The collection documents in photographs, scrapbooks, notebooks, correspondence, stock ledgers, annual reports, and financial records, the evolution of the telegraph, the development of the Western Union Telegraph Company, and the beginning of the communications revolution. The collection materials describe both the history of the company and of the telegraph industry in general, particularly its importance to the development of the technology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The collection is useful for researchers interested in the development of technology, economic history, and the impact of technology on American social and cultural life.
Scope and Contents:
The collection is divided into twenty-six (26) series and consists of approximately 400 cubic feet. The collection documents in photographs, scrapbooks, notebooks, correspondence, stock ledgers, annual reports, and financial records, the evolution of the telegraph, the development of the Western Union Telegraph Company, and the beginning of the communications revolution. The collection materials describe both the history of the company and of the telegraph industry in general, particularly its importance to the development of the technology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The collection is useful for researchers interested in the development of technology, economic history, and the impact of technology on American social and cultural life.
The collection is divided into twenty-seven series.
Series 1: Historical and Background Information, 1851-1994
Series 2: Subsidiaries of Western Union, 1844-1986
Series 3: Executive Records, 1848-1987
Series 4: Presidential Letterbooks and Writings, 1865-1911
Series 5: Correspondence, 1837-1985
Series 6: Cyrus W. Field Papers, 1840-1892
Series 7: Secretary's Files, 1844-1987
Series 8: Financial Records, 1859-1995
Series 9: Legal Records, 1867-1968
Series 10: Railroad Records, 1854-1945
Series 11: Law Department Records, 1868-1979
Series 12: Patent Materials, 1840-1970
Series 13: Operating Records, 1868-1970s
Series 14: Westar VI-S, 1974, 1983-1986
Series 15: Engineering Department Records, 1874-1970
Series 16: Plant Department Records, 1867-1937, 1963
Series 17: Superintendent of Supplies Records, 1888-1948
Series 18: Employee/Personnel Records 1852-1985
Series 19: Public Relations Department Records, 1858-1980
Series 20: Western Union Museum, 1913-1971
Series 21: Maps, 1820-1964
Series 22: Telegrams, 1852-1960s
Series 23: Photographs, circa 1870-1980
Series 24: Scrapbooks, 1835-1956
Series 25: Notebooks, 1880-1942
Series 26: Audio Visual Materials, 1925-1994
Series 27: Addenda
Biographical / Historical:
In 1832 Samuel F. B. Morse, assisted by Alfred Vail, conceived of the idea for an electromechanical telegraph, which he called the "Recording Telegraph." This commercial application of electricity was made tangible by their construction of a crude working model in 1835-36. This instrument probably was never used outside of Professor Morse's rooms where it was, however, operated in a number of demonstrations. This original telegraph instrument was in the hands of the Western Union Telegraph Company and had been kept carefully over the years in a glass case. It was moved several times in New York as the Western Union headquarters building changed location over the years. The company presented it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1950.
The telegraph was further refined by Morse, Vail, and a colleague, Leonard Gale, into working mechanical form in 1837. In this year Morse filed a caveat for it at the U.S. Patent Office. Electricity, provided by Joseph Henry's 1836 "intensity batteries", was sent over a wire. The flow of electricity through the wire was interrupted for shorter or longer periods by holding down the key of the device. The resulting dots or dashes were recorded on a printer or could be interpreted orally. In 1838 Morse perfected his sending and receiving code and organized a corporation, making Vail and Gale his partners.
In 1843 Morse received funds from Congress to set-up a demonstration line between Washington and Baltimore. Unfortunately, Morse was not an astute businessman and had no practical plan for constructing a line. After an unsuccessful attempt at laying underground cables with Ezra Cornell, the inventor of a trench digger, Morse switched to the erection of telegraph poles and was more successful. On May 24, 1844, Morse, in the U.S. Supreme Court Chambers in Washington, sent by telegraph the oft-quoted message to his colleague Vail in Baltimore, "What hath God wrought!"
In 1845 Morse hired Andrew Jackson's former postmaster general, Amos Kendall, as his agent in locating potential buyers of the telegraph. Kendall realized the value of the device, and had little trouble convincing others of its potential for profit. By the spring he had attracted a small group of investors. They subscribed $15,000 and formed the Magnetic Telegraph Company. Many new telegraph companies were formed as Morse sold licenses wherever he could.
The first commercial telegraph line was completed between Washington, D.C., and New York City in the spring of 1846 by the Magnetic Telegraph Company. Shortly thereafter, F. O. J. Smith, one of the patent owners, built a line between New York City and Boston. Most of these early companies were licensed by owners of Samuel Morse patents. The Morse messages were sent and received in a code of dots and dashes.
At this time other telegraph systems based on rival technologies were being built. Some companies used the printing telegraph, a device invented by a Vermonter, Royal E. House, whose messages were printed on paper or tape in Roman letters. In 1848 a Scotch scientist, Alexander Bain, received his patents on a telegraph. These were but two of many competing and incompatible technologies that had developed. The result was confusion, inefficiency, and a rash of suits and counter suits.
By 1851 there were over fifty separate telegraph companies operating in the United States. This corporate cornucopia developed because the owners of the telegraph patents had been unsuccessful in convincing the United States and other governments of the invention's potential usefulness. In the private sector, the owners had difficulty convincing capitalists of the commercial value of the invention. This led to the owners' willingness to sell licenses to many purchasers who organized separate companies and then built independent telegraph lines in various sections of the country.
Hiram Sibley moved to Rochester, New York, in 1838 to pursue banking and real estate. Later he was elected sheriff of Monroe County. In Rochester he was introduced to Judge Samuel L. Selden who held the House Telegraph patent rights. In 1849 Selden and Sibley organized the New York State Printing Telegraph Company, but they found it hard to compete with the existing New York, Albany, and Buffalo Telegraph Company.
After this experience Selden suggested that instead of creating a new line, the two should try to acquire all the companies west of Buffalo and unite them into a single unified system. Selden secured an agency for the extension throughout the United States of the House system. In an effort to expand this line west, Judge Selden called on friends and the people in Rochester. This led, in April 1851, to the organization of a company and the filing in Albany of the Articles of Association for the "New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company" (NYMVPTC), a company which later evolved into the Western Union Telegraph Company.
In 1854 there were two rival systems of the NYMVPTC in the West. These two systems consisted of thirteen separate companies. All the companies were using Morse patents in the five states north of the Ohio River. This created a struggle between three separate entities, leading to an unreliable and inefficient telegraph service. The owners of these rival companies eventually decided to invest their money elsewhere and arrangements were made for the NYMVPTC to purchase their interests.
Hiram Sibley recapitalized the company in 1854 under the same name and began a program of construction and acquisition. The most important takeover was carried out by Sibley when he negotiated the purchase of the Morse patent rights for the Midwest for $50,000 from Jeptha H. Wade and John J. Speed, without the knowledge of Ezra Cornell, their partner in the Erie and Michigan Telegraph Company (EMTC). With this acquisition Sibley proceeded to switch to the superior Morse system. He also hired Wade, a very capable manager, who became his protege and later his successor. After a bitter struggle Morse and Wade obtained the EMTC from Cornell in 1855, thus assuring dominance by the NYMVPTC in the Midwest. In 1856 the company name was changed to the "Western Union Telegraph Company," indicating the union of the Western lines into one compact system. In December, 1857, the Company paid stockholders their first dividend.
Between 1857 and 1861 similar consolidations of telegraph companies took place in other areas of the country so that most of the telegraph interests of the United States had merged into six systems. These were the American Telegraph Company (covering the Atlantic and some Gulf states), The Western Union Telegraph Company (covering states North of the Ohio River and parts of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Minnesota), the New York Albany and Buffalo Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Company (covering New York State), the Atlantic and Ohio Telegraph Company (covering Pennsylvania), the Illinois & Mississippi Telegraph Company (covering sections of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois), and the New Orleans & Ohio Telegraph Company (covering the southern Mississippi Valley and the Southwest). All these companies worked together in a mutually friendly alliance, and other small companies cooperated with the six systems, particularly some on the West Coast.
By the time of the Civil War, there was a strong commercial incentive to construct a telegraph line across the western plains to link the two coasts of America. Many companies, however, believed the line would be impossible to build and maintain.
In 1860 Congress passed, and President James Buchanan signed, the Pacific Telegraph Act, which authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to seek bids for a project to construct a transcontinental line. When two bidders dropped out, Hiram Sibley, representing Western Union, was the only bidder left. By default Sibley won the contract. The Pacific Telegraph Company was organized for the purpose of building the eastern section of the line. Sibley sent Wade to California, where he consolidated the small local companies into the California State Telegraph Company. This entity then organized the Overland Telegraph Company, which handled construction eastward from Carson City, Nevada, joining the existing California lines, to Salt Lake City, Utah. Sibley's Pacific Telegraph Company built westward from Omaha, Nebraska. Sibley put most of his resources into the venture. The line was completed in October, 1861. Both companies were soon merged into Western Union. This accomplishment made Hiram Sibley leader of the telegraph industry.
Further consolidations took place over the next several years. Many companies merged into the American Telegraph Company. With the expiration of the Morse patents, several organizations were combined in 1864 under the name of "The U.S. Telegraph Company." In 1866 the final consolidation took place, with Western Union exchanging stock for the stock of the other two organizations. The general office of Western Union moved at this time from Rochester to 145 Broadway, New York City. In 1875 the main office moved to 195 Broadway, where it remained until 1930 when it relocated to 60 Hudson Street.
In 1873 Western Union purchased a majority of shares in the International Ocean Telegraph Company. This was an important move because it marked Western Union's entry into the foreign telegraph market. Having previously worked with foreign companies, Western Union now began competing for overseas business.
In the late 1870s Western Union, led by William H. Vanderbilt, attempted to wrest control of the major telephone patents, and the new telephone industry, away from the Bell Telephone Company. But due to new Bell leadership and a subsequent hostile takeover attempt of Western Union by Jay Gould, Western Union discontinued its fight and Bell Telephone prevailed.
Despite these corporate calisthenics, Western Union remained in the public eye. The sight of a uniformed Western Union messenger boy was familiar in small towns and big cities all over the country for many years. Some of Western Union's top officials in fact began their careers as messenger boys.
Throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century the telegraph became one of the most important factors in the development of social and commercial life of America. In spite of improvements to the telegraph, however, two new inventions--the telephone (nineteenth century) and the radio (twentieth century)--eventually replaced the telegraph as the leaders of the communication revolution for most Americans.
At the turn of the century, Bell abandoned its struggles to maintain a monopoly through patent suits, and entered into direct competition with the many independent telephone companies. Around this time, the company adopted its new name, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T).
In 1908 AT&T gained control of Western Union. This proved beneficial to Western Union, because the companies were able to share lines when needed, and it became possible to order telegrams by telephone. However, it was only possible to order Western Union telegrams, and this hurt the business of Western Union's main competitor, the Postal Telegraph Company. In 1913, however, as part of a move to prevent the government from invoking antitrust laws, AT&T completely separated itself from Western Union.
Western Union continued to prosper and it received commendations from the U.S. armed forces for service during both world wars. In 1945 Western Union finally merged with its longtime rival, the Postal Telegraph Company. As part of that merger, Western Union agreed to separate domestic and foreign business. In 1963 Western Union International Incorporated, a private company completely separate from the Western Union Telegraph Company, was formed and an agreement with the Postal Telegraph Company was completed. In 1994, Western Union Financial Services, Inc. was acquired by First Financial Management Corporation. In 1995, First Financial Management Corporation merged with First Data Corporation making Western Union a First Data subsidiary.
Many technological advancements followed the telegraph's development. The following are among the more important:
The first advancement of the telegraph occurred around 1850 when operators realized that the clicks of the recording instrument portrayed a sound pattern, understandable by the operators as dots and dashes. This allowed the operator to hear the message by ear and simultaneously write it down. This ability transformed the telegraph into a versatile and speedy system.
Duplex Telegraphy, 1871-72, was invented by the president of the Franklin Telegraph Company. Unable to sell his invention to his own company, he found a willing buyer in Western Union. Utilizing this invention, two messages were sent over the wire simultaneously, one in each direction.
As business blossomed and demand surged, new devices appeared. Thomas Edison's Quadruplex allowed four messages to be sent over the same wire simultaneously, two in one direction and two in the other.
An English automatic signaling arrangement, Wheatstone's Automatic Telegraph, 1883, allowed larger numbers of words to be transmitted over a wire at once. It could only be used advantageously, however, on circuits where there was a heavy volume of business.
Buckingham's Machine Telegraph was an improvement on the House system. It printed received messages in plain Roman letters quickly and legibly on a message blank, ready for delivery.
Vibroplex, c. 1890, a semi-automatic key sometimes called a "bug key," made the dots automatically. This relieved the operator of much physical strain.
Materials in the Archives Center
Additional moving image about Western Union Telegraph Company can be found in the Industry on Parade Collection (AC0507). This includes Cable to Cuba! by Bell Laboratory, AT & T, featuring the cable ship, the C.S. Lord Kelvin, and Communications Centennial! by the Western Union Company.
Materials at Other Organizations
Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware.
Western Union International Records form part of the MCI International, Inc. Records at the First Data Corporation, Greenwood Village, Colorado.
Records of First Data Corporation and its predecessors, including Western Union, First Financial Management Corporation (Atlanta) and First Data Resources (Omaha). Western Union collection supports research of telegraphy and related technologies, and includes company records, annual reports, photographs, print and broadcast advertising, telegraph equipment, and messenger uniforms.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Western Union Telegraph Expedition, 1865-1867
This collection includes correspondence, mostly to Spencer F. Baird, from members of the Scientific Corps of the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, including Kennicott, Dall, Bannister, and Elliott; copies of reports submitted to divisional chiefs from expedition staff members; newspaper clippings concerning the expedition; copies of notes on natural history taken by Robert Kennicott; and a journal containing meteorological data recorded by Henry M. Bannister from March to August, 1866.
Artifacts (apparatus and equipment) were donated to the Division of Information Technology and Society, now known as the Division of Work & Industry, National Museum of American History.
The collection was donated by Western Union in September of 1971.
Collection is open for research.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements must be made to view some of the audio visual materials. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Theodore M. Sullivan (third from left) began his family's military tradition by enlisting in the military on March 28, 1917, during World War I. Sullivan served in the 372nd Infantry Regiment, Company L, Sixth Infantry of Massachusetts. His military record indicates that he was involved in the Battle at Verdun, France before being honorably discharged at the end of the conflict. In the early 1930s Theodore was awarded the Purple Heart by United States Secretary of War George Dern for eleven different wounds sustained in 1918.
The collection is open for unrestricted research. Use requires an appointment.
The Sullivan Family papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
Theodore M. Sullivan (third from left) began his family's military tradition by enlisting in the military on March 28, 1917, during World War I. Sullivan served in the 372nd Infantry Regiment, Company L, Sixth Infantry of Massachusetts. His military record indicates that he was involved in the Battle at Vedun, France before being honorably discharged at the end of the conflict. In the early 1930s Theodore was awarded the Purple Heart by United States Secretary of War George Dern for eleven different wounds sustained in 1918.
The collection is open for unrestricted research. Use requires an appointment.
The Sullivan Family papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
The collection consists of correspondence, invoices, drawings, photographs, and negatives and other printed literature documenting the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from its inception in 1827 to its merger with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in the 1960s.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of correspondence, engineering drawings, notes, photographs, transparencies, negatives, glass plate negatives, printed materials, and newspaper clippings documenting the Baltimore and Ohio railroad from its inception in 1827 to its merger with the Chesapeake and Ohio in the 1960s.
The records are arranged into ten series.
