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Society for the Preservation of Old Mills collection


Held at: Dabbs Woodfin Library and Archives at Newlin Grist Mill [Contact Us]219 S. Cheyney Road, Glenn Mills, PA, 19342

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Dabbs Woodfin Library and Archives at Newlin Grist Mill. 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 Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM) was founded in 1972 by Everett S. Powers, a mill enthusiast from Pennsylvania, and Don Martin, a journalist of Yankee Magazine, and was chartered in the state of Maine. The Society's mission statement is "to promote interest, both publicly and privately in the old mills and other Americana now passing from the present scene. The Society will help in any way it can in the preservation or rebuilding of such structures. It will also honor those individuals whose work and ideas made these mills possible. It will report to its membership, and to the public through a periodical...It will keep files and maintain a library on mills and related subjects and will try to keep abreast on changes and happenings. It will act as a clearing house on this mill information among those interested. It will sponsor meetings and encourage correspondence among its members." To date, SPOOM has followed the outlines of its mission statement by retaining an archive, sponsoring annual conferences, distributing grants to mills in need of preservation and publishing the periodical Old Mill News. SPOOM is a national, non-profit organization and currently has seven regional chapters and maintains relationships with international organizations of similar interest.

The collection consists of gathered information on mills by state (with some international mills), SPOOM institutional records (about 120 folders), miscellaneous information now cataloged as subject files (72 subject file folders covering 54 different subjects), and numerous photographs, slides, and postcards depicting mills. The collection also includes publications (74 folders) and several objects (about 20 objects plus 57 souvenir bags). A sub-collection known as the Esther Middlewood collection is also a part of SPOOM and consists of information gathered by the editor of the SPOOM publication Old Mill News, including numerous photographs. The Stephen Straight collection is another sub-collection within SPOOM. The Dominick Kass collection is part of SPOOM as well and consists of Old Mill News issues and information on mills by state. The David Haines collection of photographs is another sub-collection.

SPOOM actively seeks information on individual mills throughout the country, which is reflected in the extensive amount of information organized by mills by state within the SPOOM collection. The information on mills by state covers material on all fifty states and on several foreign countries. Material found within the mills by state portion of the collection ranges from newspaper and magazine articles, brochures on mills, essays on mills and previous surveys pertaining to individual mills. Because of the extensive, thorough material within this portion of the collection, it will be an invaluable tool for researchers in the future.

The SPOOM collection also consists of SPOOM institutional records. Information on annual conferences and board meeting minutes are housed together and range in date from 1974-2007. Financial and insurance records as well as bookstore transactions also comprise this portion of the collection and are organized by year. This portion of the collection also contains documentation on grants distributed to individual mills housed by year. The institutional records house information pertaining to SPOOM membership as well.

What is now the SPOOM collection's subject files was originally an assortment of information on general milling, the milling process and reference materials. The subject files now contain information on the following topics: general milling, milling history, lists of mills and references to other resources, information on milling equipment, types of mills (i.e. grist mills, wind mills etc.), food industry and imagery (such as information on artists who portray mills, mill advertisements, etc.). This portion of the collection also houses information on mill companies, their catalogs and directories. It will be a useful part of the collection for researchers who want a more basic understanding of the milling process or who want to study a specific topic related to milling.

The SPOOM Collection's publications consist of issues of Old Mill News that date from 1972-2012. It also consists of publications from The International Molinological Society (TIMS), Les Moulins, Molencho's, Molen and Molens. The SPOOM collection also houses a numerous accumulation of original issues of American Miller, dating from 1878-1929. In addition, this portion of the collection houses seven original ledger books from the Davis Foundry & Machine Works of Rome, GA, which later became Brewer & Taylor Foundry, dating from 1905-1957. Researchers will find this portion of the collection helpful as it references other organizations they may be unaware of.

The SPOOM collection is comprised of a small portion of objects. There is a good amount of souvenir and flour bags collected from individual mills throughout the country. There are also mugs, pins and other various commemorative items from conferences in this collection.

