Dearnley Brothers Worsted Spinning Company and Dearnley Top Company records
Held at: Philadelphia University: Paul J. Gutman Library, Special Collections [Contact Us]4201 Henry Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19144
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia University: Paul J. Gutman Library, Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Craven and Dearnley Mill buildings were erected on Somerset and 8th Streets in Philadelphia in the fall of 1884. In 1886, E. Hexamer surveyed the site and stated: “buildings put in very substantial manner, elegant style, and on the slow burning principle.” The mill, owned by John H. Dearnely (the son of a British wool merchant), produced worsted and woolen yarns. The 1886 Hexamer survey lists the spinning operations as being conducted by “220 hands – 25 men, 10 boys, and the balance girls.”
Another large building was added parallel to the first in 1889, completing the complex. Another 30 girls were added to the employment rolls. In a 1910-1911 textile directory, the operations were listed as Dearnley Worsted Spinning Company, with John H. Dearnley’s two sons, John S. Dearnley and Charles E. Dearnley, both employed by the company.
John H. Dearnley died in 1913. Eventually, his son Charles E. “Ed” Dearnley assumed ownership of the mill. By 1943 the original Craven and Dearnley Mill Company became Dearnley Brothers Worsted Spinning Company, and moved to Chelten Avenue and Baynton Street in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. It employed 247 people. The company remained there until 1957, but by 1965 it was no longer listed in the city’s business directories. The Dearnley Top Company, Incorporated was situated at the same site at Chelten Avenue and Baynton Street and was incorporated in 1946. The corporation was dissolved in 1951. Charles E. Dearnley died in 1961.
The Dearnley Brothers Worsted Spinning Company and Dearnley Top Company records houses the companies’ business records and the personal papers of Charles E. Dearnley. This collection dates from 1908 to 1963, and consists of ledgers, appraisal documents, financial records, and photographs detailing the companies’ creations and dissolutions, production, and legal affairs. This collection is arranged chronologically in one series.
The collection contains a spinning order book belonging to John H. Dearnley, which records the start and completion dates, quality and quantity of the yarn lot, and clients of various projects. Two stock certificate books from John R. Bourne Seal Presses contain receipts for issued stock certificates as well as blank and cancelled certificates. This collection includes two check stub books, which chronicle the companies’ expenses. A dissolution file contains a variety of legal documents from the United States Treasury, formalizing the closure of Dearnley Top Company, Incorporated. These documents include bills of sale, advertisements, an agreement of shareholders, a certificate of election, articles of dissolution, an annual information return, and a waiver of notice from the Board of Directors. This collection also contains documentation of bank trusts that Charles E. Dearnley established for his three children – Elizabeth Dearnley Schradieck, James L. Dearnley, and Majorie Dearnley Helmetag. This collection includes photocopies of the original Record of Deed for Dearnley Brothers Worsted Spinning Company as well as blank letterhead from Dearnley Brothers and Chelten Dye Works. Other records include receipts from the Law Offices of Wesler, Pearlstine, Talone, and Gerber; estimate proposals for select machinery and equipment from the Dearnley Brothers Worsted Spinning Company; and photographs of unidentified men. Lastly, there is an inventory of appraisement of the machinery and equipment belonging to Charles E. Dearnley’s estate and the Dearnley Brothers Worsted Spinning Company, which was drafted by Samual T. Freeman and Company Auctioneers and Appraisers, following the death of Charles E. Dearnley in 1961.
This collection offers a glimpse into the financial and legal affairs of small Philadelphia businesses in the early 20th century. While this collection contains few personal papers of Charles E. Dearnley, researchers primarily interested in the business records of the Dearnley Brothers Worsted Spinning Company and Dearnley Top Company, Incorporated would find this collection to be a valuable resource to prompt further inquiry.
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
This collection was minimally processed in 2013-2014, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.
Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article "More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections," the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages in 16 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 4 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections or complete any preservation work.
- Philadelphia University: Paul J. Gutman Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Chase Markee
- Finding Aid Date
- 2014 October 1
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.