Series 1, Historical Background, 1827-1987
Series 2, Bridge Histories, 1867-1966
Series 3, President's Office, 1826-1880
Series 4, Correspondence, 1826-1859
Series 5, Business Records, 1894-1914, and undated
Series 6, Agreement, 1870
Series 7, Drawings, 1858-1957, and undated
Subseries 7.1, Indices and Lists, 1924-1943, undated
Subseries 7.2, Bailey's Station, 1887; 1899; 1901
Subseries 7.3, Baltimore Belt Railroad, 1895, undated
Subseries 7.4, Bay View and Canton Bridges, 1884-1885
Subseries 9.4, Negatives by location, 1870; 1978-1983
Subseries 9.5, Negatives by subject, 1922-1930s, undated
Series 10, Stations and Buildings, 1884-1982
Biographical / Historical:
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) was the nation's first extensive steam powered railroad. It was founded by Baltimore merchants in 1827 as a means of promoting trade and making Baltimore competitive with other east coast ports. The original intent of the founders was to provide direct and fast access to the Ohio River, and the markets that the river reached. The railroad, however, went beyond the Ohio River and its lines went as far west as St. Louis and Chicago. The B&O was also known for its use of an electric locomotive in the mid 1890s. It also had a completely air conditioned train, and it was a forerunner in the use of diesel-electric locomotives. Company activities paralleled those of other American railroads and over the course of its life included expansion, near bankruptcy, innovations, regulations, and finally buy out. In February 1963, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) completed its purchase of the B&O. Today, B&O is part of the CSX Transportation (CSX) network.
John Work Garrett president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 1858-1884, was born in Baltimore, Maryland July 31, 1820. He was the second son of Elizabeth Stouffer and Robert Garrett. He married Rachel Ann Harrison, the daughter of Thomas Harrison, a Baltimore merchant. They had one daughter, Mary and two sons Robert and Thomas Harrison Garrett.
After attending Lafayette College (Pennsylvania) for two years John W. Garrett left in 1836 to become associated with his father's commission business in Baltimore. The commission house which dealt in wholesale groceries, produce, forwarding and a commission business expanded to establish direct connections with Latin America, seek outlets in Europe and develop its own banking operations. In time its financial operations overshadowed the commission and shipping business.
When John W. Garrett began to invest heavily in Baltimore and Ohio Railroad stock, the road was in competition with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the stock was not popular. Its value rose steadily over the years. Mr. Garrett was elected a director of the railroad in 1855. His report as chairman of a subcommittee on the need for additional funds to complete the line to the Ohio River led to his election to the presidency of the road on November 17, 1858, a position he held for 26 years. New policies with emphasis on economy, personal supervision and gradual expansion were inaugurated and consistently maintained, in spite of a general financial crisis, Mr. Garrett's first year in office showed a net gain in earnings.
Sympathetic to his southern friends during the Civil War, Mr. Garrett nevertheless supported the Union. He recognized the inevitability of Confederate defeat by superior northern resources. Confederate leaders blamed him for their inability to seize Washington and he received warm appreciation for his services to the Union cause from President Lincoln. The railroad stretched along the theater of war and twice crossed Confederate territory. It was, therefore, a main objective for southern attack. Branches were frequently damaged by Confederate raids, but the main line to Washington became important for the transport of troops and supplies. The Baltimore and Ohio carried out the first military rail transport in history and the transfer of 20,000 men from the Potomac to Chattanooga in 1863 was a major triumph for its president.
With the advent of peace Mr. Garrett turned to rebuilding and strengthening the railroad. He replaced equipment and track damaged by the war, then extended the system by securing direct routes to Pittsburgh and Chicago and arranging an independent line into New York. Wharves were built at Locust Point for ocean liners and a system of elevators erected. The B&O. built its own sleeping and dining cars, established hotels in the mountains and created its own express company. By 1880, after battles over rates with other trunk lines, a costly rivalry with the Pennsylvania Railroad over the eastern route and charges of discrimination against local shippers Mr. Garrett was at the height of his success. He cooperated in establishing the B. and 0. Employees Relief Association for accident and life insurance, a hospital system, saving and building funds, and arrangements for improving sanitation in the work place. He was on friendly terms with Johns Hopkins, a trustee of John Hopkins Hospital, and with George Peabody, founder of the Peabody institute of which he was also a trustee. Garrett County, Maryland was named in his honor.
John W. Garrett died on September 26, 1884 within a year of his wife's death in a carriage accident. During his connection with the railroad the stock increased from $57 to $200; at the outbreak of the Civil War the railroad was operating 514 miles of rail, gross earnings were $4,000,097 and net per mile was $4246.1 By 1864 gross earnings were $10,138,876 and net per mile, $7113.2 By the end of his presidency mileage had increased to 1711 miles and net earnings were $4535 per mile.3
1 -- National Cyclopedia of American Biography -- Vol. 18:3
2 -- National Cyclopedia of American Biography -- Vol. 18:3
3 -- National Cyclopedia of American Biography -- Vol. 18:3
Materials at Other Organizations
Maryland Historical Society
Baltimore and Ohio Museum
This collection was donated to the National Museum of American History by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the 1960s.
The collection is open for research use. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs and glass plate negatives with gloves.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Via, Ida Virginia Woods, 1914-2010 -- 20th century Search this
23.1 Cubic feet (70 boxes, 3 map-size folders)
Motion pictures (visual works)
Maryland -- Family farms
Prince George's County (Md.)
Arizona -- Motion pictures
Charles County (Md.) -- Family farms
Calvert County (Md.) -- Family farms
California -- Motion pictures
Bahamas -- Motion pictures
Yosemite National Park (Calif.)
Puerto Rico -- Motion pictures
Washington -- motion pictures
Oregon -- Motion pictures
St. Thomas, V.I. -- Motion pictures
Florida -- Motion pictures
Papers documenting the farming and family life of the Robinson family of Prince George's County and after 1975, Charles County, Maryland. Papers documenting the farming and family of the Via family of Greene County, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Prince George's and Calvert Counties, Maryland, by 1949.
Scope and Contents:
An extensive and comprehensive collection of papers relating to family, farming, and the Southern Maryland tobacco culture, the Robinson and Via Family Papers cover many aspects of family and farm life. The papers are particularly important in regard to the tobacco culture that defined Southern Maryland for generations. The papers concern two distinct family groups, the Robinson and Via families who are connected through the marriage of Franklin A. Robinson and Adina Mae Via. The papers consist of material generated by the Robinson and Via families in their personal and working lives and as farm owners and operators.
The papers are especially strong in 20th century material. They consist of various types of farm records: account books, bills, receipts, tenant farming agreements, ephemera, land rental and purchase agreements, insurance policies, photographs and 8mm and 16mm films of farming practices and procedures, equipment and landscapes, related to the farming of tobacco, small grains, and livestock. The personal records include diaries, letters both personal and business, greeting cards, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, high school yearbooks, baby books, house plans, recipe books, photographs and 8mm films of birthdays, holidays, weddings, baptisms, family occasions, and family travel, oral histories, and funeral ephemera including photographs, and transcription discs. Of particular interest are the "Serenity Farm Tobacco Production Photographs" documenting the crop year 1999-2000 and the films detailing agricultural practices. There is a memorandum book for Black Walnut Thicket, 1885-1901, the Baden farm in Baden, Prince George's County.
This collection includes a comprehensive range of 8mm and 16mm films and photographs documenting farming practices and landscapes as well as family gatherings, birthdays, holidays, and vacations. The researcher is alerted to the fact that in some cases with the memorandum and account books, books printed for a given year were often saved and used for subsequent years, some were dated, some were not.
The collection is divided into seven series arranged by subject and most often chronologically at folder level within each series.
The collection is divided into seven series:
Series 1: Ferndale Farm (Potomac Landing), Prince George's County, Maryland, 1861-1973, undated
Subseries 1.1: Farm papers, bill, and receipts, and publications, 1861-1973, undated
Subseries 1.2: Farm papers, bill, and receipts, 1945-1960, undated
Subseries 1.3: Farm papers, bills, and receipts, 1960-1965, undated
Series 2: Robinson Family, 1845-2017, undated
Subseries 2.1: Family Papers and Publications, 1845-1993, undated
The Robinson family is thought to be of Scottish origin and appear in the records of Prince George's County, Maryland by the early 18th century. The line has been definitively traced to James Robinson (?-1849). James' father was probably Benjamin Robinson (?-1810), of Prince George's County, Maryland. (Will Book TT1, pg. 15, Records of Prince George's County, Maryland, Maryland State Archives (MSA))
James Robinson and Sarah Wynn were issued a marriage license on February 28, 1802 in Prince George's County, Maryland. (Marriage Records of Prince George's County, Maryland) Eleven children lived to maturity (not listed in birth order); Thomas Wells (1803-1869), Ann, Priscilla, James Monroe, Benjamin (1813-1882), John C. (1819-1895), Mary Sophia, Thomas Stanley (1800-1874), Alfred, Sarah Ann, Matilda, and Rebecca Maria.
James worked as overseer for Benjamin Oden on Oden's estate Bellefields near Upper Marlborough, Prince George's County. (Oden Papers, Maryland Historical Society) The Robinsons and their children, moved to Wood County, Virginia (now West Virginia) on April 18, 1818 where James acted as Oden's land agent (Deed Book 6, pg. 123, Land Records of Wood County, West Virginia). They brought with them three slaves described in the above reference as, "Kate a woman 45 years of age very black; Colonel a boy aged 8 years yellow complexion: and George a boy aged six years of a dark brown complexion." They settled on part of what was known as the "Burnt Mill" tract in the general area where the Hughes River meets the Little Kanawha River. (Deed Book 9, pg. 110 and Deed Book 14, pg. 40, Land Records of Wood County)
Thomas Wells Robinson may not have accompanied his family to Virginia as he has a presence in Prince George's County prior to 1822 and was employed as overseer for Benjamin Oden at least until 1832. He married Elizabeth I. Richards on December 15, 1829 (Robinson Family Bible). They had nine children; Richard Thomas (1831 1906), Rebecca Maria (1832-1895), Mary Wynn (1834-1916), James George (1835-1883), Virlinda Victoria (1837-1838), Elizabeth Ann (1839-1916), Sarah Ann Sophia (1840-1874), Franklin Alexander (1841-1905) and John Alfred (1843); seven lived to maturity. (Robinson Family Bible) Elizabeth died on August 17, 1843 from complications in childbirth. She was buried in the churchyard of Page's Chapel (later known as St. Thomas Episcopal Church), Croom, Prince George's County.
In 1843, Thomas purchased the plantation of Dr. Benjamin B. Hodges for $10,000 or approximately $15 an acre. Hodges was a brother-in-law of Benjamin Oden. The deed dated September 7, 1843 describes the parcel as containing, "Six hundred and twenty nine acres of land more or less and constitute that plantation or Estate of the said Benjamin Oden heretofore commonly called "Brown's Quarter Place" being the Land tracts and parcels of land sold by the said Benjamin Oden to the said Benjamin B. Hodges and by deed bearing date the tenth day of December eighteen hundred and thirty five and recorded in Liber AB no. 10 folio 162 also one of the land Records of the County aforesaid". (JBB no. 3 pgs. 312 314, Land Records of Prince George's County) The land was level to rolling bordered on the north by a tributary of Piscataway Creek and generally termed "white oak land". Underlying the whole property was a large strata of gravel and sand. The entire parcel went by the name, Potomac Landing.
Thomas supplemented his land holdings with later purchases. With the exception of twenty acres purchased from Sarah Talbert in 1844, (JBB no. 3 pg. 475, Land Records of Prince George's County) and the purchase of lot #3 consisting of 195 acres, part of the estate of John Townshend in 1856, these purchases were not contiguous to Potomac Landing. By the time of his death in 1869 these non-contiguous parcels had been sold. Thomas sold eighty-six acres of Potomac Landing and Jeffries to Edward Eversfield in October of 1843. (JBB no. 3, pg. 198, Land Records of Prince George's County) On January 13, 1846 Thomas married the widow Martha Ann Walls, daughter of George and Martha Naylor Walls. They had two sons; Benjamin Wells (1848-1849) and Robert Henry (1851-1937).
In addition to his sons, Thomas owned slaves. The number varied from six in 1849 (JBB 6, folio 186, Land Records of Prince Georges' County) to eleven as noted in the census for 1850, and finally six as noted in the census of 1860. The 1867 Maryland Slave Statistics noted that, "at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of Maryland, in the year 1864, . . ." Thomas owned six slaves, their names and ages being; Isaac Franklin age 31, Alfred West age 19, Susan West age 17, Margaret Franklin age 14, Fannie Franklin age 12, and Peter Franklin age 9. All were noted as being in good physical condition. (Prince Georges' County Slave Statistics 1867 1869, C 1307 1, MdHR:6198, page 185, MSA)
In April 11, 1855 Thomas excuted a deed of trust to J.W. & E. Reynolds of Baltimore for securing a loan. At that time the farm was described as, "about five hundred and seventy acres . . . also the following personal property to wit Eight head of horses, nine cows, two mules, twelve work oxen, twenty Eight Sheep, one bull, two colts and all other stock of every description now on the aforesaid land, also the farming utensils and the following named Slaves, Stephen aged Sixty three years, Isaac aged twenty six years, Elvia aged twenty Eight years Alfred aged twelve years, Hanson aged ten years, Henrietta aged twelve years Susanna aged eight years, and Margaret aged three years. Together with the crop of Tobacco now in the house and the crop of wheat now growing." (EWB 1 pages 155 156, Land Records of Prince Georges' County)
Thomas's financial problems began in the mid-1800s when Deeds of Trust appear in the county records securing outstanding loans. In 1856 and 1857 Thomas joined with others as bondsman for his son, Richard who was serving as "Collector of the State and County Taxes" for the 4th collection district, making he and the other signatories liable for any uncollected taxes. This, coupled with poor investments, led to his almost being "sold out" in 1859-1860 by J.W. & E. Reynolds of Baltimore to pay his debts. He executed three drafts on Penn & Mitchell, also of Baltimore, to pay off J.W. & E. Reynolds. (Equity Case #597, Prince Georges' County) Thomas was in poor health and his son James managed the plantation in 1857 and 1858, and again from 1861 to October of 1862 (Equity Case #873, Prince Georges' County)
In October of 1862 Thomas' two sons, James and Franklin, traveled to Richmond to join the Confederate States Army. James enrolled in the 5th Battalion, Local Defense Arsenal and Franklin enrolled in the 5th Virginia Infantry, the Stonewall Brigade. (CSA Military Records, National Archives) James visited home frequently but was captured by the Union Army in St. Mary's County, Maryland on May 15, 1864 and spent the remainder of the war in Point Lookout Prison Camp. He was released on May 14, 1865. Franklin was not able to visit home at all during the war but survived to return home in 1865.
In 1865, Thomas surveyed a parcel of 172 acres for his daughter Rebecca Maria. Rebecca had married her second cousin, William B. Robertson, on November 18, 1855. He made a gift of fifty acres, and Rebecca agreed to purchase the remainder. The Robertsons named this parcel Holly Grove. In Equity Case #849 (1872) filed after Thomas' death, his widow Martha and Samuel H. Berry, as executrix and executor, sought to recover payment for this land. At that time, William B. Robertson described this 172 acres of Potomac Landing: "There was no fences on the line which separated this land from the old gentleman's land, but he was to put a fence on it which he agreed to do before we agreed to come there. The land was thin, unimproved, with gullies and scrubby pine. If witness had been a judge of land he would not have given five dollars for it. All the improvements were one comfortable quarter the other indifferent with a poor oak shingle roof, worn out which made it not tenantable." Further along in his testimony, William gave an account of a conversation, "In a few days my father in law Thos. W. Robinson came to Washington and told me there his children had returned from the South, his two sons, that his debts were small and he was a happy man." Rebecca and William built a house on the property, a side-hall, double parlor plan that most likely her brother James was builder. They also built accompanying farm structures. (Records of Prince George's County, Maryland, Equity Case #849, MSA)
Thomas' son, Franklin, managed the farm after the War. In December 1868 Thomas entered into a sharecropping agreement with Edward Hanson, an African-American. After about a year-long illness, on May 16, 1869, Thomas died, deeply in debt. He was buried beside Elizabeth in the graveyard at St. Thomas' Church. He named as executrix his wife, Martha, and his friend and lawyer, Samuel H. Berry, as executor. His will divided the farm into thirds, one third going to his wife and their son Robert Henry, one third to his son James, and one third to his son Franklin. The land was surveyed according to the will. His personal property was sold but not enough profit was realized to pay off his creditors. The Commissioners of Prince George's County sued the estate on behalf of Thomas' creditors. The outcome was that in 1876 the property was sold at public auction. The Notice of Sale dated September 1, 1876 in the local county newspaper, The Prince Georgian, describes the farm as, "containing 514 2/3 acres More or less. The Improvements consist of a SMALL DWELLING, Three Barns, Stabling, and other necessary outbuildings. It is well wooded and watered, and the soil of fair quality. It has recently been divided into three lots and will be offered in lots, a description of which will be given at the time of sale." The sale was held on September 27, 1876, Lot No. 1 was purchased by Robert for $6.00 an acre, Lot #2 was purchased by Franklin for $5.00 an acre and Lot #3 was purchased by James for $4.00 per acre. Robert and Franklin eventually paid off their mortgage, but James defaulted on his purchase and later moved to St. Mary's County, Maryland. His portion later came to be owned by the Hawkins family, some members who had worked on the Robinson farm. (Equity Case #873, Prince Georges' County, MSA)
Lot #1, purchased by Robert from his fathers' estate, consisted of 177-1/3 acres, including the dwelling and farm buildings. On July 24, 1872, he married Amanda Malvina Baden (1849-1940), daughter of Robert W. G. and Margaret Caroline Early Baden. The Baden and Early families were both prominent south county families. Robert and Amanda had eight children; Caroline Early (1873 1967), Lucy Tennent (1875 1958), Albert Henry (1878 1914), Martha Perry (1880 1961), Robert Gover (1882 1882), Frank Alexander (1883 1970), Margaret Baden (1886 1956) and Grace Malvina (1889 1965).