The Esther Middlewood sub-collection within the SPOOM collection is extensive. Middlewood was the editor of Old Mill News and collected various materials for the periodical. Contents include correspondence to and from Middlewood, and several books and publications including Old Mills News (2001-2007), SPOOM chapter publications, Beckman Mill News, Windmill Whispers, Molens, The Mill Monitor and Mill Musings. The collection also consists of original documents (mainly invoices) from the Davis Foundry & Machine Works of Rome, GA. Drawings of mills are also a part of this collection, done by artists G.M. Callison (Maryland mills) and Ralph J. Mitchell (Georgia mills). Other material found within the collection has now been organized by information on mills by state and subject files. The majority of the Esther Middlewood collection houses the records of O. Clark Mann, a SPOOM member and engineer who produced a technical research paper on power trains for SPOOM from 2002-2004. The power train project consisted of Mann sending out questionnaires to mills throughout the country about the technical process of milling at their site. He then recorded their responses and made technical drawings and data charts which were compiled into a written study. This project focuses on the technical aspects of a topic which, to date, has not been thoroughly explored and which heightens the rarity and significance of the Clark Mann records. The Esther Middlewood collection also includes photographs from the Clark Mann Project and photos of Mills by State (as well as Foreign and Unidentified mills).

The Stephen Straight sub-collection within the SPOOM collection is small. Straight was a researcher living in Florida in the mid-1960s gathering information on mills, particularly water wheel and tide mills, to write articles.

The Dominick Kass collection consists of lists of mills by state, information on mills organized by state and county and Old Mill News publications dating from 1972 to 2007. Dominick Kass was a SPOOM member from Allendale, NJ and later Danville, PA.

SPOOM Photographs consist of Mills by State photos, photos of Foreign Mills, photos of Unidentified Mills, photos of SPOOM Conferences, photos of SPOOM Members, photos of Subjects and photos from individual donors. The photographs of David Haines make up their own collection.

SPOOM Slides of mills were donated by individual donors. The largest collection of slides comes from donor Donald Burnell.

SPOOM Postcards consist of postcards of mills in the U.S. and of foreign mills.

There is a small number of electronic media records kept in the SPOOM collection, including a number of VHS tapes of productions related to mills and milling. The collection also houses film reels, which pertain to individual mills and to a production made by John Deere Company focused on water mills. There are also several CDs (compact discs), cassette tapes and floppy disks.

Ongoing accessions from Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM) and SPOOM members.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

The cataloguing and re-housing of the SPOOM Collection was made possible by funding from SPOOM. With this financial assistance, new archival housing and shelving were purchased for the collection and an intern was procured to work for a stipend. The intern worked on the project from June - August 2011 and again from January - August 2012.

Dabbs Woodfin Library and Archives at Newlin Grist Mill
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by staff of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using data provided by Newlin Grist Mill
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

The majority of the SPOOM Collection is not in need of any restrictions on access and was organized to be easily accessed by researchers. Any researcher wishing to view objects from the SPOOM Collection will need to use gloves. The photographs and postcards within the collection will be housed in sleeves and researchers will not need gloves to view them; however they will need gloves to view oversized photographs and slides. Supervision is needed for researchers who wish to view the American Miller publications and the original Davis Foundry & Machine Works ledger books and documents. Contact Dabbs Woodfin Library and Archives at Newlin Grist Mill for further information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

000.100 . Mills by state.
Arrangement note

The mills by state portion of the collection has been kept housed by folder in one of the filing cabinets (cabinet 1A). It was then catalogued in the Past Perfect database with an accession number of 000.100.

Arrangement note

The SPOOM institutional records were also kept housed by folder in a filing cabinet (cabinet 1B). This portion of the collection was better organized and topics such as board meetings and conferences were separated from financial records and membership records for clarity and sorted by year. The records were then catalogued using the accession number 000.101.

000.101.01. Annual Conferences / Annual Board Meeting Minutes.
000.101.02. Financial Records.
000.101.03. Grants.
000.101.04. Products/Published Materials.
000.101.05. Membership Rosters.
000.102. Subject files.
Arrangement note

The subject files have been housed by folder in a filing cabinet (cabinet 1) by topic. This portion of the collection was not organized as well as the mills by state and institutional records. Its organization now reflects defined subjects that can easily be accessed and helpful to researchers. This portion of the collection was catalogued using the accession number 000.102.

Arrangement note

The publications within the SPOOM Collection were removed from their previous boxes and housed into new, archival quality boxes and folders. They are housed by each publication being grouped together and then sorted by year. The American Miller publications are housed within five large boxes separate from the other publications. The Davis Foundry & Machine Works ledger books are also housed separately in three large boxes. All of the publications were catalogued with the accession number 000.103.

