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Guide to the Cooper, Hewitt & Co. Letterpress Copybooks
1848-1905
 MS 1130

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer and Alison Barr

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on March 12, 2018 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents Note

The collection includes 296 letter books containing letterpress copies of outgoing correspondence, primarily concerning the business matters of Cooper, Hewitt & Co. (1848-1905), the firm of Edward Cooper and Abram Hewitt. Some letters, a small amount in relation to the whole, concern political, philanthropic, and matters other than business; these seem to date mostly from the 1870s and later. The business correspondence relates to Cooper and Hewitt’s activities as agents for the Trenton Iron Co., managing all purchases of ore, coal, and other raw materials, all sales of finished iron, supplies of credit for current operations, daily instructions for operation, maintenance of accounts, sales of railroad rails, blooms, billets, pig iron, flats, rounds, wire for fence and bridges, iron ore, coal, administration problems, their agency for Welsh and European mill output, publicity, developments in equipment and processes, materials for gun barrels during the Civil War, development of the iron and steel industry, etc.

Each of the volumes holds about 1000 sheets and most of the volumes are full. The copies can be difficult to read because of faded or blurred ink. Typed copies begin to appear in the volumes around the 1880s, and these appear to relate mostly to the non-business matters. Some of the volumes, especially the earlier ones, are somewhat deteriorated. Each of the volumes includes an index to the correspondents in the book, noting the page numbers on which that correspondent appears. Frequent correspondents include the Trenton Iron Co., New Jersey Steel & Iron Co., Pequest Iron Works (Oxford, NJ), Architectural Iron Works (14th Street in New York City), and Durham Iron Works (Riegelsville, Penn). Various corporate customers appear including railroads (e.g., Hudson River Rail Road, Morris & Essex Railroad, and New York & Harlem Railroad) and arms (e.g., Remington & Sons, Rock Island Arsenal). During the Civil War period, Alexander Brydue Dyer of the Springfield Armory (Massachusetts) appears frequently. Other notable names also appear in the indexes, including the Morris Canal Co., Jay Gould, Joseph Wharton, and the Roeblings. Researchers should be aware that only a few indexes were skimmed during processing so the above names give only a sense of the entire range of correspondents.

Only seven scattered volumes appear to be missing, so the volumes represent almost the entire history of the Edward Cooper-Abram Hewitt partnership. With Hewitt’s death in 1903, the number of entries fell off, with only about 100 pages filled by Cooper and others before the final entry in 1905.

Edward Cooper and Abram Hewitt were connected directly or indirectly to Cooper Union (Edward suceeded his father as president) and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum (Abram's daughters founded it in 1895). It seems unlikely that these copybooks include any letters of substance related to those institutions, but the possibility cannot be definitively dismissed because so little of the content has been reviewed.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged in volume number order. The volumes proceed in chronological order.

The earliest volumes, labeled C & H, are numbered 2 to 27 (volumes 1 and 19 are missing). After volume 27, the labeling changes to C.H. & Co. and the numbering starts over with 1, proceeding to the end (volume 271). This second set is missing volumes 5, 122, 236, 237, and 241.