By 1880 Robert had paid off his debt on the property and was fully engaged in farming. Unlike his father, or perhaps because of his father, Robert did not add to his land holdings, choosing to remain relatively debt free for his lifetime. The only land transactions he participated in were the sales of 79-3/4 acres in 1921 of Amanda's inheritance from her father and her interest in two smaller parcels of her father's land sold in 1894 and 1928 respectively. In 1928 he transferred 3.09 acres to his son Frank.
As late as the Federal census of 1880, Franklin was living with Robert and his household, both men engaged in farming. Sometime after 1880, Franklin took up residence on his part of Potomac Landing. His brother James most likely built the side-hall double parlor house that copied the main house at Potomac Landing. On February 18, 1897, Martha Robinson, died at the age of ninety. She was buried in the graveyyard of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden, Prince George's County.
Robert continued cultivation of tobacco and small grains as his father before him. The first reference to the farm being named Ferndale is found in the "Communion Record" of Robert's daughter, Martha Perry "Pattie", dated 1896. (Robinson and Via Family Papers) The exact origin or reason for this new name is lost but perhaps the name Potomac Landing held such bitter memories of debt and hardship that, as a symbolic break with the past, a new name was found. It also may have simply been a way to distinguish this portion of Potomac Landing from the others. The farm continued to be listed on tax bills as Potomac Landing well into the 20th century, but was known to the general public and businesses as the Ferndale Farm. (Robinson and Via Family Papers)
Robert served as deputy inspector at the State Tobacco Warehouse in Baltimore for eight years under W.B. Bowie. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Brandywine. In July of 1905, Franklin died, a bachelor farmer. He was buried facing south in the graveyard of the Church of the Atonement, Cheltenham, (a chapel in St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish) where he had served as vestryman, treasurer, and cemetery custodian. Franklin died intestate and a lengthy process of dividing his estate began. This resulted in the sale of his part of Potomac Landing (Lot #2) in July 1908 to William E. Boswell. The court declared Robert ineligible for any inheritance due to his being " . . . a brother of the half blood." The Boswell family later sold the property to the Billingsley family of St. Mary's County. (Equity Case 3209, Prince George's County)
In 1910, after living in the farm's original home for approximately sixty seven years, the Robinson family built a new home. It was described in a 1956 insurance policy as, "2 story, frame, metal roof, 16x43, wing 14x28, 9 rooms." (Robinson and Via Family Papers) The house design was a simple Victorian with plastered walls, and lit by carbide gas. Electrical lighting was installed in 1951. The house was built with monies from Robert and Amanda, and their son Frank, who served as builder and contractor.
On Tuesday March 9, 1937, "During a celebration in honor of his wifes birthday anniversary, Mr. Robinson collapsed at the table and died immediately without a word or a sigh." (Robinson and Via Family Papers) Robert was buried beside his mother in the cemetery at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden.
At Robert's death, Ferndale Farm was valued at $30.00 an acre, the total acreage, 174 acres, being valued in the whole at $5,220.00. Robert died intestate, again the fate of the land was in question. He left eight heirs, his widow, Amanda, six of his children and his son Albert Henry's only surviving child, R. Henry Robinson. Rather than have the farm sold and his mother's life disrupted, Frank purchased the estate and personal property from the heirs. Before this could take place, a deed had to be granted the heirs for the property since one had never been recorded after the 1876 sale. Equity case 873 was reopened sixty-two years after its supposed resolution. Frank testified, "over a period of about thirty years I would on a number of occasions, talk about the fact that he had purchased and paid for this property and that a deed had never been executed to him and [he] kept saying he was going to have someone straighten this matter out for him." It was discovered that Robert had fully paid for his part of Potomac Landing. On February 14, 1938 the farm was deeded from Amanda along with Robert''s heirs to Frank. (Book 499, page 334, Land Records of Prince George's County) According to the deed and a 1937 fire insurance policy the farm consisted of 177 1/3 acres, "1 two story dwelling, one tenant house, 1 barrack, 1 tobacco barn, 1 corn house & cow stable, 1 Stable, and 1 Granary & Stable." (Robinson and Via Family Papers)
Frank A. Robinson, now the sole owner of Ferndale Farm, was born August 17, 1883. He learned farming and in addition took up the trade of builder and contractor. As a young man, he worked in the general store of his uncle Robert Baden. He was the contractor for the first Bank of Brandywine and many homes in and around the town of Brandywine, including the home of his cousin Robert E. Baden, DDS. He was secretary of the Building Committee for construction of the Chapel of the Incarnation in Brandywine, a mission chapel for St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish. His success in the building trade gave him disposable income that he invested in land. His first purchase was in August, 1915 of a 2-9/100 acre of land in Brandywine that was being sold by the Board of County School Commissioners; the purchase price was $300. In March 1916 he purchased 38.09 acres of his Uncle Franklin's farm. This property adjoined Ferndale Farm.
Over the next fifty-four years of his life, Frank bought and sold many pieces of real estate. Perhaps his most significant purchases were: 18-1/3 acres purchased from The German American Colonization Land Company of Maryland in October 1915 (Book 115, pg. 140, Land Records of Prince George's County); 147.99 acres purchased from August and Wilhelmina Noltensmeir in December 1917 (Book 129, pg. 263, Land Records of Prince George's County) and 320 acres called the Vineyard purchased from William M. Wilson in March 1928. Frank used these three parcels as collateral for other purchases. Never once did he mortgage Ferndale Farm, insuring that no matter what financial stormy seas might blow, his home was secure. Over the course of his life, especially in the case of the Noltensmeir farm, when cash was needed a parcel of land would be surveyed off and sold. He inherited his grandfather Thomas' love of land but had fortunately developed a shrewd business sense to go along with it.
On November 20, 1929, he married Elizabeth Freeland Bourne, daughter of Joseph Blake and Maria Gantt Bourne of Calvert County, Maryland. They had three children: Mary Elizabeth (1930-2009), Franklin Alexander (1932), and Robert Lee (1935-1997). In addition to his construction business he continued farming, raising tobacco, hay, and small grains. He engaged in sharecropping with tenants on his various properties. He was active in community affairs serving on the Board of The Maryland Tobacco Growers Association (MTGA), the Vestry of St. Thomas Parish, and as sheriff of Brandywine. On January 9, 1940 Amanda Baden Robinson died. She was buried next to her husband at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Baden. In February 1958, Frank and Elizabeth conveyed 1.57 acres of Ferndale Farm to son Franklin where he and his fiancée, Adina M. Via, were building their new home prior to their marriage in July of that same year.
The booming economy and suburbanization of the Washington metropolitan area in the early 1960's led to the high quality gravel lying beneath Ferndale into becoming a valuable commodity. In October 1962, Franklin and his parents granted a three-year lease to William C. Nolte for mining sand and gravel on the Ferndale Farm at .174 per yard. (Book 2747, pg. 11, Land Records of Prince George's County) From now until 1975 when the property was sold, gravel would be mined from under the farm by various companies. In November 1962, Elizabeth and Frank transferred to Franklin the 38.09 acres Frank had purchased from Fitzhugh Billingsley in 1916. (Book 2754, pg. 99, Land Records of Prince George's County) That same year they transferred 6.754 acres, part of the Vineyard, to son Robert and his wife Lois, (Book 2765, pg. 201, Land Records of Prince George's County)
On December 28, 1965, Frank and Elizabeth participated in a land exchange/purchase of the farm of Ralph W. and Cordelia H. Brown located along the Patuxent River in Benedict, Charles County, Maryland. Franklin had rented this farm the year before and was impressed enough by its location and arability to work out a purchase. Frank and Elizabeth traded 65.9920 acres that would eventually become Franklin's under Frank's will. On February 21, 1966 they deeded the Charles County farm to Franklin and Adina. Adina named this property Serenity Farm. The property consisted of 480.66 acres. (Liber 179, page 708 etc., Land Records of Charles County)
On February 5, 1970, after a short illness, Frank died at Cafritz Memorial Hospital. He was buried at St. Paul's Episcopal Church near his parents. In his will, probated March 4, 1970 he left thirty acres of the property purchased from the German American Land Company and A. Noltensmeir to Elizabeth. He willed forty acres of the same parcel to daughter Mary Robinson Conner. The remainder of Ferndale Farm was willed to Franklin and the remaining acreage of the Vineyard was left to Robert Lee.
Franklin Alexander Robinson was born August 13, 1932 at the Garfield Hospital in Washington, D.C.. He received his schooling in the public school system of Prince George's County, graduating from Gwynn Park High School in June 1951. He was a charter member of Gwynn Park's chapter of The Future Farmers of America. He was extremely active in FFA, achieving the Degree of Maryland Farmer in 1950 and their highest award, the Degree of American Farmer at their convention in Kansas City, Missouri in October 1953. He obtained his private pilots license in 1954. He entered the United States Army in February 1955 and went through basic training at Camp Gordon, Augusta, Georgia. After basic training he was transferred to Camp Hanford, Washington State. There he worked part time on the farm of Dick and Theresa Laurent during his off duty hours and began a lifelong friendship with them. He returned home to farming on an agricultural discharge in October of 1956. On July 27, 1958 he married his high school sweetheart, Adina Mae Via, daughter of Robert Milton and Virginia Woods Via. They had three children: Franklin Alexander (1959), Robert David (1962), and Adina Theresa (1963).
Franklin continued expanding and improving the farming operation by modern methods and means. At times, he farmed over one thousand acres, both owned and rented. On February 21, 1966, his parents deeded their purchase of the Ralph W. and Cordelia H. Brown farm in Benedict to he and Adina, later known as Serenity Farm Franklin and Adina engaged an architect to draft house plans for an anticipated new residence. A small A frame vacation home was built on the property so the family could spend weekends there.
On December 14, 1966, after a long illness, Adina died from complications associated with Hodgkin's Disease. She was buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens, Waldorf, Charles County. Franklin married Margaret Walker Lennox (nee Tallen, known as Rita) on August 21, 1970 (Marriage Records of Prince George's County, Maryland). This marriage ended in divorce in 1977. There were no children from this marriage.
On July 14, 1975 the Robinson family, Franklin, his second wife, Margaret, her daughter Margaret W. Lennox, Franklin, Jr., R. David, A. Theresa and Elizabeth B. Robinson, moved to Serenity Farm. On July 17, 1975 Franklin and Elizabeth sold the remaining acreage of Ferndale Farm to Brandywine Sand and Gravel, thus ending 131 years of ownership by the Robinson family. Elizabeth Bourne Robinson died on July 15, 1976 and was buried beside her husband at St. Paul's Church, Baden. Franklin married Hiltrud (Ceddie) Harris (nee Sedlacek) on July 15, 1978. (Robinson Family Bible) This marriage ended in divorce in 1986. There were no children from this marriage. Franklin married Diedre Gale Merhiage on April 19, 1989; this marriage ended in divorce in 1997. There were no children from this marriage. He married Remelda Henega Buenavista on January 13, 2007.
The Robinson family continue day-to-day operations of Serenity Farm. The land is well suited to the growing of tobacco and small grains, which crops, (with the exception of tobacco) along with a flock of sheep, are cultivated there to the present time. After the crop year 2001 the Robinson family took the tobacco buyout program offered by the state of Maryland and ceased growing tobacco. Franklin is active in farming and community affairs having served on the vestry of St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, the Board of Directors of MTGA, the Board of the Production Credit Association, the Boards of three schools, Holy Trinity Day School, Queen Anne School, and Calverton School, and numerous other organizations. Currently the farm consists of approximately 275 acres. In 1981 a state agricultural land preservation district of 222.755 acres was created. This was the first such district in Charles County and one of the first in the state of Maryland.
In 1985, R. David began a greenhouse business for the sale of spring flowering bedding plants and hanging baskets but currently works in conjunction with Farming 4 Hunger to grow produce for local area foodbanks. A. Theresa is involved in the daily running of the farm along with Franklin. Franklin, Jr., obtained a BFA degree in Drama from The Catholic University of America in 1981 and an MA from The American University in Film and Video Production in 1988. He was a civilian employee of the United States Air Force (USAF) from November 1981 to January 1986. He pursued a full time career as a professional actor from 1986-2007 and is a published author and produced playwright. The three siblings have been involved in community affairs, with R. David sitting on the Charles County Agricultural Preservation Board, A. Theresa having served on the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Parish, Charles County, and Franklin, Jr. having served on the vestries of both Trinity Parish and St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, the Board of the Washington Literacy Council, a choir member of the choir at St. Thomas Church, among other church related posts and as chair of the Charles County Historic Preservation Commission.
The Via family traces its origins to the colony of Virginia, where the probable progenitor of the line, Amer Via, a French Huguenot, settled in Manakin Town, Albemarle County between 1670-1700. It is impossible to trace the Via line definitively due to the loss of Virginia county records during the Civil War.
The Via family line covered in this collection can be definitively traced to William Via of Fredericksville Parish, Louisa (later Albemarle) County, Virginia. The William Via family lived west of the present day town of Whitehall at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, an area commonly known as Sugar Hollow. William Via III served in the Virginia Line during the Revolutionary War. He married Mary Craig, daughter of Thomas Craig and Jane Jameson, on March 17, 1784. William died on June 27, 1836, in Albemarle County (Rev. War Pension Appl. 6363, National Archives). His son Thomas married Sally, widow Griffin, on January 1, 1811 (Albemarle County Marriage Records). Their son, Hiram Karl Via (1812-1893), married Harriet Ardenia Naylor by license dated March 7, 1836 (Albemarle County Marriage Records).
Hiram and Harriet's son, Robert St. Clair Via (1844-1925), served as a private in Company I, 7th Virginia Infantry of the Confederate States Army (CSA Military Service Records, National Archives). After the war he married his first cousin, Mary Frances Naylor, daughter of Samuel Chapman Naylor and Eliza Jane Gardner, on April 3, 1866 in Rockingham County (Rockingham County, Virginia, Marriage Records). Sometime between 1870 and 1872, they moved to Linn County, Missouri, and settled about seven miles from the town of Bucklin. Their son, Hiram Chapman Via (1872-1933), was born there. In 1893, the family returned to Virginia, and settled on a farm in Greene County near the town of Stanardsville.
Hiram Chapman Via operated a mill as well as a farm. On March 15, 1899, he married Adina Eleanor Eusebia Runkle, daughter of Milton D. L. Runkle and Roberta A. Beadles (Greene County, Virginia, Marriage Records). They had three children: Bernice Olive (1902-1999), Robert Milton (1906-1983), and Deward Daniel (1909-1977).
