Skip to main content
Notice: The Library is open for research by appointment only, please visit our research services page for more information.

Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation records

Creation: 1897-1960 Creation: Majority of material found within 1920-1960
Accession: 2333


The Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation was a major producer of radio and telecommunications equipment during the twentieth century. Cardwell sold its products to the United States Government, major corporations, and individual consumers. The records contain technical information such as patents and design drawings, as well as a vast array of sales and promotional material from the 1920s.


  • Creation: 1897-1960
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920-1960



2.5 Linear Feet

Historical Note

The Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation was a leading producer of radio parts from the 1920s through the 1950s. In 1908, Allen Cardwell (1888-1951) began working in the telecommunications industry as an employee of his stepfather’s business, American Telegraph Typewriter Company. By the 1920s, Allen Cardwell had taken over the company and began to supply parts to the burgeoning radio industry.

Cardwell made many types of telecommunications equipment, including telegraph transmitters, wavemeters, coils, receivers, and other types of radio equipment. Cardwell was perhaps best known for their condensers (better known today as capacitors), an important electronic component in radios. Cardwell claimed that their sophisticated condensers provided listeners with a smoother sound and less static interference than their competitors’ models.

Cardwell designed products for a variety of companies, including Western Union, American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T), Western Electric, and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Cardwell also designed the first automatic stock quotation system for the New York Stock Exchange. Additionally, Cardwell worked closely with the United States Government, designing and manufacturing communications equipment for the United States Navy, the Army Signal Corps, and the Bureau of Standards. During World War II, Cardwell supplied equipment to the Allied forces, and on May 15, 1943, the employees of Cardwell received a telegram from General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) thanking them for their support of the war effort.

Cardwell also sold radio equipment to individual consumers and hobbyists. Products were sold to distributors, who then marketed the parts to electronics supply stores. The company used various promotional methods to build the Cardwell brand in hopes that consumers would request their products by name when visiting retail stores. Consumers could also order specialty versions of parts directly from Cardwell.

In 1944, Cardwell moved its headquarters from Brooklyn, New York, to Plainville, Connecticut. By the early 1950s, the company was known as the Allen D. Cardwell Electronics Productions Corporation, reflecting the company’s shift to the design and manufacture of a wider variety of telecommunications products. After the company was bought by Norman Kjeldsen (1916-2003) in 1957, it was renamed the Cardwell Condenser Corporation. In 1959, the headquarters were moved once again, this time to Lindenhurst, New York, on Long Island. From the 1960s through the 1990s, Cardwell purchased many smaller companies and continued to build its business of supplying electronics and telecommunications equipment. In 2004, Cardwell became a part of the Viking group and is now known as Viking Technologies, Ltd.

Scope and Content

The collection contains a variety of promotional and technical materials, including patents, design drawings, newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, and promotional campaign materials. The majority of the documents in the collection come from the years 1914 to 1955. Most of the promotional and advertising material dates from the 1920s, while a majority of the technical and design drawings are dated from 1940 to 1955. There are also a variety of photographs that document Cardwell’s products, facilities, and employees from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Series I. Technical records, contains technical drawings and information, including patents, design drawings, diagrams, instruction sheets, parts lists, and memoranda from the technical divisions of the company.

Series II. Sales and promotional material, contains sales and promotional material, including newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, newsletters, sales ephemera, correspondence with sales staff and distributors, and sales and distribution plans.

Series III. Photographs, consists of a variety of photographs spanning the period from 1920 to 1960. The photographs cover a range of subjects, including the facilities and equipment, employees at work, and the products themselves. There are also several aerial photographs of the plant.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

The condition of most of the materials within the scrapbooks is good. However, the presence of mold substances on some of the documents as well as the deterioration of newsprint and glue within the scrapbooks confirm that these artifacts will require more extensive conservation at a later date. Therefore, use of the scrapbooks is at the discretion of the archivists and/or conservators.

Language of Materials


Additional Description


Gift of IEEE History Center, Rutgers University

Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation records
Jennifer Matthews
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA