James Manufacturing Company Records, 1906-1964


Summary Information
Title: James Manufacturing Company Records
Inclusive Dates: 1906-1964

Creator:
  • James Manufacturing Company
Call Number: Whitewater Mss AW

Quantity: 5.2 c.f. (13 archives boxes)

Repository:
Archival Locations:
UW-Whitewater Library / Whitewater Area Research Ctr. (Map)

Abstract:
Records of the James Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of livestock handling equipment, incubators, ventilating systems, and other products to improve productivity and sanitary conditions in agriculture. The collection consists primarily of printed newsletters, catalogs, and fliers documenting the firm's advertising and promotional efforts. Included are photographs, drawings and blueprints, and details on an advertising campaign on Jamesway equipment used by Admiral Richard Byrd in Antarctica in 1934.

Language: English

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-whit00aw
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Biography/History

The James Manufacturing Company of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin was, and its corporate successor remains, an important manufacturer of equipment for dairying, poultry, and other agricultural operations. Traditionally the Jamesway product lines have been directed toward advancing sanitary conditions and productivity on the farm. Among the many products marketed are stanchions, drinking cups, various types of feeders, livestock handling equipment, incubators, ventilating devices and systems, and barn cleaners. The company has also offered design services for barns and other agricultural facilities, pioneered in the development of metal buildings for agricultural purposes, and, through its Power Choring equipment, been a leader in automating agricultural work.

The origins of the James Manufacturing Company date to 1905 when A.M. Webb and Harry H. Curtis started a small manufacturing concern in Fort Atkinson. Later that year they bought out the Kent Manufacturing Company, a Janesville firm which produced corn and potato planters. The new firm operated out of Fort Atkinson under the Kent Manufacturing Company name.

In the meantime, William D. James, working on his father's farm near Genesee, Waukesha County, Wisconsin was perfecting an improved stanchion and was developing other ideas to improve the sanitary conditions and productivity of dairy operations. In 1906 James joined the Kent Company. Soon the company's primary product was the James Cow Comfort Stall, consisting of the improved stanchion and other design features related to sanitation. The firm gained valuable public exposure in 1909 when the State of Wisconsin built a model dairy barn on the state fair grounds according to design specifications submitted by the Kent company. About 1912 the name of the firm was changed to the James Manufacturing Company.

From the time W.D. James joined the firm its growth was both rapid and sustained. Two important reasons for the success were the product lines which expanded rapidly to meet the needs of the agricultural community, and the aggressive promotion and sales techniques employed by the company. Construction of a new plant in Fort Atkinson was completed in 1914, and in 1916 a branch plant was opened in Elmira, New York. A second factory was erected in Fort Atkinson in 1920, and about the same time a branch office was opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. By 1925 the company claimed assets of 2,800,000 dollars and billed itself as the largest manufacturer in the world of dairy barn, horse barn, hog barn, and poultry house equipment and ventilation systems.

The James Manufacturing Company maintained its strong position through the Depression and in succeeding years. During the 1930's it opened facilities on the West Coast and in Canada. W.D. James headed the firm until his death on April 16, 1948. Late in 1958 the firm was purchased by Rockwood and Company, and about 1965 it was acquired by the Butler Manufacturing Company of Kansas City, Missouri. Currently known as the Butler Manufacturing Company - Jamesway Division, the company continues to manufacture essentially the same type of equipment, and its products still carry the Jamesway designation.

Scope and Content Note

The records preserved here date 1906-1964 and consist almost exclusively of printed and published material documenting the advertising, public relations, and promotional aspects of the business. Hence the records show the changes over time in the firm's advertising techniques and media. Moreover, advertising copy and the changes in product lines yield a good deal of information about the nature of farm work. The papers are divided into four series: Newsletters, Printed Matter, Publicity Files, and Technical and Design Files.

The NEWSLETTERS series dates 1912-1954 and includes seventeen separate titles, most of which were published for relatively brief periods of time. The publications were intended for various constituencies. Some were directed at Jamesway dealers and contain sales tips as well as information on product lines; others were internal publications intended for employees or the sales staff; and still others were directed at the farm population in general and contain articles and information of common interest as well as Jamesway advertisements. Titles and publication dates are listed in the contents list below.

