Monday, August 27, 2018

Legal Research at the Hagley Museum & Library


In my most recent post, I highlighted some of my research on the American fair trade movement and antitrust reform, and showed how it relied on the Hagley Museum and Library's vast archival holdings. I spent a lot of time in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce records, but there are countless other resources available there. Here I’ll highlight some of the collections that may be of particular interest to readers and note a few books that used those sources.

Originally endowed by the du Pont family, the archive and museum sit on 235 acres along the Brandywine River, just minutes from downtown Wilmington, DE. The grounds are spectacular. Researchers are housed in restored cottages that formerly housed foremen who managed the original gunpowder mills. The change in elevation along the Brandywine made this location perfect for a canal to be installed with a series of locks that powered mills. At the top of the steep hill sits the du Pont family home. The “soda house” has been transformed to house the archival collections. The reading rooms at the archive and the main library look out onto forests.

Hagley’s specialty is business and technology, but there’s a lot for legal historians to explore as well. From their website: “The collections include individuals' papers and companies' records ranging from eighteenth-century merchants to modern telecommunications and illustrate the impact of the business system on society.” Also, Hagley continues to build its digital collections, so keep an eye out for new materials on the web.

For graduate students and researchers at any stage, check out the Hagley grants and fellowships page.


Some highlights:

Of course there's the DuPont Legal Dept. Records (Acc. 1729). Professor Catherine Fisk used these records along with the archival records from Rand McNally and Eastman Kodak in her award-winning book, Working Knowledge: Employee Innovation and the Rise of Corporate Intellectual Property, 1800-1930.

National Association of Manufacturers (Acc. 1411), which Professor Jennifer Delton mined for her book, Racial Integration in Corporate America, 1940-1990.

Seagram Company Ltd., the Canadian distiller, (Acc. 2126 and 2173) holds internal documents on brand development and marketing campaigns. I used these materials for my research on manufacturer price protection plans. Letters between company executives, detectives, and "cut-rate" retailers detailed the exchanges leading to Old Dearborn Distributors v. Seagrams (US, 1936). In that case the Court upheld state fair trade laws, enforcing resale price maintenance contracts.

Enron Board Minutes (Acc. 2487) . . . the only full set in existence, according the Hagley archivist Lucas Clawson.

Raymond Loewy collection (Acc. 2251), includes information on trademarks and trademarking.

Interested in telecomm?  Check out the holdings from MCI Telecommunications, which includes their Legal Department records and various law suit records (Acc. 2275). 

There are two different collections concerning the 1969 IBM antitrust suit: Richard Thomas de Lamarter collection of IBM antitrust suit records (Acc. 1980) and the Computer& Communications Industry Association IBM antitrust trial records (Acc. 1912). 

There are two collections of Singer Manufacturing Co. records that contain info on patents and trademarks: Acc. 2207 and Acc.2641.

And, then there's the online catalog for researchers to find material specific to their on-going projects.

Special thanks to Lucas Clawson, Archivist & Hagley Historian, and Dr. Roger Horowitz, Director of Hagley's Center for the History of Business, Technology, and Society.

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