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Christiana Machine Company records

Creation: 1889-1912
Accession: 2496


The Christiana Machine Company was a small, general purpose machine shop and foundry located in Christiana, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This small collection includes incoming and outgoing correspondence related to orders following the buyout of Nathan F. Burnham's interest by the Broomells in January 1889.


  • Creation: 1889-1912



1 Linear Foot

Historical Note

The Christiana Machine Company was a small, general-purpose machine shop and foundry located in Christiana, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Established in 1834, the foundry was unsuccessful until purchased by Isaac Broomell in 1862. Six years later, Broomell and his sons Edward and Henry contracted with Nathan F. Burnham, an machinist and inventor of York, Pennsylvania, to manufacture an improved water turbine that Burnham had invented, and the firm began to specialize in small power plants suitable for rural mills. In the fall of 1877, Burnham and the Broomells became equal partners, and the partnership was restyled the Christiana Machine Company in 1878. Burnham's sons, Frank and William, organized Burnham Bros. of York to sell the turbines that Christiana manufactured. Christiana soon began manufacturing steam engines, flour mills, saw mills, and boring and turning mills. The firm concentrated on Southern markets for small mills through a network of wholesalers, millwrights, and suppliers.

The Broomells bought out Nathan F. Burnham's interest in January 1889 and eventually severed their connection with Burnham Bros. In the same year, Henry Broomell patented an improved version of Burnham's turbine. The firm was incorporated in 1902. The Broomells failed to adapt to the shifting demand for larger hydro plants, and as the Southern market contracted after 1900, they turned to both the Mid Atlantic States and the South American export market.

Between 1900 and 1915, the company also turned to providing gears, shafting, and other elements of power transmission systems for factories in Philadelphia and New York. This involved off-the-shelf standard sizes as well as special batch jobs for individual factory engineers and subcontracting work for larger manufacturers. In 1915, the Broomells sold the firm to Charles Bond of Philadelphia, a more successful founder and machinist, and the company became a subsidiary of the Charles Bond Company.


The collection is arranged alphabetically by document type and then chronologically

Scope and Content

The records include sales orders and correspondence from customers during the period 1889 and 1912. Although it was a small machine shop, Christiana provided customized machine parts to an impressive list of larger companies. Requests for special parts often included hand drawings or blueprints. Volume 39 of the company's outgoing letters provide additional information on customers' gratitude for service, complaints and other issues typical of a small machine shop.

Related Material

Christiana Machine Company records (Accession 2135), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Christiana Machine Company records
Dave Burdash; Clayton J. Ruminski
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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