Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Company Record Book
Scope and Contents
The ledger contains some handwritten pages of Board of Directors' business but also inserted among pages are an assortment of documents relevant to company ownership and indebtedness.
- 1906-01-01 - 1937-12-31
- Birdsboro Iron Foundry Company (Organization)
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Collection is open for research.
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Biographical / Historical
The early history of the Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Company originated in 1740 by William Bird who built the New Pine Forge near where the Hay Creek has junction with Schuykill River southeast of Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1761 William Bird died and his son Mark turns the forge into the largest American producer of iron during the American Revolution. In 1770 Mark Bird established Hopewell Furnace. In 1788 creditors, one being James Wilson, the last signer of the Declaration of Independence, take ownership of the Bird forges. John Louis Barde operates the forges for James Wilson. In 1796 Barde buys the forges from Wilson. In 1799 Barde dies and Thomas and Matthew Brooke, who managed the forges for Barde, acquire the property. Matthew Brooke assumes control of the iron works at the request of Barde’s widow. Matthew married Barde’s daughter. There is rapid development in the company from 1806 -16 making armament for War of 1812. In 1837 Matthew’s sons, Edward and George Brooke assume control of the iron works and create the E & G Brooke Iron Company listed in this ledger as of January 18, 1906 as holder of a share of Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Company. In 1867 the Brooke family holdings are incorporated into the Birdsboro Iron Foundry Company and steel production began. In 1872 Borough of Birdsboro is incorporated in Berks County, Pennsylvania honoring their settler William Bird. In 1878 Edward Brooke died and George Brooke assumed ownership. In 1888 Edward Brooke II married Ann Louise Clingan and as a bridal gift engages Frank Furness, a Philadelphia architect, to build the Brooke Mansion in Birdsboro as a reflection of the family’s power, wealth and influence through the E & G Brooke Co. In 1905 the name changed to Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Co. In 1912 George Brooke died. With World War II, Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Co. built in 1944 a large facility for building tanks and named the new facility Armorcast. In 1960 the company was organized as the Birdsboro Corporation. In 1972 Armorcast facility is sold to the Birdsboro Corporation. 1975 Birdsboro Corp. failed to win a contract for tank making at Armorcast and by 1988 the plant closed after a lengthy strike. By 2012 the Armorcast plant is demolished. Although the business facility is demolished the Brooke Mansion still stands in 2015 operating as a bed and breakfast facility.
1 volume ( book, 36 x 21 cm) : One book measuring 36 x 21 x 6 cm bound in elaborately tooled tan and red leather with spine imprinted with gilt MINUTES Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Co. and in very small print at bottom of spine WFMurphys Sons Company Makers.
Language of Materials
A very detailed account of the Brooke Family control of the foundry and machine company. The transactions reflect the singular family control for almost 200 years in spite of large indebtedness to maintain control of power, wealth and influence in the iron and steel industry of Berks County, Pennsylvania.
The entries in the ledger are in chronological order.
Purchase, April 29, 2015.
- Finding Aid of Birdsboro Steel Foundry & Machine Company Record Book
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- Eleanor Nothelfer
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- Lehigh University
Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository
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Bethlehem PA 18045 USA