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G.O. Carlson, Inc. production records


Held at: National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum [Contact Us]50 S. 1st Ave., Coatesville, Pennsylvania, 19320

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum. 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 beginnings of G.O. Carlson company, located in Downingtown, Pa., can be traced to 1936. Gunard O. Carlson worked for Latrobe Electric Steel at the time, but he recognized a need for custom-made sizes and special grades of stainless steel for the chemical industry and seized the opportunity to fill it. He became a stainless broker, purchasing blocks of steel from producers, processing them through the Lukens Steel Company nearby, and re-selling the product. The nascent G.O. Carlson company grew when Carlson hired its first employee, Harry Cole, in 1937. Soon after, Carlson borrowed from his former employer to build an office and machine shop. By 1939, the company had 25 employees, and in 1940 it was formally incorporated under the laws of Delaware.

Business at G.O. Carlson, Inc. was booming during World War II. Carlson took a large quantity of government orders, although after being subjected to examination by a Renegotiation Board, the company was forced to return thousands of dollars from what the Board ruled to be excessive profit. Business slowed down after the war, but it picked up again with increased industrial production in the 1950s. G.O. Carlson, Inc. leased buildings from the Lukens Steel Company plant in Coatesville (Chester County, Pennsylvania) to increase production and office administration capacity.

G.O. Carlson, Inc. supplied stainless plate for the first nuclear submarine (the Nautilus), the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (the Enterprise), and the first nuclear power plant built by Westinghouse (at Shippingport, Pennsylvania). They also produced materials for the United States bobsled in the first post-war Olympic Winter Games and a space shuttle.

In 1991, G.O. Carlson, Inc. purchased Electralloy Corporation (Oil City, Pennsylvania), a custom melter of specialty and stainless steel alloys. As of 2013, G.O. Carlson, Inc. is still active, operating on a smaller scale than it did at its high point. The stainless steel plate business is still located in Downington.


G. O. Carlson, Inc. "75th Anniversary, G.O. Carlson, Inc., 1936-2011." 2011. Accessed October 8, 2013.

This collection includes various records related to G.O. Carlson, Inc.'s production of stainless and specialty steel. The largest portion is production orders, filed by date and alphabetically, 1992-1998. Several record types relating to quality control and testing make up another large segment of the collection, including test certificates, test history cards, completed test reports, quality test reports, certifications, and pull sheets. There are many other production-related records, such as production reports, target forms, back-up data, completed nuclear travel cards, and heat cards.

The collection also includes several binders of print outs of digital photographs of the G.O. Carlson lab, issues of Corrosion magazine, and a few other items not directly related to production.

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.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum directly for more information.

National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
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.
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