James Manufacturing Company Records, 1906-1964

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.