Hamilton Watch Company Collection, 1931-1954, undated
OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION
Collection Date(s): 1931-1954, undated
Extent and Forms of Material: 2.66 cubic feet, including photographs and negatives (8 boxes)
Creator: Hamilton Watch Company
Abstract: Photographic prints and negatives documenting the interior operations of the Hamilton Watch Company primarily in the 1930s and 1940s.
Collection Number: AC1122
Processing Note: Processed by Kiley Orchard (intern), 2008, Christopher Ruggiero (intern), 2008, and Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist, 2008.
INFORMATION FOR USERS OF THE COLLECTION
Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.
Preferred Citation: Title and date of item, Hamilton Watch Company Photographs, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXXX
IN-DEPTH INFORMATION ABOUT THE COLLECTION
Administrative History: Hamilton Watch Company, established in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1892, was known for its manufacture of high quality wrist and pocket watches. Broadway Limited, its first series of pocket watches, was nicknamed “the watch of railroad accuracy,” and Hamilton soon became associated with the railroad industry. The company also supplied wristwatches to the United States Armed Forces in the 1910s Hamilton continued its association with the military during World War II when it stopped production of watches for consumers in order to provide the armed forces with one million timepieces. The company was responsible for the Ventura, the world’s first electric (battery-powered) watch, and in 1970, the world’s first digital watch.
In 1969, Hamilton closed its factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, signaling the end of its American manufacturing operations. All production moved to the facilities of the Buren Watch Company in Switzerland, a company that Hamilton had acquired three years before. The Hamilton brand is currently owned by the Swatch Group and carries two product lines, American Classic and Khaki.
Scope and Content: The collection consists of approximately 760 photographs and negatives created by the Hamilton Watch Company and documenting its employees, equipment, materials, and factory in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Many photographs depict the company’s research and development efforts. There are also images of the Hamilton Watch Company’s work in fuse assembly for bombs during WWII. The photographs are mainly organized by factory department or location. A number of these photographs were created by the advertising department and include identification numbers, location of the image, name of the photographer, and the identification of people in the photograph, as well as release forms for those pictured. If not located with the photographs, these items, as well as additional information, can be found in the corresponding folders. Negatives in poor condition were scanned. There are also five glass plate negatives.
System of Arrangement: The collection is arranged in one series.
Series 1, Photographic Prints and Negatives, 1931-1954, undated
Custodial History: Acquired by a clock and watch collector in 1969 when Hamilton closed its Lancaster plant and later sold by his estate.
Acquisition Information: This collection was donated by Jon Hanson in 2008.
Related Archival Materials: E. Howard Clock Company Records, Seth Thomas Clock Company Records, James Arthur Clock and Watch Collection, Atomic Clock Collection, Harold Lyons Atomic Clocks Collection, and Warshaw Collection of Business Americana