Robert moved to Washington, D.C.. In December 1927 he began employment with the Capitol Traction Company as a streetcar conductor (Robinson and Via Family Papers). During the early 1930s, Robert rented a townhouse at 715 A St., SE, where he lived with his sister Bernice V. McMullan and her son, William C. McMullan; his brother and sister in law, and his parents. Next door, at 717, lived the Moses Albright family, including Moses's stepdaughter Ida Virginia Woods (1914-2010), daughter of Jesse Lee Woods (1894-1918) and Donna Mae Barker (1896-1928) of Frederick County, Maryland. Robert and Virginia began a courtship and on September 3, 1932 were married in Frederick, Frederick County, Maryland (Frederick County, Maryland, Marriage Records).
After their marriage, Robert and Virginia lived in various locations in the Washington metropolitan area. Their first child, Robert Delano, was born on March 24, 1933, and their second child, Adina Mae, was born on April 12, 1937. Virginia was employed outside the home while her children were in school. Her first job before her marriage had been with Woolworth's in Martinsburg, WV working the candy counter and then before the birth of her son at The Hecht Company on F St. in Washington, D.C.. After her marriage she worked briefly for the United States Postal Service in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Beginning in the 1950s, she worked for Charles of the Ritz as a receptionist in their beauty salon located in Woodward & Lothrop's F Street store in Washington, D.C.. She also worked as salon manager at the Charles of the Ritz salons in the Woodward & Lothrop stores in Seven Corners, Virginia, and Chevy Chase, Maryland. She retired due to health reasons in 1973.
On September 10, 1941, Robert and Virginia purchased Lot #43 in Woodlane subdivision in Prince George's County. (Book 619, pg. 12, Land Records of Prince George's County) A house was designed for them for this lot by Clyde E. Phillips. They did not construct a home on this property due to the outbreak of World War II. Robert, due to his employment in public transportation, did not serve with the Armed Services in World War II. On October 18, 1946, they purchased approximately thirty acres bordering on Burch's Creek near the towns of Clinton, also know as Surrattsville, and T.B. in Prince George's County from Joseph H. and M. Pauline Blandford. (Book 873, pg. 483, Land Records of Prince George's County) Over the next three years, hiring private contractors, doing work themselves, and with the help of Robert's brother Deward, they built the two story house designed by Phillips in 1941. They moved to the farm from Capitol Heights in 1949. Robert raised hogs, small grains and a crop of tobacco yearly on this farm and also maintained his job with Capitol Transit (formerly Capitol Traction).
In 1954, Robert and Virginia purchased a farm of approximately 150 acres in Island Creek, Calvert County, Maryland. The intention was for Robert and his son to enter into a full time farming operation on expanded acreage. Robert D. Via, known as Delano, graduated from Gwynn Park High School in June 1951. Delano was a part-time farmer and pursued a career as a country and western singer with Bashful Bob and the Rhythm Rangers, he being Bashful Bob. He was employed in various jobs, and began a tour in the Army in 1953. By the time the Via family moved to Calvert County in 1956, he decided to pursue careers other than farming. He eventually traveled and worked in various parts of the United States. He married first Delores Cooper, second Gloria J. Irick, and finally Candice Marinelli in December 1974, they had two children, Robert Marin (1975) and Kirstin Marin (1976).
On June 1, 1956 Robert resigned from his position at Capitol Transit due to health reasons. He and his family moved to the farm in Island Creek, Calvert County where he began full time farming. He and Virginia sold the thirty-acre farm in Prince George's County on June 21, 1956 to Melvin C. and Geraldine H. Rardia. (Book 2003, pg. 564, Land Records of Prince George's County) Virginia continued her employment with Charles of the Ritz. Adina, now a graduate of Gwynn Park High School, was employed by the USAF at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland. They both commuted daily from Calvert County to their places of employment.
Robert farmed in Calvert County, raising hogs, cattle, small grains and tobacco. Over the course of the next twenty-seven years, Robert and Virginia sold smaller parcels off the farm. In 1974, Robert and Virginia built a small retirement home designed for them by Calvert Masonry Contractors. Robert died on December 22, 1983. He was buried beside his daughter Adina in Trinity Memorial Gardens. At the time of Robert's death, the farm consisted of 28.694 acres. In 1998, Virginia deeded the remainder of the farm, then less than six acres, to her grandson, Franklin A. Robinson, Jr. who sold all but a one-acre lot in April 1999.
Virginia continued to live on the farm in Calvert County, maintaining a small herd of cattle. In the fall of 1989 Franklin, Jr. went to live with her. In 1993, the onset of Alzheimer's Disease required her to move to Serenity Farm and take up residence with her granddaughter A. Theresa. Virginia participated in various studies on Alzheimer's Disease conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland beginning in 1992. She was profiled in the September 1997 issue of Washingtonian Magazine. In October of 1998 she moved to All American Senior Care in Brandywine, Maryland and in 1999 she moved to Morningside, an elderly care facility in Waldorf, Maryland. In 2002, she moved to St. Mary's Nursing Center in Leonardtown, Maryland. The remainder of the farm was sold in 1999 and 2002. She died January 14, 2010 and was buried at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Waldorf.
Adina Mae Via was born April 12, 1937 at the Homeopathic Hospital in Washington, D.C.. Adina grew up in Washington, D.C. attending public schools. She moved with her family to the Burch's Creek farm, Prince George's County, in 1949. She enrolled in the Prince George's County school system, and graduated from Gwynn Park High School in June of 1955. After graduation, she was employed by the USAF at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs.
In July of 1956, she moved with her family to the Via farm in Island Creek, Calvert County. On July 27, 1958 she married Franklin A. Robinson at the Chapel of the Incarnation. They had three children: Franklin Alexander (1959), Robert David (1962) and Adina Theresa (1963). In the fall of 1958, she and Franklin took up residence in the home they had built on Ferndale Farm. She resigned from her position with the USAF in 1959.
On December 14, 1966, at Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, Adina died from complications due to Hodgkin's Disease. She had been battling this disease for many years prior to her death. She was buried in Trinity Memorial Gardens, Charles County.
Materials at Other Organizations
The Maryland Historical Society holds items (costume, farming related implements) related to the Robinson and Via families.
Materials at the National Museum of American History
The Division of Work and Industry (Agriculture Collection) holds agricultural implements and artifacts associated with both the Robinson farms and the Via farm; the Division of Home and Community Life holds clothing, textiles (crib quilt), jewelry, cosmetics and Adina M. Robinson's sewing box and dress patterns; (Costume and Textiles Collection). See accession numbers: 1989.0688, 1990.0394, 1991.0010; 1991.0722, 1992.0184, 1992.0283, 1992.0321, 1992.0474, 1992.3106, 1994.0064, 1994.0304, 1997.0327, 1998.0038, 1998.0129, 2001.0196, 2002.0087, 2003.0015, 2005.0009.
Division of Armed Forces History (National Numismatics Collection) holds the Robert M. Via Trolley Token Collection.
The collection was donated to the National Museum of American History, Archives Center, by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., in November 1993.
Unrestricted research use on site to portions of collection, but some papers of living persons are restricted. Access to restricted portions may be arranged by request to donor. Gloves required for unprotected photographs. Viewing film portions of the collection and listening to LP recording requires special appointment.
The Archives Center does not own exclusive rights to these materials. Copyright for all materials is retained by the donor, Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.; permission for commercial use and/or publication may be requested from the donor through the Archives Center. Military Records for Franklin A. Robinson (b. 1932) and correspondence from Richard I. Damalouji (1961-2014) are restricted; written permission is needed to research these files. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The Cleve Gray papers, 1933-2005, measure 9.2 linear feet. Papers include biographical material, alphabetical files, writings, artwork, audio/visual records, artifacts, printed material, and photographs. Extensive alphabetical files contain personal and professional correspondence as well as subject files relating to projects and interests. Especially well-documented are: Gray's involvement with the Vietnam protest movement; and Threnody, his best-known work composed of fourteen large panels lamenting the dead of both sides sides in Vietnam, commissioned by the Neuberger Museum of Art.
Scope and Content Note:
The Cleve Gray papers, 1933-2005, measure 9.2 linear feet. Papers include biographical material, alphabetical files, writings, artwork, audio/visual records, artifacts, printed material, and photographs. Extensive alphabetical files contain personal and professional correspondence as well as subject files relating to projects and interests. Especially well-documented are: Gray's involvement with the Vietnam movement; and Threnody, his best-known work composed of fourteen large panels lamenting the dead of both sides sides in Vietnam, commissioned by the Neuberger Museum of Art.
Among the biographical material are award and membership certificates, biographical notes, and personal documentation.
The alphabetical files contain Cleve Gray's personal and professional correspondence, as well as subject files relating to projects and interests. Correspondence is with friends and family, colleagues, publishers, museum curators and directors, art dealers, collectors, and fans. Among the correspondents of note are: Jacques Barzun, James E. Davis, Naum Gabo, Louise N. Grace, Hans and Fridel Richter, and Jacques and Gaby Villon. Other substantial correspondence includes: Berry-Hill Galleries, Betty Parsons Gallery, Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Jacques Seligmann and Co., Neuberger Museum of Art, Pratt Institute, Princeton University, and Rhode Island School of Design. Subject files mostly consist of correspondence, but include printed material and some photographs. Among the subject files are: Art Collection of Cleve and Francine Gray, Artist-Dealer Consignments and Visual Artists' Rights Act of 1989, Artists' Tax Equity Act of 1979, Promised Gifts to Museums, Threnody, Vestments, and Vietnam Protest. Of particular interest are files relating to the Estate of Hans Richter (Cleve Gray, executor), and Gray's research correspondence and illustrations for his Cosmopolitan article "Women-Leaders of Modern Art."
Writings are manuscripts and drafts, research materials, notes, and miscellaneous writings by Cleve Gray and other authors. Those by Gray include articles and catalog introductions on a wide range of art-related topics, as well as book and exhibition reviews. Also found are a book proposal, texts and notes for lectures and talks, miscellaneous notes, poems, political statements, and student papers. Of particular interest are autobiographical notes in the form of a chronology that his biographer, Nicholas Fox Weber, cited as an "autochronology."
Among the writings by other authors are pieces about Cleve Gray including Nicholas Fox Weber's manuscript Cleve Gray. A significant amount of material relates to three books edited by Gray: David Smith by David Smith: Sculpture and Writings, Hans Richter, and John Marin. Research material survives for an unpublished volume, Naum Gabo. Also included are notes relating to his translation of A l'Infinitif by Marcel Duchamp. Jane Daggett Dillenberger is represented by a lecture, "The Resurrection in Art." The remaining items by other authors are unsigned; of particular interest is a small notebook of reminiscences and notes about Jackson Pollock.
Artwork by Cleve Gray consists mostly drawings and sketches, and a small number of paintings, prints, and watercolors. Works by other artists consist are an unsigned mobile of paper cut-outs, possibly by Alexander Calder, and a pencil drawing signed Dick (probably Richard Avedon).
Audio recordings are a radio broadcast featuring Cleve Gray, several lectures by Gray on John Marin, and a lecture titled "Meaning in the Visual Arts." Other recordings are of Hans Richter and an interview with Jimmy Ernst conducted by Francine du Plessix Gray. Also found is a videocassette of "Glenville School Students at SUNY (Lincoln Center Activity)."
Artifacts are a Chinese scroll representative of those that hung in Cleve Gray's studio, two of his paintbrushes, Aberdeen-Angus Breeders' Association blue ribbon, and Neuberger Museum of Art Lifetime Achievement Award.
The vast majority of printed material - articles, clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, reproductions of art work, etc. - are about or by Cleve Gray. Miscellaneous items and publications mentioning Gray consist of annual reports, brochures, calendars, newsletters, programs, etc. Clippings about Vietnam and Vietnam protest memorabilia reflect his passionate involvement in the anti-war movement; a small number of these items mention Gray or were written by him.
Photographs are of artwork, events, people, places, and miscellaneous subjects. Most of the art work appearing in the photographs is by Cleve Gray and includes images of destroyed paintings. Also found is an original print of Photo Abstraction by Gray, circa 1934. Of particular note are photographs of Threnody, among them preparatory drawings and views of the work in progress. Photographs of artwork by other artists include Louise N. Grace, Jacques Lipchitz, John Marin, Hans Richter, and Jacques Villon.
Photographs of people are mainly portraits of Gray, and views of him with his wife and sons. Other individuals appearing in photographs are Hans Richter and some of Richter's descendants. Pictures of places consist of Gray's studio.
Events are an unidentified exhibition opening. Miscellaneous subjects are mostly exhibition installations. Illustrations consist of photographs published in David Smith by David Smith: Sculpture and Writings. Also found are small number of negatives and color transparencies.
The collection is organized into 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1943-circa 2001 (Box 1; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 2: Alphabetical Files, 1936-2005 (Boxes 1-5, 9; 4.3 linear ft.)
Series 3: Writings, 1935-2000 (Boxes 5-6; 0.85 linear ft.)
Series 4: Artwork, circa 1933-1987 (Boxes 6, 9, OV 12; 0.45 linear ft.)
Series 5: Audio/Visual Records, 1971-1989 (Box 6; 0.25 linear ft.)
Series 6: Artifacts, 1957-1999 (Box 6, RD 11; 0.45 linear ft.)
Series 7: Printed Material, 1933-2005 (Boxes 7-8; 1.25 linear ft.)
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1934-2002 (Boxes 8-10; 1.15 linear ft.)
Abstract Expressionist painter, sculptor, and writer Cleve Gray (1918-2004) lived and worked in Connecticut where he was politically active in the Vietnam protest movement and other liberal causes.
Born Cleve Ginsberg in New York City (the family changed its name to Gray in 1936), he attended the Ethical Culture School and at a young age developed a fascination with color and paint. At the urging of friends, Cleve's parents allowed him to accompany a school friend for lessons with George Bellows' student Antonia Nell. She encouraged and inspired the young artist, and a still life he painted in her class was shown at the National Academy of Design's 1932 annual exhibition. Miss Nell also introduced him to Louise N. Grace, an artist who became a good friend and had a lasting influence on him. While a student at Phillips Academy, Cleve studied painting with Bartlett Hayes and aspired to paint in France. Upon his graduation in 1936, he was awarded the Samuel F. B. Morse Prize for most promising art student.
Gray's mother was always supportive of his career choice. His businessman father, who didn't understand his son's desire to be an artist, insisted on a college education. Cleve chose Princeton, where he majored in art and archaeology, and studied painting with James E. Davis. His senior thesis was on Chinese landscape painting; both Eastern philosophy and art were long-term influences on Gray's work and outlook. He graduated summa cum laude in 1940, and then spent several months painting while living at the farm of a family friend in Mendham, New Jersey.
When a doctor suggeted that a dry climate might relieve sinus and asthma problems, Gray moved to Tucson, Arizona. Once settled in the desert, he contacted Louise N. Grace, whom he had met as a young teenager through his art instructor. Miss Grace, an artist and daughter of the founder of W. R. Grace and Co., was a highly cultured and independent woman older than his parents. The summer before Gray entered Phillips Academy, she had hired him to brush ground color onto canvases for murals she was painting for "Eleven Arches," her home in Tuscon then under construction. Miss Grace invited Gray to visit "Eleven Arches" to see the completed murals, and despite the substantial age difference, their friendship deepened; Gray found in her intellectual and spiritual guidance that was lacking in his own family. He remained in Tucson until enlisting in the U. S. Army in 1942, and they corresponded frequently during the the war. When a stroke in 1948 prevented Miss Grace from participating in the extensive tour of Europe she was arranging for a small group of friends, including Gray, she provided sufficient funds and insisted he make the trip on his own. Another stroke, suffered while Gray was traveling, left her in a coma; he was not permitted to see her again. Upon her death in 1954, Gray inherited "Eleven Arches."
Between 1943 and 1946, Gray was stationed in England, France, and Germany, serving in Army Signal Intelligence. Most of his work was performed at night, and he spent his free time drawing. While in London, Gray produced many colored pencil drawings of buildings that had been bombed. In France, a Red Cross volunteered to introduce him to Jacques Villon; although unfamiliar with the artist, Gray knew of Villon's brother, Marcel Duchamp, and accepted the invitation. Jacques and Gaby Villon lived near Gray's billet and he became a frequent visitor. Their friendship was important to his development as an artist. After being discharged from the Army in 1946, Gray remained in France to work with Villon who introduced him to the study of color and the concept of intellectual quality in painting. Gray also studied informally with André Lhote, Villon's former teacher. "American Painters in Paris," an exhibition presented in 1946 at Galerie Durand-Ruel, included work by Cleve Gray.
