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Harvey family papers

Creation: 1839-1940
Accession: 1211


Thomas William Harvey (1795-1854) was an important inventor in the arts of metalworking and metallurgy. The Harvey family papers primarily relate to Thomas William Harvey and his magnetic experiments. It also includes a biography written by his great-grandson Thomas W. Harvey (1884-1965), articles of association of the Harvey Galvanic Company, and two account books of the Harvey Electro Magnetic Company.


  • Creation: 1839-1940


5 item(s)

Biographical Note

The Harvey family, descendants of William Harvey (1614-1691), one of the founders of Taunton, Massachusetts, produced two essential inventors in the arts of metalworking and metallurgy.

Thomas William Harvey (1795-1854) was born in Vermont on July 22, 1795. After the death of his parents, he was apprenticed to a blacksmith. In 1814 he moved to western New York State. While supporting himself as a smith, he began experimenting in the mechanical and metallurgical arts, particularly in the production of screws, nails, and spikes. He made many improvements and was awarded several patents. In 1833 he developed the toggle joint for the rotary printing press. He helped to organize the Poughkeepsie Screw Manufacturing Company in 1836. He patented the gimlet-pointed screw in 1838 but did not succeed in getting people to abandon the old blunt-ended screw until 1846.

The Poughkeepsie Screw factory went bankrupt in the depression of 1839 to 1843. They moved the machinery to a smaller factory near Somerville, New Jersey. In 1839, Thomas W. Harvey moved to New York City and began to experiment with electricity and electromagnetism, believing it to be the power source of the future. He produced a crude electric motor that was not commercially viable. He organized the New York Screw Company in 1844, and it later absorbed the Somerville factory. Harvey decided to integrate backward and produce his own iron and wire rods as well as finished screws. He organized the Harvey Steel & Iron Company in 1852 and helped develop the famous Tilly Foster iron mines in Putnam County, New York. The company's furnaces were located in Mott Haven in what is now the Bronx. He began experimenting with processes to make steel or wrought iron directly from the ore, but he died at Canaan, Connecticut, on June 5, 1854, after being badly injured in a railroad wreck the previous year.

Scope and Contents

Harvey family papers consist of five items, including a biography of Thomas W. Harvey (1795-1854) written by his great-grandson Thomas W. Harvey (1884-1965), articles of association of the Harvey Galvanic Company, two account books of the Harvey Electro Magnetic Company, and notes of Harvey's magnetic experiments.

Access Restrictions

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

Related Materials

Harvey family papers (Accession 1239), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.

Language of Materials


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Harvey family papers
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA