Whitin Machine Works additional records
Conditions Governing Access
238.50 linear feet (165 boxes, 123 cartons, 233 volumes)
Biographical / Historical
In the meantime, John C. Whitin, who had been running the machine shop, had developed and built a improved mechanized cotton picker, for which he received a patent in 1832, the first of over 400 patents that Whitin Machine Works would be issued. This superior and lucrative machine, was the basis for the fortunes of the Whitin Machine Works. Due to the resulting increase in the machinery end of the business which was located in the Brick Mill, a new building was erected in 1847 and an addition was added in 1864. From 1860-1863, the brothers also operated the Holyoke Machine Shop in Holyoke, MA. In 1864, P. Whitin & Sons dissolved. The family businesses were divided; Paul Jr. received the Rockdale and Riverdale Mills which were incorporated as the Paul Whitin Manufacturing Co. in 1870; Charles P. received the Whitinsville Cotton Mill and the Brick Mill as well as the East Douglas mill (Douglas Manufacturing Co.); John C. acquired the machine shop and the Northbridge mill; and James F. received the Crown and Eagle Mill of North Uxbridge which had been acquired in 1849 and the real estate and privilege occupied by the Linwood Mill.
John C. obtained a charter to incorporate as the Whitin Machine Works in 1868 and the first meeting of the new company was held in Jan. 1870 with John C. as the principal shareholder. Shortly thereafter, John C. retired, leaving the running of the Machine Works to his son-in-law and treasurer, Josiah Lasell (in charge of business operations) and Gustavus Taft (in charge of products and manufacturing). Together, they managed the company until 1882, when John C. died and Lasell took over the presidency. Lasell died in 1886. In the meantime, the Works continued to expand with buildings added in 1884 (Shop #3), 1899 (Shop #4), 1908 (Shop #5), and in 1923 (Shop #6) the year in which Charles P. Whitin sold his cotton mill to the Machine Works, ending the manufacture of textiles in Whitinsville..
George Marston Whitin, grandson of Paul, Jr., served as treasurer from 1886 to 1920; his wife Catherine was the daughter of Josiah Lasell. E. Kent Swift, the Assistant Treasurer, was elected to succeed George in January 1920; he served as treasurer until 1947 and was also appointed Chairman of the Board in 1946, a position he held until July 17, 1959. Swift guided Whitin through the textile industry’s depression of the 1920s and kept the company fully employed during World War II and the busy post-war period. J. Hugh Bolton was named president in 1946, and served until the early 1960s. Whitin Machine Works, once one of the largest producers in the world of textile machinery and tools merged with White Consolidated Industries in 1966, and operations moved South in 1967. In the early 1980s Whitin merged with the Roberts Co. of Sanford, NC and went into bankruptcy several years later. The company was bought by Derrick Smith shortly thereafter and operated until 2004 when it went into bankruptcy once again. It reorganized as American Performance Industries (API), Sanford, NC but has no connection to the manufacture of textile machine parts.
Other significant landmarks in Whitin’s history include creating an employee village of over 1,500 homes in Whitinsville beginning in the 1890’s; establishing plants in Whitinsville and Charlotte, N.C. (in 1932) that employed over 4500 employees and manufactured over 70 different lines of machinery covering all phases of making yarns from fibers; establishing Whitin International Ltd. in 1953 to serve the international product line and handle licensing; acquiring Fayscott Landis Machine, Dexter, ME in 1947 and 1959; acquiring Harvey-Wells Electronics, Inc., makers of precision instruments and devices in the 1950s; acquiring American Type Founders, Elizabeth, NJ, in 1959; acquiring Foster Machine, Westfield, MA in 1962; acquiring J.D. Ferry, Harrisburg, PA in 1963.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Whitin Machine Works. Whitin Machine Works Additional Records, 1830-1977: A Finding Aid
- Baker Library
- Description rules
- EAD ID
Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository
Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.
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