Harvey family papers1796-1913
Thomas William Harvey (1795-1854) and his son, Hayward Augustus Harvey (1824-1893), were two important inventors in the arts of metalworking and metallurgy. The Harvey Steel Company constructed a furnace for making file and tool steel in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1887. In 1889, the company erected a much larger plant near Brills Station in Newark, and expanded it into the treating of armor plate. Thomas W. Harvey is represented in this collection by a selection of documents covering his business career. These include deeds to family property. There are small amounts of correspondence regarding his inventions and the patent laws, including an "Essay upon Iron," affidavits regarding his screw machine, and sketches for several inventions. The papers of Hayward Augustus Harvey include copies of patents and drawings of his various inventions and documents arising from patent litigation. However, the bulk of papers concern the Harvey Steel companies and the Harvey process.
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The Harvey family, descendants of William Harvey (1614-1691), one of the founders of Taunton, Massachusetts, produced two important inventors in the arts of metalworking and metallurgy.
Thomas William Harvey (1795-1854) was born in Vermont on July 22, 1795. His parents having died, he was apprenticed to a blacksmith. In 1814, he moved to western New York State. While supporting himself as a smith, he began conducting experiments in the mechanical and metallurgical arts, particularly in the production of screws, nails, and spikes, where 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, and the machinery was moved to a smaller factory near Somerville, New Jersey. In 1839, Thomas W. Harvey moved to New York City, where he began to experiment with electricity and electro-magnetism, believing it to be the power source of the future. He apparently produced a crude electric motor which was not commercially viable. He organized the New York Screw Company in 1844, and it later absorbed the Somerville factory. Harvey decided to integrate backwards and produce his own iron and wire rods as well as finished screws. He organized the Harvey Steel & Iron Company in 1852, and helped to 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, having been badly injured in a railroad wreck the previous year.
His son, Hayward Augustus Harvey (1824-1893), was born at Jamestown, New York, on January 17, 1824. He received his education at private academies at Poughkeepsie and New Paltz, New York, and his mechanical training in his father's shops. He assisted his father in his many enterprises and for a while was in charge of the Somerville factory. After his father's death he continued his work, inventing automatic machinery for the manufacture of screws, bolts, washers, wire nails, and springs. He organized the Continental Screw Company in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1865 but sold out to the large American Screw Company of Providence after about five years.
After 1885, Harvey turned his attention to metallurgy with the advice and encouragement of Benjamin G. Clarke of the Thomas Iron Company. At a shop in Brooklyn, he experimented with methods of hardening the cheaper grades of Bessemer steel to obtain a surface equal to the best refined steels. The result, "Harveyized" steel, was obtained by heating steel to a moderate temperature while in contact with carbonaceous material, so that the surface absorbed some of the carbon and became harder.
The Harvey Steel Company was organized on November 19, 1886, and constructed a furnace for making file and tool steel in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1887. In 1889, the company erected a much larger plant near Brills Station in Newark and expanded it into the treating of armor plate. Hayward A. Harvey died in Orange, New Jersey, on August 28, 1893. Three foreign affiliates were set up to sell the rights to the Harvey process abroad: the Harvey Steel Company of Great Britain, Ltd., the Société des Procédés Harvey for France, and the Harvey Continental Steel Company, Ltd., for the rest of Europe. The American company became involved in litigation with the Bethlehem Iron Company and the Carnegie Steel Company, Ltd., over unauthorized use of the process beginning in 1894.
After the founder's death, it became easier to sell the rights to the Harvey process than to carry on large-scale manufacture. The Brills Works was shut down around 1900 and dismantled soon after. Around 1900 the three European affiliates were consolidated as the Harvey United Steel Company, Ltd., under the leadership of Albert Vickers, and the British firm became the major stockholder of the New Jersey company. The Harvey United Steel Company, Ltd., was liquidated in 1913 following the expiration of its major patents.
Scope and Contents
Thomas W. Harvey is represented in this collection by a selection of documents covering his business career. These include deeds to family property. There are small amounts of correspondence regarding his inventions and the patent laws, including an "Essay upon Iron," affidavits regarding his screw machine, and sketches for several inventions. The papers of Hayward Augustus Harvey include copies of patents and drawings of his various inventions and documents arising from patent litigation. However, the bulk of papers concerns the Harvey Steel companies and the Harvey process.
This collection has been arranged into three series: Thomas W. Harvey papers, Hayward A. Harvey papers, and Harvey Steel Company records.
The Thomas W. Harvey papers are largely composed of Thomas W. Harvey's deeds to family property, including his ill-fated investments in western land during the 1830s. There is a small set of correspondence, including letters on the anti-Masonic controversy and temperance, reflecting socio-political issues current in western New York during Harvey's residence there. The series includes a few of his sketches for several inventions. There are biographical and genealogical notes, including a biography begun by his son, Hayward A. Harvey. The Hayward A. Harvey papers include a small set of correspondence. These letters are primarily related to bills and money owed to Harvey; there is one letter from his son, Thomas "Willie" William Harvey Jr. (1853–1938), about school. There are some property documents, primarily related to inheritance after his father's death. There are several documents related to the heirs of Thomas W. Harvey and his third wife, Sarah L. Harvey (1810-1890), and obituaries and notices of the death of Hayward A. Harvey, including a notarized statement by his family. The Harvey Steel Company records have been organized into four subseries: Administrative documents, Screw machine patents and agreements, Harvey Steel Plate patents and agreements, and Scrapbooks and photographs.
The Administrative documents subseries includes prospectuses of the Harvey Steel Company of Great Britain, Ltd. and the Simewog Mining and Iron Company, director's reports, three trade cards, and statements and liquidation papers of the Harvey United Steel Company, Ltd.
The Screw machine patents and agreements subseries primarily consist of Hayward A. Harvey's patents, his notebooks, and a small set of materials related to Thomas W. Harvey's patent agreement with Charles Ely. There is also a thirteen-page history of the American Screw Company, which rose to prominence by copying some of Harvey's devices.
The Harvey Steel Plate patents and agreements subseries includes correspondence and booklets describing tests of "Harveyized" armor plate in both England and America, lists of ships built with "Harveyized" armor, and correspondence of his attorney, Edwin M. Quimby, on his behalf related to patents on armor plates and washing machines.
The scrapbooks and photographs subseries consists of two sets of scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings. One set primarily focuses on Harvey Armour and tests of the armor; the other set focuses on the company more generally, as well as the Harvey Screw Machine and Harvey Armour. The photographs are of the New Jersey plant.
This collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
Printed materials were transferred to Hagley's Published Collections Department and can be found in the library catalog.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Harvey family papers
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- 2022: Laurie Sather
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