Guide to the Messmore and Damon, Inc. Company Records
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0846
Creators:
Messmore, George Harold
Messmore and Damon Company
Damon, Joseph
Dates:
1892 - 1998
Languages:
English
Collection text is in English.
Some materials are in Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
Physical Description:
16 Cubic feet
40 boxes
Repository:
The records document Messmore and Damon's work in the design and construction of parade floats, museum dioramas, exhibitions, displays and scenery. The materials include business records, photographs, patents, scrapbooks, promotional materials, sound recordings and moving image.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of papers relating to Messmore and Damon's work in the design and construction of parade floats, museum dioramas, exhibitions, displays and scenery. The materials include business records, patents, photographs, scrapbooks containing clippings and photographs, promotional materials, sound recordings, and moving image.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is divided into eleven series.
Series 1: Background/Biographical Materials, 1925-1996
Series 2: Business Files, 1918-1997
Subseries 2.1: Messmore and Damon, Inc., 1918-1988
Subseries 2.2: Messmore, Inc., 1971-1989
Series 3: Patents, 1892-1952
Series 4: Projects/Exhibitions, 1924-1997
Series 5: Parades, 1960-1997
Series 6: Product Literature, circa 1930s-1992
Series 7: Heart Patient Simulator Materials, 1977-1998
Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1925-1947
Series 9: Photographs, 1900-1997
Subseries 9.1: Family, 1900-1997
Subseries 9.2: Subjects, 1930-1995
Subseries 9.3: Chronological, 1957-1985
Subseries 9.4: Ephemera, undated
Subseries 9.5: Postcards, undated
Subseries 9.6: Negatives, undated
Series 10: Oversize Materials, 1930-1989
Series 11: Audiovisual Materials, 1933-1937, 1997
Subseries 11.1: Audio Discs, 1933-1937
Subseries 11.2: Moving Image, 1997

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Messmore and Damon, Inc. was founded in 1914 by George Harold Messmore (1884-1961) and Joseph A. Damon (1882-1962). Messmore and Damon met in 1916 while working on floats for the Elks Convention in New York City. The two formed a partnership and in 1914 opened Messmore and Damon, Inc., a small shop where they initially constructed animal displays, but quickly expanded to theatrical scenery, parade floats, props for television, amusement park operations, seasonal displays, special effects in stores, advertising and promotional work, window displays, dioramas, and other exhibit work. Most of their parade and department store work featured mechanical devices which animated the animal and human figures involved, pioneering in what became known as "animatronics." The firm did the first Macy's Day Parade in 1924 and attained world-wide fame with their exhibit, The World a Million Years Ago at the 1933-1934, Chicago Century of Progress Exposition. A separate company, Messmore, Inc., was created to manufacture and sell a cardiology patient simulator, "Harvey," later known as "George," for use in medical schools.
Joseph A. Damon, born in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, attended art school in St. Louis. A scenic artist by training he worked at Lee Lash Studios and built floats for the Hudson/Fulton Celebration in 1909. Damon married Olga Schaufelberger and had one daughter named Olga C. Damon (1922-2000).
George H. Messmore, known as "GH," started his career working backstage in theaters and built displays for the Panama-Pacific Exposition (1915). Messmore married Meta Decker (1890-1985) and they had one son, Francis (1916-1997), known as "Fran." Fran joined Messmore and Damon in 1946, working on department store displays and ran the company until his death in 1997. The company was dissolved on September 2, 1998.

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by Alison Oswald, archivist, 2013. Pamela Messmore Tobiason and Dana McKelvy provided additional biographical information and identified some photographs in Series 9: Photographs, July 2017.
Author
Alison Oswald
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by Pamela Messmore Tobiason, granddaughter of George H. Messmore, in 2003.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Social Security numbers are present and numbers have been rendered unreadable and redacted. Researchers may use the photocopies in the collection. The remainder of the collection has no restrictions.
Reference copies for the audio discs do not exist. Use of these materials requires special arrangement with the audiovisual archivist.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives.
Preferred Citation
Messmore and Damon Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
William L. Bird Holidays on Display Collection (AC1319)
Michael Cipriano Papers (AC1274)
Landy Hales Papers (AC0906)
John Nicholson Papers (AC1279)
Edward J. Orth Memorial Archives of the World's Fair (AC0560)

Accruals
Accruals
Additional materials (one cubic foot) were added in 2007.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Scrapbooks -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Parades Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dioramas Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Parade float designers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Parade floats Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Exhibitions Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Theaters -- Stage-setting and scenery Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Phonograph records Type 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