Collection documents, primarily through trade literature, catalogs, and photographs, and films, a major meat manufacturer of machinery and equipment for the meat processing industry.
Scope and Contents note:
Collection includes business records, photographs, films, and trade literature documenting the company's meat packing operations.
The single most striking feature of the American meat processing industry has been its mechanization and industrialization. The Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Company was at the heart of that process. The company invented and developed innovative equipment including its revolutionary hog dehairing machine and subsequent inventions which made the company one of the major suppliers to the American meat industry.
The collection is divided into six series.
Series 1: Historical Background Materials, 1928-1960s
Series 2: Catalogs, Price Lists, and Trade Literature, 1890s-1990s
Series 3: Meat Industry Materials, 1937-1987
Series 4: Patent Materials, 1934-1997
Series 5: Photographs, 1900s-1990s
Series 6: Motion Picture Films, 1950-1974
The Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Company was incorporated in February 1895 by Charles Gottleib Schmidt (1851-1930) to manufacture meat packing equipment in the United States. Originally known as the Cincinnati Butchers' and Packers' Supply Company, "Packers" was eventually dropped from the company name because Schmidt felt it was too long and he thought the packing industry would be replaced by something else. The company was first located at the corner of Central and Kindell Avenues in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1870, Schmidt previously founded and co-owned the C. Schmidt Company with his uncle Carl Leonhard Schmidt (d. 1894) and brother George Oskar Schmidt. The company made refrigerator display cases and had a butcher supply department, opened to supply the needs of butchers and packing houses. Carl Leonhard Schmidt's son-in-law, John H. Ahrens also joined the business, and ultimately, bought out Charles G. Schmidt.
Schmidt founded the Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Company as a way to provide equipment designed exclusively for the meat industry. Schmidt operated a meat market and identified the need to provide standardized equipment and machinery to ensure consistent quality and efficient production. The lines of equipment expanded at the turn of the twentieth-century from dealing with only prepared meat to include the activities of slaughtering and dressing. The equipment was marketed under the "Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Company" name as well as the "BOSS" trademark (June 1917) which depicted a large bull. Some of the first systems included a hog hoist and a hog dehairer, introduced in 1903 and 1904. The sons (Oscar, Sr., and Gustave) of Charles Schmidt entered the business and established themselves with equipment design and patents of their own. The machinery and equipment was designed to streamline the production process and to move the hogs through the processing lines more quickly and efficiently, thereby minimizing labor costs and increasing production output. Specialized items such as a "BOSS" Hog Dehairer, a "BOSS" Hog Hoist, a Belly Roller, and a "fat skinning" machine were patented and produced to allow for a more mechanized and therefore more standardized processing system.
After Charles Schmidt died in 1930, the company was led by his sons: Oscar, Sr., vice-president of packinghouse machinery, treasurer and chief engineer; Gustave (Gus), who headed the woodworking ("Beauty" brand refrigerators, cabinets, display cases) department; and Herman, who became president. A daughter, Mathilde Schmidt, also worked in sales and advertising. In 1947, Schmidt's grandsons C. Oscar Schmidt (1909-1993) and William C. Schmidt took over the family business and expanded it by buying other companies that complemented their meat equipment line. The company's main lines were slaughtering equipment (dehairers and
restrainers), sausage equipment (mixers, choppers, cutters), and rendering machinery. Among Oscar, Jr.'s thirty-five patented inventions was an electric hog stunner and the humane V-restrainer, originally intended for hogs, but then adapted to other animals. In 1980, Oscar, Jr. bought out his brother William to become sole owner.
Charles Gottleib Schmidt was born in Thüringen, Germany and he immigrated to the United States in 1870. He married Helene Meyer (1858-1926) in 1878. The couple had eight children: Frieda (b. 1880), Gustave (1882-1932), Oscar (b. 1886), Herman (b. 1888), Matilda (b. 1890), Emma (b. 1891), Hedwig (b. 1894), and Helene (b. 1923). In addition to founding a company, he was an active member of the Cincinnati community and was a member of the North American Saenger-Buend, United Singers Club, Hanselmann Lodge No. 208, Erwin Cicrcle Literary Club, Cincinnati Turner Society, Pioneer Club, Germanistic Society, Cincinnati Altenheim, and the German Protestant Ophan Home Society.
U. S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Joel E. Harrell and Son Suffolk, Virginia, nomination form, 2005
(last accessed on January 24, 2023, https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/133-5138_JoelEHarrell_2005_NR_nomination_final.pdf)
Cincinnati Enquier, November 12, 1939, page 11.
Cincinnati Enquirer, November 11, 1986, page 62.
Schmidt, Christoph R. Company History, unpublished, 2002.
Materials at the Archives Center
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Series: Meat (NMAH.AC.0060.S01.01.Meat)
Materials at the Smithsonian
Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Trade Literature Collection
Collection holds trade catalogs from the Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Co.
Materials at the University of California, Davis, Special Collections
Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Company Collection, 1928-1980
Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Company was a manufacturer of meat packing equipment. The collection contains material regarding supply business operations including accounts, blueprints, and catalogs.
University of Cincinnati, Archives and Rare Books Library
Cincinnati Butchers' Supply Company catalogs and photographs, 1915-1933
This collection consists of catalogs for the Cincinnati Butchers Supply Company and a panoramic photograph of the Institute of American Meat Packers.
Ohio History Center
Cincinnati BOSS Company Collection Audiovisual Materials [graphic], circa 1900-1970
Photographs and drawings of Cincinnati BOSS Company equipment.
Collection donated by Cincinnati Boss Company, through Christoph R. Schmidt, 2000.
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 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.