He returned to New York City in 1946. In the tight post-war rental market Gray managed to find a small room upstairs from a grocery store on East 106th Street for use as a studio. He commenced painting the London Ruins series based on drawings he had made during the war, and began thinking about exhibiting in New York. Gray secured introductions to Pierre Matisse, Curt Valentin, and Dorothy Miller. They encouraged him, but no opportunities came his way until Germain Seligmann, whose gallery was expanding its scope to include contemporary art, followed the advice of Curt Valentin and looked at Gray's work. Gary's first solo exhibition, held at Jacques Seligmann and Co., included selections from the London Ruins series, paintings done in Maine and Arizona, and a few portraits. The New York Times called it "an auspicious first," and one of the London Ruins series was selected by Edward Alden Jewell for the "Critic's Exhibition" at Grand Central Gallery.
Gray found New York City too frenetic. In 1949 he bought a large, old house in Warren, Connecticut, and lived and worked at "Graystones" for the remainder of his life. Half of a 6-car garage was converted to a studio; many years later, his studio moved to a barn, its renovation and design planned by sculptor and architect Tony Smith.
He married Francine du Plessix in 1957. Always interested in literature and philosophy, in the 1960s Francine du Plessix Gray began contributing articles to The New Yorker and is still affiliated with the magazine. Her reviews and articles appeared in prominent publications, and she wrote several award-winning novels and biographies. Their sons, Thaddeus and Luke (now a painter), were born in 1959 and 1961. Francine's mother, Tatiana du Plessix (the hat designer Tatiana of Saks), and step-father, the sculptor Alexander Liberman (also former art director of Vogue and later editorial director of Condé Nast publications) became Cleve Gray's closest friends.
The paintings and drawings of Cleve Gray - first consisting of figures and portraits, and then abstract compositions - were often produced in series. The earliest series, London Ruins, grew from the colored pencil drawings made while stationed in London during World War II. Travels to France, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Hawaii, Spain, Egypt, Japan, and Czechoslovakia, inspired many series, among them: Etruscan, Augury, Ceres, Demeter Landscape, Hera, Morocco, Hawaii, Ramses, Perne, Hatshepsut, Roman Walls, Zen, and Prague. His hometown, the Holocaust, and musicians inspired other series: Warren, Sleepers Awake!, Bela Bartok, and Four Heads of Anton Bruckner. Some series were works on paper, others were collage canvases, and a few series later spawned prints. Gray began using acrylics in the 1940s. Although the medium offered many benefits, he did not always like its appearance and frequently returned to oils. Around 1966 Gray was painting almost exclusively with acrylic, and eventually developed a technique of thinning the paint and applying successive layers of color (sometimes by pouring or with a sponge) on cotton duck rather than traditional canvas.
Gray was attracted to sculpture, too, working in that medium at different points in his career. His first sculpture, in plaster, was completed in 1959. In the early 1960s he visited a commercial sand-casting foundry and became excited about learning to cast in bronze. He made about a dozen sculptures to cast in sand, but due to too much undercutting, their casting became too difficult a problem. Lava flows seen while in Hawaii during 1970 and 1971 inspired a return to sculpture. This time, he used wood, papier maché, and metal. Gray then decided these pieces should be cast in bronze, and he was determined to do it himself. Friends taught him the lost wax process and he began working at the Tallix Foundry in Peekskill, New York where, over the next year, he cast about forty bronzes.
Gray's best known work is Threnody, a lament for the dead of both sides in Vietnam. In 1972, Gray received a commission to fill a very large gallery of the soon-to-open Neuberger Museum of Art (State University of New York, College at Purchase) designed by Philip Johnson. Friends of the Neuberger Museum paid his expenses and Gray, who was enormously excited about the project he considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, donated his time. Developing plans for the execution of Threnody consumed most of his time during 1972 and 1973. Composed of a series of fourteen panels, each approximately twenty feet square, the piece presented a number of technical challenges. It was constructed and painted in situ during the summer and early fall of 1973. Since then, Threnody has been reinstalled at the Neuberger Museum of Art on several occasions.
Gray was commissioned to design liturgical vestments for two Episcopal churches in Connecticut in the 1970s. A chasuble, stoles, and a mitre were commissioned by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut in 1984.
He won the "Outdoor Art at the Station Competition," for Union Station, Hartford, Connecticut. His very large porcelain enamel tile mural, Movement in Space, was installed on the façade of the transportation center in 1988.
Gray began writing occasional articles and exhibition reviews in the late 1940s. His concern with rational structure in art led him to question Abstract Expressionism and write "Narcissus in Chaos." This article, published in 1959 by The American Scholar, drew considerable attention. In 1960, Cosmopolitan published "Women - Leaders of Modern Art" that featured Nell Blaine, Joan Brown, Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Sonia Gretchoff, Grace Hartigan, Ethel Magafan, Louise Nevelson, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Between 1960 and 1970, Gray was a contributing editor of Art In America, producing numerous articles (a few co-authored with Francine) and reviews for the periodical. He edited three books, David Smith by David Smith: Scupture and Writings, Hans Richter, and John Marin, all published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, and translated Marcel Duchamp's A l'Infinitif.
During the early 1960s, Gray became intensely focused on the situation in Vietnam. His first artistic response came in 1963 with Reverend Quan Duc, painted to commemorate a Buddhist monk who had immolated himself. Francine, too, felt strongly about the issue and over time the couple became increasingly active in the anti-war movement. They joined a number of organizations and helped to found a local chapter of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The years 1968 and 1969 were an especially intense and active period for the Grays. They protested, wrote and spoke out against the war, raised funds to support anti-war political candidates, and on a few occasions were arrested and jailed. Writing for Art in America, editing the book series, and anti-war activities left little time for his art. In 1970 Gray refocused his attention on painting.
Beginning in 1947, Gray was always represented by a New York Gallery: Jacques Seligmann and Co. (1947-1959), Staempfli Gallery (1960-1965), Saidenberg Gallery (1965-1968), Betty Parsons Gallery (1968-1983), Armstrong Gallery (1984-1987), and Berry-Hill Galleries (1988-2003). He was represented by galleries in other cities, as well, but not as consistently or for such long periods.
He exhibited extensively in group and solo exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally. In addition to numerous solo exhibitions presented by the dealers who represented Gray, there were retrospective exhibitions at: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Brooklyn Museum, Columbus Museum of Art, Krannert Art Museum (University of Illinois, Champaign), Princeton University Art Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, and Wadsworth Atheneum.
Many museums' permanent collections include the work of Cleve Gray, among them: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Butler Institute of American Art, Columbus Museum of Art, Neuberger Museum of Art (SUNY, College at Purchase), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Newark Museum, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Phillips Collection, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery (University of Nebraska, Lincoln), Smithsonian Institution, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Yale University Art Gallery.
Cleve Gray served as artist-in-residence at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in 1963 and at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in 1970, both sponsored by Ford Foundation programs. In 1980, he was appointed an artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome, where Francine concurrently served as a writer-in-residence; they returned for shorter periods during each of the subsequent seven years. Cleve Gray was presented the Connecticut Arts Award in 1987, and the Neuberger Museum of Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Hartford in 1992, and was elected a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1998. In addition, he was a trustee of the Neuberger Museum of Art, New York Studio School, Rhode Island School of Design, and Wadsworth Atheneum.
Cleve Gray hit his head and suffered a massive subdural hematoma after falling on ice outside of his home. He died the following day, December 8, 2004.
Exhibition catalogs and announcements and two scrapbooks donated to the Archives in 1967 and 1968 were microfilmed on reels D314-D315. Items on reel D315, transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum Library in 1975, are not described in this finding aid.
The Cleve Gray papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Mr. Gray in 1967 and 1968. The bulk of the collection was given by his widow, Francine du Plessix Gray, in 2007 and 2008.
Use of original material requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordigs with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Cleve Gray papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Electricity and Modern Physics, Division of, NMAH, SI. Search this
220 Cubic feet (700 boxes)
The collection forms a documentary record of over half a century of the history of radio, with the greatest emphasis on the period 1900-1935. The collection includes materials that span the entire history of the growth of the radio industry. It is useful for those historians and other researchers interested in technological development, economic history, and the impact of applications of technology on American life.
Scope and Contents:
The materials accumulated in this collection represent the overriding collecting passion of one individual, George H. Clark. The collection forms a documentary record of over half a century of the history of radio, with the greatest emphasis on the period 1900-1935.
The collection includes materials that span the entire history of the growth of the radio industry. It is useful for those historians and other researchers interested in technological development, economic history, and the impact of applications of technology on American life.
In particular, the collection is rich in biographical information on the men who developed the technical aspects of radio and the industry; information on the inception, growth, and activities of radio companies, most notably the National Electric Signaling Company and RCA; and in photographs of all aspects of Radioana.
While most materials document technical aspects of radio, there is much information (e.g. Series 109, 134) on broadcasting and on the early history of television.
The collection, housed in over 700 boxes (about 276 linear feet), was organized into 259 numbered "classes" or series by Clark. Sixty series numbers were never used or were eliminated by Clark and combined with other series. The unused numbers are scattered throughout the filing system. The collection also includes material from series that were eliminated. These materials were never reclassified and are included as an unprocessed series at the end of the series descriptions. The collection also contains material that was never assigned a "class" designation by Clark (Lettered Series: D, E, F, G, H).
The arrangement of the collection is Clark's own; his adaptation of the Navy filing system he helped devise in 1915. Clark periodically revised the filing system and reclassified items within it.
Clark assigned class numbers to types of equipment (e.g. broadcast receivers), systems (impulse-excited transmitters and systems), scientific theories (circuit theory), and topics (company history, biography). Box 1 contains descriptions of the classification system.
When Clark classified an item and filed it he also assigned a serial number. This classification begins with 1 (or 1A) for the first item in the class and continues with successive numbers as items were added. As a consequence, the order of individual items within a series reflects the order in which Clark filed them, not any logical relationship between the items. Clark created cross references for items dealing with more than one subject by making notations on blank sheets of paper placed in related series.
Clark made cross references between series when there was no logical relationship between them; that is, when a person using the collection would not normally look in the series. For example no cross reference would be made of an engineer from series 87 (portraits) to series 4 (biography), but one would be made from series 87 to series 142 (history of television) if the item showed the engineer, say, working on a television installation.
Clark created the insignia "SRM" as the sign on the bottom of all sheets of paper numbered by him for binding. SRM stood for Smithsonian Radio Museum. This replaced the earlier though not greatly used sign "CGM." For a time about 1930, the class number on each sheet was preceded by these: "C.G.M.", for Clark, Martin, and Goldsmith, the earliest contributors to what would become the Clark Radioana Collection. After about 1933-34 Clark used C.W.C. for Clark Wireless Collection.
There are many photographs located in most series throughout the collection. But there are also three exclusive photographic series. Lettered series A, B, C. See index; and also series descriptions under lettered series.
The collection is divided into 223 series.
Numbered Series 1-233:
Series 1, Library Operating System, 1915-1950
Series 2, Apparatus Type Numbers, 1916-1931
Series 3, Photographic Lists, 1925-1928
Series 4, Biographies of Radio Personages, Technical Index to Correspondents in Series 4
Series 5, History of Radio Companies, 1895-1950
De Forest Radio Company, 1905-1930s
Jenkins Televsion Corporation, 1924-1931
Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, 1908-1929
National Electric Signaling Company, 1896-1941
Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company, 1906-1929
Radio Corporation of America, 1895-1950
Series 6, Shore Stations, 1900-1940
Series 7, Marine Stations, 1900-1930s
Series 8, Broadcasting Stations, 1910s-1940s
Series 9, Amateur Stations, 1910s-1940s
Series 10, Miscellaneous Information, 1911-1914
Series 11, Radio Antiques, 1921-1938
Series 13, Specifications of Radio Apparatus, 1910s-1930s
Series 14, General History, 1899-1950s
Series 15, Radio Companies Catalogues & Bound Advertisements, 1873-1941
Series 16, Log Books, 1902-1923
Series 17, Radio Companies' House Organs, 1896-1942
Series 18, Prime Movers, 1904-1911
Series 19, Batteries, 1898-1934
Series 20, Rectifiers, 1875-1935
Series 21, Motor Generators, 1898-1936
Series 22, Nameplates of Apparatus, 1928
Series 23, Switchboards and Switchboard Instruments, 1910-1935
Series 24, Radio Frequency Switches, 1905-1905-1933
Series 25, Transmitter Transformers, 1893-1949
Series 26, Operating Keys, 1843-1949
Series 27, Power Type Interrupters, 1902-1938
Series 28, Protective Devices, 1910-1925
Series 30, Message Blanks, 1908-1938
Series 31, Transmitter Condensers, 1849-1943
Series 32, Spark Gaps, 1905-1913
Series 33, Transmitter Inductances, 1907-1922
Series 34, Transmitter Wave Changers, 1907-1924
Series 37, ARC Transmitters, 1907-1940
Series 38, Vacuum Tube Type of Radio Transmitter, 1914-1947
Series 39, Radio Transmitter, Radio-Frequency, Alternator Type, 1894-1940
Series 41, Vacuum Tubes, Transmitting Type, 1905-1948
Series 43, Receiving Systems, 1904-1934
Series 45, Broadcast Receivers, 1907-1948
Series 46, Code Receivers, 1902-1948
Series 47, Receiving Inductances, 1898-1944
Series 48, Receiving Condensers, 1871-1946
Series 49, Audio Signal Devices, 1876-1947
Series 50, Detectors, 1878-1944
Series 51, Amplifiers, 1903-1949
Series 52, Receiving Vacuum Tubes, 1905-1949
Series 53, Television Receivers, 1928-1948
Series 54, Photo-Radio Apparatus, 1910-1947
Series 59, Radio Schools, 1902-1945
Series 60, Loudspeakers, 1896-1946
Series 61, Insulators, 1844-1943
Series 62, Wires, 1906-1945
Series 63, Microphones, 1911-1947
Series 64, Biography, 1925-1948
Series 66, Antennas, 1877-1949
Series 67, Telautomatics, 1912-1944
Series 69, Direction Finding Equipment, Radio Compasses, 1885-1948
Series 71, Aircraft Transmitters, 1908-1947
Series 72, Field or Portables Transmitters, 1901-1941
Series 73, Mobile Radio Systems, 1884-1946
Series 74, Radio Frequency Measuring Instruments, 1903-1946
Series 75, Laboratory Testing Methods and Systems, 1891-1945
Series 76, Aircraft Receivers, 1917-1941
Series 77, Field Portable Receivers, 1906-1922
Series 78, Spark Transmitter Assembly, 1909-1940
Series 79, Spark Transmitter System, 1900-1945
Series 82, Firsts in Radio, undated
Series 85: Distance Records and Tests, 1898-1940
Series 87, Photographs of Radio Executives, and Technical Types, 1857-1952
Series 90, Radio Terms, 1857-1939
Series 92, Static Patents and Static Reducing Systems, 1891-1946
Series 93, Low Frequency Indicating Devices, 1904-1946
Series 95, Articles on Radio Subjects, 1891-1945
Series 96, Radio in Education, 1922-1939
Series 98, Special Forms of Broadcasting, 1921-1943
Series 99, History of Lifesaving at Sea by Radio, 1902-1949
Series 100, History of Naval Radio, 1888-1948
Series 101, Military Radio, 1898-1946
Series 102, Transmitting & Receiving Systems, 1902-1935
Series 103, Receiving Methods, 1905-1935
Series 108, Codes and Ciphers, 1894-1947
Series 109, Schedules of Broadcasting & TV Stations, 1905-1940
Series 112, Radio Shows and Displays, 1922-1947
Series 114, Centralized Radio Systems, 1929-1935
Series 116, United States Government Activities in Radio, 1906-1949
Series 117, Technical Tables, 1903-1932
Series 120, Litigation on Radio Subjects, 1914-1947
Series 121, Legislation, 1914-1947
Series 122, History of Radio Clubs, 1907-1946
Series 123, Special Applications of Radio Frequency, 1924-1949
Series 124, Chronology, 1926-1937
Series 125, Radio Patents & Patent Practices, 1861-1949
Series 126, Phonographs, 1894-1949
Series 127, Piezo Electric Effect, 1914-1947
Series 128, ARC Transmitting & Reciving Systems, 1904-1922
Series 129, Spark Systems, 1898-1941
Series 130, Vacuum Tubes Systems, 1902-1939
Series 132, Radiophone Transmitting & Receiving System, 1906-1947
Series 133, Photo-Radio, 1899-1947
Series 134, History of Radio Broadcasting, 1908-
Series 135, History of Radiotelephony, Other Than Broadcasting
Series 136, History of Amateur Radio
Series 138, Transoceanic Communication
Series 139, Television Transmitting Stations
Series 140, Radio Theory
Series 142, History of Television
Series 143, Photographs
Series 144, Radio Publications
Series 145, Proceedings of Radio Societies
Series 146: Radio Museums
Series 147, Bibliography of Radio Subjects and Apparatus
Series 148, Aircraft Guidance Apparatus
Series 150, Audio Frequency Instruments
Series 151, History of Radio for Aircrafts
Series 152, Circuit Theory
Series 154, Static Elimination
Series 161, Radio in Medicine
Series 162, Lighting
Series 163, Police Radio
Series 169, Cartoons
Series 173, Communications, Exclusive of Radio (after 1895)
Series 174, Television Methods and Systems
Series 182, Military Portable Sets
Series 189, Humor in Radio (see Series 169)
Series 209, Short Waves
Series 226, Radar
Series 233, Television Transmitter
Series A, Thomas Coke Knight RCA Photographs, circa 1902-1950
Series B, George H. Clark Collection of Photographs by ClassSeries C, Clark Unorganized and/or Duplicate Photographs
Series D, Miscellaneous
Series E, News Clippings Series F: Radio Publications
Series G, Patent Files of Darby and Darby, Attorneys, circa 1914-1935
Series H, Blank Telegram Forms from many Companies and Countries Throughout the World
Series I (eye), Miscellaneous Series
Series J, Research and Laboratory Notebooks
Series K, Index to Photographs of Radio Executives and Technical Types
Series L, Index to Bound Volumes of Photos in Various Series
Series M, Index to David Sarnoff Photographs
Series N, Federal Government Personnel Files
Series O, Addenda Materials
Biographical / Historical:
George Howard Clark, born February 15, 1881, at Alberton, Prince Edward Island, Canada, emigrated to the United States at the age of fourteen. He worked as a railroad telegraph operator for the Boston and Maine Railroad during high school and college. In his unpublished autobiography he wrote:
In 1888, when I was a lad of seven, I suddenly blossomed out as a scrapbook addict, and for years I gave up boyhood games for the pleasure of sitting in a lonely attic and 'pasting up' my books ... By 1897, in high school, I graduated to beautiful pictures, and made many large size scrapbooks ... Around that time, too, I became infatuated with things electrical, and spent many evenings copying in pen and ink the various electrical text books in the Everett, Mass., Public Library. Clark began collecting material pertaining to wireless or radio in 1902. In 1903 he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. During his last year of college he specialized in radio work under the instruction of Professor John Stone Stone and after graduation went to work for Stone's radio company, the Stone Telegraph and Telephone Company, of Boston.
