Guide to the Records of the Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association, 1896 - 1946(bulk 1896 - 1917)

Digital Research Library, University Library System

Summary Information

Repository
Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Title
Records of the Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association
Creator
Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association
Collection Number
MSS#76
Date [inclusive]
1896 - 1946
Date [inclusive]
1896 - 1917
Extent
0.5 cubic feet
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
Abstract
The Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association was founded on July 31, 1896 for the purpose of mutual benefit and information for Pittsburgh foundry owners, operators, managers and foremen. Their primary focus was to further their knowledge of the present state of foundry work to assist local practitioners. The Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association Records include minutes, correspondence, financial material and other sundry items.
Sponsor Note
This finding aid has been encoded as a part of the Historic Pittsburgh project a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Funding for this portion of the project has been donated by the Hillman Foundation.

Preferred Citation

Records of the Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association, 1896 - 1946, MSS# 76, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

Records were formerly cited: Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association, Records, 1896 - 1946, MSS# 76, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

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History of the Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association (1896-c1946)

The Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association was founded on July 31, 1896 for the purpose of mutual benefit and information for Pittsburgh foundry owners, operators, managers and foremen. Their primary focus was to further their knowledge of the present state of foundry work to assist local practitioners. In their own words, the Association gathered to promote their mechanical and industrial interests, to collect for the use of the association all proper information connected with the foundry business, and to promote harmony and encourage uniform customs and actions among foundrymen. The Association ran itself in a formal manner, strictly adhering to the constitution and by-laws determined in their initial meetings. Annual elections for president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, as well as for the membership of various committees such as programs, finance, entertainment, and membership were also a formal part of the Association's operations. The Association's membership grew steadily from a nucleus of fourteen members present at the first meeting to 75 men in 1897. Although the Association was not explicitly restrictive in its membership, each potential new member faced a vote of approval by the entire body of the Association. A person's membership became official after he paid his annual dues of six dollars. Corporations also joined as associate members and included the J. S. McCormick Company, Keystone Coal and Coke, and Clairton Iron and Steel. Active members lived not only in the Western Pennsylvania, but also came from distant cities such as Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, and Wheeling, West Virginia, despite the travelling distances involved.

During a typical meeting of the Foundrymen's Association, reports from various committees would be given, new applications for membership would be approved, and new activities would be discussed. Central to each meeting was either a talk given by an expert in the metallurgy field, or a discussion of a certain issue in their field. Topics ranged from the technical, such as "Tests in Foundry Practice," to the social: "What Can Our Schools Do for the Foundry Industry," and even the political: "The New Tariff and Its Effect on Foundry Materials." The speakers who addressed these meetings came from all the major industrial cities in the United States, including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.

The Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association played an important role with the National Association of Foundrymen. Within a month of the Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association inception, they were invited to host the National Association's annual convention. Pittsburgh turned down this offer in 1896 and 1897, but then accepted for the year 1899. Preparations for this event were quite elaborate, and included arranging for free trolley transportation to different meeting sites, addresses by Pittsburgh's mayor, W. J. Diehl, and visits to different plants, including Homestead and Westinghouse. Pittsburgh hosted this convention again in 1911. After hosting the National Association's meeting in 1899, the Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association began to encourage its members to also join the National Association of Foundrymen, believing that doing so would allow Pittsburgh foundrymen to be better informed in the latest developments in their industry. Membership dues were raised from six to ten dollars to include the four dollars owed for membership in the National Association. A closer relationship with the National Association did in fact ensue, indicated by the fact that in 1904 the Pittsburgh Foundrymen voted to donate funds for the purpose of original research, and even engaged in some research of their own. Beginning in 1901, members of the Pittsburgh Foundrymen also worked closely with the founders of the Carnegie Institute of Technology to ensure that foundry interests would be represented in the school. The relationship between the Association and Arthur Hammerschlag of the school must have been fruitful because by 1911, Foundrymen meetings were being held at the Institute, and were sometimes attended by students. By mid century, the members adapted to changing economic conditions within their industry. The Association shifted their emphasis from the technical, to a focus on marketing, consumer acceptance,and working conditions.

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Scope and Content Notes

The Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association Records include minutes, correspondence, financial material and other sundry items. The most in-depth material in these records are the meeting minutes, although these often consist of little more than lists of members present, the speakers addressing the meeting, and the titles of the papers which are discussed. The primarily technical nature of the topics discussed by the Association,combined with the fact that the minutes do not include a record of what type of reaction various speakers or issues produced, results in an unclear picture of the context in which the Association existed. What is evident from the minutes is a sense of the growth of a late nineteenth century private organization, and the sense that the Association was part of a larger trend at the turn of the century to establish such organizations for the betterment of their members or those around them. Even an act as simple as ordering identifying badges for members to wear as occurred in 1899 shows the evolution of a group's identity and its desire to establish that identity within a larger context. These minutes also reflect a change of the Association's primary focus from metallurgical concerns to broader social issues. Owed in part to their relationship with the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1901, the Association began to examine issues such as technical education, politics and in 1913, vocally supported the Showalter and Campbell Bill for Vocational Education.

These records contribute little to the understanding of labor relations within foundries, their managerial structure, or their daily operation. Although management and journeymen alike were represented in the Association, there is absolutely no indication in the minutes as to the relationship between management and labor in the foundries. The only mention of labor occurred in the autumn of 1915, when a talk was given on the effects of the new workmen's compensation law in Pennsylvania. Miscellaneous material also includes correspondence pertaining to the death of the Association's secretary, Frank Zimmer, in 1917, a membership application from 1911, and various programs, bills, and receipts which are of little value. These miscellaneous items document no single aspect of the Association and provide only examples of their work.

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Arrangement

The Pittsburgh Foundrymen's Association Records are housed in one archival box and are arranged alphabetically by folder title with miscellaneous material arranged in the rear.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Digital Research Library, University Library System Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Spring, 1999

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
library@hswp.org

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or publish, please contact the curator of the Archives.

Acquisition Information

The materials came in one accession, a gift of James O'Hara Denny III., (Records). Acc# 1986.0160

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Becky Piper in March of 1989. The records were rearranged and inventory rewritten by  Jennifer L. Geller December 1, 1993.

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Kate Colligan in March of 1999.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Carnegie Institute of Technology (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • National Association of Foundrymen

Subject(s)

  • Associations, institutions, etc. -- Pennsylvania entries -- Pittsburgh
  • Education -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Foundrymen -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- Societies and Clubs
  • Iron Industry and Trade -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Industry
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Societies and Clubs
  • Steel Industry and Trade -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Vocational Education -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh

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Collection Inventory

Minutes   3 folders
  boxfolder
 1896 - November 1903 11
  folder
 December 1903 - 1909 2
  folder
 1910 - 1917 3

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  folder
Miscellaneous Material c1900 - 1946 4

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