Society of American Archivists
BUSINESS ARCHIVES NEWSLETTER
Where Have the Baldwin Papers Gone?
by Henry A. Rentschler, President, Baldwin-Hamilton
"Where have the Baldwin papers gone?" I can shed some light on this question, but first a little history. Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton (B-L-H) was a complex company. Its roots went back to the very beginnings of industry in the United States. Baldwin had its beginnings in 1832; Hamilton in 1846; and Lima in 1869. Baldwin, Lima, and Hamilton merged in 1950. Much of the corporate and product history has been published, some quite recently. I have had the privilege of helping on some of the recent volumes, including one on Lima that is due out later this year.
At the time B-L-H discontinued the manufacture of locomotivesin 1954, the firm attempted to destroy most of its old and obsolete records. It only partially succeeded, and fortunately some drawings were spirited off and preserved. A curator at the Smithsonian Institution told me some years ago that the Baldwin collection alone, if it were still intact, would be valued at over $7,000,000. Too bad it was so scattered, and so much destroyed.
I will not reconstruct B-L-H's entire history here, nor can I comment much on the "corporate" records, which were mostly destroyed, or in a few cases ended up with Armour and Greyhound during the liquidation of B-L-H in 1971-72.
Our group, now known as the Baldwin-Hamilton Company, a division of Ecolaire Incorporated, ended up with certain engineering records, patents, files, and tooling directly related to our product lines. Due to the similarity of our Company name and that of B-L-H, we often get inquiries about this product or that, and I keep a list of other B-L-H product lines to help the owners of B-L-H apparatus find information. The list contains trade names of products and locations of records -- eighteen locations, eighteen other companies with B-L-H records.
During a major consolidation in 1975-76 we gave away many original documents and drawings to museums around the country. Among the gifts were
- documents pertaining to the Austin-Western and Western dumpcars, given to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
- manuals for steam and diesel locomotives with Baldwin and Hamilton trade names, given to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento
- Baldwin locomotive manuals and other engineering records,given to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden
- Baldwin, Southwark, Hamilton, and Hooven, Owens, Rentschler trade catalogs, given to the Hagley Museum, Wilmington, DE
- records of Hamilton, Baldwin, De La Vergne, Lima-Hamilton, and Hooven, Owens, Rentschler machinery, given to the Ohio Historical Society, Columbus
- a large collection of locomotive drawings and records of Baldwin, Baldwin Locomotive Works, and B-L-H, given to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg
- Southwark, Porter-Allen, Baldwin, and De La Vergne records pertaining to steam engines, pumping engines, blowing engines, diesel engines, refrigeration machines, and locomotives, given to the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington
- Hamilton, Pelton, Southwark, De La Vergne, and Hooven, Owens, Rentschler records pertaining to diesel and steam engines andother equipment, given to the Steamship Historical Society,New York
- records of Austin-Western dump cars and Baldwin locomotives, given to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Chattanooga
- records of Baldwin, De La Vergne, Griscom-Russell, Griscom-Spencer, and Loewy-Hydropress, given to the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, Colorado Springs, CO
Additionally, the largest collection of Baldwin Locomotive Works drawings and records, and records of B-L-H, is at the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; the DeGolyer acquired the collection in 1954. Approximately 15,000 B-L-H and Baldwin Locomotive Works photographs and negatives, including the earliest glass plate negatives, are owned by H. L. Broadbelt of Newport News, VA. And many Lima photographs, drawings, and corporate records are at the Allen County Historical Society in Lima, OH.
Of course, we retain modern (mostly post World War II) records pertaining to our current product lines -- locomotives,diesel engines, steam engines, and dump cars -- and current tradenames -- Baldwin, Hamilton, Lima-Hamilton, Whitcomb, Austin-Western, and Hooven, Owens, Rentschler. Finally, it is not "paper," but I might add that we have preserved the 1905 statue of Matthias Baldwin, which we display outside our offices here in Malvern, PA.
Where have the Baldwin papers gone? Almost everywhere apparently
Society of American Archivists