MS 204 D. Schwartz and Sons Trade Machinery Co. Business Records

Posted on April 5th, 2012 by

Awhile back I wrote a post about processing the D. Schwartz and Sons collection.  The collection is large and filled with details about the products the company offered, the clients they worked with, the changing costs of machine parts, the scope of the business, etc., but I was unable to discover as much about the history of the company as I had hoped.  Usually I think of these finding aid posts as ways to send information out, but I’m hoping that this post will prompt some information to come back into the museum.  Do you know something about D. Schwartz and Sons?  Do you have stories, memories, names, dates, etc.?  We would love to know more.

Organizing the order books, sometimes processing collections requires a lot of room to spread out.

D. Schwartz and Sons Trade Machinery Co.

Business Records

1900-1962

 MS 204

 Jewish Museum of Maryland

ACCESS AND PROVENANCE

The D. Schwartz and Sons Trade Machinery Co. Business Records were donated to the Jewish Museum of Maryland by Jack Schwartz in 1997 as accession 1997.149. The collection was initially processed at an unknown date and unknown person then reprocessed by Jennifer Vess is 2010 and 2011.

Access to the collection is unrestricted and available to researchers at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Researchers must obtain written permission of the Jewish Museum of Maryland before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library’s usual practices

HISTORICAL NOTE

D. Schwartz Dealer in Sewing Machines and Electric Motors opened on1004 E. Baltimore Street.  The business later became D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Trade Machinery on342-348 N. Gay Streetand even later simply D. Schwartz and Sons, Inc.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The D. Schwartz and Sons Garment Trade Machinery Co. collection contains business records and a few personal records related to the Schwartz family.  The majority of the collection covers orders and invoices from multiple companies.  The collection is divided into seven series.  Series I. Catalogs, 1900-1935 contains Singer Machine and Union Machine parts catalogs.  The catalogs are organized chronologically.  Series II. Ledgers, 1920s-1959 contains ledgers sheets and ledger books for D. Schwartz and sons.  Some of the ledger sheets were missing before the collection entered the museum.  The ledgers are organized chronologically.  Series III. Order Books, 1953-1961 includes a large collection of order books organized by the order book number (generally chronological) as well as a group of costumer orders.  The order books are organized chronologically with out of sequence job books at the end.  Series IV. Invoices, 1949-1962 contains mostly invoices, but also price lists, spec sheets, catalogs and correspondence for the various companies with which D. Schwartz and Sons did business.  A few of the folders contain samples of machine parts or fabric swatches.  These have been noted in the box list.  The invoices are organized alphabetically by the name of the company.  Series V. Financial Papers mostly contains petty cash receipts, but also tax and business charity documents.  The financial papers are organized chronologically.  Series VI. Employee Papers contains employee pay records, pay checks and letters.  The papers are organized chronologically.  Series VII. Schwartz family papers contains a variety of documents related to Irving, Benjamin and Samuel Schwartz.  The papers are organized chronologically with Strauss family papers last.

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This is closer to what the collection looks like now -- neat, orderly, and protected.

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D. Schwartz and Sons in process

Posted on February 7th, 2011 by

When I first thought about this blog post I considered writing about my experiences working from home (which has happened several times recently thanks to snow and ice).  But then I started processing the D. Schwartz and Sons collection and everything changed.  Why?  Because nearly every single staff member that passed by my table stopped to look at what I was doing and ask questions.  That interest inspired me to shift my original focus.

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The D. Schwartz and Sons collection was received by the museum in 1997 and a JMM volunteer laboriously re-foldered and labeled over three hundred files, then partly organized the files.  But a finding aid had never been written.  A couple of weeks ago I pulled the collection with the intention of writing that finding aid.  When I started looking through the boxes (hoping to learn more about the company) I also discovered that the collection needed a bit more processing before I could begin any writing.

The collection consists of ledgers and business files and a rather extensive group of order books.  It was the order books that had the staff pausing on their way through the library.  The books had been separated by year and placed into two boxes, but they hadn’t been completely organized.  I knew which two dozen were from 1953, but when I started pulling them out of the box I found November 1953 next to April 1953 followed by October….you get the idea.  My first step was to get them in chronological order with clearly labeled folders.

This was the half organized scene that seemed to attract the attention of everyone who entered the library.

One half of the newly organized and carefully labeled order books. After all of my work the books took up four boxes instead of two!

After I finished with the order books I moved onto a group of books labeled ‘price lists.’  These Price Lists are catalogs for sewing machine parts, and they're pretty amazing.  The oldest one dates to 1900, and most are for Singer machines.  I’m fascinated by both fashion history and the history of technology so these catalogs gave me a little thrill.  When the collection was first organized (sometime after 1997) multiple catalogues were placed in the same folder.  I thought that it was important to give each book its own folder so that I could include more details – not only the date and manufacturer, but also the models covered by each catalog.

Before

After

And now I’m going through the largest part of the collection the 300 or so business files – mostly containing records of D. Schwartz and Sons dealings with other companies.

Business files

I’ve had to do a little reorganizing, but the biggest complication I encountered is the need to remove the dreaded metal fasteners.  The paperclips and staples (hundreds upon hundreds of staples!) will be removed over the next few weeks as I read through the files to learn enough about the company (so that I can write a proper finding aid).

In archives we do not use those sabertooth-like staple removers. In order to do as little damage as possible we use little spatulas to pry the staple open before removing it.

I’ve encountered one surprise so far – a fabric swatch.  I will be removing it from the folder so that we can store it in the best conditions for fabric, and leave a Permanent Separation Sheet in its place.  The separation sheet has a description of the item and its location so that a researcher can request to see it. I’ll repeat the process if I come across any more swatches or any photographs.

Fabric Swatch

Separation Sheet

I’m going to be working with the D. Schwartz and Sons collection for the next few weeks (with the help of one of my spring interns), but before too long I should have a new finding aid, ready to post right here!

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