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The Disston History photographs
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The Disston History photographs

Accession 1977.227

Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
research@hagley.org

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2014-08-19T12:07-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, The Disston History photographs (Accession 1977.227), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: The Disston History photographs
Dates: circa 1850-1920
Accession Number: 1977.227
Creator: Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Extent: 102 images
Physical Description: 102 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in.
Location: GL Box 1
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department
Abstract: Henry Disston was born in England in 1819 and emigrated to Philadelphia in1833. In 1840, he began a small saw business in the city, and in 1855, Disston brought steel workers from England to open the first mill in the United States devoted to producing steel for saws. The collection consists of images copied from The Disston History, a genealogy of the Disston family and a company history of Henry Disston and Sons, Inc., compiled by family members and genealogist Elizabeth Satterthwaite in 1920.
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Administrative Information


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

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Biographical Note

Henry Disston was born in England in 1819 and emigrated to Philadelphia in 1833. In 1840, he began a small saw business in the city, and in 1855, Disston brought steel workers from England to open the first mill in the United States devoted to producing steel for saws. As Disston expanded the line of tools he manufactured and business boomed during the 1860s-1870s, Henry sought a new location for his works, settling on the village of Tacony, north and east of Philadelphia along the Delaware River. Construction on Disston's new saw works began in 1872 and by 1876, Disston was also building a large number of houses for employees to rent or purchase and contributing funds and materials for the building of schools and churches. Henry Disston died in 1878, and the company was taken over by his son Hamilton.

Hamilton Disston, his four brothers and their sons continued to expand their business and to support the surrounding community into the twentieth century. By 1915, Tacony had a population of 12,000, almost entirely employed by the Disston Saw Works. The company was sold by the Disston family to H.K. Porter, Inc. in the mid-1950s.

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Scope and Content

The collection consists of images copied from The Disston History, a genealogy of the Disston family and a company history of Henry Disston and Sons, Inc., compiled by family members and genealogist Elizabeth Satterthwaite in 1920. Images in the collection include portraits of Disston family members, board members and employees, as well as interior and exterior images of the Disston Saw Works in Tacony, a suburb of Philadelphia. Images of employees at work show all stages of saw production, beginning with the pouring of steel and ending in the shipping room. Also included are images of branch offices of Henry Disston and Sons, Inc. from across the nation as well as in Canada and Australia. Five photographs of public buildings erected by Disston in Tacony, such as schools and the first town hall are also part of the collection. A final series of images features displays of Disston saws, files and other tools created for national and international exhibitions and parade floats.

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Access Points

Disston, Henry, 1819-1878
Disston, Henry, 1819-1878--Homes and haunts.
Exhibitions.
Factories.
Files and rasps.
Industrial buildings--Pennsylvania.
Panama-Pacific International Exposition (San Francisco, Calif.: 1915).
Philadelphia (Pa.)--Industries.
Saw industry--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
Saws.
Tacony (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Tools.
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