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Helen Baker Cushman business papers

1853-1992
 Collection
Identifier: 2175

Abstract

Helen Baker Cushman (1922-) was the founder and manager of H.M. Baker Associates, consultants in business archives and records from 1958 to 1993, headquartered in Westfield, New Jersey. Her papers consist primarily of correspondence with clients and potential clients; notes, drafts and printer's mechanicals and negatives for her publications; data files created in the course of her work; and some business publications and ephemera.

Dates

  • 1853-1992

Creator

Extent

28 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Helen Baker Cushman (1922-) was the founder and manager of H.M. Baker Associates, consultants in business archives and records from 1958 to 1993, headquartered in Westfield, New Jersey. The firm specialized in helping businesses celebrate their anniversaries. Its typical product was a publication based on the concept of a time line which blended facts from the client firm's history with general events in politics and popular culture, giving particular emphasis to the firm's founding year and its participation in world's fairs and expositions. Originally structured as a simple clipping service, most of the illustrations were drawn from Cushman's own collection of old popular magazines, photographs, letterheads and trade cards.

Cushman's service soon grew to include a series of copyrighted publications. The Anniversary Manual, Remember the Year and The Business History Letter, all based on the founding year concept. Remember the Year was designed as a promotional hand-out and was sold to business firms on a per-item basis with a royalty built into the cost per print. About 128 editions of Remember the Year, or the comparable four-page publication The Business History Letter were printed.

These initial contracts with companies led to Cushman's involvement in larger contracts, such as collaborating on several book-length company histories and serving as a consultant in the initial setting-up of in-house corporate archives.

As a public relations consultant, Cushman also assisted various companies with newspaper publicity, magazine features and other public relations services. From 1958 to her retirement in 1993, Cushman did consulting work for some 360 business firms. In the course of conducting her business, Cushman amassed extensive notes and collected a wide variety of business publications, trade cards, ephemera and other business memorabilia.

Cushman was the daughter of Ivan F. Baker (1887-1976) and Lucile Atkinson Baker (1892-1976). Ivan F. Baker was a vice president of Westinghouse Electric International Company.

Scope and Content

The manuscript portion of Helen Baker Cushman's papers consist primarily of correspondence with clients or potential clients; notes, drafts and printer's mechanicals and negatives for her publications; data files created in the course of her work; and some business publications and ephemera.

The collection has been arranged into eleven series: Anniversary planning manuals; Company histories; The Remember the Year files; Articles on business history; Companies on cards; Year-by-Year; Business correspondence; Files on expositions; Publications and ephemera; Mechanicals and negatives; and Ivan F. Baker papers.

Anniversary planning manuals series consist of project files for Remember the Year publications, including background information, illustrations, etc. Most focus on the events of the years in which the firm was founded rather than on company history, although there is a short history of Whitehead Brothers Company, a Middlesex County, New Jersey, sand mining firm. There is also a manual describing for clients how Remember the Year publications were produced.

The Company histories series include several books ghost-written by Mrs. Cushman and her associates, including ones for The Davey Company (binders' board), the Shreve, Crump & Low Co. (jewelers of Boston), and the Earle Gear and Machine Company of Philadelphia. There are also a number of four-page newsletter histories.

The Remember the Year series contain all actual anniversary newsletters in chronological order.

Articles on business history includes "The Business History Letter."

The “Companies on Cards” series contains information on thousands of business firms arranged alphabetically on 3 × 5 cards. The data includes modern news clippings, notes culled from advertisements in various 19th and 20th century publications, and lists of participants and award winners at selected world's fairs. The files contain occasional clipped advertisements and color slides or negatives of company records, artifacts or artwork.

Historical data on business firms arranged alphabetically, containing names and addresses at the time the research was done, newspaper clippings, and some original advertising and other illustrations. Names of subsidiary companies are cross-indexed to the main company name. The series is contained in 22 file card boxes. The first box contains the code abbreviations and reference notes for the whole series.

