Amzie Moore Papers, 1941-1970

Container Title
Mss 453
Part 1 (Mss 453): Original Collection, 1885-1943
Physical Description: 2.6 cubic feet (7 archives boxes) 
Scope and Content Note

The papers provide an incomplete overview of Thordarson's life, touching on his library, his inventions, and his business. The collection has little about Thordarson's accomplishments as an inventor and as a collector of rare books. Nor does the collection document Thordarson's association with the men of power and renown whose friendship he cultivated. The papers are arranged into eight series: CORRESPONDENCE, ROCK ISLAND, THORDARSON LIBRARY, INVENTIONS, BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL RECORDS, EXHIBITIONS, PRINTED ARTICLES, and PERSONAL.

The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged by subject and then chronologically. The General Correspondence is almost exclusively related to Thordarson's business, but it is not possible from this file to get a picture of the significant developments in his business career. In one brief letter from Edward Bennett, a University of Wisconsin professor of electrical engineering in the 1930s, it is noted that Thordarson's company was taken over by the Burgess Company in the 1930s, however other letters concerning the business are less informative.

Material on ROCK ISLAND is fragmentary. The Correspondence consists almost exclusively of letters to and from Thordarson relating to routine maintenance of the island. Filed here is the only evidence in the collection of Thordarson's close friendship with Chicago Mayor William “Big Bill” Thompson: a copy of a letter from Thordarson to Thompson dated 5 December 1924 in which Thordarson agreed to construct a cabin on Rock Island for Thompson's lifetime use. The Construction - Correspondence and Orders file concerning construction of the early log buildings and the later Icelandic-style stone buildings, is not extensive or substantive.

Documents pertaining to the THORDARSON LIBRARY are likewise unrevealing. The Bibliographies in the collection may be a list of Thordarson's books. The Correspondence is primarily to and from people interested in visiting the library or in selling privately-owned books to Thordarson. There is little that documents Thordarson's important association with the Chicago book dealer Walter Hill or his friend J. Christian Bay, librarian of the John Crerar Library. Much of the material in this section consists of copies of drawings and poems in Old English from the library's collections.

The INVENTIONS series is in the form of patents and patent applications, drawings and blueprints (usually unidentified), and notebooks in Thordarson's own hand about his experiments. The data in the notebooks is sketchy.

There is no orderly set of records documenting Thordarson's personal business and financial affairs or those of the Thordarson Electric Manufacturing Company. The Bankbooks of the BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL RECORDS series give only figures and do not indicate the company's sources of income or expenses. Payroll records are fragmentary lists of workers and wages paid. The Company Reports are scanty. Flyers are leaflets and information or instruction sheets; these concern company products, as do the Catalogues.

Material relating to Thordarson's participation in two major EXHIBITIONS does not reveal much about the electrical inventions he exhibited there.

There is very little documentation of a personal nature in the collection. The PERSONAL series offers virtually no information about Thordarson's wife, Juliana Fridriksdottir (Gilson) Thordarson or of their two sons, Dewey and Trygve. However, there are a number of letters from Thordarson's brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews.

