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Westinghouse Electric Corporation Steam Division photographs

1898-1964
 Collection
Identifier: 1969-170

Abstract

The Westinghouse Machine Company manufactured gas and steam engines, turbines and mechanical stokers. The vast corporate photographic archive from this division covers diverse topics including technical subjects showing surface condensers and reduction gears and components used to construct different types of turbines. There are building construction views and thorough documentation of the Essington property; specifically, this includes the blade, diaphragm, erecting, and forge shops, several different types of laboratories on the premise, a foundry and pickle house. In addition, there are images of the pattern storage house, power house, pump house, and salvage building

Dates

  • 1898-1964

Creator

Extent

201 Linear Feet

General Physcial Description

Approximately 25,270 mounted photoprints : b&w ; 8x10 or smaller. 40 negatives : glass ; 4x5 inches. Approximately 10,500 negatives : glass ; 5x7 inches and approximately 13,900 negatives : glass ; 8x10 inches.

Historical Note

The Westinghouse Machine Company began in 1880, and the first contract to build a turbine dates to 1896. The Westinghouse Electric Corporation's Steam Division had plants located in Lester and Essington in eastern Pennsylvania, south of Philadelphia. On November 11, 1919, E. M. Herr, the President of the company, announced, "In future the Works of the Company located in the towns of Essington and Lester, Pa., will be known officially as the 'South Philadelphia Works.' Please instruct the members of your force accordingly." from Westinghouse Machine News, December 1919 ( Accession 1993.242) In 1945 the company's name was changed to Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

Scope and Content

The vast corporate photographic archive from this division covers diverse topics including technical subjects showing surface condensers and reduction gears and components used to construct different types of turbines. There are building construction views and thorough documentation of the Essington property; specifically, this includes the blade, diaphragm, erecting, and forge shops, several different types of laboratories on the premise, a foundry and pickle house. In addition, there are images of the pattern storage house, power house, pump house, and salvage building. Many of the pictures show steps in the manufacture of steam turbines which involved working with iron and steel, including casting, forging, machining, and quality control. In addition to Westinghouse turbines, there are photographs of foreign turbines made by: Allis Chalmers, British Rateau, Brown Boveri, English Electric, Escher Weiss, Delavel, Elliot, Lyungstrom, Metropolitan-Vickers, Parsons, Siemens, Terry, Woodward-Worthington among others.

There are many identified and dated photographs of employees. Some of artistic merit and historical importance are the work of Charles Yessel, company photographer. His earlier work done during the post-WWI era show male and female workers often posed by their machines. Later photographs document workers in groups within their departments or shown individually. Many of these images were taken for a company publication, Machine News; therefore, photographs of social activities were also produced. The social activities of the plant employees were well documented: field days, sports teams, and visitors like boxer John Henry Lewis (69.170.30,322) present a captivating record of life after work.

A unique record of Americana is a series of "decorated desks" depicting job-site celebrations in which workers are posed with wedding presents given by co-workers. Taken throughout the chronological span of the collection, the photographs can act as a document of social history, consumer culture (the gifts--many of them Westinghouse electrical appliances), and changing fashion styles.

Some photographs should be noted for their inclusion of noted personalties. There is a series of photos taken when the framework for the Mount Palomar telescope was completed; Albert Einstein was among the plant visitors at the ceremony that was held then. Other personalities including Henry and Edsel Ford at the Westinghouse exhibit (26,401) at the Century of Progress exhibition of 1934 also are represented.

Location of Copies

Selected items can be viewed in the Hagley Digital Archives

Access Restrictions

Access restricted; please contact staff in advance of research visit at research@hagley.org for instructions on how to apply for access to material.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Westinghouse Electric Corporation Steam Division photographs
Status:
Online
Author:
Laurie Rizzo
Date:
2013.
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