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Vanadium Corporation of America Photograph Collection


Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. 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

Vanadium, a malleable transition metal, was discovered in its natural state in Mexico by Andres Manuel Del Rio in 1801, though it was not isolated and recognized as an element until 1830. While vanadium was crucial to the creation of stronger and harder steel, the high cost of extracting it limited its use, even amidst the growing industrial output of the nineteenth century. Following the discovery of a large deposit of vanadium in the Peruvian Andes in 1905, vanadium became commercially viable and significantly impacted the steel industry. In 1906, the American Vanadium Company was organized to mine the new deposit, known as Mina Ragra, and use of vanadium to produce specialty steel alloys quickly became widespread, particularly in the burgeoning automobile industry. Renamed the Vanadium Corporation of America in 1919, the company eventually grew to include smelting plants in Niagra Falls, New York and Bridgeville and Chester, Pennsylvania, as well as deposits in Colorado and Southern Rhodesia. The Vanadium Corporation of America was acquired by the Foote Mineral Company, a bulk supplier of industrial minerals, in 1967.

This collection consists of photographs and ephemera documenting the facilities and activities of the Vanadium Corporation of America from 1911 to 1976. While the collection is not a comprehensive record of the company, the materials provide a good snapshot of the significance of vanadium mining to industrial output in the first half of the twentieth century. Most notable among the photographs are a series of prints of the Mina Ragra deposit in the Peruvian Andes dating from 1911. The collection also includes photographs of facilities at the Bridgeville plant, as well as various plants acquired by the Vanadium Corporation throughout the United States. Several photographs of Foote Mineral Company sites, as well as a folder of ephemera containing several booklets and studies produced by the Vanadium Corporation in the 1950s, rounds out the collection.

This collection has been entirely digitized and is available online in our Digital Collections:

Gift of Cindy and John Staggers, 1996.

Processed by Robert Hull. Object identification numbers were assigned to individual items.

Science History Institute Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid created by Hillary S. Kativa and encoded into EAD by Melanie Grear. Edited by Alex Asal, 2023.
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Use Restrictions

To obtain reproductions and copyright information, contact:

Collection Inventory

Ephemera related to the Vanadium Corporation of America, 1950s.
Box 1 Object 96:13.001
Mina Ragra—Campamento de arriba [Top camp], October 25, 1911.
Box 1 Object 96:13.002
Mina Ragra—Vista exterior de los Hornos [Exterior view of the Furnaces], October 25, 1911.
Box 1 Object 96:13.003
Mina Ragra— Tunel No. 2 - Vista exterior [Tunnel No. 2 - Exterior view], October 25, 1911.
Box 1 Object 96:13.004
Mina Ragra— Cajo Central, October 25, 1911.
Box 1 Object 96:13.005
Mina Ragra— Cancha de minerales calcinados y horno de cal [Field of calcined minerals and lime kiln], October 25, 1911.
Box 1 Object 96:13.006
Vanadium Corporation mine in Jumasha, Peru, 1950.
Box 1 Object 96:13.007
Vanadium Corporation plant in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, circa 1905-1920.
Box 2 Object 96:13.008
American Vanadium Company plant in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, circa 1905-1920.
Box 2 Object 96:13.009
Furnace at American Vanadium Company plant,, circa 1905-1920.
Box 2 Object 96:13.010
Ore stockpiles at American Vanadium Company plant, circa 1905-1920.
Box 2 Object 96:13.011
Primos Chemical Company facilities in Lakewood, Colorado, 1915.
Box 2 Object 96:13.012
Keokuk Electro-Metals Company facility, 1916.
Box 2 Object 96:13.013
Vanadium Corporation White Canyon plant, circa 1953.
Box 2 Object 96:13.014
Ferroalloy stockpiles at Vanadium Corporation plant, 1965.
Box 2 Object 96:13.015
Foote Mineral Company lithium brine evaporation panels, circa 1969.
Box 2 Object 96:13.016
Aerial view of lithium brine evaporation panels, circa 1969.
Box 2 Object 96:13.017
Foote Mineral Company lithium carbonate plant, February 4, 1976.
Box 2 Object 96:13.018

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