The collection documents the activities of the United Shoe Machinery Corporation of Beverly, Massachusetts, manufacturers of shoe machinery equipment. The collection consists of engineering records, legal records, research and development records, employee/personnel records, correspondence, company catalogs, product literature, advertising materials, photographs, and moving images.
Scope and Contents:
This collection is among the largest and most complete bodies of business records in the holdings of the Archives Center. The records document in considerable detail the firm's engineering department and research and development efforts in shoe making machinery and in related technical areas, especially during World War II and as it attempted to diversify its activities after the war. There is detailed information, much of it on microfilm, about the leasing of United Shoe Machinery (USM) machines. The records also provide insight into the USM's culture of corporate paternalism, including its athletic and relief associations and its industrial school. The collection is rich in visual materials depicting both the machines made by the firm and the employees and the facilities.
The collection is arranged into seventeen series.
Series 1: Historical and Background Materials, 1901-1985
Series 2: Executive Records, 1927-1987
Subseries 2.1: United Shoe Machinery, 1927-1975
Subseries 2.2: Emhart Corporation, 1976-1987
Series 3: Correspondence, 1890, 1901-1915
Series 4: Wilson Palmer Files, 1925-1952
Series 5: Research and Development Department Records, 1914-1980
Subseries 5.1: Background, 1947-1974
Subseries 5.2: Financial Information, 1947-1975
Subseries 5.3: Reports, 1962-1973
Subseries 5.4: Facilities, 1947-1975
Subseries 5.5: Personnel, 1942-1979
Subseries 5.6: Labor, 1961-1970
Subseries 5.7: Subject Files, 1943-1977
Subseries 5.8: Project Files, 1914-1968
Subseries 5.9: New Development (ND) Project Files, 1924-1970
Subseries 14.6: Quarter Century Club News, 1977-1987
Subseries 14.7: H.E. Smith & Company Catalogs, 1898-1930
Series 15: Product Literature, 1952-1979
Series 16: Advertising and Marketing Materials, 1902-1981
Series 17: Photographs, 1907-1960s
Subseries 17.1: Employees, 1907-1981
Subseries 17.2: Equipment/Products, 1961-1972
Subseries 17.3: Factories/Buildings, 1920s-1960s
Subseries 17.4: Trade Shows, 1954, 1968-1973
Subseries 17.5: Miscellaneous, undated
Subseries 17.6: Postcards, 1906-1938
Subseries 17.7: Prints from Glass Plate Negatives, undated
Subseries 17.8: Albums, 1915-1950s
Subseries 17.9: Film Negatives, 1956-1958
Subseries 17.10: Glass Plate Negatives, 1915-1923
Series 18: Audio-Visual Materials, 1934-1972
Biographical / Historical:
The United Shoe Machinery Company was formed in 1899 by the consolidation of the most important shoe machinery firms in the industry: Goodyear Shoe Machinery Company; Consolidated McKay Lasting Machine Company; and McKay Shoe Machinery Company. By this merger, conflicting patents were eliminated and patents supplementing each other were brought under United control to permit their prompt combination in a single machine or process. To ensure efficiency, the new company also continued the practice previously followed by its constituent firms of renting machinery that it manufactured instead of selling it. The authorized capital of the new company was twenty five million dollars. After the 1899 merger, United grew quite rapidly. In 1903, it began construction of a new factory in Beverly, Massachusetts about thirty-five miles from Boston. At its peak, this company employed 9,000 workers and produced eighty-five percent of all shoemaking machines in the United States. By 1910, it had an eighty percent share of the shoe machinery market with assets reaching forty million dollars, and it had acquired control of branch companies in foreign countries.
In 1911, the first of three civil anti-trust suits was brought against United by the United States government. It charged that the 1899 merger had restrained trade and violated the Sherman Act. The Massachusetts District Court ruled that the 1899 merger was not an attempt to restrain trade, only an attempt to promote efficiency. The court also said that the five companies that were merged to form United were not competitive with each other. The government appealed to the Supreme Court, which only affirmed the District Court's verdict.
In 1917, the United Shoe Machinery Corporation, incorporated in 1905, absorbed the United Shoe Machinery Company. The United Shoe Machinery Corporation had its headquarters in Boston and its main manufacturing plant in Beverly, Massachusetts.
The second government suit was brought against United Shoe in 1915. The government claimed that United Shoe's leasing system restricted the shoe manufacturer to exclusive use of United Shoe's products and that it was a violation of the newly enacted Clayton Act. The Massachusetts District Court ruled in favor of the government. The Supreme Court, hearing United Shoe's appeal case, only affirmed the District Court's ruling. In 1923, United modified its leasing policy.
