Guide to the Wurlitzer Company Records
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0469
Creators:
Wurlitzer (Rudolph) Company
Dates:
1860-1984
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
56 Cubic feet
Repository:
The collection documents the history and development of the Wurlitzer Company and consists of company publications, business records, employee files, manufacturing records, sales and marketing records, product information, publicity, advertising, photographs, audiovisual materials, and organ installation drawings.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection documents the history and the development of the Wurlitzer Company. Materials include company publications, business records, employee files, manufacturing records, sales and marketing records, product information, publicity, advertising, photographs, audiovisual materials, and organ installation drawings. The material in the collection spans from 1856-1986, although information prior to 1899 is sparse.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The Collection is arranged into fourteen series.
Series 1: Wurlitzer Company Histories, Company Events, and General Business Materials, circa 1880-1987; undated
Series 2: Publications, 1910-1989; undated
Series 3: Advertising and Promotional Materials, 1911-1978
Series 4: Product Information, 1860-1984; undated
Series 5: Photographs of Wurlitzer Manufacturing Plants, Employees, Stores, and Dealerships, 1869-1970; undated Series 6: Photographs of Wurlitzer Products and Product Sales Promotions, 1900-1978; undated
Series 7, Photographs Used in Wurlitzer Advertising and Public Relations, 1904-1970; undated
Series 8: Wurlitzer Employee Records and Related Materials, 1909-1961; undated
Series 9: Production and Shipping Records, 1905-1987
Series 10: Shipping and Sales Records for Wurlitzer Dealerships, Wurlitzer Retail Stores, and Rembert Wurlitzer, Incorporated, 1917-1952
Series 11, Records of Stock Certificates, Meeting Minutes, and Related Financial and Legal Documents, 1907-1972
Series 12, Rudolph Wurlitzer Company Financial Records, 1893-1986
Series 13, Maps and Charts, 1931-1976
Series 14, Organ Installation Drawings, 1920-1931; undated

Historical Note
Historical Note
The Wurlitzer Company began in 1856 when Rudolph Wurlitzer, a Cincinnati bank clerk, sold seven hundred dollars worth of musical instruments he had bought from family and friends in Germany. The busi¬ness was incorporated in Ohio in 1890 under the name the Ru¬dolph Wurlitzer Company." For the first fifty years, Wurlitzer was primarily a retail instrument business operating out of its Cincinnati Store headquarters. Although fire destroyed the com¬pany's headquarters in 1904, a new building was completed in time to celebrate Wurlitzer's fiftieth anniversary in 1906.
In 1908, the Wurlitzer Company bought the DeKleist Musical In¬strument Manufacturing Company in North Tonawanda, New York. The Rudolph Wurlitzer Manufacturing Company continued produc¬tion of automatic musical instruments including player pianos, military bands and pianorchestras. In 1910, the Wurlitzer Company bought the Hope-Jones Organ Company and began to manufacture unit-or¬chestra pipe organs at their North Tonawanda plant. These were pipe organs equipped with bells, gongs, horns and sirens. They became known as Mighty Wurlitzers and provided the musical back¬ground in silent movie houses all over the world and were also built for churches and private homes. In 1919, Wurlitzer bought the Melville-Clark Piano Company of DeKalb, Illinois. Wurlitzer pianos were then manufactured at the DeKalb facilities under a variety of names: the Apollo Piano Company, the DeKalb Piano Company and the Wurlitzer Grand Piano Company. Each name des¬ignated a different quality, price range and style.
With the decline of sales during the 1920s and 1930s, pro¬duction of automatic musical instruments ceased until the manu¬facture of the first jukebox in 1934. In 1930, the Julius Bauer Piano Company was purchased and continued to build pianos in that name until shortly before World War II. For a brief time, radios and refrigerators were made by the Wurlitzer controlled Air-Amer¬ican Mohawk Corporation. It was not a successful venture and ended in the mid-1930s. Many of the Wurlitzer retail stores were, at that time, in bad locations and needed repairs. The solutions to these problems came about with a reorganization of the company in 1935. With the reorganization, many retail stores were sold, piano manufacturing was consolidated in DeKalb and many subsidiaries were dissolved or absorbed completely into the Wurlitzer Company.
