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Bethlehem Steel Company records, 1714-1977

1714-1977
 Record Group
Identifier: 1699-II

Dates

  • 1714-1977

Scope and Contents

The records of the Bethlehem Steel Company (operating company of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation) are arranged into eleven separate series by department or division. Much of the records remaining from these Departments and Divisions are fragmentary, and do not make up a complete corporate archive.

The corporate records of the Bethlehem Steel Company consist of fragments from the office of Robert McMath, Vice President and Secretary, and from the Comptroller's office. The former include organization charts; printed copies of agreements and mortgages, and collected documents for the Pennsylvania Steel merger of 1916 and the absorption of Bethlehem Steel products Company, Beth-Mary Steel Corporation, and Bethlehem Iron Mines Company in 1936. The Comptroller's records consist of two auditor's reports. Board of Directors' minutes dating back to the incorporation of Bethlehem Steel in 1899 document the early inception of the company and Charles Schwab's initial involvement. There is also a small file from the President’s Office consisting of correspondence and other material related to a fraud case involving French Senator Charles Humbert and German agent and convicted French traitor Bolo Pasha during the First World War.

Bethlehem Steel Company’s claims filed before the Mixed Claims Commission against Germany following the end of the World War I are documented through correspondence between the company and various law firms and financial organizations. The primary claims filed by Bethlehem Steel Co. include war risk insurance, loss of Scandinavian boat contracts, and loss of Swedish ore contracts. There is also a claim filed on account of the Black Tom Explosion that occurred on July 30, 1916, when German agents destroyed a shipment of American-made munitions destined for the Allies at Black Tom Island in Jersey City, New Jersey. Also of significance are letters of reimbursement sent to Charles Schwab for his financial role in the reorganization of the United States Shipbuilding Company into the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1904.

Of particular interest are agreements and correspondence regarding the rights for the manufacture of Harvey armor and for the license to the Krupp process, both traditionally utilized in the production of armor plates for Navy warships throughout the 1890s. Correspondence between the then Carnegie Steel Company, Ltd. president Charles M. Schwab, Bethlehem Iron Company, and the Harvey Steel Company details the former two companies’ efforts to obtain the license to the Harvey and Krupp processes for use in the production of safe plates for bank vaults. There is also a significant amount of correspondence pertaining to the purchase of plants and properties, most notably the acquisition of the Pennsylvania Steel Company of New Jersey, Pennsylvania Steel Co., and the Maryland Steel Co. in 1916. Papers relating to the purchase of the Lackawanna Steel Company are also included. Bethlehem Steel Co.’s purchase of properties in and around Lebanon, Pennsylvania, are well documented, encompassing ore rights in the Cornwall region and the acquisition of property from the Robesonia Iron Company and the American Iron and Steel Manufacturing Company.

The surviving records of the Development & Research Department consist of files from R. S. A. Dougherty as Manager, which are divided into correspondence, notes and drawings, and installation drawings and patents; the office papers of James P. Madden, Development & Research Engineer, and a group of Madden's personal papers from the period after he had left the company. The patents are concerned with Curtis marine turbines and other appurtenances used in Bethlehem ships. The remainder of the records deal with the Bethlehem snub starter developed by Madden and H. V. Nieman, and with torque amplifiers. Madden's files also contain some personal items, including World War II ration cards and coupons and an illustrated 1937 booklet on the Stoneleigh Prospect School, a girls' preparatory school in Massachusetts.

The largest textual series are two synthetic collections of vertical files and miscellaneous manuscripts produced by the company's two in-house historical units, the Charles M. Schwab Memorial Library and the Archives. These contain samples of company trade literature and brochures, newsclippings and tear sheets from the trade press covering Bethlehem's history and products, as well as the life of Charles M. Schwab and other Bethlehem officials, and the company's role in both world wars. Of particular note are two volumes of biographical no​tes on Schwab's life, from interviews conducted by Sidney B. Whipple a few years before his death. The Archives and Schwab Library also collected non-company manuscripts on the early history of the iron and steel industries. Among items of note is a biographical memoir of Sidney Gilchrist Thomas.

The few remaining records from the Publications Department consist of a sample of advertising and trade publications, circa 1958-1961. The records of the Real Estate Department include a small amount of departmental annual reports, a group of files from the period which the department was taking over the former Lackawanna, Midvale, and Pennsylvania Steel properties (which contains some information on company houses in the Johnstown area), and real estate maps of the Bethlehem and Lackawanna Steel plants and most of the shipyards.

The records of the Shipbuilding Division consist of fragments from the Manager of Ship Development and Sales; the Yard manager of Bethlehem-Sparrow's Point Shipyard, Inc.; and the General Manager of the Staten Island Shipyard. There are some plans and specifications for tankers, reports from Bethlehem's World War II activity, and a few reports on construction methods of tankers carrying special liquids. Additional material documents the World War II program at the Baltimore Yards. The largest group of records from the Shipbuilding Division includes plant organization charts, maps, and directories, as well as reports on sea trials of several freighters. A card file lists vessels repaired by Bethlehem in New York Harbor between 1939 and 1958.

The records of the Steel Operations Division are primarily concerned with products, production, and plant engineering, with most only covering the Bethlehem Plant. Meetings of plant general managers between 1918 and 1922 primarily concern output and material flows at more than one plant. Records of the Bethlehem Plant are particularly strong on armor plate and ordnance, and include portfolios of ink-and-wash drawings, as well as illustrated reports on the types of heavy guns and shells produced in the years just prior to World War I and some notebooks of Army and Navy contracts.

Arrangement

Arranged into 11 series by department or division, each of which have been arranged further in subseries. The series arrangement of the records is as follows:

Series I. Corporate Records;

Series II. Development and Research Department;

Series III. General Services Department;

Series IV. Bethlehem Steel Archives;

Series V. Industrial and Public Relations Department;

Series VI. Charles M. Schwab Memorial Library;

Series VII. Publications Department;

Series VIII. Real Estate Department;

Series IX. Sales Division;

Series X. Shipbuilding Division;

Series XI. Steel Operations Division.

Additional Information

Extent

75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Additional Description

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Arrangement

Arranged into 11 series by department or division, each of which have been arranged further in subseries. The series arrangement of the records is as follows:

Series I. Corporate Records;

Series II. Development and Research Department;

Series III. General Services Department;

Series IV. Bethlehem Steel Archives;

Series V. Industrial and Public Relations Department;

Series VI. Charles M. Schwab Memorial Library;

Series VII. Publications Department;

Series VIII. Real Estate Department;

Series IX. Sales Division;

Series X. Shipbuilding Division;

Series XI. Steel Operations Division.

Related Names

Creator


Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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