Antoni Rogozinski Papers, 1971-1981

Scope and Content Note

The Louis Allis Papers consist of Correspondence, Scrapbooks, and Photographs. The correspondence and scrapbooks are available only on microfilm.

The six Scrapbooks document family activities from 1883 to 1950. The contents largely focus on social and athletic events of the Louis Allis family (particularly Ned's accomplishments on the links), but there are also materials relating to other members of the family and the Mechanical Appliance Co., and to a lesser extent, the E.P. Allis Co. Items of a business nature include executive memoranda, annual reports, and letters exchanged between E. P. and Louis in the 1880s. Other important documents include a series of photographs (only on microfilm) of Armistice Day in downtown Milwaukee in 1918, numerous snapshots of the Mechanical Appliance Co., and a constitution of the anti-union American Constitutional League of Wisconsin (reel 1, frame 470). Also of interest are steel engravings of the interior of the Reliance Works, a transcribed diary of a family camping trip in the west in 1884-1885 (reel 1, frame 5 and 448), an 1893 booklet Allis Genealogy by Charles Allis (reel 1, frame 109), and recollections of employment at the E. P. Allis Company at the West Water Street location by James Laherty who began work for the company in 1861 (reel 1, frame 433). About business operations is a 1931 speech by Louis Allis on unemployment (reel 2, frame 349) and a report on World War II operations of the company (reel 2, frame 553). An interesting July 9, 1939 news item (reel 2, frame 532) mentions an 1847 company record book that was apparently discovered when the Reliance Works were razed. Throughout the volumes are numerous Allis Family obituaries. Scrapbook 6 contains a letter from E. P. Allis at Geneva City that is dated March 1, 1843.

The Correspondence is arranged into an incomplete run of small stylus books (numbers 1-3 are missing), letterbooks, and loose correspondence. Other than their difference in size, the distinction between the stylus books and the standard-sized letterbooks is not clear. It is likely that Allis carried the stylus books with him or used them at home, while the letterbooks were used at his office. From 1894 to 1899 the two groups overlap, with both containing similar types of correspondence. Thereafter the letterbooks contain a large quantity of business letters.

The stylus books are entirely handwritten, and they contain truly personal letters to his first wife, Allis family relatives, and Yates family in-laws. A small number of letters in the stylus books can be typified as personal business; these letters primarily relate to home construction and management. Only occasional letters relate to the E.P. Allis Company.

The letterbooks cover a later period, and over time they become dominated by typewritten letters of a business nature. These letters are thought to have been dictated to a secretary which may explain why even those written to Louis' mother and siblings, and later to Ned, are much less intimate than correspondence in the stylus books. The letterbooks cease in April 1912 when Allis moved from his office at the Railway Exchange to the Mechanical Appliance Co.

The stylus books begin with the Allis' engagement and end shortly after their 1898 reconciliation. Although the reason for the couple's estrangement is unspecified, Louis' letters are nonetheless a rare chronicle of marital problems at a time when divorce was rare. In addition, because Louis Allis was chiefly responsible for the upbringing of their son during the periods of their separation, the details of his attentive childrearing reported to his wife are an unusual account of a single father at the turn of the century.

The letterbooks begin about the time of the formation of the Allis-Chalmers Co. in 1901. References to family involvement in the company is primarily limited to declarations of dividends and general assessments of the company's status. More numerous is correspondence about Louis' management of the unsuccessful Elizabeth Mining Company, his efforts to oversee the Harmony Mills Co. for his brother Jere, and miscellaneous real estate investments in Milwaukee and elsewhere. Correspondence relating to the Mechanical Appliance Co. becomes increasingly frequent after 1903, although there is nothing to suggest that he was responsible for day-to-day management of the concern during the period. From the fall of 1908 until the fall of 1909, Louis and Ned Allis traveled in Europe and no correspondence in the collection relates to that year. (There are, however, several photographs from this trip.) After their return to Milwaukee, Ned enrolled at the Milton Academy in Massachusetts and thereafter, Louis began a weekly correspondence with his son which continued during Ned's matriculation at Harvard. These letters, which have an almost diary-like character, provide a detailed account of the senior Allis' activities. Here and throughout the other correspondence of the period, there are frequent mentions of his enjoyment of golf and the development of the Milwaukee Country Club, the purchase and use of automobiles, the management of his real estate holdings, and the business of the Mechanical Appliance Co.

The loose correspondence in the collection (also only available on microfilm) consists primarily of letters from Carol Allis written shortly before their divorce, together with some copies of letters from Louis apparently cut from a letterbook that is not included in the collection. A letter of December 30, 1905 written shortly before their final break provides information about their relationship that is only obliquely referred to in the other letters in the collection.

Louis Allis' personal Photograph collection originally consisted of about 3000 4x5 glass and nitrate negatives that documented family activities from 1875 to 1938 and an album of shop views of the E. P. Allis Co. taken about October 15, 1894. The entire album of shop views is available on microfilm (reel 2), although there are copy negatives for only 32 views.

The personal photographs have been extensively weeded and only about 300 have been retained in the holdings at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Included are portraits (including the entire family of Edward P. Allis, circa 1875) and candid shots of Allis family members (all of these are taken after 1890 when Louis first acquired his camera); views of interiors and exteriors of Allis homes in Milwaukee and River Hills; candids of activities of the children of Louis Allis (especially Edward P. Allis III); and travel to the Chicago Worlds Fair, Europe, and the United States. Other special topics include Camp Douglas during World War I, Holy Hill, Wisconsin Dells, the Wright Brothers (in Italy), as well as interior decoration, golf, and children's toys. Only a few of these photographs relate to the Louis Allis Co. and none relate to Allis Chalmers or the E. P. Allis Co. The 1890-1919 photographs were clearly taken by Louis Allis, but after his second marriage the quantity and quality of the domestic photography declines, and it is possible that some of the comparatively few items from the teens, 1920s and 1930s were taken by Mrs. Allis.