In 1908 Clark took a competitive examination open to all wireless engineers in the United States and entered the civilian service of the Navy. He was stationed at the Washington Navy Yard, with special additional duty at the Navy's Bureau of Steam Engineering and at the National Bureau of Standards.
In 1915 Clark helped devise a classification system for Navy equipment, assigning a code number to each item. This system of classification for blueprints, photographs, reports, and general data, was prepared by Arthur Trogner, Guy Hill, and Clark, all civilian radio experts with the US Navy Department in Washington. In 1918 Clark adopted the 1915 Navy classification system for organizing the radio data he was accumulating. Clark created the term "Radioana" at this time. He began spending his evenings and weekends pasting up his collection and numbering pages. At this time he bound the accumulated material. It totaled 100 volumes.
In July 1919, after resigning from the Navy, Clark joined the engineering staff of the Marconi Telegraph Company of America, which became part of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) later the same year. His first work was at Belmar and Lakewood, New Jersey, assisting the chief engineer, Roy A. Weagant, in his development of circuits to reduce the interference caused by static (static reduction). Clark and his wife were assigned to the unheated Engineer's Cottage. His wife decided not to stay and left for Florida. Clark moved his trunks of wireless material to the heated RCA hotel at Belmar and spent most of the winter "pasting." As Clark mentions, "From that time on I was wedded to scraps."
After a year of work in New Jersey, Clark was assigned to the sales department in New York, where he devised the "type number system" used by RCA. This type number system, for example, gave the designation UV 201 to the company's first amplifier tube.
From 1922 to 1934 Clark was in charge of RCA's newly created Show Division, which held exhibits of new and old radio apparatus at state fairs, department stores, and radio shows. About 1928 Clark started an antique radio apparatus museum for RCA. RCA's board of directors announced:
Recognizing the importance of providing a Museum for the Radio Art to house the rapidly disappearing relics of earlier days, and the desirability of collecting for it without further delay examples of apparatus in use since the inception of radio, the Board of Directors of RCA has made an initial appropriation of $100,000, as the nucleus of a fund for the establishment of a National Radio Museum. A plan for ultimately placing the museum under the wing of the Smithsonian Institution was coupled with the goal of the Institution's gathering the largest possible library of wireless data.
Around 1933 the RCA traveling exhibition program ended and Clark started classifying his collected "radioana" material. The objects of the museum were eventually turned over for exhibit purposes to the Rosenwald Museum in Chicago and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, when space was not forthcoming at the Smithsonian. A list of objects sent to the two museums (with tag and case numbers) is in Series 1, Box A. The "radioana" collection remained under Clark's care during the 1930s, and became of increasing use to RCA. Clark continued to add to the material.
Between 1934 and 1942 Clark was in court many times regarding patent infringements. Clark's wireless data was useful and he testified frequently, for example, in RCA's suit against the United States in the Court of Claims over the Marconi tuning patents and in the Westinghouse Company's suit against the United States over the heterodyne. Patent specifications and material regarding these and other radio industry suits are found throughout this collection.
In 1946 RCA retired George Clark and denied him space to house his "radioana" collection. Clark wished to remain in New York and house the collection somewhere in the city where it would be open at all times to the public and where it would be maintained. He hoped to continue cataloguing the collection and writing books from its information. He wanted to keep the collection under his control for as long as he was capable of using it.
George H. Clark died in 1956 and his collection was subsequently given to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1959 the collection was given to the Smithsonian's new Museum of History and Technology, where space was available to house it. The collection remained in the Division of Electricity until the spring of 1983 when it was transferred to the Archives Center.
Brief Company Histories From The Radio Industry, 1900-1930s:
At the end of the nineteenth century, when Guglielmo Marconi began his first wireless company, Western Union, Postal Telegraph, and the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) were the major enterprises in electrical communications. General Electric, Western Electric, and Westinghouse were the major producers of electrical equipment. All these earlier developments set the stage for the expansion of the radio industry.
General Electric, which dominated the lighting industry, was formed in 1892 as a merger of the Edison and Thomson-Houston companies. It was active in building central power station equipment; controlled nearly all the important early patents in electric railways; took a leading part in the introduction of trolley systems; and was the principal supplier of electric motors. Westinghouse promoted the alternating current system and installed the first AC central station in Buffalo, NY, during the winter of 1866-1867. After years of patent litigation, in 1896 GE and Westinghouse agreed to share their patents on electrical apparatus.
American Bell Telephone Company purchased Western Electric in 1881. Western Electric had a strong patent position in telephone equipment and in industrial power apparatus, such as arc lamps, generators, motors, and switchboard equipment.
Until RCA was formed in 1919, these established electrical companies played no active part in the early development of the American radio industry. They were in difficult financial positions, reorganizing, or concentrating their efforts and resources on improving their existing products.
The revolution in "wireless" technology, which began in earnest after 1900, centered in New York City, home of the Lee de Forest and American Marconi companies, and in Boston, headquarters of John Stone Stone and Reginald Fessenden.
Information in this section was compiled from the Clark Collection; the Invention and Innovation in the Radio Industry by W. Rupert Maclaurin, Macmillan Company, New York, 1949; and Radio Pioneers, Institute of Radio Engineers, Commemorating the Radio Pioneers Dinner, Hotel Commodore, New York, NY, November 8, 1945.
The De Forest Companies
Lee De Forest (1873-1961), inventor of the three-element vacuum tube or triode (1906) and the feedback circuit, was one of the first Americans to write a doctoral thesis on wireless telegraphy: "The Reflection of Short Hertzian Waves from the Ends of Parallel Wires," Yale University, 1899. The grid-controlled tube or audion of De Forest was first a radio detector, 1906-1907; in 1912 was adapted to an amplifier; and later to an oscillator. When it was perfected as a high vacuum tube, it became the great electronic instrument of electrical communications.
De Forest began work in the Dynamo Department at the Western Electric Company in 1899. Six months later he was promoted to the telephone laboratory. In 1900 De Forest went to work for the American Wireless Telegraph Company where he was able to carry out work on his "responder." However, after three months when De Forest refused to turn over the responder to the company, he was fired.
In the following year De Forest had a number of jobs, was active as an inventor, and created numerous firms to manufacture his inventions. In 1901 De Forest joined with Ed Smythe, a former Western Electric colleague and a collaborator in his research, to found the firm of De Forest, Smythe, and Freeman. Between 1902 and 1906 De Forest took out thirty-four patents on all phases of wireless telegraphy. The responder that he had been working on for so long never proved satisfactory.
The numerous De Forest companies, reflected his many interests and his inability to carry one project through to a conclusion. Unlike Marconi, but similar to Fessenden, De Forest had great inventive skill which resulted in a great number of companies; but none lasted long. The original partnership of 1901 led to the Wireless Telegraph Co. of America (1901), the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company (Maine) (1902), and the American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company (1903), to name a few.
The American De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company was incorporated after De Forest met a stock promoter, Abraham White. While many stations were built by this company, many never sent a message due to static interference. In 1907 two speculators from Denver with large holdings of company stock put the company out of business. The assets were sold to a new company that these speculators organized, the United Wireless Telephone Company. De Forest was forced to resign. He took the triode patents with him.
De Forest joined with one of White's stock salesmen, James Dunlop Smith, and together with De Forest's patent attorney, Samuel E. Darby, they formed a new corporation, the De Forest Radio Telephone Company in 1907. This company set out to develop wireless communication by means of the radio telephone.
In January 1910 De Forest staged the first opera broadcast, with Enrico Caruso singing. The Radio Telephone Company went bankrupt in 1911 following an aborted merger with North American Wireless Corporation. In 1913 he reorganized the company as the Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company and began producing the triode.
The Marconi Company brought a patent suit, claiming the triode infringed on the Fleming valve to which it had rights. In 1916 the court decided that Marconi had infringed the three element De Forest patent and that De Forest had infringed the two element Fleming valve. The result was that neither company could manufacture the triode.
In 1920 RCA acquired the De Forest triode rights through cross-licensing agreements with AT&T which had recently purchased the rights to it. De Forest's company was no match for GE, Westinghouse, and RCA. The De Forest Radio Company (1923) went bankrupt in 1928, was reorganized in 1930, and went into receivership in 1933. RCA eventually purchased its assets.
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) came from a wealthy and well connected Italian family. He was able to spend his time developing his inventions and following his own course of action. Marconi spent his entire life developing wireless communication into a "practical" reality. In 1905 Marconi invented a directional antenna. In 1909 he shared with Karl Ferdinand Braun the Nobel prize in physics. And in 1912 he invented the time spark system for the generation of continuous waves. The principal patents in his name were improved types of vertical antennas; improved coherer; magnetic detector for the detection of wireless signals; and improvements on methods of selective tuning. Two other inventions of great importance to the Marconi companies' patent structure were the Oliver Lodge tuning patent and the Ambrose Fleming valve.
In 1895 Marconi made the first successful transmission of long wave signals. The following year he met William Preece, engineer-in-chief of the British Post Office, who was interested in inductive wireless telegraphy. This meeting led to the formation in 1897 of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd. In 1898 he transmitted signals across the English Channel. In 1899 an American subsidiary was formed. The various Marconi companies were the dominant enterprises in both British and American wireless until 1919 when RCA was formed.
From a business standpoint, wireless did not become profitable until long distance communications were accomplished. On December 12, 1901 in St. John's, Newfoundland, Marconi received a telegraph signal in the form of repetitions of the Morse telegraphic letter "S" transmitted from the Marconi station at Poldhu, Cornwall, England. This success, however, was met by opposition from vested interests, particularly the Anglo-American Telegraph Company whose cables terminated in Newfoundland.
So as not to restrict his company's future to one front alone, Marconi decided to exploit the field of communication with ships at sea. In order to control this field he decided in 1900 to lease his apparatus rather than sell it outright. This strategy did not work. Competition developed in Germany (Telefunken Corporation) and the United States (American De Forest and its successor, United Wireless) and Marconi was forced to sell rather than lease apparatus to the navies of various countries. He nevertheless retained numerous restrictions. This led to further friction. At the height of this debacle English stations worldwide refused to communicate with ships without Marconi equipment. This absurd and dangerous situation had to change and coastal stations opened up to all senders in 1908.
Marconi's system was based on spark technology. He saw no need for voice transmission. He felt the Morse code adequate for communication between ships and across oceans. He, along with most others, did not foresee the development of the radio and the broadcasting industry. He was a pragmatist and uninterested in scientific inquiry in a field where commercial viability was unknown.
For these reasons Marconi left the early experimentation with the radio telephone to others, particularly Lee De Forest and Reginald Fessenden.
National Electric Signaling Company
Canadian-born Reginald Fessenden (1866-1932), one of the principal early radio inventors and the first important inventor to experiment with wireless, left the University of Pittsburgh in 1900 to work for the U.S. Weather Bureau. There he invented the liquid barretter, an early radio receiver, and attempted to work out a means for wireless transmission of weather forecasts. After a squabble over patent rights, Fessenden resigned in 1902.
The National Electric Signaling Company (NESCO), primarily intended to support Fessenden's work on wireless, telegraphy, and telephony, was formed by Fessenden and two Pittsburgh capitalists, Hay Walker, Jr. and Thomas H. Given. It began as an inventor's laboratory and never proved successful as a business venture.
Fessenden recognized that a continuous wave transmission was required for speech and he continued the work of Nikola Tesla, John Stone Stone, and Elihu Thomson on this subject. Fessenden felt he could also transmit and receive Morse code better by the continuous wave method than with a spark-apparatus as Marconi was using.
In 1903 Fessenden's first high-frequency alternator needed for continuous wave transmission was built to his specifications by Charles Steinmetz of GE. In 1906 Fessenden obtained a second alternator of greater power from GE and on Christmas Eve broadcast a program of speech and music. The work on this alternator was given to Ernst F. W. Alexanderson. It took years for Alexanderson to develop an alternator capable of transmitting regular voice transmissions over the Atlantic. But by 1916 the Fessenden-Alexanderson alternator was more reliable for transatlantic communication than the spark apparatus.
Fessenden also worked on continuous-wave reception. This work arose out of his desire for a more effective type of receiver than the coherer, a delicate device that was limited by its sensitivity on a rolling ship at sea. In 1903 he developed a new receiving mechanism - the electrolytic detector.
As his work progressed Fessenden evolved the heterodyne system. However, due to faulty construction and the fact that it was ahead of its time, heterodyne reception was not fully appreciated until the oscillating triode was devised, thus allowing a practical means of generating the local frequency.
Between 1905 and 1913 Fessenden developed a completely self-sustaining wireless system. However, constant quarrels between Fessenden, Walker, and Given culminated in Fessenden's forming the Fessenden Wireless Company of Canada. He felt a Canadian company could better compete with British Marconi. As a result, his backers dismissed Fessenden from NESCO in January of 1911. Fessenden brought suit, won, and was awarded damages. To conserve assets pending appeal, NESCO went into receivership in 1912, and Samuel Kintner was appointed general manager of the company.
In 1917 Given and Walker formed International Signal Company (ISC) and transferred NESCO's patent assets to the new company. Westinghouse obtained majority control of ISC through the purchase of $2,500,000 worth of stock. The company was then reincorporated as The International Radio Telegraph Company. The Westinghouse-RCA agreements were signed in 1921 and International's assets were transferred to RCA.
The development of the radio industry accelerated after 1912. This was due to several factors, the most important of which was the passage of legislation by the US government requiring ships at sea to carry wireless. This created a market incentive and spurred the growth of the industry. Also, with the outbreak of World War I, the larger electrical companies turned their manufacturing output to radio apparatus, supporting the war effort. Three firms were prominent in this industrial endeavor: AT&T, GE, and Westinghouse.
AT&T's early contributions to this effort centered on their improvements of De Forest's triode, particularly in the evolution of circuits, the redesign of the mechanical structure, and an increase in the plate design. The importation of the Gaede molecular pump from Germany created a very high vacuum. The resulting high-vacuum tube brought the practical aspects of the wireless telephone closer to reality. By August 1915 speech had been sent by land wire to Arlington, Va., automatically picked up there via a newly developed vacuum-tube transmitter, and subsequently received at Darien, Canal Zone. By 1920 AT&T had purchased the rights to the De Forest triode and feedback circuit, and had placed itself in a strong position in the evolution of radio technology.
GE centered its efforts on the alternator, assigning Ernst F. W. Alexanderson to its design, and on further development of vacuum tube equipment for continuous wave telegraph transmission. By 1915 Alexanderson, Irving Langmuir, William D. Coolidge, and others had developed a complete system of continuous wave transmission and reception for GE.
As can be seen, both AT&T and GE were diverting major time and expenditures on vacuum tube research. This inevitably led to patent interferences and consequently, to cross-licensing arrangements.
Westinghouse was not in the strategic position of GE and AT&T. Nevertheless, during the war it did manufacture large quantities of radio apparatus, motors, generators, and rectifiers for the European and American governments. Postwar moves led Westinghouse into full partnership with the other two companies.
By the end of the war, all three companies had committed significant resources to wireless. They were hampered internationally, however, by the Marconi Company's dominant status, and in the United States they were blocked by opposing interests with control of key patents.
The US government also was concerned with this lack of solidarity in the wireless industry and over the British domination of the field worldwide. This impasse set a fascinating and complicated stage for the formation of the RCA.
Owen D. Young, legal counselor for GE, was instrumental in breaking the impasse. Through an innovative and far-reaching organizational consolidation, Young was able to persuade British Marconi that persistence in monopoly was a fruitless exercise, because of the strong US government feelings. Marconi, realizing the harm of a potential American boycott, finally agreed to terms. GE purchased the controlling interest in American Marconi, and RCA was formed. Young was made chairman of the board of RCA, while Edwin J. Nally and David Sarnoff of the old American Marconi were appointed president and commercial manager respectively.
On July 1, 1920, RCA signed a cross-licensing agreement with AT&T. The telephone company purchased one half million shares of RCA common and preferred stock for several considerations -- the most important being that all current and future radio patents of the two companies were available to each other royalty-free for ten years. Many provisions of these agreements were ambiguous and led to later squabbles between the RCA partners.
In May 1920 Westinghouse, which had an efficient radio manufacturing organization, formed an alliance with the International Radio and Telegraph Company (NESCO's successor). Westinghouse's part ownership gave them control of Fessenden's patents, particularly continuous-wave transmission and heterodyne transmission. Westinghouse also wisely purchased in October of 1920 Armstrong's patents on the regenerative and superheterodyne circuits -- which also included some of Columbia University professor Michael Pupin's patents. This placed Westinghouse in a strong bargaining position vis-à-vis RCA and in their new consolidated corporation. Westinghouse joined the growing group of radio companies on June 30, 1921. With these mergers, RCA agreed to purchase forty percent of its radio apparatus from Westinghouse and sixty percent from GE.
Through these and other legal arrangements, RCA obtained the rights to over 2,000 patents. These amounted to practically all the patents of importance in the radio science of that day. As a result, other firms in the radio industry, for example, the United Fruit Company and the Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company, entered into cross-licensing arrangements with RCA.
RCA also made arrangements internationally with the three dominant companies in radio communication in their respective countries. British Marconi, Compagnie Generale de Telegraphie sans fil, and Telefunken. Each corporation was given exclusive rights to use the other companies' patents within their own territories.
The rise of amateur radio in the 1920s and, to a greater extent, the demand for new products by the general public contributed to the rise of the broadcasting industry. This put a strain on the earlier agreements between the major radio corporations and between 1921 and 1928 there was a struggle over patents for control of the evolving medium.
An initial attempt by AT&T to control the broadcasting industry -- using its earlier cross-licensing agreements to manufacture radio telephone transmitting equipment -- began with AT&T's disposal of RCA stock holdings in 1922-1923. It ended in 1926 with a new cross-licensing agreement which gave AT&T exclusive patent rights in the field of public service telephony and gave GE, RCA, and Westinghouse exclusive patent rights in the areas covered by wireless telegraphy, entertainment broadcasting, and the manufacture of radio sets and receiving tubes for public sale.
In 1926 after the agreements were finalized, RCA, GE, and Westinghouse joined forces and established the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). Fifty percent of the stock went to RCA, thirty percent to GE, and twenty percent to Westinghouse. The new company was divided into three divisions: the Red, Blue, and Pacific Networks. Independent, competing networks soon emerged. William S. Paley and his family formed the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1927. The Mutual Broadcasting System was formed in 1934.
By 1928 RCA had strong patent positions in all major areas of the radio industry, including the research, development and manufacture of vacuum tubes and speakers. Most small companies entering the industry in the 1920s produced their products based on prior research by others and on expired patents. An RCA license, therefore, was essential for the manufacture of any modern radio set or vacuum tube.
In the late 1920s new developments in the reproduction of sound, produced significant changes in the phonograph industry. Among those new developments were the introduction of the electronic record, and the marketing of the Radiola 104 Loudspeaker in 1926. In 1929 RCA purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company. This changed not only the quality but the sales of the phonograph and the phonograph record. A new entertainment industry was born and an ever-expanding market for consumer products was created with cultural implications that continue today.
German industrialists were eager to break the Marconi Company's monopoly. Although Marconi had patents on his inventions in Germany, the Germans developed a rival system through the Telefunken Corporation, incorporated in 1903, based on the inventions of Professor Ferdinand Braun, Dr. Rudolf Slaby, and Count George von Arco.
Before 1903 the Braun-Siemens and Halske system had been developed by Gesellschaft fur Drahtlose Telegraphie (GFDT). The Slaby-Arco system had been developed by Allgemeine Electrizitats-Gesellschaft. After litigation over patents, the German court handed down a decision in favor of the GFDT. The Kaiser, with national interests in mind, ordered that the rivalry cease. The two systems were amalgamated under GFDT, and became known as the Telefunken.
Chronology of Some Significant Events In The History of The Radio Industry
1895 -- Marconi experiments with Hertz's oscillator and Branley's coherer.
1897 -- In March Marconi demonstrates his wireless system on Salisbury Plain, near London, and files a complete patent specification. In May trials of Marconi's system are made over water between Lavernock and Flatholm, a distance of three miles. On May 13, communication is established between Lavernock Point and Brean Down, a distance of eight miles. German scientist Professor Slaby is present. The first Marconi station is erected at the Needles, Isle of Wight. A distance of fourteen and one-half miles is bridged by wireless. In December the Marconi station at the Needles communicates with a ship eighteen miles at sea.
1898 -- In England Oliver Lodge files a complete specification covering inventions in wireless telegraphy.
1899 -- The New York Herald uses Marconi's wireless telegraphy to report the progress of the International Yacht races between the Columbia and the Shamrock off New York harbor in September. US. Navy vessels make trials of Marconi's wireless telegraph system. The cruiser New York and the battleship Massachusetts are equipped with apparatus. Fessenden develops improvements in methods of wireless telegraph signaling.
1900 -- The Marconi International Marine Communication Company is organized on April 25th in London. Reginald Aubrey Fessenden begins work at the United States Weather Bureau. Over the next two years he invents the liquid barretter, an improved radio receiver.
1901 -- In February on board the SS Philadelphia, Marconi receives wireless signals over a distance of 1,551 miles. In March Marconi wireless telegraph service begins between islands of the Hawaiian group. On December 12, Marconi receives transatlantic signal at St. John's, Newfoundland from Poldhu, Cornwall, England. The Canadian government orders two Marconi telegraph sets for use at coastal points along the Strait of Belle Isle.
1901 -- Fessenden procures US patent no. 706737 for a system of radio signaling employing long waves (low frequency). De Forest develops a system of wireless telegraphy in Chicago. 1903-06 10,000 to 50,000 cycle machines, 1 kW, are developed by Steinmetz and by Alexanderson of GE for Fessenden. 1905 Marconi procures patent number 14788 in England, covering the invention of the horizontal directional antenna.
1906 -- At Brant Rock, Massachusetts, Fessenden employs a generator of one-half kW capacity, operating at 75,000 cycles, for radio purposes. He succeeds in telephoning a distance of eleven miles by means of wireless telephone apparatus.
1907 -- De Forest procures a U. S. patent for an audion amplifier of pulsating or alternating current.
1908 -- Marconi stations in Canada and England are opened for radio telegraph service across the Atlantic. Fessenden constructs a 70,000-cycle alternator with an output of 2.5 kW. at 225 volts, for radio signaling purposes. He reports successful radio telephone tests between Brant Rock and Washington, DC, a distance of 600 miles.
1909 -- US House of Representatives passes the Burke Bill for the compulsory use of radio telegraphy on certain classes of vessels. The United Wireless Telegraph Company and the Radio Telephone Company of New York (De Forest and Stone systems) begin the erection of radio stations in the Central and Western states. Marconi shares with Ferdinand Braun of Germany the Nobel prize in recognition of contributions in wireless telegraphy.
1910 -- An act of the US government requires radio equipment and operators on certain types of passenger ships. The Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Marconi station is opened in September. This station communicates with Clifden, Ireland. The transatlantic tariff is seventeen cents a word.
1911 -- A radio section is organized by the US Department of Commerce to enforce the provisions of national radio legislation. Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company acquires the Lodge-Muirhead patents.
1912 -- Rotary gap is used with Fessenden 100 kW 500 cycle spark set at NAA, the Navy's first high-power station at Arlington, Virginia. Marconi Wireless of America acquires property of the United Wireless Telegraph Company. British Marconi secures the important radio patents of Bellini and Tosi, Italian inventors. Wreck of the SS Titanic on April 15th. The act of 1910 is extended on July 23 to cover cargo vessels. requires an auxiliary source of power on ships and two or more skilled radio apparatus operators on certain types of passenger ships. On August 13, an act provides for licensing radio operators and transmitting stations.
1912-1913 -- High vacuum amplifying tubes (an improvement on De Forest's), using the findings of pure science, are produced almost simultaneously in two great industrial laboratories, by Dr. H. D. Arnold of AT&T and Irving Langmuir of GE.
1915 -- De Forest Ultra-audion three-step (cascade) audio amplifier is announced and introduced into practice.
1916 -- GE and the Western Electric Company develop the first experimental vacuum tube radiotelephone systems for the Navy.
1917-1918 -- First production of vacuum tubes in quantity, both coated filament and tungsten filament types, by Western Electric Company and GE.
1918 -- Lloyd Espenschied procures US patent number 1,256,889 for the invention of a duplex radio telegraph system. (See Lloyd Espenschied Papers, Archives Center, NMAH, Collection #13.) The House of Representatives passes a resolution on July 5, authorizing the President to take over management of telegraph and telephone systems due to war conditions.
1919 -- Bills are introduced in Congress for permanent government control of radio stations. The widespread resentment of amateurs has more to do with the defeat of these bills than the objections of commercial companies. Roy Alexander Weagant, New York, reports having developed means of reducing disturbances to radio reception caused by atmospherics or static. This is the first successful static-reducing system. GE purchases the holdings of the British Marconi Company in the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, the name of the latter company being changed to Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in October. Edward J. Nally is elected president of the new company.
1920 -- E. F. W. Alexanderson is appointed Chief Engineer of RCA. RCA begins the installation of 200-kW Alexanderson alternators at Bolinas, California, and Marion, Massachusetts. The Tropical Radio Telegraph Company, a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company, New York, operates ten long-distance radio stations at points in Central and South Americirca RCA purchases 6,000 acres at Rocky Point, Long Island, New York, and begins erection of a Radio Central station, comprising a number of operating units for communication with European stations and stations in South Americirca On May 15, RCA inaugurates radio telegraph services between installations at Chatham and Marion, Massachusetts, and stations at Stavanger and Jaerobe, Norway. Westinghouse Company's radio station KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, broadcasts returns of the national elections, November 2. Development, design, and manufacture by GE of the early receiving and transmitting tubes made available to the public by RCA (UV-200,201,202). Radio telegraph stations and properties taken over by the government under war time powers are returned to their owners at midnight, February 29. The government calls for bids for the sale of large quantities of surplus radio and telegraph and telephone apparatus purchased for war needs and not used.
1921 -- RCA develops Vacuum tubes UV-200(detector) and UV-201(amplifier) -- both triodes with brass shells known as the UV base, and incorporating a filament that required 1 ampere at 5 volts for operation -- for storage battery operation; and at the same time also released to the public the WD-11 for dry cell operation, which employed an oxide-coated tungsten filament. RCA station at Rocky Point, Long Island, opens on November 5. WJZ station established by the Westinghouse Company in Newark, NJ. RCA broadcast station at Roselle Park, NJ (WDY) opens on December 15. It continues operation until February 15, 1922, when its operation is transferred to WJZ, Newark, previously owned by Westinghouse. RCA installs 200-kW alternator at Tuckerton, NJ.
1922 -- First use of tube transmitters by RCA for service from the United States to England and Germany. RCA begins substitution of tube transmitters on ships to replace spark sets. RCA begins replacement of crystal receivers by tube receivers on ships.
1923 -- Broadcast stations WJZ and WJY opened in New York in May by RCA. WRC opens in Washington on August 1. The UV-201A, receiving tubes developed by GE and consuming only 1/4 of an ampere are introduced by RCA. Tungsten filaments coated and impregnated with thorium were employed.
1924 -- Edwin H. Armstrong, demonstrates the superheterodyne receiver on March 6th. In November RCA experiments with radio photographs across the Atlantic. RCA markets the superheterodyne receivers for broadcast reception.
1925-26 -- Dynamic loudspeakers introduced. Magnetic pick-up phonograph recording and reproduction developed. RCA opens radio circuit to Dutch East Indies. Direction-finders introduced on ships.
1927 -- Fully self-contained AC radio receivers introduced.
The collection was donated to the Smithsonian in 1959.
The collection is open for research use.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs, negatives, and slides.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The Cook Labs records, which date from 1939-2002, document the activities of audio engineer Emory Cook and his label Cook Labs. The contents include business records, materials relating to recording artists, photographs, and production materials, as well as phonograph records, master recordings and unpublished recordings produced by or associated with the Cook Labs label. The collection also contains two interviews conducted with Emory Cook in 1990: one by Jeff Place and one by Anthony Seeger and Nicholas Spitzer. There are several physical objects relating to Cook Labs including a bag of powdered vinyl, a binaural playing arm, and a condenser microphone.
Scope and Contents note:
There are two primary components of the Cook Labs records: the records, master tapes and other audio recordings, and the related paper files.
The Cook Labs records contains about 150 of the 200 released Cook recordings, and 739 master tapes. In addition, there are 330 unpublished tapes.
The the paper files include acquisition materials; business correspondence; recording reports; various production notes on records produced; news articles both about and by Emory Cook and Cook Labs; copyright, licensing, and trademark materials; photographs, correspondence, contracts, and other materials relating to recording artists; production materials for each Cook Labs release; and other miscellany. Many contracts are signed by both Cook Labs and the artist. Correspondence is primarily between business associates.
