Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Washburn Wire Company, Inc. Collection

Collection ID:
Washburn Wire Company
Physical Description:
1 Cubic foot
1 box

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
These records consist of a copy of a legal agreement to convey real property between the Company and the City of New York; diagrams showing designation of buildings; illustrations; Business Plan and Loan Request, 1979-1980, 1980-1981; photographs; book of Plans for Plant Revision, which contains: monthly and yearly production charts, real estate map, machinery layout of present plant, present route charts, machinery layout of revised plant, revised route charts ( the 1930's a highway was about to be run between buildings and the river, and space had to be made. Robert Moses was building East River Drive there; in return for the land he rebuilt Washburn's plant, and these are the drawings showing the machinery layouts and material routings, before and after); President's comment and report; and sales literature.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The Washburn Wire Company was originally founded in 1870 for the purpose of manufacturing insulated cable for the then fledgling telephone industry. In 1882, it was incorporated under the name "American Electrical Works, Inc." and subsequently moved to Rhode Island. In 1900 it was merged with the Washburn Wire Company of Maine. The Washburn Wire Company of New York was formed in 1916 and a year later, the Washburn Wire Company was incorporated in Delaware marking the beginning of the consolidation of the two separate operating divisions - one in New York City, and the other in Rhode Island.
The Washburn Wire Products, Inc. is a wire drawing fabricator. The plant converted rolled steel into many sizes of round, flat and shaped high carbon and alloy, cold rolled and cold-drawn, tempered and untempered wire. Major market concentrations were the automotive industry (regulator, chrome silicon, chrome vanadium) and the appliance industry (music wire and hose clay wire).
Washburn Wire Products, Inc. was the most recent acquisition of the Commonwealth Holding Company, the for-profit arm of the parent organization, the Harlem Commonwealth Council, Inc. (HCC). The HCC is a tax exempt, non-profit community development corporation, established in 1967 under the Title 1-D of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Its purpose was to provide leadership in its participation with the community in its overall physical and economic development.
In 1967 the company suffered a major blow in the loss of automotive valve spring to foreign competition.
Over the last few years, Washburn showed serious signs of decline. This occurred as a result of severe pension problems, strikes and critical decisions not to reinvest in capital modernization and improvement programs. Its Manhattan Plant was closed in 1981 in a bankruptcy sale.

Robert Harding
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated by State University of New York, through Thomas Flagg, Department of Vision Science, November 22, 1982.
Custodial History
Transferred from the Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (now the Division of Work and Industry) to the Archives, October 12, 1983.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Robert Harding, 1986

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Washburn Wire Company, Inc. Collection, 1934-1979, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Conditions Governing Access
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 or 202-633-3270.
Conditions Governing Use
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.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Mechanical engineers Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mechanical engineering Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts -- 20th century Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
New York (N.Y.) Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washburn Wire Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Moses, Robert Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
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