World famous handgun and handcuff-manufacturing company founded in Springfield, Massachusetts in the 1850s. Comprised of incoming sales and service correspondence with some outgoing correspondence and administrative and financial/legal subject files, including categories such as ads and advertising, American Railway Express, audits, counselors at law, debtors, insurance, legal actions, newsletters, patents and trademarks, personnel, photos, sample parts, sideline ventures, stocks and bonds awards, and Western Union Telegrams. Includes correspondence with the National Rifle Association, Small Arms Industry Advisory Committee, and the United States Revolver Association.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Smith & Wesson Company
Records, approximately 10,000 items, are comprised of incoming sales and service correspondence, with some outgoing correspondence, and administrative and financial/legal subject files. The bulk of the sales and service correspondents represented in this collection are individual gun users, sharpshooters, pawn shop owners, gun clubs, gun dealers, collectors, policemen and police organizations, military personnel, boys clubs, schools, exporters and foreign agents. Of special interest is the correspondence of the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) (1926-1927, 1943-1944), Small Arms Industry Advisory Committee (1941, 1944), United States Revolver Association (1927-1928), and other letters from gun legislation factions, firearms manufacturers and foreign countries. The correspondence, from U.S. and foreign sources, contains original handwritten and typed letters, carbon copies, and some printed form letters.
Administrative and financial/legal records, comprised of materials found scattered throughout the papers, have been reorganized into manageable subject files. Among these files are items from the following categories: ads and advertising, American Railway Express, audits, counselors at law, debtors, insurance, legal actions, newsletters, patents and trademarks, personnel, photos, sample parts, sideline ventures, stocks and bonds awards, Western Union Telegrams and others as identified in the various series.
This collection offers resources for researchers interested in the history of firearms, firearms industry and labor, gun legislation, and gun-ownership around the 1920s and early 1940s.
This series consists of general subject correspondence, addressed primarily to the company's president, Harold Wesson, and to its secretary George P. Chapin. Included in this administrative series are letters from individuals, agencies, committees and companies. The subject content ranges from personnel matters and proposals to memberships and invitations. Of special interest are the folders pertaining to Gun Legislation (1923-1929, 1944), Post World War II Plans, and Criminal Investigations/Testimonies. The widest range of dates for the entire collection is represented by this series.
These are records that were received by the Treasurer, Frank H. Wesson, and other executive officers. Documented in this series are the companies dealings concerning financial and legal transactions with governmental offices, individuals, U.S.courts, counselors at law, and foreign governments. Of particular interest are the legal notices for the years, 1925-1929; these include trustee writs with release notices and assignment of future wages.
By volume, this series represents 90% of the collection. It contains general subject files (box-3) and specific correspondence files from individuals, agents and companies (boxes 4-6). The domestic/foreign revolver & pistol sales and service requests can be found by geographical location in boxes 7-25, which are divided into three major sub-series:
Subseries 1 (Advertising) consists of subject files such as ads & articles, circulars, and price lists; and correspondence files from various publishing companies such as American Rifleman and Sporting Goods Buyer along with letters from individuals such as William Remington.
Subseries 2 (Domestic Sales and Service) consists of subject files for firearm manufacturers, railroads and U.S. Government and Military. The bulk of the sales and service correspondence is contained in this series which is arranged by individual state. For the most part, these files have not been sorted with the exception of some special folders that have been identified for easier access, especially the files for Massachusetts.
Subseries 3 (Export Sales and Service) is made up of files from exporters, especially noteworthy are the files of the Remington Arms Co.-Export Division and Winchester Repeating Arms Co., 1927. Also included are subject files, i.e. the file for Frederick N. Bungey, export division of "S&W", (1924-1929); and finally correspondence for other locations: Canada, Caribbean, Central & South America, and other countries located throughout the world.
Prior to 1924, Smith and Wesson exclusively manufactured firearms; thereafter, they took on miscellaneous work that was suitable to their machinery. Series: 4 contains files on some of these side-line ventures which were proposed, such as production of an automobile brake accessory and bookkeeping machine; and undertakings which were pursued by the company, such as a shock absorber, aircraft screw tool and dish washing machine parts. Especially well documented are the files for flush valves, which also contain some patent and design information.
These photos were separated from the general collection and have been cross-referenced with their original locations. The photos are of individuals, Ed McGivern (the famous sharpshooter), test bullets used in evidence, and other miscellaneous subject matters.
(see also Series 3. Sales and Service, Sub-series 2. Domestic Sales & Service- The Winchester/Simmons Co. Stores at: Atlanta (GA), Chicago (IL), St. Louis (MO), and Toledo (OH))
Processed by Mike Milewski, Spring 1990.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Smith and Wesson Company Records (MS 267). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.