Table of Contents
Both Pierce Manufacturing Corporation and Pierce Brothers, Limited, the textile firms represented by records in this collection, were essentially family business ventures typical of mills established at New Bedford, Mass., between 1880-1910. The former firm was established in 1892 by Andrew Granville Pierce (1829-1903), a former city mayor and leading New Bedford businessman. Other officials of Pierce Manufacturing Corporation included Andrew Granville Pierce Jr. (1864-1950), treasurer and manager, and his brother, Albert Russell Pierce (1869-1948). The firm principally manufactured fine cotton and silk goods, although a leading product of the mill during World War I was a coarse cotton developed by Albert Russell Pierce for use in airplane wings. At the peak of its prosperity between 1909-1919, Pierce Manufacturing Corporation was one of the largest textile firms in New Bedford, employing 1,200 people in two mills boasting a total of 3,600 looms and 116,000 spindles. Like most New England cotton mills, however, this corporation experienced increasing competition from textile companies in the southern United States after 1925 and ultimately closed down in 1944.
Pierce Brothers, Limited, was founded in 1909 by Andrew Granville Pierce Jr., with Albert Russell Pierce and a third brother, Edward Taber Pierce (1855-1937) as manager and treasurer, respectively. This organization supplemented the output of Pierce Manufacturing Corporation by producing silk, rayon, and fine cotton yarn cloth. Always smaller than the parent firm, the company at its peak around 1928 employeed about 500 people in one mill with 1,200 looms and 53,000 spindles. Pierce Brothers, Limited, continued to operate until the early 1950s. The mill property was sold to the Cresent Corporation of Fall River, Mass., in 1952.
This collection contains business records of Pierce Manufacturing Corporation and Pierce Brothers, Limited, as well as personal papers of several Pierce family members.
Predominant among the records of both organizations are volumes containing swatches representing cloth produced by each firm. The sixty-two sample books for Pierce Manufacturing Corporation in Sub-group 1, dating from ca. 1892-1944, include very little information concerning the manufacture of the material; however, those sample books in Sub-group 2 for Pierce Brothers, Limited, provide complete statistics relating to cloth produced by that company between 1919-1939. The remainder of Pierce Manufacturing Corporation records in Sub-group 1 consist of minutes of directors' meetings, 1892-1935, reflecting the firm's administrative affairs throughout most of its history; stock records, 1893-1944; account books and bills and receipts for 1892-1919 and 1933-1944; memoranda concerning wages and duties of company employees, ca. 1923-1941; several additional cloth samples; and the corporation's letter book for 1939-1944. Sub-group 2, devoted to Pierce Brothers, Limited, records, consists of a report on machinery and buildings, 1941; memoranda concerning cloth manufacture, supplies, equipment, and employees, 1938; samples of cloth finished for the company by firms in New York and Rhode Island, ca. 1915-1939; and the fifteen sample books for 1919-1939. The Pierce family papers in Sub-group 3 relate to Andrew Granville Pierce, his sons, Andrew Granville Pierce Jr., and Albert Russell Pierce, and his grandson, Albert Russell Pierce Jr. Most notable are papers of the family head, particularly a letter book, 1868-1888, 1900, containing copies of outgoing correspondence relating to Andrew Granville Pierce's interest in the New Bedford, Vineyard, and Nantucket Steamboat Co., New Bedford and Fairhaven Street Railroad Co., Morse Twist Drill Co., Potomska Mills, Grinnell Mills, and various banks in New Bedford and Boston. His papers also contain lecture notes of Henry Howard Jr. (1874-1944), compiled in about 1899 as a student at New Bedford Textile School--an institution that the elder Pierce served as a trustee. Papers for other family members chiefly consist of personal correspondence, notes, memoranda, bills, and related documents, ca. 1886-1948.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to the Collection
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 3 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Removed to Photographs Collection
- Photograph of Andrew Granville Pierce, ca. 1892
- Photograph of Edward Taber Pierce, n.d.
- Three photographs of airplanes used by the U.S. in World War I, ca. 1917-1918, probably with Pierce Manufacturing Corporation cotton in wings.
- Twelve photographs and blueprints of loom manufactured by Crompton & Knowles Loom Works, Worcester, Mass., 1921.
- Blueprint for Union (Ship), A. R. Pearce, 1815.
Removed to Printed Collection
- Comparison of the Cost of Manufacturing Cotton in the New England Mills for the Years 1875-1939, n.d.
- Dobson & Barlow, Ltd. Machinery Calculations . . ., 1897
- Forbes, Allan. Other Indian Events of New England, 1941
- Frank P. Bennett & Co., Inc. Cotton Fabric Glossary, 1907
- Haswell, Charles H. Mechanics' and Engineers' Pocket-Book, 1885
- Hyde, James. Science of Cotton Spinning, n.d.
- Nasmith, Joseph. Students' Cotton Spinning, 1893
- Old Colony Railroad. Time Table . . ., 1888
- Pierce Manufacturing Corp., New Bedford, Mass. Specifications for Building a Mill . . ., 1892
- Scovell, Clinton H. Textile Cost Methods, 1913
- Walmsley, Herbert E. Cotton Spinning and Weaving, 1893
- World Premiere Program, "Down to the Sea in Ships," 1922
- Yates, Thomas. Practical Treatise on Yarn and Cloth Calculations . . ., 1901
Removed to Objects Collection
- Linen measuring gauge used by Albert Russell Pierce
- Three combs used in weaving machinery
Records and papers in this collection were presented to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society on 14 April and 26 May 1978 by Mrs. A. Russell Pierce as part of a larger group of manuscript and printed material. A complete list of the items in the Pierce gift is available in the Society's accession records, AR 78.8.
Processed by: Patricia J. Albright, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Robbin Smith, 02 June 2011; box list amended by Mark Procknik, 07 October 2011
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1892-1944
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Cotton manufacture--Mass.--New Bedford
Cotton trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Howard, Henry Jr., 1874-1944
New Bedford Textile School, New Bedford, Mass.
New Bedford, Mass.--Industries
Pierce Brothers, Limited, New Bedford, Mass.
Pierce, Albert Russell Jr.
Pierce, Albert Russell, 1869-1948
Pierce, Andrew Granville Jr., 1864-1950
Pierce, Andrew Granville, 1829-1903
Pierce, Edward Taber, 1855-1937
Rayon industry and trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Textile fabrics--Mass.--New Bedford--Sample books
Textile industry--Mass.--New Bedford
Textile schools--Mass.--New Bedford
Wages--Textile workers--Mass.--New Bedford
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