By far the largest segment of the collection is the PRINTED MATTER. This series contains material of various types printed by or for the James Manufacturing Company. The vast majority is promotional material such as catalogs showing complete product lines, decals and labels affixed to products, and posters and fliers advertising specific equipment. Also included are printed specifications and installation instructions for certain equipment; copies of newspaper advertising and articles about the company; and some administrative material such as order forms, shipping tags and labels, and employee manuals.

The Printed Matter series is dated 1906-1964 and is organized chronologically. Most items are dated by means of a code which generally appears at the bottom of either the front or the back of the booklet or flier. One item, for example, carries the code “F 657A HD 4-31 10M.” “F 657A HD” probably refers to a job number or has some other administrative significance in the printing process; “4-31” notes the date of printing, April 1931; and the final symbols signify the quantity printed.

The PUBLICITY FILES contain working papers probably used in developing specific promotional materials or campaigns. One particularly interesting file concerns the 1934 Antarctic expedition of Admiral Richard Byrd. Three cows were taken on the journey and some Jamesway equipment was used. The James Manufacturing Company and the American Guernsey Cattle Club generated some publicity as a result. The file contains photographs, drawings, correspondence, and reports on how the cows fared on the journey. One file contains memos to salesmen on advertising matters, and another concerns a sales merit award.

The balance of the series concerns promotion of specific products. Usually included in these files are photographs, testimonial letters and advertising lay-outs. Arrangement of the series is alphabetical by file heading.

As the series title implies, TECHNICAL AND DESIGN FILES document a facet of the business distinctly different from the preceding three series. These files concern specific types of products and contain such things as photographs, drawings, blueprints, suggestions for design changes, and technical specifications.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Presented by Crawford B. Thayer, September, 1964. Accession Number: M64-253


Processing Information

Processed by Harry L. Miller, February 1980.


Contents List
Series: Newsletters
Box   1
Folder   1
Better Chicks, 1924-1926
Box   1
Folder   2
The Barnstormer, 1929
Box   1
Folder   3
Engineering News, 1940-1942
Box   1
Folder   4
Hen Feathers, 1928
Box   1
Folder   5-7
James Barn Magazine, 1912-1922
Box   1
Folder   8-10
The Jamesway Dealer, 1916-1918, 1948-1954
Box   1
Folder   11
The Jamesway Farm Building Magazine, 1935
Box   1
Folder   12
Jamesway Farm Engineering, 1923
Box   1
Folder   13
Jamesway Hog World, undated
Box   1
Folder   14
Jamesway Magazine, 1920-1929
Box   1
Folder   15
The Jamesway Man's News, 1926
Box   2
Folder   1
The Jamesway News, 1920
Box   2
Folder   2
The Jameswayman, 1918-1919
Box   2
Folder   3
The Jameswayman (Dealers' Edition), 1919-1920
Box   2
Folder   4
National Convention News, 1930
Box   2
Folder   5
News & Views, undated
Box   2
Folder   6
Pencil Pushers, 1926
Box   2
Folder   7
W. D.'s Paper, undated
Series: Printed Matter
Box   2
Folder   8-12
1906-1917
Box   3
Folder   1-5
1918-1930 June
Box   4
Folder   1-4
1930 July-1940
Box   5
Folder   1-4
1941-1949 February
Box   6
Folder   1-5
1949 March-1951 October
Box   7
Folder   1-6
1951 November-1955 February
Box   8
Folder   1-6
1955 March-1958 January
Box   9
Folder   1-10
1958 February-1960 November
Box   10
Folder   1-7
1960 December-1963 March
Box   11
Folder   1-2
1963 April-1964 June
Box   11
Folder   3-5
Undated
Box   12
Folder   1
Undated
Series: Publicity Files
Box   12
Folder   2
Incubators, 1958
Box   12
Folder   3
Iron Clad Structures, 1937
Box   12
Folder   4
Redwood Insulation, 1940-1941
Box   12
Folder   5
Sales Memos, 1942
Box   12
Folder   6
Sales Merit Award (C.R. Kell), 1962
Box   12
Folder   7
Silos, 1933-1938
Box   12
Folder   8
South Pole Expedition, 1933-1934
Series: Technical and Design Files
Box   12
Folder   9
Door Hardware, 1938-1941
Box   13
Folder   1
“Duradoors,” 1936-1941
Box   13
Folder   2
Metal Structures, 1933-1947
Box   13
Folder   3-4
Silo and Haykeeper, 1932-1942