Guide to the Steinway & Sons Records and Family Papers
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0178
Creators:
Steinway, William
Steinway, Henry Ziegler.
Steinway family
Steinway & Sons
Musical History, Division of (NMAH, SI)
Krüsi, Bartholomew, Rev.
Dates:
1857-1919
Languages:
Multiple languages
Collection is primarily in
English
. Some materials in
German
.
Physical Description:
6 Cubic feet
12 boxes, including photographs and microfilm
Repository:
Records of the Steinway & Sons piano company and a daily diary of William Steinway, a key figure in the rise of the company to international prominence in the nineteenth century. The records document overall operations of the company, individual piano serial numbers, and the business and personal life of William Steinway, a prominent figure in New York business, politics, and musical life.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of an original diary (and microfilm copies) kept by William Steinway and microfilm copies of nineteenth century business records of Steinway & Sons. There also are business and family photographs and some miscellaneous documents.

Arrangement
Arrangement
  • Series 1, William Steinway Diary, 1861-1896
  • Series 2, Steinway Business Records, 1858-1910
  • Series 3, Steinway Family Materials, 1877-1882
  • Series 4, Rev. Bartholomew Krüsi Materials, 1857-1919

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Heinrich Engelhard Steinway (Steinweg) (born 1797, Wolfshagen, Germany; died 1871, New York City) made his first piano in 1836. In 1850 he immigrated to America and settled in New York City with his wife, three daughters, and four of his five sons. He and his sons Charles, Henry, Jr., and William at first worked for various New York piano makers until 1853 when they formed the partnership of Steinway & Sons. One year later Steinway & Sons' square pianos won first prize at the Metropolitan Mechanics Institute Exhibition (held at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.) and in 1855 won the Gold medal for the best piano (an over-strung iron-frame square piano) in the American Institute Fair at the Crystal Palace in New York City. In 1859, Henry, Jr. patented (patent no. 26,532, December 20, 1859) a design for a one-piece over-strung iron frame for the grand piano that won praise, a gold medal, and international recognition at the 1867 Paris Exposition.
The firm faced a crisis in 1865 when two of Heinrich's sons died: Henry (born 1831), who was responsible for the first seven patents, and Charles (born 1829). The family prevailed on the eldest son, C. F. Theodor (1825 1889), to sell his partnership as a piano manufacturer in Braunschweig, Germany, and to join his family in New York City. Not eager to sever all his ties in Germany, Theodor spent time in both countries until his death, contributing technical innovations that resulted in forty-one patents. One of these patents was for the duplex scale in 1872. Several of the following generation worked with the firm, including Fred T. Steinway (1860-1927), son of Charles, who served in London, Hamburg, and New York City.
C. F. Theodor Steinway's technical skills were matched by the entrepreneurial skills of his brother William (1835 1896). William was a creative businessman who played the piano, sang tenor, and supported the musical life of New York City. His promotional and marketing techniques, and his cultivation of eminent musicians and association with aristocratic patrons, helped to make Steinway & Sons so successful. William Steinway was prominent in New York City social and political life.
In 1880, Steinway & Sons opened a Hamburg branch. The firm was sold in 1972 to CBS. Subsequent owners include the Birmingham Brothers (Steinway Musical Properties, 1985-1995) and Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc. (1995-).

Administration
Existence and Location of Originals
Originals of microfilmed materials in this collection are found in the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College/CUNY, Long Island City, New York. Some originals also may be with the Steinway family.
Existence and Location of Copies
Eleven microfilm reels (positive) of the serial number books and four microfilm reels (positive) of the company and family records are located in the museum's library (call number MFM 1176). A second set of these reels is in the Steinway Diary Project office.
Separated Materials
The Division of Culture and the Arts holds several Steinway and Sons pianos.
Processing Information
Processed by Robert S. Harding, archivist, January 5, 1990; revised Craig A. Orr, archivist, March 28, 1990; May 31, 1996; August 21, 1996; revised Anne Jones (volunteer) June 30, 2005; John Fleckner, archivist, August 1, 2008.
Author
John Fleckner
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Henry Z. Steinway donated the William Steinway diary on April 2, 1996.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use. Researchers must use positive microfilm copy of diary. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
Conditions Governing 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.
Preferred Citation
Steinway and Sons Piano Company Collection, 1857-1919, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

Related Materials
The LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College/CUNY is the largest repository of Steinway materials. It holds extensive business records as well as personal papers and photographs. The Steinway family loaned seventy folders of Steinway family correspondence to the National Museum of American History in October, 1984, and a program of transcription and translation was begun by the Steinway Diary Project. The original correspondence was transferred to the Archives Center in August 1985 and, at the request of Henry Z. Steinway, transferred to the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives in March, 1990. Additional Steinway materials are at the New York Historical Society, the University of Maryland Performing Arts Library, and other repositories. The control file for this collection has further information on the location of Steinway materials.
The Archives Center's N W Ayer Advertising Agency Records contains advertising proof sheets for Steinway & Sons from 1900 through 1963. The Piano series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana contains five folders of material on Steinway. The Industry on Parade Film Collection has a short, 1953 film (reel #156) on Steinway's manufacture of pianos in its Long Island plant. The Sohmer & Company Records contain three folders of trade literature from Steinway. These include catalogs, pamphlets, and booklets on the Steinway family genealogy and on the Steinway piano used at the White House. Sohmer, also a New York City piano manufacturer, collected copies of competitors' sales catalogs and other publications.

Custodial History
Custodial History
Microfilm copies of the eleven reels of serial number books were lent to the museum by Henry and John Steinway for duplication in 1988. The Steinways lent the original minute books, correspondence, and inventories for microfilming in 1989.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Business records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Catalogs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 1930-1950 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Microfilms -- Negative Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 1850-1900 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Minute books Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business letters Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Love letters Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Letters Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Letter books Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Keyboard instruments -- Manufacturing Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Travel Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- 1900-1910 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Politics -- New York (N.Y.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Church Interiors Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Piano Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Piano makers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Steinway, Theodore (C.F. Theodore Steinweg), 1825-1889 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Steinway, John Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Steinway, Henry (Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg), 1797-1871 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Steinway, Fred T., 1860-1927 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
German Presbyterian Church (New York, N.Y.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Musical History, Division of (NMAH, SI) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
CBS Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lehman, Lilly Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives