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E. Ingraham Company Records

 Collection
Identifier: 1980-0034

Scope and Content

The records of the E. Ingraham Company of Bristol, Connecticut, provide information on one of the premier clock and watch manufacturers of American industry during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They are special companies during industrial revolution in the United States, and with labor organization efforts in such firms between 1930 and 1950.

The records consist of account books, general business records, correspondence, printed materials, photographs, maps and drawings which document the company's history from 1840-1967. They include general accounting and administrative records; records relating to sales, purchasing, production, and labor; subsidiary company records. The general correspondence, which comprises more than half of the records, is particularly voluminous for the years 1916-1947. The records are arranged into seven series.

The catalogs in boxes 345 and 346 were digitized in 2012 and are available online.

Dates

  • undated, 1840-1967

Access

The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.

History

For more than a century, the E. Ingraham Company was a prominent family-operated manufacturer of clocks and watches, with headquarters and plants located in Bristol, Connecticut. Most of its employees were natives of the Bristol region, and members of the Ingraham family of Bristol controlled its management.

The company underwent numerous reorganizations and name changes, particularly during the 19th century. It was founded in 1831, when Elias Ingraham (1805-1885) opened his own shop in Bristol as a cabinetmaker and designer of clock cases. In 1841, Benjamin Ray and Andrew Ingraham founded Ray and Ingraham, and hired Elias Ingraham, whose business had succumbed to financial difficulties, as a case maker and designer. This firm was succeeded in 1844 by Brewster and Ingrahams, with Elisha Brewster, a clock movement maker, joining Andrew and Elias Ingraham as partners, succeeded this firm in 1844. In 1852, the company name was changed to E. and A. Ingraham. When fire destroyed their plant in 1855, the Ingrahams relocated temporarily in Ansonia, Connecticut, returning to Bristol in 1857. The company name continued to change: Elias Ingraham and Company (1857-1860), E. Ingraham and Company (1861-1880), and E. Ingraham and Company (1881-1884). From 1884 to 1958, the period during which most of the surviving company records were created, the firm was known as E. Ingraham Company. In 1958, the name was changed to Ingraham Company, and in November 1967, when the company was sold to McGraw Edison Company, it became Ingraham Industries.

From the 1850s until his death in 1885, Elias Ingraham served as president of the company. His son, Edward Ingraham (1850-1892), who served until his death in 1892, succeeded him. Walter A. Ingraham (1855-1939), Edward's son, was president from 1892 until 1927, when he became chairman of the board. His brother, William S. Ingraham> (1857-1930), served as company treasurer for many years. In 1927, William's son Edward Ingraham II (1887-1972) succeeded his uncle as president of the company, serving until 1954. Edward's brother, Dudley S. Ingraham (b. 1890) was the last of the Ingraham family to hold the position of president, from 1954 until 1956. However, Edward Ingraham continued as chairman of the board from 1954 to 1961. Later presidents of the company included Robert E. Cooper, Jr. (1956-1961), Bret C. Neece, who served concurrently as chairman of the board (1961-1963) and Wesley A. Songer (1963-?).

E. Ingraham Company's products throughout its history reflected technological advances and changing consumer demands for timepieces. Until about 1890, the company manufactured only pendulum clocks, such as the spring-driven 8-day pendulum clocks produced by Brewster and Ingrahams. During the 1890s, they began making lever escapement time clocks and alarm clocks. Radical changes in manufacturing methods during the following decade enabled E. Ingraham Company to produce 30-hour alarm clocks, pocket watches (1914), and 8-day alarm lever and timepieces (1915). In 1913 the company purchased the machinery, equipment and inventories of Bannatyne Watch Company of Waterbury. Soon after, they began to manufacture the popular “dollar watch.” In 1930, Ingraham added non-jeweled wrist watches and in 1931 began marketing electric clocks.

The depression of the 1930s did not affect E. Ingraham Company as severely as it did many other businesses. Employment never dropped more than 15% and wage and salaries were not cut. By the beginning of the Second World War, the company was producing clocks and watches at maximum capacity in order to meet the great export need after many European supplies were cut off. However, in 1942 the War Production Board ordered E. Ingraham Company to cease manufacture of all clocks and watches. By August 1942 the company had entirely re-tooled for production of items of critical war use, such as mechanical time-fuse parts for Army and Navy anti-aircraft and artillery. Full production of clocks and watches was not resumed until 1946, but the years 1946 to 1948 were boom years for company sales. Meanwhile, E. Ingraham Company employees were unionized in 1941 by the United Electrical Workers> (UE). Accused of being the “communistic wing of the labor movement,” the UE was forced out of the CIO. In 1950 the IUE-CIO replaced the UE as the union representing E. Ingraham Company workers.

The company was sold to McGraw Edison Company in November 1967 and its name changed to Ingraham Industries.

Extent

268 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

For more than a century, the E. Ingraham Company was a prominent family-operated manufacturer of clocks and watches, with headquarters and plants located in Bristol, Connecticut

Arrangement

Series I: Administrative Records (undated, 1840-1967) is subdivided into eight sub-series: Contracts, Advertising Reports, Appraisals, Audited Financial, Statements, General Reports, Special General Reports, Subject Files, and Reference Materials. Contracts contain legal documents such as agreements, leases, and deeds, and are arranged in alphabetical order. Advertising Reports contains consumer questioners, advertising expense records, and reports. Appraisals consist of appraisals, analyses, and surveys done by independent appraisers. Audited Financial Statements contains the financial statements of the company from 1935-1967. General Reports contains various reports (including stockholders' reports), projections, proposals, and analyses. Special Project Reports consists of more specific reports on a variety of matters including industry analyses and comparisons, departmental studies, labor surveys, productivity improvements, war-time planning, and investigative operations. Subject Files contains tariff information and reports concerning other companies and organizations. Reference Materials consists of governmental reports, correspondence, and information.

