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American Brass Company Records

 Collection
Identifier: 1997-0996

Scope and Content

The collection dates from circa 1800 to 1978 and provides a unique view of one of the major brass producers in the history of the United States. The materials vary in type from newspaper clippings to minute books and ledgers dating from the early 19th century.

Dates

  • undated, 1780-1978

Access

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.

History

The story of the development of the brass mills in the Naugatuck Valley is the story of 19th century entrepreneurs who would found one firm, merge with another, then reorganize again to form new ventures. The American Brass Company was no exception; it was founded from many segments of the industry including the Aaron Benedict Company (est. 1812) and the various Coe companies.

Officially, the American Brass Company began 7 June 1893, when a group of men from five of the six brass mills in the Waterbury, Connecticut region, met to consolidate their interests. The new company was intended to be a holding company for the following operations: Plume & Atwood Manufacturing Company, Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company, Waterbury Brass Company, Scoville Manufacturing Company, Holmes, Booth and Haydens, and Coe Brass Manufacturing Company. However, it was to be another six years (1 March 1899) before the charter was accepted and the company finally organized. Even so, the principal companies could not agree upon remanufacturing activities. All of the companies, with the exception of the Waterbury Brass Company and the Coe Brass Manufacturing Company, withdrew from the newly formed consolidation. The Ansonia Brass & Copper Company (of the Phelps Dodge family) joined the remaining two, and on 14 December 1899 the three companies--Ansonia Brass & Copper, Waterbury Brass and Coe Brass Manufacturing--formed the American Brass Company. By 1901, Benedict & Burnham and Holmes, Booth and Haydens had rejoined the venture and the American Brass Company was on its way.

The next two decades would bring major reorganizations to the company. On 1 January 1912, the holding company became an operating company and the associated companies were now divisions of the parent, American Brass Company. In 1922, the Anaconda Copper Mining Company (of Montana) acquired American Brass, although the company retained its own identity until 1960 when the name was changed to Anaconda American Brass.

The Anaconda Company merged with Atlantic Richfield in 1977. The American Brass files housed at the corporate archives were transferred to Los Angeles, California, in 1981 when the headquarters of Anaconda American Brass Company were moved from Waterbury, Connecticut to Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The name of the division was subsequently changed to ARCO Metals. No administrative correspondence or records groups remained at Waterbury and the collection was divided into logical series at the corporate archives.

Extent

225.7 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The American Brass Company was founded in 1893 with the consolidation of five existing brass mills in the Waterbury, Connecticut area. Intended as a holding company, American Brass absorbed the following companies: Plume & Atwood Manufacturing, Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing, Waterbury Brass, Scoville Manufacturing, Holmes, Booth and Haydens, and Coe Brass Manufacturing. The collection dates from circa 1800 to 1978 and provides a unique view of one of the major brass producers in the history of the United States. The materials vary in type from newspaper clippings to minute books and ledgers dating from the early 19th century.

Arrangement

Series I: Historical Materials (undated, 1351-1978) is a collection of historical background notes used by Clark S. Judd to create his manuscript, "The History of the American Brass Company." Mr. Judd, a former president of the company, worked on this project from 1942 until 1959, when ill health forced him to put it aside for a time. He was assisted in his research by Russell H. Pope, an American Brass employee since 1912. The files contain clippings, anecdotes and general background information on the American Brass Company and the brass industry in general. Dates on the folders may refer to the event noted and not the actual document itself.

Series II: Administrative Files--American Brass Company (ABC) (undated, 1848-1972) consists of general administrative files including minutes, opinions on reorganization in 1911 and land deeds.

Series III: Sales Department Files (undated, 1853-1969) contains individual price list books and specification catalogs dating back to circa 1800. These materials were used by the company library for historical research and information on official company names, logos, letterheads and price information.

Series IV: Library Ephemera Files (undated, 1642-1966) includes the company library vertical file maintained by Eulalia Madden, the company librarian. A mixture of primary and secondary source materials, the collection documents the history of the industry as well as the company. Of particular interest are such items as the Benedict & Burnham permit for the Centennial Exhibition (1876), biographical files on Anaconda and American Brass personnel, and correspondence from principals in the company, such as C. F. Brooker. As in Series I, the dates on the folders will sometimes refer to the event, and not the actual document.

Series V: Papers, reports, historical records and Advertising reprints (undated, 1841-1968) is a collection of miscellaneous materials including an Appraisal Committee report of 1892 regarding the formation of the company, Aaron Benedict's "Bargain" books (incentive pay for employees) and Coe family correspondence.

Series VII: Photographs (undated, ca 1841-1962) is the photograph collection. Containing over 200 images, the photographs date from circa 1841 through 1962. The images include daguerreotypes, mill exteriors and interiors, the Benedict & Burnham booth at the Centennial Exhibition, the Waterbury Water Wheel and the flood damage of 1955.

Series VIII: Bound Volumes (1823-1972) consists of bound volumes including minute books, journals, ledgers, cash books and other documentation of the American Brass Company, its predecessor firms and some subsidiaries. Also included are samples from the Wolcottville Brass Company, American Brass Company, Waterbury Brass Company, Holmes, Booth and Haydens, Coe Brass Manufacturing Company, Ansonia Brass & Copper Company, Benedict & Burnham Manufacturing Company and the Ansonia Clock Company.

Note: Series I-IV have been completely reprocessed, resulting in more accurate dating of materials and the assignment of new box and folder numbers. Series V-VIII reflect the older processing. The finding aid will be updated as the reprocessing of each series is completed.

Custodial History

The American Brass records were transferred from California to the University of Connecticut in 1988 when the corporate archives closed.

Acquisition Information

The American Brass Company Records were donated by the Atlantic Richfield Corporation in 1988. The poster of Coe Brass Company copper rivets and burs was donated in July 2014 from Michael Cunningham of Dayton, Ohio.

Location of Copies or Alternate Formats

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

Related Material

Archives & Special Collections has a substantial collection of materials pertaining to Connecticut businesses. For detailed information on these collections please contact the curator or ask at the Reading Room desk.

Separated Material

The following materials have been separated from the collection and cataloged:

Flood 1955 Dodd Call No. D 1759
Title
American Brass Company Records
Status
Under Revision
Author
Archives & Special Collections staff
Date
2005 October
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

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