During World War II, Wurlitzer halted production of musical in¬struments. The company's defense production efforts were rec¬ognized in 1943 and 1944 when it is North Tonawanda and DeKalb plants received the Army-Navy "E" Award. In 1946, peacetime production resumed and the Wurlitzer Company introduced two new instruments: the electric organ in 1947 and the electric piano in 1954. In 1956, the Wurlitzer Company celebrated its centennial. That same year a new plant at Corinth, Mississippi, was completed. Later, plants were opened in Holly Springs, Mississippi (1961), Logan, Utah (1970) and Hullhorst, West Germany, (1960). The new facilities replaced those at North Tonawanda and DeKalb. The North Tonawanda plant ceased production of jukeboxes in 1974, becoming the company's engineering and research center. In 1973, the DeKalb plant ended production of pianos maintaining only mar¬keting and administrative offices. In 1977, the Wurlitzer Com¬pany's corporate headquarters moved to DeKalb, including the en¬gineering and research center from North Tonawanda.
Wurlitzer's three sons had assumed leadership of the company after his death in 1914. Each son acted as president then, chair of the board, successively. The company hired R.C. Rolfing in 1934 as vice-president and general manager. His re¬organization helped the company through the Depression years. Rolfing succeeded the last of the founder's sons in 1941 as pres¬ident of the company and in 1966 as chair of the board. Farny Wurlitzer, Rudolph's youngest son, died in 1972. A.D. Arsem succeeded Rolfing in 1974 as chair of the board. George B. Howell succeeded W. N. Herleman as president of the company.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Craig Orr, 1994
Author
Craig Orr
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated by Northern Illinois University, and Regional History Center, 1994, November 11.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
Wurlitzer Company Records, 1860-1984, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
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.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
Steinway & Sons Records and Family Papers, 1857-1919 (AC0178)
Chickering & Sons Piano Company Collection, 1864-1985 (AC0264)
Sohmer & Company Records, 1872-1989 (AC0349)
William J. Lenz Piano Tuning Collection, circa 1903-1955 (AC0511)
Janssen Piano Company Records, 1901-1929 (AC0512)
John R. Anderson Piano Trade Literature and Ephemera Collection, circa 1850-1990 (AC1257)
Warshaw Collection of Business America's Piano and Organ related materials (AC0060)

Accruals
Accruals
Additional materials donated by Baldwin Piano and Organ Company, November 1997.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Minute books Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Account books Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
DeKalb (Ill.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
North Tonawanda (N.Y.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Violin -- Manufacture Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Radio -- Receivers and reception Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Financial records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stock records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Corinth (Miss.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cincinnati (Ohio) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Reports Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coin-operated machines Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Advertisements Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Accordion Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sales records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jukeboxes -- Manufacture Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audits Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Harp -- Manufacture Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Piano -- History Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cashbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Player organ Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ledgers (account books) Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Accordion -- Manufacture Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Piano makers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Annual reports Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 19th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Organ -- Manufacture Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Organ -- History Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Journals (accounts) Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlitzer organ Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Price lists Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Musical instrument makers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Trade catalogs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mechanical organs Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Publications Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mechanical musical instruments Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Musical instruments Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Employee records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Marketing records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Commercial catalogs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlitzer Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Beach-Carlisle Violin Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Apollo Piano Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Central Discount Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Caldwell Piano Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
DeKalb Piano Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dayton Photo Products Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Deutsch Wurlitzer Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dekleist Musical Instruments Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
All-American Mohawk Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlitzer Acceptance Corporation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wunderlich Piano Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlbild Corporation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Southern Ohio Radio Corporation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Western Industries Corporation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rolfing, R.C. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rudolph Wurlitzer Manufacturing Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Robert L. Loud Music Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Milner Music Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Morsatti, Inc. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fox Theatres Corporation Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lyric Piano Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Eagle Radio Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Everett Piano Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Youngstown Music Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlitzer, Rudolph Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlitzer, Rembert Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlitzer, Farny Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlitzer Grand Piano Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wurlitzer Company of California Corporate 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