The last government suit against United was filed in 1947 and charged United with monopolizing the trade, manufacture, and distribution of shoe machinery from 1923 to 1947. During this period, United had bought all shares, assets, and patents of twenty one companies that dealt in the shoe machinery manufacture. The court ruled that United had clearly violated the Sherman Act, and United was forced to modify its leasing policies and restrict its purchases of other shoe machinery businesses and its acquisition of patents. In 1968, the United Shoe Machinery Corporation changed its name to USM Corporation. In 1976, United Shoe Machinery Company merged with Emhart Industries and produced the modern-day Emhart Corporation.
In 1989, in order to resist a two billion dollar takeover attempt by a New York investment group (which included oil heir Gordon P. Getty), Emhart merged with Black & Decker Corporation. The merged company operates from Black & Decker's headquarters in Towson, Maryland. The company headquarters in Farmington, Connecticut, were closed in June 1989.
Materials at Other Organizations
Lynn Historical Society & Museum, Lynn, Massachusetts
Small volumes and pamphlets of shoe and shoe-related industry businesses in Lynn, Massachusetts, including miscellaneous articles and histories on the shoe industry in Lynn, manuals, catalogs, broadsides, patents, handbooks, patterns, price lists, brochures, and legal materials. Businesses represented include Beaudry Machine Company, Beckman Machine Company, Bresnahan Shoe Machinery Company, George W. Emerson & Company, Hamel Shoe Machinery Company, Gregory & Read Co., David Knox & Sons Machinery Company, Krippendorf Kalculator Company (manufacturers of a mechanical device to compute pattern values), Peerless Machinery Company, Quarmby & Hilliker, Machine Builders, Swain, Fuller Manufacturing Company, W.J. Young Machinery Company, and George J. Kelly, Inc. (maker of shoe polish).
United Shoe Machinery Company Records, 1915-1974
Materials assembled by Edward F. McCarthy, director of USM research, including notebooks, diagrams, manuals, brochures, catalogs, code sheets, flow charts, price lists, handbooks, lectures, directories, lexicons, catalogs of other firms, personal notebooks on shoe construction (1927-1931), factory visits to other shoe companies, and production of leading manufacturers (1939-1960), and floor directory of the plant; ledgers listing machines shipped and returned from the Lynn and Puerto Rico plants (nine volumes, 1935-1974); and machine development materials, including patents, chiefly those of Edward Quinn.
Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) Salem, Massachusetts
An accession in 1987 of institutional archives, includes publications, photographs, advertisements, lectures, scrapbook of shoes made for United Shoe Machinery Corporation of Beverly, Massachusetts, shoes from which are in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum (87020).
The United Shoe and Machinery Company Collection contains a large quantity of the company's patents, most of which pertain to the production and manufacture of shoes. Additionally there are patents for golf balls, nail guns, and magnetic closures. The majority of the remaining materials are Quarter Century Club documents ranging from financial and membership records, to pictures and other ephemera. The remainder of the collection consists of miscellaneous objects including sample knives and knife parts from the Booth Brothers Company.
University of Connecticut, Dodd Center
Emhart Corporation Records, undated, 1883-1989
Emhart Corporation was a multinational company located in Farmington, Connecticut. Prior to its 1989 merger with Black & Decker, Emhart operated in over one hundred countries with a worldwide work force of 30,000 employees. Emhart's products included machines for the manufacture of glass bottles and shoes; filling, sealing and packaging machinery; security systems; electronics; chemical products; metal fasteners; rubber processing equipment; and consumer and do-it-yourself products. Brand name products included True Temper® hardware and sporting goods, and Price Pfister® plumbing fixtures. Emhart's domestic roots went back to the American Hardware Company, founded in New Britain, Connecticut, in 1902.
Beverly Public Schools (Beverly, Massachusetts)
Beverly Public Schools/Beverly trade school records, 1909-1995
Materials relating to the establishment and operation of the Beverly trade schools, including trustee minutes, annual reports, curriculum journals, correspondence, photographs, programs and ephemera, and calendars.
Cornell University, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
[United Shoe Machinery Company, of New Jersey, et al. court proceedings], 1911-1917
United Shoe buildings and properties
The Cummings Properties now owns and leases "the Shoe."
Materials at National Museum of American History
The Division of Work and Industry holds artifacts related to the United Shoe Machinery Corporation. Some artifacts include a drafting table (1989.0259.349), tool chest (1989.0259.348), and molds for shoes, shoe heels, shoe welts, threads, needles, awls, and show wax.
The collection was donated by United Shoe Machinery Corporation, through Kevin Cochrane on November 20, 1987.
The collection is open for research.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view materials in cold storage and audio visual materials. Using cold room materials requires a three hour waiting period, reference copies do not exist for audio visual materials. Arrangements must be made with the Archives Center staff two weeks prior to a scheduled research visit. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.