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Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. account books
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Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. account books

Accession 2414

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
research@hagley.org

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-04-15T11:00-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. account books (Accession 2414), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. account books
Dates: 1824-1918, bulk 1967-1907
Accession Number: 2414
Creator: Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Extent: 5.9 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: Founded by English immigrant Henry Disston (1819-1878), Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. was a major manufacturer of saws and one of the largest industrial firms in Philadelphia. The collection consists of company account books for Tacony Fuel Gas Company, Henry Disston & Sons File Company, Ltd., and Henry Disston & Sons Iron & Steel Works. Also includes is an insurance ledger from the Estate of Henry Disston.
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Administrative Information


Provenance

Gift of the Disston family

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Historical Note

Henry Disston, the founder of the firm, was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, in 1819 and emigrated with his father to Philadelphia in 1833. His father died soon after, and Henry was apprenticed to Lindley, Johnson & Whitcraft, saw manufacturers. The firm failed in the depression in 1840, and young Disston took the tools and stock in lieu of back wages and established his own shop. Disston introduced the Sheffield practice of using crucible steel with the assistance of skilled workers imported from the Sheffield district. Disston produced the first crucible saw steel manufactured in the United States in 1855. A rolling mill was added in 1862.

Hamilton Disston, Henry’s eldest son, joined the firm in 1865 as Henry Disston & Son. Albert Disston joined in 1870. In 1872 fire destroyed a large part of the original factory, and Disston gradually moved the entire operation to Tacony on the Delaware River in Northeast Philadelphia. Here Disston built substantial houses for his employees, a school, library, and music hall. The firm remained under the control of Henry Disston’s extended family after his death in 1878. The firm was incorporated under the laws of Pennsylvania in 1886. It gained an international reputation for the quality of its products, its skilled work force, and its ability to respond quickly to the demands of a competitive market.

The Disston family sold the company to the H.K. Porter Company, Inc. of Pittsburgh in 1955. Operated by Porter as a subsidiary, Disston, Inc., the operation was sold to Sandvik AB of Sweden in 1972. It was sold to R.A.F. Industries, Inc. in 1984 and reorganized as Disston Precision Incorporated. The new company still manufactures saws and other flat steel products in custom lots under the Disston brand name in Philadelphia.

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Scope and Content

The collection consists of company account books for Tacony Fuel Gas Company, Henry Disston & Sons File Company, Ltd., and Henry Disston & Sons Iron & Steel Works. Also includes is an insurance ledger from the Estate of Henry Disston.

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Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Journals, 1898-1918
Volume
1 General Journal, 1911-1918
Volume
2 Day Book, Department Accounts, 1898-1901
II. Ledgers, 1867-1898
Volume
3 General Ledger No. 1, 1867-1869
Volume
4 General Ledger No. 2, 1869-1875
Volume
5 General Ledger No. 6, 1887-1891
Volume
6 Private Ledger No. 2, 1880-1887
Volume
7 Suspended Debt Ledger, 1869-1898
Volume
8 Atlantic City Ledger, 1883-1896
III. Cash Books, 1861-1907
Volume
9 Cash Books, 1861-1867
Volume
10 General Cash Book No. 1, 1867-1869
Volume
11 General Cash Book No. 3, 1878-1880
Volume
12 Cash Books, 1883-1896
Volume
13 Private Cash Book No. 2, 1882-1884
Volume
14 Private Cash Book No. 3, 1884-1886
Volume
15 Private Cash Book No. 4, 1886-1887
Volume
16 Private Cash Book No. 13, 1897-1899
Volume
17 Private Cash Book No. 17, 1902-1904
Volume
18 Private Cash Book No. 18, 1904-1907
IV. Stock Books, 1876-1909
Volume
19 Stock Books, 1876-1894
Volume
20 Stock Books, 1895-1909
V. Tacony Fuel Gas Company, 1888-1897
Volume
21 Day Book, 1888-1897
Volume
22 Ledger, 1888-1897
VI. Henry Disston & Sons File Company, Ltd., 1877-1913
Volume
23 Journal No. 1, 1887-1913
Volume
24 Ledger No. 1, 1877-1899
VII. Henry Disston & Sons Iron & Steel Works, 1887-1916
Volume
25 Ledger No. 1, 1887-1916
VIII. Estate of Henry Disston, 1824-1905
Volume
26 Insurance Ledger, 1824-1905