The “Year-by-Year” series is another group of 3 × 5 cards listing events by year from 1886 to 1986. Most of these facts relate to popular politics and culture, but there are dates relating to business firms and the birthdates of significant businessmen. Again, there are occasional clipped ads, illustrations of persons and contemporary fashions, and world's fair data.

Files are arranged chronologically with a wide range of references to events in business and political history and in elite and popular culture, including many “firsts” for each year. This series is contained in eight file card boxes packed in two and a quarter cartons. The first file box contains a bibliography of sources used in developing the files. Includes: Catalog #13 of Montgomery, Ward & Co. (1873), microfilm of judges' comments on Sydney World's Fair (1879), cards on all companies present at the World's Columbian Exposition (1893), the Panama-Pacific Exposition (1915) and the Century of Progress (1933).

The business correspondence covers Mrs. Cushman's negotiations with clients and potential clients. The files contain more substantial company history data than found on the cards, including copies of previous company histories and notes on corporate archives of firms numbered among Mrs. Cushman's clients.

Among the firms best represented are: Cluett, Peabody & Co. (Arrow shirts), including photos of Arrow shirt ads by J. C. Leyendecker; the Package Machinery Company of East Longmeadow, Mass.; Shreve, Crump & Low Co.; the Alaska Mutual Bank; the Chester County Mutual Insurance Company; the Montgomery Mutual Insurance Company of Maryland; and the Somerville Savings Bank of New Jersey. The extensive files on the Butterick Co. (dress patterns) include biographical data on Ebenezer Butterick and J. W. Wilder, a history of the Town of Sterling, Mass., where the Butterick firm began, company histories, and a file on Theodore Dreiser's years as a Butterick editor.

Business correspondence series is divided into two subseries: Company histories and project files and Remember the Year.

Company histories and project files subseries contains original contracts with clients, personal copies of completed projects, and research materials used in preparing the final report. Files are generally notes on company histories with emphasis on time lines, personalities, and participation in world's fairs. Contains slides and photoprints of advertising and other company documents.

Remember the Year subseries contains correspondence pertaining to the Remember the Year publications and company histories produced.

Files on expositions series include photocopies of official reports and lists of participating business firms and awards they received. Includes copies of reports, awards, lists of participating companies.

Publications and emphemera include an assortment of trade catalogs: Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogs; Vol. 1, No. 1 of The Mailbag, a magazine of direct mail advertising; Vol. 2, No. 1 of The Crest, a magazine of the Cadillac Motor Car Company; business and economic charts for 1950 and 1953 by Ebasco Services; an 1882 price list for Singer sewing machines; and a circa 1930 Westinghouse map of Pittsburgh and its suburbs. There is a book of songs and poetry, published by the Brooklyn oil magnate and philanthropist Charles Pratt as an 1882 Christmas gift, that also contains ads for Pratt's Astral oil and gasoline. The ephemera also includes playbills and programs for various theaters, many containing period advertising. One from the Metropolitan Opera (1903) notes the box locations for J. P. Morgan and other members of New York's business elite.

Mechanicals and negatives series consists of printer's mechanicals and negatives were used to print Cushman's Remember the Year and other publications.

The Ivan F. Baker Papers describe his overseas work with Westinghouse and his postwar activities promoting economic development and international trade. There are numerous engineering reports, memoranda, handbooks for trade fairs, conference proceedings, tear sheets, Westinghouse corporate publications, and Baker’s speeches and writings. The bulk of the papers deal with postwar reconstruction and the economic aspects of the Cold War. Additional description accompanies this series.

Access Restrictions

Business correspondence closed for 25 years from date of creation.

Related Material

Helen Baker Cushman Collection (Accession 2130), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Cushman picture collection (Accession 1998.270), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

Gift of Helen Baker Cushman

Separated Material

Most of Cushman's books, pamphlets, and trade catalogs were transferred to the Published Collections Department.

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Helen Baker Cushman business papers
Status:
Online
Author:
Christopher T. Baer
Date:
1998
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400