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Joy Manufacturing Company records

Creation: 1915-1989 Creation: bulk 1949-1984
Accession: 2463


The Joy Manufacturing Company was a major manufacturer of mining and materials handling machinery built upon the invention of the first practical coal loading machine by Joseph F. Joy (1883-1957). It is a somewhat random collection of documents assembled and preserved by the former corporate secretary James Packer (1920-2008) for the purpose of writing a never-completed company history. They include the sorts of documents normally in possession of a corporate secretary, such as copies of meeting minutes, corporate family tree information, historical notes, and promotional publications.


  • Creation: 1915-1989
  • Creation: bulk 1949-1984



2 Linear Feet

Historical Note

The Joy Manufacturing Company was a major manufacturer of mining and materials handling machinery built upon the invention of the first practical coal loading machine by Joseph F. Joy (1883-1957). Like many industrial companies, it underwent a period of conglomerate diversification and contraction in the 1960s and 1970s, before itself becoming a captive “brand” in the 1980s. The business lives on as Joy Technologies, Inc.

Joseph Francis Joy was born in Cumberland, Maryland, on September 13, 1883. He entered the coal mines as a slate picker at the age of twelve and worked his way up to being a miner and then superintendent. Joy had almost no formal education but considerable mechanical aptitude and managed to take a correspondence course in mechanical engineering. From direct experience, he was able to devise labor-saving machinery and by age twenty had begun working on a mechanical coal-loading machine.

At this time, coal was mined by having a skilled miner break up the coal face with a combination of drilling, cutting with a pick, and blasting. An unskilled laborer then had to shovel the fallen coal into a small railcar, work that was both arduous and, in cramped quarters, literally back-breaking. While some progress had been made in the cutting of coal with machines similar to large chain saws on wheels, loading remained manual labor.

At age thirty, Joy took a junior engineering job with the Jeffrey Manufacturing Company, an established maker of coal-cutting machines, in order to perfect his invention. Joy was the first to devise a practical mechanical solution to the loading process; a sort of large shovel with horizontally-pivoting arms at the front that drew the coal into the shovel much as a winner might rake a pile of poker chips from the pot in the center of the table. The shovel was the edge of an inclined conveyor belt that lifted the coal in a continuous stream and dumped it into the mine cars. However, Jeffrey declined Joy’s offer to buy the device, claiming it was not his original invention.

Joy then turned to the Pittsburgh Coal Company, one of the nation’s largest mining firms, whose Vice President Operations, John A. Donaldson (1865-1934), gave Joy full support. The first Joy loader was installed in a company mine on September 2, 1917, and Joy received a patent on June 10, 1919. As Joy had no capital, Donaldson helped him form the Joy Machine Company, incorporated in Delaware on January 24, 1919, Joy receiving 4,500 shares in return for his invention. However, most officers and directors came from the Pittsburgh Coal Company. In order to raise further capital, the Joy Manufacturing Company was incorporated in Delaware on October 8, 1921. It acted as a holding company for the Joy Machine Company and assumed its debts. Originally, the Joy Machine Company subcontracted the manufacture of its machines, the first of which went into service in 1922. The Joy Manufacturing Company purchased a facility at Franklin, Pennsylvania, from the Cobern Machine Tool Company for cash and stock in 1924.

Financial difficulties caused in part by a nationwide coal strike forced a refinancing of the company, and Joy resigned on April 2, 1925. Joy became an itinerant inventor, receiving a total of 190 patents, and was later given a lifetime consulting contract by the company. Joy died on February 19, 1957. The Joy Machine Company transferred all its assets to the Joy Manufacturing Company and was dissolved on August 29, 1928. The Joy Manufacturing Company was reincorporated in Pennsylvania on February 7, 1939.

Even without Joy at the helm, the Joy Manufacturing Company became a leader in the field of mine mechanization. In 1938, it introduced the rubber-tired shuttle car, which replaced the railroad cars hauled over fixed tracks by locomotives, and ten years later it introduced the continuous mining machine that combined cutting and loading and eliminated the need for drilling and blasting. Success also brought expansion in the post-World War II years. In 1945, Joy acquired, and later merged, the much older Sullivan Machinery Company, originally a New Hampshire maker of diamond drills for quarrying and tunneling and coal-cutting machines, and the La-Del Conveyor & Manufacturing Company, a maker of mining belt conveyors and ventilating fans. Subsequent acquisitions included the Mines Equipment Company, a maker of molded electrical connectors for use in wet environments (1949); the Baash-Ross Tool Company, maker of oil-well drilling tools (1954); the Western Precipitation Corporation maker of electrostatic precipitators, air scrubbers and filters (1959); Centriblast Corporation, maker of industrial crushers and shredders (1966), and the J.W. Greer Company maker of food processing equipment (1966).

By 1984, the Joy Manufacturing Company was one of the world’s leading producers of capital equipment for the extractive mineral industries, with twenty-four manufacturing plants, several foreign manufacturing subsidiaries, and a sales presence in over fifteen countries.

On June 25, 1987, Joy’s shareholders approved a $620 million leveraged buyout by a group of investors associated with the investment firm of Adler & Shaykin in order to escape a hostile takeover by Pullman-Peabody. The purchasers reorganized the company as Joy Technologies, Inc.

Scope and Content

The records were collected by retired corporate secretary James Packer (1920-2008) in 1985 for the purpose of writing a company history, but the project was cancelled following the hostile takeover in 1987. The materials include selections of early licensing agreements, corporate history data regarding incorporation dates and financing, list of acquired and divested companies, organization charts, miscellaneous publications, information on employee benefit plans, and company telephone directories. It also includes a lucite paperweight, retirement medallion, and American flag service pin given to Packer.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Language of Materials


Additional Description


Gift of the collector's daughter, 2009

Separated Materials

Annual reports, trade catalogs and employee magazines have been transferred to the general Published Collections Department.

James Packer collection of Joy Manufacturing Company photographs (Accession 2013.212), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Intiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Joy Manufacturing Company records
Rainer Naus and Christopher Baer
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:
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Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA