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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.

Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.archivescenter@si.edu 202-633-3270 www.americanhistory.si.edu/archives

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

Access Points:

Subject/Names:
Hamilton Watch Company

Subject/Topical:
Assembly-line methods
Bombs
Chronometers
Clocks and watches
Factories -- Pennsylvania
Fuses
Horology
Manufacturing processes
World War, 1939-1945 -- Industries

Geographic:
Lancaster ( Pa.)

Form/Genre:
Photographs-1940-1950-- black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin

CONTAINER LISTING

Box

Folder

 

 

 

Series 1, Photographic Prints and Negatives, 1931-1954, undated

1

 

Assembly casing, 1953, undated

8

1

Assembly casing, undated (see also preservation scan AC1122-0000004.tif)

1

 

Assembly line, 1941, undated

8

2

Assembly line, 1941, undated

8

3

Assembly line, undated (see also preservation scans AC1122-0000001.tif, AC1122-0000002.tif, AC1122-0000003.tif)

1

 

Automatic department, undated

8

4

Automatic department, undated

1

 

Balance and flat steel, undated

8

5

Balance and flat steel, undated

2

 

Balance staff department, 1943, undated

8

6

Balance staff department, 1943, undated

2

 

Balance wheel, undated

8

7

Balance wheel, undated (see also preservation scans AC1122-0000005.tif, AC1122-0000006.tif)

2

 

Boiler house, undated

 

 

Cafeteria, undated

 

 

Chemical research laboratory, undated

 

 

Chronometer assembly, undated

8

8

Chronometer assembly, undated (see also preservation scan AC1122-00000007.tif)

2

 

Credit union, undated

8

9

Credit union, undated

8

10

Credit union, undated (see also preservation scans AC1122-0000008.tif, AC1122-0000009.tif)

2

 

Crystal tool laboratory, 1943

 

 

Crystallography laboratory, 1943, undated

8

11

Crystallography laboratory, 1943, undated

8

12

Crystallography laboratory, undated

8

13

Crystallography laboratory, undated (see also preservation scan AC1122-0000010.tif)

2

 

Dial, undated

3

 

Dial department, 1943, undated

8

14

Dial department, 1943, undated

8

15

Dial department, undated (see also preservation scans AC1122-0000011.tif, AC1122-0000012.tif)

3

 

Dixie room, undated

 

 

Engineering department, 1931, undated

8

16

Engineering department, 1931, undated

3

 

Escape department, 1931, undated

 

 

Factory (air view), 1945, 1946, 1952, 1954, undated

8

17

Factory (air view), 1945, 1946, 1952, 1954, undated

4

 

Finishing department, 1931, 1941, 1943, undated

8

18

Finishing department, 1931, 1941, 1943, undated

4

 

First aid room, 1943, undated

8

19

First aid room, 1943, undated

4

 

Friction jewelling, 1932, 1943, undated

8

20

Friction jewelling, 1932, 1943, undated

4

 

Fuze assembly, North plant, 1943

 

 

Hairspring, undated

7

1

Hairspring, glass negatives, undated

8

21

Hairspring, undated

8

22

Hairspring, undated (see also preservation scans AC1122-0000013.tif, AC1122-0000014.tif)

4

 

Hairspring manufacture, 1949

8

23

Hairspring manufacture, 1949

4

 

Jewel department, 1943, 1948, undated

7

2

Jewel department, glass negative, undated

8

24

Jewel department, 1943, 1948, undated

8

25

Jewel department, undated (see also preservation scan AC1122-0000015.tif)

5

 

Jewels, 1947, undated

7

3

Jewels, glass negative, undated

5

 

Library, 1943, 1945, undated

8

26

Library, 1943

5

 

Machine shop, 1931, 1941, 1943, 1949, undated

8

27

Machine shop, 1931, 1941, 1943, 1949, undated

5

 

Material sales, 1953, undated

 

 

Metrology laboratory (standards section), 1948, 1949, undated

8

28

Metrology laboratory (standards section), 1948, 1949, undated

5

 

North plant, 1943

8

29

North plant, 1943

5

 

Oil laboratory, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1948, undated

8

30

Oil laboratory, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1948, undated

6

 

Pallet arbor, 1947

 

 

Pallet fork, undated

8

31

Pallet fork, undated (see also preservation scan AC1122-0000016.tif)

6

 

Pillar plate, 1947, undated

8

32

Pillar plate, 1947, undated

6

 

Screws, 1943, 1946, 1947, undated

8

33

Screws, 1943, 1946, 1947, undated

8

34

Train wheels, undated

6

 

Unassembled parts, undated

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Revised: April 19, 2011