the 1970s only further hastened the decline of Bristol Brass.
By the early 1980s, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy as a national recession and a general overall decline in manufacturing in New England diminished its profits. The company was deeply in debt and unable to pay its workers, which, by the Spring of 1982, numbered only 200. It closed its doors for good in December 1982 after 132 years as a major part of the Bristol economy.
133 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The Bristol Brass Company was founded as the Bristol Brass and Clock Company in 1850, the creation of sixteen industrialists from Bristol clock and Waterbury brass interests who hoped to profit in the booming clock industry of Bristol, CT. Although the company never manufactured clocks, only the brass mechanisms for the timepieces, it was many years before it changed its name to Bristol Brass Company. It was the largest employer in Bristol, with 375 employees by 1880. Its mainstay was the production of brass for automobiles. The company thrived during the years of World Wars I and II, making shell cases for the military. The post-war economy brought a change in the company's fortunes. The amount of brass used in automobiles declined swiftly, and foreign competition eroded the company's clientele. Bristol Brass closed its doors in December 1982, after 132 years as a major part of the Bristol economy.
The collection was given to the University of Connecticut by the Bristol Brass Liquidating Corporation on 30 December 1982.
Location of Copies or Alternate Formats
Digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository
[Note: Boxes 1 - 20 are partially refoldered.]
Genre / Form
- Administrative records
- Albums (books)
- Financial Records
- Personnel records
- Publications (documents)
- Resolutions (administrative records)
- Speeches (documents)
- Stock certificates
- bylaws (administrative records)
- Bristol Brass Company Records
- Archives & Special Collections staff
- 2001 May
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description