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Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation records
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Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation records

Accession 2333

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807

Finding aid prepared by Jennifer Matthews, 1897-1960, bulk 1920-1960

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-02-20T16:31-0500

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, Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation records (Accession 2333), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807


Descriptive Summary

Title: Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation records
Dates: 1897-1960, bulk 1920-1960
Accession Number: 2333
Creator: Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation.
Extent: 2.5 linear feet
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: The Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation was a major producer of radio and telecommunications equipment during the 20th century. Cardwell sold its products to the United States Government, major corporations, and individual consumers. The records contain technical information such as patents and design drawings, as well as a vast array of sales and promotional material from the 1920s.

Administrative Information


Gift of IEEE History Center, Rutgers University


Historical Note

The Allen D. Cardwell Manufacturing Corporation was a leading producer of radio parts from the 1920s through the 1950s. In 1908, Allen Cardwell began working in the telecommunications industry as an employee of his stepfather’s business, American Telegraph Typewriter Company. By the 1920s, Allen Cardwell had taken over the company and began to supply parts to the burgeoning radio industry.

Cardwell made many types of telecommunications equipment, including telegraph transmitters, wavemeters, coils, receivers, and other types of radio equipment. Cardwell was perhaps best known for their condensers (better known today as capacitors), an important electronic component in radios. Cardwell claimed that their sophisticated condensers provided listeners with a smoother sound and less static interference than their competitors’ models.

Cardwell designed products for a variety of companies, including Western Union, American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T), Western Electric, and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Cardwell also designed the first automatic stock quotation system for the New York Stock Exchange. Additionally, Cardwell worked closely with the United States Government, designing and manufacturing communications equipment for the United States Navy, the Army Signal Corps, and the Bureau of Standards. During World War II, Cardwell supplied equipment to the Allied forces, and on May 15, 1943, the employees of Cardwell received a telegram from General Dwight D. Eisenhower thanking them for their support of the war effort.

Cardwell also sold radio equipment to individual consumers and hobbyists. Products were sold to distributors, who then marketed the parts to electronics supply stores. The company used various promotional methods to build the Cardwell brand in hopes that consumers would request their products by name when visiting retail stores. Consumers could also order specialty versions of parts directly from Cardwell.

In 1944, Cardwell moved its headquarters from Brooklyn, New York, to Plainville, Connecticut. By the early 1950s, the company was known as the Allen D. Cardwell Electronics Productions Corporation, reflecting the company’s shift to the design and manufacture of a wider variety of telecommunications products. After the company was bought by Norman Kjeldsen in 1957, it was renamed the Cardwell Condenser Corporation. In 1959, the headquarters were moved once again, this time to Lindenhurst, New York, on Long Island. From the 1960s through the 1990s, Cardwell purchased many smaller companies and continued to build its business of supplying electronics and telecommunications equipment. In 2004, Cardwell became a part of the Viking group and is now known as Viking Technologies, Ltd.


Scope and Content

The collection consists of one linear foot of records, photographs, and small scrapbooks. In addition, the collection contains three oversized scrapbooks. The condition of most of the materials is good, although there is a fair amount of foxing on documents within the scrapbooks. The presence of mold substances on some of the documents as well as the deterioration of newsprint and glue within the scrapbooks confirm that these artifacts will require more extensive conservation at a later date. The collection came to Hagley from the IEEE History Center at Rutgers University. Paul Meyer, an engineer at Viking Technologies, Ltd., originally donated the materials to the IEEE History Center.

The collection contains a variety of promotional and technical materials, including patents, design drawings, newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, and promotional campaign materials. The majority of the documents in the collection come from the years 1914-1955. Most of the promotional and advertising material dates from the 1920s, while a majority of the technical and design drawings are dated from 1940 to 1955. There are also a variety of photographs that document Cardwell’s products, facilities, and employees from the 1920s through the 1950s.


Access Points

Amplifiers (Electronics).
Cardwell Condenser Corporation.
Electronics industries--United States.
Radio--Equipment and supplies.
Telecommunication--Equipment and supplies.
Telegraph--Equipment and supplies.

Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Technical Records
Scope and Content
Contains technical drawings and information, including patents, design drawings, diagrams, instruction sheets, parts lists, and memoranda from the technical divisions of the company.
Box Folder
1 1 Diagrams and instructions for the PA-240 power amplifier, 1940
Box Folder
1 2 Design drawings and parts list for the TS-175 frequency meter, 1942-1945
Box Folder
1 3 Design drawings and diagrams of part modifications; memoranda from the engineering department related to part modifications, 1940s-1950s
1 Small Scrapbook 1: Marconi patents, 1897-1919
1 Small Scrapbook 2: Sidney Brown patents, 1917-1919
1 Small Scrapbook 3: Miscellaneous patents, 1907-1919
II. Sales and Promotional Material
Scope and Content
Contains sales and promotional material, including newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, newsletters, sales ephemera, correspondence with sales staff and distributors, and sales and distribution plans.
Box Folder
2 1 Newsletters circa 1923-1924; sales and promotional material; promotional articles; telegram from General Eisenhower, 1920s-1940s
Box Folder
2 2 Promotional binder sent to distributors containing the distribution plan, information on an upcoming advertising campaign, sample advertisements, promotional articles, and sample letters from satisfied distributors, retailers, and customers, 1923
2 Small Scrapbook 4: Advertisements and promotional material, 1922-1924
2 Large Scrapbook 1: Labeled A on the inside cover. Contains advertisements, newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters, andsales ephemera, 1914-1925
2 Large Scrapbook 2: Labeled B on the inside cover. Contains advertisements, newspaper and magazine articles, and correspondencewith distributors, 1925-1927
2 Large Scrapbook 3: Sales-related documents, including memoranda from the sales division, copies of form letters, correspondencewith dealers and distributors, forms, and sales plans, 1924-1925
III. Photographs, 1920-1960
Scope and Content
Consists of a variety of photographs spanning the period from 1920 to 1960. The photographs cover a range of subjects, including the facilities and equipment, employees at work, and the products themselves. There are also several aerial photographs of the plant.
3 Assortment of photographs, 1920-1960