The records consist of materials collected by John B. Lovis (1935-2015) for the writing of his book on the history of the Sparrows Point Plant, plus original Bethlehem Steel documents from his tenure in the Corporate Planning Department.
John B. Lovis (1935-2015) was an engineer who spent nearly forty years of his career with the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Lovis was born on January 9, 1935 at Rahway, New Jersey, and grew up in Winchester and Lexington, Massachusetts. He graduated from Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont with a B.S. in Engineering Management in 1956. Immediately after graduation he joined the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and was assigned to the Blast Furnace Department at Sparrows Point, Maryland. In 1963 he was transferred to Bethlehem, Pennslyavania to assist in the design and engineering of the company’s new Burns Harbor Plant in Indiana. Over the next thirty-two years, he held various positions in Bethlehem’s Corporate Engineering and Planning Departments. He retired as Director of Strategic Planning in 1995. His book, The Blast Furnaces of Sparrows Point – One Hundred Years of Ironmaking on Chesapeake Bay, was published in 2005.
The Sparrows Point Steel Plant, located at the mouth of the Patapsco River below Baltimore, was originally constructed by the Pennsylvania Steel Company in 1887 to 1890. The company had operated a large plant at Steelton, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for over twenty years. The Sparrows Point site was chosen so that the new plant could be supplied directly with rich Cuban ore, which otherwise would have had to be hauled inland by rail. The plant was spun off to a Maryland subsidiary, the Maryland Steel Company of Baltimore County, in 1891, and a Marine Department capable of constructing large steel ships was created the same year. In 1916, Charles Schwab’s Bethlehem Steel Corporation purchased the entire Pennsylvania Steel group of companies. By the late 1950s, it was one of the largest steel plants in the world with over 25,000 employees. As a relatively modern facility, Sparrows Point survived the collapse of Bethlehem Steel in the 1990s, albeit in a shrunken and altered form. Ownership passed to the International Steel Group Inc. in 2003 and to Mittal Steel USA Inc. in 2005.
Scope and Content
The records consist of materials collected by John B. Lovis for the writing of his book on the history of the Sparrows Point Plant, plus original Bethlehem Steel documents from his tenure in the Corporate Planning Department. The Sparrows Point items include financial and operating statistics, personnel data, company publications, and originals and photocopies of non-company publications dealing with the history of the plant and town. Bethlehem Steel Corporation documents include operating and inventory plans, two volumes of facility specifications and operating parameters (1980s) for the five integrated steel plants at Bethelehem, Burns Harbor, Johnstown, Sparrows Point and Steelton, and letters from management to employees during the period of decline and bankruptcy, from 1974 to 2003. Of particular note is a file on estimated U.S. steel industry shipments and raw steel capacity by plant and by product (1985).