Claire G. Ely collection of Maytag Corporation records1940-1993 Majority of material found within 1947-1970
The Maytag Corporation manufactures home appliances, most well known for its washing machines, also produces dryers, dishwashers, cooktops, refrigerators, and ranges. Claire G. Ely (1905-2004) was an employee of the Maytag company for forty one years. He worked for the Kansas City Branch and then was transferred to Newton, Iowa upon his promotion in 1952 to Manager of Product and Market Planning, eventually becoming Vice President of Marketing. This collection consists of materials collected or created by Clare G. Ely and includes biographical information about the Maytag family, historical information about the Maytag company, and documents the career of Ely from Branch Manager to Vice President. The collection includes press releases, newsletters, bulletins, newspaper clippings, correspondence, reports, pamphlets, photographs, and certificates.
- Majority of material found within 1947-1970
0.75 Linear Feet
General Physical Description
87 items : paper documents (bulletins, memorandums, correspondence, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, reports). 1 drawing : pencil. 4 certificates. 1 album (containing 45 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. and 4 items). 71 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 9 photographic prints : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. 1 photographic print : color ; 4 x 6 in. 13 photographic prints : b&w ; 3.25 x 4.25 in. 2 photographic prints : color ; 3 x 3 in. 2 photographic prints : b&w ; 11 x 14 in. 3 photographic prints : b&w ; panoramas.
Claire G. Ely (1905-2004) was an employee of the Maytag company for forty-one years. He worked for the Kansas City Branch and then was transferred to Newton, Iowa upon his promotion in 1952 to Manager of Product and Market Planning, eventually becoming Vice President of Marketing.
Ely was born in Osage, Iowa. He was a graduate of the St. Ansgar, Iowa Senior High School, and later attended the University of Minnesota. In 1924, at the age of nineteen, Ely started as a retail salesman for a Minneapolis Maytag dealer, later becoming the general sales manager.
He joined the Maytag Company in 1929 as a Regional Manager of the Minneapolis branch serving territory in Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin, and South Dakota. In 1945, he became assistant branch manager of the Maytag Kansas City branch. The manager was George H. Ireland, who retired in 1947, and Ely was promoted to manager.
In 1951, parts of Kansas and Missouri experienced severe flooding due to excessive rainfall and lack of flood protection, it is known as the Great Flood of 1951. The flooding took place between July 13 and July 20 and resulted in seventeen deaths, over five hundred thousand people displaced, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage.
Ely developed a rehabilitation program to aid flood victims. This effort caught the attention of Fred Maytag II and other executives at the company. In 1952, the company reorganized by splitting its Sales Department into two, in an effort to expand its Distribution Division. One was devoted to distribution, the logistics of the physical movement of all finished goods under the direction of the General Sales Manager, Verne Martin. The second was devoted to overall planning overseen by Claire G. Ely as the Manager of Market and Product Planning. John H. Evans succeeded Ely as Branch Manager at the Kansas City Branch. Evans had been Regional Manager in Cleveland.
Ely and his family moved to Newton, Iowa. There he assumed his position as Manager of Market and Product Planning reporteding to Roy A. Bradt, Vice President of Marketing. In. 1954, Ely was made General Sales Manager and in 1957, upon Bradt’s retirement, Ely became Vice President of Marketing. In 1962, he became a member of the board of directors of the Corporation and in 1970, Ely retired from the Maytag Corporation.
On October 16, 1926, Claire was united in marriage with Dorothy Moeller in St. Paul, Minnesota. The couple had two children: a son, Jon and a daughter, Mary. Jon graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence after serving a year in the army where he was stationed in Japan. Jon became a Maytag Regional Manager in Washington, DC in 1952. Mary graduated from Carleton College in 1953.
The Maytag Corporation manufactures home appliances, most well known for its washing machines, also produces dryers, dishwashers, cooktops, refrigerators, and ranges.
In 1893, the company was founded by F.L. (Frederick Louis) Maytag I (1857–1937), his two brothers-in-law and George W. Parsons. The company was originally named Parsons Band-Cutter & Self Feeder Company and produced threshing machines, band-cutters and self-feeder attachments. F.L. Maytag became the sole proprietor of the company and renamed it Maytag Company.
Appliances were developed to supplement sales during seasonal downturns in the farm equipment sales. In 1905, Maytag's first washing machine, the "Pastime", was produced, which had a wooden tub and relied upon pulleys and a hand crank to operate the machine. The Maytag washing machine evolved over time to be motorized and have a porcelain, aluminum or steel tub.
F.L. Maytag stepped down in 1920 and his son, L. B. Maytag (1888–1967), began serving as company president. The company became the Maytag Washing Machine Company in 1925. E.H. (Elmer Henry) Maytag, (1883–1940) another son of F.L. Maytag, served as president from 1926 until his death in 1940. That same year, Frederick Louis Maytag II (1911–1962), E.H. Maytag’s son became Maytag's head at the age of twenty-nine.
During World War II, Maytag ceased production of washing machines and contributed to the war effort by manufacturing components for military airplanes. When the war ended washing machine manufacturing resumed, and Maytag began selling ranges and refrigerators.
In 1944, Maytag began seeking a manufacturer of gas ranges that Maytag would distribute. In September of 1945, Maytag purchased a large share of the Globe American Corp, a stove and range manufacturing company. Globe American Corp manufactured the Maytag Dutch Oven at its plant in Kokomo, Indiana.
Upon the death of F. L. Maytag II in 1962, George M. Unibreit became chairman of the board and chief executive officer, and E.G. Higdon was named president. In 1972, Daniel L. Krumm succeeded E.G. Higdon as Maytag president and treasurer, and two years later he was named chief executive officer. On December 22, 2005 Maytag stockholders agreed to sell Maytag to Whirlpool Corporation, ending Maytag's 112-year history as an independent company.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of materials collected or created by Claire G. Ely and includes biographical information about the Maytag family, historical information about the Maytag company, and documents the career of Ely from Branch Manager to Vice President. The collection includes press releases, newsletters, bulletins, newspaper clippings, correspondence, reports, pamphlets, photographs, and certificates.
The collection is organized into five series: I. Maytag Company files, II. Maytag family files, III. Claire G. Ely files, IV. Photographs and V. Certificates. Each series is arranged chronologically.
Maytag Company files series contains a historical article written in the form of a press release, Maytag Company publications, the Annual report of 1969, a meeting notice, and several newspaper clippings of articles related to the Maytag Company. There is also a document which outlines the reorganization of the Distribution Division splitting the Sales Department into two, which resulted in the promotion of Ely.
Maytag family files series consists of biographical articles and obituaries about the members of the Maytag family who served as Company president: F.L. Maytag, L.B. Maytag, E.H. Maytag and Fred Maytag II. Many of the biographical articles are written as press releases by the Maytag Company, and obituaries are primarily newspaper clippings or photocopies of newspaper articles. There is also a Maytag family tree and a handwritten eulogy by Claire G. Ely for Fred Maytag II.
Claire G. Ely files series documents Ely’s promotion to Manager of Market and Product Planning. There are several newspaper clippings of articles announcing his promotion and transfer to the Newton, Iowa head office, and correspondence between Ely and professional associates congratulating him on his promotion. There are a number of sales training books and pamphlets that either advertise training programs or provide insight on selling. A newspaper clipping of an article about Ely’s promotion to Vice President of Marketing is also included. Additionally there are a few bulletins and newsletters of the Rotary Club, of which Ely was a member, and a pencil drawing of his daughter Mary by someone named Sue.
The Photographs series documents Ely’s career with Maytag from 1947, when he served as Manager of the Kansas City branch, through to his retirement as Vice President of Marketing in 1970. There are many group portraits of regional managers, dealers, and employees at various meetings, dinners, and other company events. There are several individual portraits of Ely, as well as one of Fred Maytag II and George M. Unibreit. There are also many candid photographs or snapshots from office parties, small informal gatherings and his retirement party. There is one photograph album which documents Ely’s time as Manager of the Kansas City branch from 1947 to 1951. The photographs show the sale of the five millionth washer, several Maytag Dutch Oven events, the aftermath of the Great Flood of 1951, and images of showroom floors, exhibits, and appliances. The photographs in the album have been removed for preservation purposes: original order has been maintained. Additionally there were items tucked in both the front and the back of the album, these too have been removed for preservation. One item is a letter from Fred Maytag II to Ely which acknowledges his efforts to aid flood victims. The items tucked in the back of the album were additional photographs, so are similar in nature to what can be found in the album, and includes images after 1952 of events, office parties and Ely’s retirement party.
Certificates series consists of four honors received by Ely: Maytag Company Regional Managers advancement; Association of Home Appliance Honorary Lifetime Membership Certificate; Paul Harris award from the Rotary Club and a Kiwanis certificate of appreciation. Three of the certificates are cased in the original document covers and the fourth is loose. One certificate also contained additional materials laid into, such as letters, a bulletin and newspaper clipping all pertaining to receipt of the award.
This collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Claire G. Ely collection of Maytag Corporation records
- Laurie Rizzo
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