Series II: Company Officials (1850 - 1964) consists of the correspondence of Dudley S. Ingraham (1917-1964) including his correspondence regarding the Connecticut Highway Safety Commission (1939-1940); Edward Ingraham's itineraries as a clock and watch salesman, correspondence of William S. Ingraham (1916-1930). Note: researchers are advised that a fair amount of routine business and personal correspondence generated by these company officials may also be found in Series III. Additional correspondence belonging to Edward and Dudley Ingraham may be found in their personal collections, also located in Archives & Special Collections. [The Edward Ingraham Papers include his correspondence, 1931-1959, as company president; memoranda and reports of meetings; and historical note and articles concerning the clock industry. The Dudley S. Ingraham Papers contain his business correspondence, personal papers, select company records, and papers concerning the estate of his Aunt Anna Ingraham.]

Series III: Correspondence (1868-1962, bulk 1916-1947) contains general and purchasing department correspondence. Incoming and outgoing correspondence for 1870-1885 is arranged alphabetically by year and month. One box containing select correspondence, 1889-1962 is arranged alphabetically by addressee name and topic. There are 53 volumes of letter books containing outgoing correspondence and some personal correspondence of W.A. and W.S. Ingraham for the years 1868-1916.

Because of the vast bulk of correspondence for the years 1916-1940 and 1941-1947, selective sampling procedures were applied to reduce this correspondence to about 10 per cent of its original quantity without destroying the research value of the papers. Discarded correspondence for the years 1916-1940 included customers' orders, duplicate invoices, remittance sheets and shipping memos, most of which duplicated statistical information found in more accessible form in general ledgers and other business records. Duplicate invoices for sample accounts were retained to provide information about prices, terms, etc. In order to reduce the quantity of general and purchasing department correspondence, a list of important customers, suppliers, attorneys and other clock companies was prepared on the basis of reading correspondence for two entire years. Correspondence for these firms was preserved. All other correspondence was destroyed, except for occasional letters of special interest. A sample box of correspondence was saved, and is indicated in the finding aid, for every fourth year, beginning in 1920, in order to illustrate the original method of filing and the nature of the company's daily correspondence and business activities. Through these sampling procedures, correspondence for 1916-1940 was reduced from approximately 1,200 linear feet to about 177 feet. A similar method of sampling was applied to correspondence for 1941-1947. For more detailed information on the sampling procedure see the listing at the end of the finding aid.

Correspondence for 1916-1940 consists primarily of letters exchanged between E. Ingraham Company and selected major customers, suppliers, and attorneys and clock manufacturers. The correspondence from 1916-1927 is arranged alphabetically by year. The correspondence for 1928-1940 is also arranged alphabetically by year and is further divided into two categories entitled purchasing and general. R Researchers are advised, however, to examine both grouping, for there is very little apparent difference between them and both contain mostly general correspondence.

Correspondence for 1941-1960 consists of letters exchanged with selected companies and individuals. It is arranged alphabetically by year. The years 1954-1960 have substantial correspondence with the Aristocratic Clock Company, P. R. Mallory Company, McKesson Stores, and Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Series IV: General Accounts (1852-1959) contains financial records such as general ledgers, daybooks, and journals, cashbooks, accounts receivable and payable ledgers, and banking records.

Series V: Purchasing (1861-1959) consists of purchasing department records such as inventory records, raw materials purchase records, material purchased and sales registers, and purchase ledgers.

Series VI: Labor (undated, 1866-1964) consists of records pertaining to employees, union, and labor relations. It included correspondence, time books and payroll ledgers, benefit and retirement plans, employment plans, labor productivity and turnover reports, union records and publications, grievance, hearing, and negotiation records, and correspondence and financial information concerning salaried employees.

Series VII: Production (undated, 1902-1959) contains order records, production reports, war production information and regulations, and case shop and movement shop production records and information. Also included are some printing plates and samples of parts used in the construction of bomb fuses during WWII.

Series VIII: Sales (undated, 1856-1970) consists of sales ledgers and order books, railroad freight bills, sales statistics, price list, sales charts, customer letters, information on distributors, special sales campaigns, district sales bulletins, company catalogs, and illustrated advertisements.

Series IX: Subsidiary Companies (1869-1966) contains a small amount of records belonging to the subsidiary companies of E. Ingraham Company. These companies were American Coal Company, S & S Company, Press Circulation Company, Case Wheel and Mill Company, Bristol Realty Company, E-Town Corporation, and Ingraham Canadian Clock Company. The records include general ledgers, correspondence, and financial statements.

Series X: Photographs, maps, and blueprints (1885-1964) consists of photographs of company officials, employees, products, and buildings; and maps, drawing and blueprints of factory building and grounds. One item of special interest to the historical researcher is a six-volume set entitled “Clockmakers of Bristol” which contains photos and drawings of early wooden and brass clock movements, and a history of both the clock industry in Connecticut and its most prominent clockmakers.

Custodial History

In 1939, the E. Ingraham Company deposited many of its account books, general business records and correspondence with Yale University Library>. Additional records were added as accessions at various times through 1972. In 1960, the company converted the deposit to a gift to Yale University Library. Separate accessions of E. Ingraham Company Records> were arranged and described in 1952, 1955 and 1972.

Acquisition Information

In 1980, the records were transferred as a gift to the Historical Manuscripts and Archives Division (now Archives & Special Collections) of the University of Connecticut Library. The records were reprocessed in 1992.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository

Title
E. Ingraham Company Records
Status
Published
Author
Archives & Special Collections staff
Date
2000 February
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

Contact:
University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US
860-486-2524