000.103.01. Old Mill News.
000.103.02. TIMS Publications.
000.103.03. TIMS Symposium Publications.
000.103.04. MOLEN.
000.103.05. MOLENS.
000.103.06. Molencho’s.
000.103.07. Les Moulins.
000.104. Objects.
Arrangement note

Objects found within the SPOOM Collection were housed in three new, archival quality boxes. Souvenir bags were housed within their own box with the remaining two boxes containing smaller, random items.

Arrangement note

This accession number was given to the Esther Middlewood Collection, which was removed from the old boxes it came in and was housed in new, archival quality boxes and folders. The contents of the Middlewood Collection were marked but were still in need of better organization. Middlewood’s correspondence was sorted from the material she collected on individual mills and the milling process for Old Mill News. Information on individual mills was then housed by mills by state and information on the milling process was housed by topic, like a subject file. Other materials found within the collection, such as the Davis Foundry & Machine Works records, the drawings of mills and the publications were easily sorted and grouped together. The Clark Mann Project was catalogued under the same accession number but was housed separately and comprises six boxes.

000.105.01. Magnets.
000.105.02. Clark Mann Photos.
000.106. Stephen Straight.
Arrangement note

This accession number was given to the Stephen Straight sub-collection, which was removed from the old boxes it came in and was housed in new, archival quality boxes and folders. The collection consists of only five boxes.

000.107. Oversized Photos (Mills by State, Contest Photos).
Arrangement note

Oversized Mills by State photographs are housed in larger archival quality boxes together, sorted by state alphabetically. SPOOM Contest Photos are housed together in large archival quality boxes, sorted by year.

Arrangement note

All slides were cataloged with the accession number 000.108 but were given the following sub-numbers based on individual donors. Slides are housed in separate boxes according to donor. All slides are further sorted by state alphabetically.

000.108.01. Donald Burnell.
000.108.02. Helen Powers.
000.108.03. Raymond Paddock.
000.108.04. Paddock/LaForest/Richards/McGrain.
000.108.05. Harry Richards.
000.108.06. Fred Beals.
000.108.07. Other Slides (mills by state).
000.108.08. Other Slides.

Arrangement note

The postcards are all cataloged with the accession number 000.109 but were separated into the two following sub-numbers based on location. U.S. Postcards are sorted alphabetically by state while Foreign Postcards are sorted alphabetically by country.

000.109.01. U.S. Postcards.
000.109.02. Foreign Postcards.

Arrangement note

The Kass Collection was cataloged using the accession 000.110. The mill lists and information on mills by state are organized alphabetically by state and further sorted alphabetically by county. The Old Mill News publications in the Kass Collection are organized chronologically.

000.110.01. Old Mill News publications in Kass Collection.
000.110.02. Mills by State Lists.
000.110.03. Books.
000.110.04. Maps.
000.110.05. Images.
000.110.06. Subjects.
000.110.07. Correspondence with SPOOM.
000.111. SPOOM Photographs: Unidentified Mills.

000.112.01. Islands.
000.112.02. Australia/New Zealand.
000.112.03. Belgium.
000.112.04. Canada.
000.112.05. Denmark/Finland.
000.112.06. France.
000.112.07. Germany.
000.112.08. Netherlands.
000.112.09. Norway.
000.112.10. Turkey.
000.112.11. UK.

000.113.01. SPOOM Imagery.
000.113.02. Food.
000.113.03. Art.
000.113.04. Mill Models.
000.113.05. People Working in Mills.
000.113.06. Races/Dams.
000.113.07. Water Wheels.
000.113.08. Steam Engines.
000.113.09. Turbines.
000.113.10. Equipment (Belts, Elevators, Gears, Flutes, Mill Interiors).
000.113.11. Millstones.
000.114. SPOOM Photographs: SPOOM Members.
000.115. SPOOM Photographs: Projects/restorations grant funded by SPOOM.
000.116. SPOOM Photographs: Photographs of the SPOOM Archives.
000.117. SPOOM Photographs: Annual Conferences.
000.118. SPOOM Photographs: R.A. Wilkinson.
000.119. SPOOM Photographs: Kenjiro Kawakami.
000.120. SPOOM Photographs: W.D. Cameron.
000.121. SPOOM Photographs: Milton Schoch.
000.122. SPOOM Photographs: Fanchon Finn.
000.123. SPOOM Electronic Media Records.
Scope and Contents note

These include VHS tapes, film reels, audio cassettes, compact discs (CDs) and floppy disks.

000.124.01. Postcards.
000.124.02. Photographs.

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