Series: Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   1-9
General, 1900-1943, undated
Box   2
Folder   1
Chicago, University of (especially with J. Paul Goode), 1920-1936
Box   2
Folder   2-3
Pacific Electric Metals Company, 1917-1919
Box   2
Folder   4-5
Pertaining to library, 1908-1941, undated
Pertaining to Rock Island
Box   2
Folder   6-8
1907-1919
Box   3
Folder   1
1920-1942, undated
Series: Rock Island
Box   3
Folder   2
Datebook for trips to Rock Island, 1928
Box   3
Folder   3
Construction - correspondence and orders, 1912-1943, undated
Box   3
Folder   4
Architect's specifications for boathouse and casino
Box   3
Folder   5
Contract for construction of log cabin for use by Chicago Mayor William “Big Bill” Thompson, 1924
Box   3
Folder   6
Notebook of hours worked by laborers, 1930
Series: Thordarson Library
Box   3
Folder   7
Bibliographies (possibly of books in Thordarson Library); List of books sent for binding, 1931
Box   3
Folder   8
Correspondence and bills pertaining to library expenses
Box   3
Folder   9
Copies of poems from library
Box   3
Folder   10
Miscellaneous papers
Box   3
Folder   11
Greeting cards sent to friends by Thordarson, 1919-1927, undated
Box   3
Folder   12
Printed poems and drawings from library
Series: Inventions
Patents
Box   3
Folder   13
United States Patents, Trademark and patent applications for Thordarson, 1905 March 14-1929 September 12, undated
Box   4
Folder   1-2
Foreign patents for Thordarson, 1914 November 17-1922 October 3
Box   4
Folder   3
Assignment of Thordarson patents, 1916-1917
Box   4
Folder   4
Patent applications by other inventors, 1880-1933
Drawings and blueprints
Box   4
Folder   5
Charts, graphs, and tables pertaining to Thordarson inventions
Box   4
Folder   6
Notebook on experiments, 1904
Box   4
Folder   7
Notebook of mechanical drawings with notes on experiments, 1909 October-1911 March
Box   4
Folder   8
Datebook with mechanical drawings, wages and receipts, notes, and Thordarson calling card, 1912
Box   4
Folder   9
Datebook of mechanical drawings, wages paid, receipts, travel notes, 1913
Box   4
Folder   10
Notebook of reference materials for electrical inventions, undated
Box   5
Folder   1
Photographs of Thordarson? inventions
Box   5
Folder   2-3
Blueprints and drawings
Series: Business and Financial Records (Thordarson Electric Manufacturing Company)
Box   5
Folder   4
Articles of incorporation
Financial records
Bankbooks and ledgers
Box   5
Folder   5
Northwestern National Bankbook, 1899 March-1900 August 8
Box   5
Folder   6
Corn Exchange National Bankbook, 1906
Box   5
Folder   7
Workmen's weekly timebook, 1910 February 26-May 14
Continental and Commercial National Bankbooks
Box   5
Folder   8
1915 September 2-1920 September 20
Box   5
Folder   9
1917 June 20-1918 September 23
Box   5
Folder   10
1918 March 25-1920 September 8
Box   5
Folder   11
Checkstubs, 1919 September 12-1920 March 10
Box   5
Folder   12
Ledger number 1, undated
Box   5
Folder   13
Payroll, lists of workers, labor costs, 1927, 1928, 1932, undated
Box   5
Folder   14
Invoices, 1898-1942, undated
Company reports
Box   6
Folder   1
Internal, 1898-1943, undated
Box   6
Folder   2
1942 Operations
Box   6
Folder   3
Treasurer's Report, 1942
Box   6
Folder   4
Advisory engineering report by Bradshaw and Weil, Chicago, undated
Box   6
Folder   5
Stock certificates, Western Meter Manufacturing Company
Box   6
Folder   6
Flyers
Box   6
Folder   7
Catalogs
Box   6
Folder   8
Photographs and drawings of company products
Series: Exhibitions
Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California, 1915
Box   6
Folder   9
Correspondence, 1913 August 8-1916 February 14, undated
Box   6
Folder   10
Exhibit blueprints and printed material
Box   6
Folder   11
New York World's Fair, 1939
Series: Printed Articles
Box   6
Folder   12
Related to library
Box   6
Folder   13
Historical
Box   6
Folder   14
By J. Christian Bay, 1918-1934
Box   7
Folder   1
Scientific
Series: Personal
Box   7
Folder   2
Correspondence, bills, birth certificate of wife, marriage license, memberships
Box   7
Folder   3
Childhood diary, 1885
Language:
Icelandic
Physical Description: Photocopy 
Box   7
Folder   4
Thordarson's John James Audubon painting, “English Pheasants Surprised by a Spanish Dog”
Box   7
Folder   5
Correspondence from Thordarson relatives, 1903-1938, undated
Box   7
Folder   6
American Magazine biographical article on Thordarson, 1926 December
Box   7
Folder   7
Newspaper clippings, 1915-1933, undated