The Rodney Hunt Company Records document the operation of one of the region's major producers of textile machinery, water wheels, turbines, and other specialty industrial products. Founded in Orange, Massachusetts, in 1840, the company was incorporated in 1873. Still an active concern, it continues to sell its products in international markets.
Due to a fire in 1882 and several floods in later years, relatively few early records of the Rodney Hunt Company survive, but from the time of its incorporation in 1873, documentation improves, with nearly complete coverage from the period 1883-1914. The collection provides an excellent introduction to the history of technology and industry in 19th- and 20th-century Massachusetts. Of particular note is the incoming correspondence from 1876 to 1903, which is nearly complete. Other materials include company histories, correspondence, board minutes, blueprints, installation drawings, sketchbook drawings, patents, payroll ledgers, account books, price lists, sales books, brochures, catalogs, newsletters, subject files and photographs.
The collection is open for research.
The Rodney Hunt Company, founded in Orange, Massachusetts in the 1840s, built textile machinery, water wheels, turbines, and other specialty industrial products. Although based in Orange, it competed in international markets in its specialties.
Scope and Contents of the Collection
Records document the administration, operation, production and labor of the Hunt Company from its early history as a machine shop to its eventual establishment, through economic depression, fire and floods, as an industrial manufacturer of textile machinery, water wheels, turbines, and water control equipment. Company histories, correspondence, board minutes, blueprints, installation drawings, sketchbook drawings, patents, payroll ledgers, account books, price lists, sales books, brochures, catalogs, newsletters, subject files and photographs comprise the collection.
All of the loose volumes have a separate corresponding inventory sheet summarizing physical characteristics, description, and content of each volume. These sheets are located in folders throughout the collection as dictated by the overall collection arrangement. The specific folder(s) should be consulted for a general overview of each volume. Each of the volumes has been assigned a control number which identifies its location in the 150 loose volumes physically grouped at the end of the collection.
This collection is organized into eleven series:
The activities of the Rodney Hunt Company Board of Directors and Stock-Holders (1872-1942) are revealed in their stock certificates books and Stock-Holders meeting records contained in Sub-series 1. Records of legal and property transactions, found in Sub-series 2, are limited to copyright and patent information (1897-1909) and one proposal with Winthrop Mills Co. (1921).
Sub-series 1 is comprised of a collection of general files including "Historic Records Inventory Project" (1979), "History of the Rodney Hunt Company"(1976), and miscellaneous items (1887-1979) such as insurance policies, newsletters, notes, reports, subject files and tax hills. By far the largest volume of records in the whole collection is contained in Sub-series 2: Correspondence, In/Out. The in-coming correspondence, dating from 1876 to 1903 is basically complete with only occasional gaps. Of special interest are boxes 226 and 227 which hold the correspondence of William O. Harris (1903-1907) from his Boston office to the Rodney Hunt Company main office in Orange. Only a sample selection of the 1917/1918 and 1926/1927 in-coming correspondence was taken because of the poor physical condition of the stored records. A large number (54) of letter copying books (1871-1903) containing duplicate out-going correspondence survived the several floods to which the records were exposed. Volumes 14 and 51 document settlements (1888-1893) between Rodney Hunt and outside companies. The remainder of this series consists of fragments of in/out correspondence files for the years 1911-1914.
Additional correspondence, pertaining to sales, can be found in Series 5, Sub-series 3.
The financial accounts (1869-1938), comprising 56 volumes and additional documentation, represent the most complete record in any series. This series ranges from accounts with the Orange National Bank to a ledger of entries for the Hydro-Electric Power Plant at Lake Rohunta. These daily, weekly and monthly accounts document the financial workings of this ever-changing company.
This series is limited to bills and receipts for the years 1887-1888, documenting purchases of raw materials and services rendered.
Sales records are divided into three major sub-series, as follows: Accounts, which consist principally of traveling salesmen's expense account books, express charges, orderbooks, price lists, sales books and journals; Advertising materials, which include articles about Rodney Hunt Co. (1947-1978), brochures (1960s), catalogues (1878-1903), newsletters (1940s-1960s), circulars, reference materials and miscellaneous items for gate/hoists, rolls, textile machinery, water wheels and miscellaneous production items; and Correspondence, comprised of address lists (including a 1969 export list), bills for woolen machinery, water wheels and mill work, reference information and subject files for parts and machinery (1912-1913).
The records are divided into applications/benefits and payroll accounts. For the most part, the applications and benefits files center on the years 1910-1920. Especially interesting are the Liberty Loan (war bonds) records which detail the employees' and company's support of WWI. An excellent collection of payroll accounts has also survived. Payroll ledgers span the years 1869-1943 with only one gap for the years 1919-1927. Also noteworthy are the bills for work, expenses and installation of machinery (1880s and 1890s).
Blueprints and specifications (1873-1907) are very well represented in this series. These detailed drawings comprise the very heart and soul of the Rodney Hunt Company. Additional production records detail raw materials, stock inventory and sales inventory accounts.
For photographic reproductions of the very early Sketch Book (18-14-717) see Series 11: Photos.
This interesting collection of Carl Harris' "side-line" undertakings consists of files from the Harris Register Company, other "Adder Companies", C.C. Harris & Co. (unigraph) and Rivet-O Manufacturing Co. Items included in this series range from advertisements to actual "working models". One piece of personal correspondence (folder 9) is between C.C. Harris and his uncle Ike for a loan of money to start up a company in 1909.
Included are some personal papers of Mr. and Mrs. Carl C. Harris. It appears that Mr. Harris kept some of his private papers (1906-1909) interfiled with the Rodney Hunt Company records. This series was gathered from fragmented and routine correspondence files and could possibly represent only part of what is in the collection.
This collection of miscellanea and published patents represents reference materials used by various individuals within the company in the daily performance of their jobs. Copies of labor publications and tax laws are also included in this series. The numerous patents, are unfortunately all from other companies or individuals. They are for the most part concerned with water wheels, turbines, tidal engines, rotary pumps, centrifugal pumps and paper mill machinery; also included is one file on time keeping devices.
"Associated Industries of Massachusetts" booklets and bulletins (1918-1923) were separated and relocated in MS 155).
This final series contains 11 folders of miscellaneous photographs taken from the previous 10 series and from outside sources. Especially interesting is the article on the history of R.H.C., "A Bicentennial Salute: Rodney Hunt Co. Since 1840" done in 1979, and the photographic reproductions of the very early sketchbook (1874-1877) which is still in custody of the Rodney Hunt Company.
(see MS 155) - Booklets and Bulletins, 1918-1923
(taken from Series 2 Box 279, correspondence file of H.G. Mayer)
Acquired from President Earl Harris of the Rodney Hunt Company, 1987
Processed by Mike Milewski and Kenneth Fones-Wolf, 1987, 1989.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Rodney Hunt Company Records (MS 105). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.