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George Atwell Richardson photographs

1876-1955
 Collection
Identifier: 1969-082

Abstract

George A. Richardson (1886-1976) was an engineer with an expertise in metallurgy, he spent his career primarily involved in technical publicity and sales for major steel manufacturers such as the Midvale Steel & Ordnance Company and the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. This collection of photographs and negatives was primarily taken by George Atwell Richardson throughout the course of his career while working for Midvale Steel and Ordnance Company and the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The images document views of steel plants and operations, as well as steel products mostly taken between 1913 and 1929. The collection has been organized into five series: Midvale Steel and Ordnance Company; Cambrian Steel Company; Bethlehem Steel Corporation; Exhibits, and Other steel and coal companies.

Dates

  • 1876-1955

Creator

Extent

6 Linear Feet

Physical Description

approximately 1,100 negatives : b&w ; 4 x 5 in or 5 x 7 in. 90 glass plate negatives : b&w ; 4 x 5 in. 3 glass plate negatives : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. Approximately 1,000 photographic copy prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 2 albums. 42 photographic prints : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller. 7 articles. 15 letters. 1 blueprint.

Biographical note

George A. Richardson (1886-1976) was an engineer with an expertise in metallurgy, he spent his career primarily involved in technical publicity and sales for major steel manufacturers. Richardson graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1912 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. In 1913, he began working in the sales department at the Midvale Steel Company.

The Midvale Steel Company changed its name to the Midvale Steel & Ordnance Company in 1915, and Richardson became advertising manager. In 1916, Midvale Steel & Ordnance Company took control of the Cambria Steel Company of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In 1923 both of these firms were acquired by the Bethlehem Steel Company. Richardson was the manager of the Technical Publicity Department of the Bethlehem Steel Company. Like many of Bethlehem's junior executives, he was furloughed during the Depression in 1933.

After 1933, Richardson acted as an independent consultant developing and promoting metallurgical inventions. From 1938 until his retirement he was sales manager for METLAB (Metallurgical Laboratories, Inc.) in Philadelphia. He taught metallurgy at Temple University between 1939 and 1949.

Richardson was the author of numerous technical articles and manuals. He was also an early amateur photographer. He was able to develop his talent to professional levels doing documentary photography to illustrate his lectures and publications on the steel industry. He was also interested in the history of the steel industry and of the Lehigh Valley, where he settled. He died in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1976.

Arrangement

The original order of the collection has been lost. The archivist imposed an order based on company and plant location. The materials related to Cambria Steel Company straddle two owners (Midvale and Bethlehem) and therefore is its own series.

Scope and Content

This collection of photographs and negatives was primarily taken by George Atwell Richardson throughout the course of his career while working for Midvale Steel and Ordnance Company and the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The images document views of steel plants and operations, as well as steel products mostly taken between 1913 and 1929. The collection has been organized into five series: Midvale Steel and Ordnance Company; Cambrian Steel Company; Bethlehem Steel Corporation; Exhibits, and Other steel and coal companies.

Midvale Steel and Ordnance Company series has been organized into three subseries by plant: Nicetown, Coatesville, and Rosedale.

The Nicetown Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was the main plant for Midvale. The images show interiors of shop #5, casting plant and main office exteriors, staff, field day events, and ingots. There are also articles related to steel production, several of which were written by Richardson and include the associated photographs and correspondence related to publishing. Images date from the 1890s through 1923.

Coatesville Works subseries contains interior and exterior plant views, mills, offices, open hearth plant, machine shop, viaduct mill and furnaces, and an employee picnic. These images date from 1918 to 1927.

Rosedale Coal and Coke Works was originally slated to be constructed by Cambria Steel Company, was completed as a Midvale plant in 1922. The photographs date from 1922 and show mining machines at Elk River, exterior plant views, views of the rock dump and washery, and the by-product plant.

Cambrian Steel Company series shows images of the lower works blast furnaces, plant views, manufacturing, sintering plant, and car shops. There are also images of the Franklin By-Product Plant interiors and exteriors and the Rolling Mill Mine, which was a drift portal coal mine. There are photographs of the company town of Slicksville, Pennsylvania which shows mine workers housing, company stores and offices, and an article about the town by Richarson. There are also images of the Wheel Plant showing the pump room, machinery, wheel mill and exterior views of the plant and the Wire Plant showing the shipping floor, machinery, production processes, and bessemer convertors. The materials in this series date from the 1870s to 1926, with outliers from 1856 and 1929.

Bethlehem Steel Corporation series has been organized into three subseries: Bethlehem Steel division; Bethlehem Ship Corporation division; and Bethlehem Mining Corporation division.

Bethlehem Steel division primarily documents the Sparrows Point plant and the Steelton Plant. There are some images from the Lackawanna, Lebanon, and McClintic-Marshall plants. These images are taken between 1922 and 1929. There are also photographs that show various uses of steel including the Delaware River Bridge construction in 1924 and Mayori iron in 1929.

Bethlehem Ship Corporation division primarily documents the Harlan plant with some additional materials related to Baltimore Dry Dock Works; Boston Plant, SImpson & Co. Dock; Charles Ward Engineering Works; and Hog Island shipyard. These images date from 1921 to 1926.

Bethlehem Mining Corporation division is primarily photographs of the Preston division showing mine #27 track work and village views. There are also photographs from the Elmsworth and Marion divisions. These materials date from 1924 and 1929.

Exhibits series consists of photographs of displays of products of the Midvale Steel and Ordnance Company and of the Bethlehem Steel Company at various trade fairs and expositions between 1919 and 1925. The photographs appear mostly in two albums compiled by Richardson. Annual exhibitions shown include the American Railway Association and the American Electric Railway Association, Atlantic City; the National Tractor Show, various locations; the American Mining Congress, various locations; and several other smaller shows. There are also some photographs from Metlab Co. plant and products exhibitions from the 1930s and from around 1955 and an employee identification portrait of Richardson from around 1941.

Other steel and coal companies includes the Jamison Coal and Coke Company, the Pennsylvania Iron Mining Company, the Hanna Company, De Bardeleben Coal Corporation, Eastern Manufacturing Co., Fayro Machine Co., Miller Lock Co., Oak Hill Coal Co., Link Belt Engineering Co., and the Hudson Coal Co.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Negatives are stored offsite in cold storage and must reacclimate prior to viewing (Boxes 10-11). Please contact the Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department at least 48 hours in advance of research visit.

Glass plate negatives DO NOT CIRCULATE.

Related Material

George Atwell Richardson papers (Accessions 1230 and 1307), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Midvale Steel and Ordnance Company motion picture films (Accession 1970.034), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Link Belt Company records re scientific management (Accession 0988), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Metlab Co. miscellany (Accession 1447), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

A large majority of the negatives in this collection were taken by George Atwell Richardson. The copy photographs were made from the original negatives by Hagley Museum and Library for research purposes. Not all of the negatives have prints. There have been some prints made from negatives that were deteriorated and have since been disposed of.

The collection was a series of gifts from George Atwell Richardson, with a small portion having been purchased from him.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
George Atwell Richardson photographs
Status:
Author:
Laurie Sather
Date:
2019.
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400