Two interviews were done with Emory Cook in 1990: one by Jeff Place and one by Anthony Seeger and Nicholas Spitzer; both interviews are included in the Cook Labs records.
There are several physical objects relating to Cook Labs including a bag of powdered vinyl, a binaural playing arm, and a condenser microphone.
Many of the items in this list have been assigned an accession number, and like materials have been grouped together to create seven series:
Series 1: Business Papers, 1939-1990
Series 2: Recording Artists, 1949-1981, bulk 1950-1959
Series 3: Photographs, undated, 1957
Series 4: Production files, 1948-1995, bulk 1952-1963
Series 5: Objects, undated, 1908-1964
Series 6: Audio Interviews, 1990
Series 7: Audio Recordings
Emory Cook (1913-2002) is widely regarded as a highly influencial audio engineer. Born and raised in Albany, New York, he joined the Army Air Corps in 1932. After his discharge in 1934 he obtained his degree from Cornell University and began working for Western Electric in the Audio Engineering Force. During World War II, while still at Western Electric, Cook supervised the creation of a fire-controlled radar "Trainer," for which he received a Commendation from the Service.
In the late 1940's, convinced he could do better than what was on the market, Cook began experimenting with making his own audio equipment. Cook Laboratories was started in 1945 when he developed a new cutting head to be used in record production. Future development of equipment brought about the discovery that he could record frequencies as high as 20,000 hertz, more than any other recording company at the time. He cut a record of piano and organ music to demonstrate this discovery, and took it to the 1949 Audio Fair in New York. When he demonstrated the record with the hopes to sell the recording equipment, he found that people were much more interested in buying the record itself. Shortly after, Sounds of Our Times, later called Cook Records, was born.
Cook Records collected many different sounds and was mostly aimed at the devoted high-fidelity listener. Cook believed that hearing was a sense often overlooked by people, and he wanted listeners of his albums to be able to hear things they might otherwise miss. In a New Yorker profile by Daniel Lang in 1956, Cook claimed that hearing was "always being kicked aside in favor of sight… There's a time and a place for everything, and that includes sound." In order to encourage listening, he put out many albums full of everyday sounds, such as Voice of the Sea, an album of noises of the ocean and Eye of the Storm, recorded during a thunderstorm. One of the most successful albums was Rail Dynamics, an album of steam trains pulling in and out of a station.
Cook Records also produced traditional music albums from its plant in Stamford, Connecticut. The label produced everything from organ music to folk, flamenco guitar, calypso and steel band. Cook had little interest in name musicians and instead searched high and low for anything he thought might be an interesting contribution to his label. He even invited listeners to send in their favorite sounds, some of which he eventually recorded.
Cook had such a large interest in Calypso music that he set up a second pressing plant in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. There he pressed calypso and steel band music for both a Trinidadian and American audience, and most albums sold well in both countries.
In addition to the wide range of music Cook recorded, he was also an inventor. It was Cook who first came up with the idea of pressing records with powdered, rather than solid, vinyl, a technique he dubbed "microfusion." This technique not only saved money, but cut out many of the traditional crackles and pops associated with records.
He also developed the binaural system of recording and playing records, which he thought was superior to the more commonly used stereo method. Binaural was more precise than stereo, and it required placing two microphones six inches apart, approximately the space between two ears, during the recording. It was then played back with a special two-needle playing arm. Binaural recordings were thought by Cook to best duplicate the original sound.
Emory Cook died at the age of 89 in 2002 after a long hospitalization.
COOK RECORDINGS - NUMERICAL LISTING:
001 20,000 Cycle Demo (1949) COOK00001
002 Night Rain and Surf COOK00002
003 Specimen Heart Beats COOK00003
004 Katydids, Frogs and Forrest Birds
E101 Grenada Stories and Songs (1957-58) COOK00101
E102 Amazon Sound: Yacu River Tribes (Rituals and Rites) (1954) COOK00102
E103 Music of St. Lucia (1953) COOK00103
E104 Rada (1958) COOK00104
E105 JOSE RAMON FORTUNE AND OLGA MAYNARD Nancy Stories (1956) COOK00105
106 Afro-West Indian Cultural Practices (1957-58) COOK00106
107 ESCOLA DE SAMBA DE BRAZIL The Boli, The Cocolute, and Brazil (1957-58) COOK00107
901 Steelband Jump Up Boys Town, Tropical Harmony, Silvertone COOK00901
904 THE ESSO STEEL BAND Esso Steelband of Bermuda (1958) COOK0904
906 LORD MELODY Lord Melody Sings Calypso (1958-59) COOK00906
911 TOM CHARLES AND HIS SYNCOPATER ORCHESTRA Fete for So! (1959) COOK00911
914 LORD MELODY Again! Lord Melody Sings Calypso (1957-58) COOK00914
916 Calypso Cross Section Young Killer, The Mighty Bomber, Small Island Pride, The Mighty Wrangler (1957-58) COOK00916
920 THE MIGHTY SPARROW King Sparrow's Calypso Carnival (1959) COOK00920
927 LORD MELODY Calypso through the Looking Glass (1959) COOK00927
928 CLARENCE CURVAN His Drums, His Orchestra COOK00928
930 Belly to Belly Clarence Curvan, Johnny Gomez, Tom Charles, Fitz Vaughn Bryan (1960-61) COOK00930
931 LORD MELODY Lord Melody, 1962 COOK0931
1000 TITUS MOODY DDDs of Binaural (1952) COOK01000
1011 The Christmas Music Box (1950) COOK01011
1012 Music Boxes of Long Ago (1950) COOK01012
1013 CHARLIE MAGNANTE Accordion Pops Concert (1954-55) COOK01013
1014 CHARLIE MAGNANTE AND LaVERGNE SMITH His and Hers (1954-55) COOK01014
1020 SAM ESKIN Sam Eskin's Songs of All Time COOK01020
1021 GROUPE MI-O Un Ti Bo (1958) COOK01021
1022 LAVINIA WILLIAMS' GROUPE FOLKLORIQUE Haiti Confidential (1958) COOK01022
1023 The Ramayana (Hindu Ceremony) (1961) COOK01023
10120 Music Boxes, Carousels, and Hand Organs (01012 and 05010) (1950-53) COOK10120
10248 The Voice of Mexico Gustavo Zepoli, Trio Leones (01024 and 01080) (1954) COOK10248
10251 SEAN McGONIGAL AND ST. COLUMCILLE'S UNITED GAELIC PIPE BAND Kilts on Parade (01025 plus solos) (1950-53) COOK10251
10271 CARLOS MONTOYA AND THE JOSE GRECO TROUPE Fiesta Flamenca (selections from 01027 and 01028) (1952) COOK10271
10289 CARLOS MONTOYA Montoya (selections from 01028 plus) (1952) COOK10289
10301 EDWARD AND JOSEPH VITO The Harp (selections from 01030 and 01031 plus) (1951-54) COOK10301
10326 Cafe Continental Ruth Welcome, Dick Marta, and Anita Ast (selections from 01026 and 01032) (1951-52) COOK10326
10350 Nickelodion and Calliope (selections from 01035 and 05010) (1950-53) COOK10350
10500 REGINALD FOORT The Theater Organ COOK10500
10501 MICHAEL CHESHIRE Pipe Organ in the Mosque (selections from 01050 and 01051) (1952) COOK10501
10523 REGINALD FOORT Percussion and Pedal (selections from 01052 and 01053) (1952) COOK10523
10545 REGINALD FOORT The Organ at Symphony Hall (01054 plus) (1954) COOK10545
10579 REGINALD FOORT Foort Pops (selections from 01057 and 01058) (1956) COOK10579
10646 NEW ORCHESTRAL SOCIETY OF BOSTON Tempo Vivace: Symphonic Masterpieces of Dance & Theater (selections from 01064 and 01066) (1955-56) COOK010646
10657 NEW ORCHESTRAL SOCIETY OF BOSTON Two Classical Symphonies: Mozart Symphony No. 40, Beethoven Symphony No. 5 (01065 and 01067) (1955) COOK10657
10659 NEW ORCHESTRAL SOCIETY OF BOSTON Two Classical Symphonies: Mozart Symphony No. 40, Haydn Symphony No. 100 (01065 and 01069) (1955-56) COOK10659
10683 NEW ORCHESTRAL SOCIETY OF BOSTON Modern Orchestral Textures (01068 and 01063) (1955) COOK10683
10850 RUPERT Cook LabsEMENDORE BAND Le Jazz Trinidad COOK10850
10867 Before and After Willie Rodriguez (selections from 01086 and 05007) (1953-54) COOK010867
10889 RED CAMP Horizontal & Upright & Downright & Dunright (01088 and 01089) (1954) COOK10889
10890 The Castiliane Johnny Gomez Band, John Buddy Williams Band, Girl Pat Steel Band, And Grand Curacaye String Orchestra (1956) COOK10890
11312 BRUCE PRINCE-JOSEPH AND HUFSTADER SINGERS The Forgotten Pedal Harpsichord and Hufstader Singers (01131 and 01092) (1953) COOK11312
11815 TONY ALMERICO'S PARISIAN ROOM BAND AND LIZZIE MILES Clambake on Bourbon Street (1954-55) COOK11815
50130 Tour of Cook Labs COOK50130
70889 RED CAMP Popular Piano and Combo COOK70889
80134 LUIZ BONFA Waterfall: Guitar COOK80134
80417 MARIMBA ORCHESTRA Waterfall: Children's Music COOK80417
80680 NEW ORCHESTRAL SOCIETY OF BOSTON Waterfall: Symphonic COOK80680
XX1 Audio Follies Sampler COOK00XX1
XX2 Calypso Jazz Sampler COOK00XX2
Series 10 Cook Series 10 COOK_Series10
Series 30 Cook Series 30 COOK_Series30
Series 60 Cook Series 60 COOK_Series60
Series 70 Cook Series 70 COOK_Series70
Series 80 Cook Series 80 COOK_Series80
Series 90 Cook Series 90 COOK_Series90
Series 100 Cook Series 100 COOK_Series100
Series 300 Cook Series 300 COOK_Series300
Series 301 Cook Series 301 COOK_Series301
Series 302 Cook Series 302 COOK_Series302
Series 303 Cook Series 303 COOK_Series303
The Smithsonian Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections acquired the Cook Labs Records in 1990, when Emory and Martha Cook donated their company records to the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Anthony Seeger, then Director of Smithsonian Folkways Records, received a call from Mr. Cook in the summer of 1989 offering to donate the Cook label to the Smithsonian. Dr. Seeger visited him in August of that year to view the contents of the collection, and the Smithsonian received custody of the collection in May 1990. In return for the donation from Mr. Cook, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage agreed to keep the record titles available and to store the papers in the archives.
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at (202) 633-7322 or email@example.com for additional information.
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for additional information.
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States Search this
The Paredon Records audiorecordings consist of all 50 of the recordings released by Paredon, along with the master audiotapes. Many of the recordings have a file containing business records relating to their production. These business records include artist contracts, recording reports, various notes on records produced, photographs of artists, news articles both about and by Barbara Dane, Irwin Silber, and Paredon Records, correspondence by Barbara Dane, Irwin Silber and Paredon Records, and other miscellany. Many contracts are signed by both Paredon Records and the artist. Correspondence is primarily between business associates. A complete inventory of the business records is available.
Scope and Contents:
There are two main components of the Paredon Records audiorecordings: the master recordings and corresponding commercial records themselves and the paper files relating to these recordings.
Series 1: Papers is primarily made up of "production files"--files containing materials related to specific albums. These production files can include artist contracts, recording reports, photographs of artists, clippings, royalty statements, licenses, album cover proofs, and correspondence between Paredon Records and the recording artists. news articles both about and by Barbara Dane, Irwin Silber, and Paredon Records. Many contracts are signed by both Paredon Records and the artist. Also included in this series are articles by Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber, a transcript of Daniel Sheehy's oral history interview with Barbara Dane, as well as miscellaneous ephemera.
Series 2: Master Audiorecordings includes all Paredon master tapes. Their corresponding commercial recordings are not described in this finding aid.
Series 1: Papers (1970-2007, bulk 1970-1980)
Series 2: Master Audiorecordings (1969-1985, bulk 1970-1980)
Biographical / Historical:
Paredon Records was founded in 1969 in New York by Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber, and its first recordings were released in 1970. Paredon released four records at a time. Barbara Dane, a singer/songwriter herself, produced the albums and recruited the musicians, artists who worked on the covers, and volunteers who translated foreign language material and contributed stories for the record booklets. Irwin Silber, a writer and editor for The Guardian newspaper, assisted Dane in all aspects of production. Irwin worked on business aspects of the label, such as distribution, orders, and editing and printing the record supplemental materials. Dane and Silber traveled to almost all of the countries mentioned in these records, as part of their work as activists and personally knew the musicians and artists.
According to the interview with Barbara Dane, "Paredon" means "a big wall" in Spanish. Paredon represents "a wall of culture defending us [listeners] against this 'sleazy' culture that's out there on the other side of the wall." The mission of Paredon Records was to use music as a tool to spread culture: the stories and experiences of those involved in protest and revolution movements all over the world, in order to increase dialogue among similar movements and peoples. Dane and Silber hoped these records would promote social and political activism, and that the uplifting power of music would inspire people to be agents of social change. The records reflect the most important socialist or liberation movements in world politics as well as domestic issues in the United States of the late twentieth century.
The 50 Paredon record albums constitute a unique historical documentation of the political protest and revolutionary currents in the world over the course of three decades. 31 of the 50 albums come from national liberation movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America. These include music, song, poetry and speech from Angola, Argentina, Chile, China, Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Palestine, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Uruguay, and Vietnam. Another five albums come out of the European oppositional political movements from; Greece, Italy, North Ireland and the United Kingdom. In all cases, the materials are performed and/or presented by the participants in these movements. A number of world renowned artists are among the performers, including Mikis Theodorakis (Greece), Marcel Khalife (Lebanon), Quilapayún (Chile) and Silvio Rodriguez (Cuba). Several important world political figures — Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Don Albizu Campos and Che Guevara — also appear on these records delivering seminal speeches. Not all of the political figures deliver their speeches, such as the Ho Chi Minh album, but were read by someone else. The other 14 record albums document political and social protest movements in the U.S. during this same period. The songs reflect currents in the civil rights, women's, and labor movements. Two albums document GI opposition to the Vietnam War. These recordings include a broad array of singers and songs associated with the political protest of the times. Albums by the band "The Men of No Property" and others were obtained clandestinely, as the movements often became dangerous. Smithsonian Folkways Director Daniel Sheehy interviewed Barbara Dane in 2007, the transcript of which is contained in the Supporting Materials folder in Series 1: Papers.
The Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections acquired the Paredon Records audiorecordings in December, 1991, when Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber donated their record company papers to the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage agreed to keep the record titles available for purchase, and to accession and store the Paredon Records Collection in the archives.
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at (202) 633-7322 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for additional information.
Paintings in watercolor (18), oil (54), and drawings in graphite (5), pen and ink (3), and pastel (1), capture the exoticism of Weeks' travel in the Near East and North Africa, his interest in medieval armour and love of the New England seashore. Also included are a family crest; animal studies; a 3 p. typescript titled "Cairo Notes"; a 3 p. account of travel to the Cedars of Lebanon via Beirut and Akora; photographs of Weeks in costume and at home in Paris, his work, and the family grocery store in Boston; travel photographs; an exhibition catalog; and clippings.
Biographical / Historical:
Painter, illustrator, author, photographer, explorer; Paris, France. Born in Boston, Mass. and raised in Newtonville, Mass., Weeks studied in the American public school system and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, with Gerome and Bonnat. He married his cousin Frances Rollins Hale and was a close friend of illustrator Frank T. Merrill. Weeks travelled extensively in Egypt, Jerusalem, Damascus and Morocco, maintaining a studio in Paris and frequenting South Berwick, Maine where his sister Mrs. W.A.H. (Minnie) Goodwin and her family lived. His specialty was North African orientalist genre painting.
Donated by Mervin Bronson 1991 "in memory of Burton W.F. Trafton, Jr." Bronson received the material from his friend Trafton, a distant descendant of Weeks. Many of the artworks and photographs are labelled "Elizabeth Goodwin," who was presumably Weeks' niece.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.