W.F. and John Barnes Company Records (Rockford), 1878-1963
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Brief Description:

The W. F. and John Barnes Company records collection represents a small portion of the documents usually generated by a large industrial firm.  Nevertheless, as the only surviving records of this important machine tool corporation, the collection is vitally important to the preservation of the industry’s history.

Records in the collection date from 1878 to 1963 with the bulk of the materials between 1940 and 1962.  The first series contains company histories, legal agreements and leases, minutes annual reports, and reports to stockholders detailing organizational changes such as the formation and dissolution of subsidiary industries.  Since there are no minutes pre-dating 1931, only the company histories reveal the industry’s beginnings.

Voting trust agreements, correspondence, interdepartmental memoranda, special reports on facets of industrial developments, and financial records comprise the second record series (1878, 1932-1960).  Of special note are two shipping registers (1919-1940) recording the names of the companies purchasing equipment, their location and the number or type of machine being shipped.  The books are valuable tools for studying the effect of economic conditions on company production and sales statistics.

The final series of the collection consists of printed materials such as catalogs, articles, news releases, and operation plans, architectural drawings, and photographs.  A large portion of the photographs portray exterior and interior portions of the factory and chronologically depict additions and alterations made during the 1940’s.  Another set of photographs show the construction of the Rockford Ordnance Plant in 1941-1942.  The architectural drawings not only detail company facilities, but also machine building specifications.

Researchers should note that there is an extensive company history available in Box 1, Folder 1.  The Regional History Center also holds a number of other industrial collections: Rockford Mitten and Hosiery Company, Rockford Chair and Furniture Company, Smith Oil and Refining Company, National Chair Company, Starline, Incorporated, and Westclox, Incorporated (RC 38, 42, 48, 59, 114, 116).  Researchers also might consult the local history reference collection for information on northern Illinois industries

Held at:
Northern Illinois University
Founders Memorial Library
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
Phone: 815-753-1779
Email: rhcua [at] niu.edu
Record Series Number: RHC/RC/123
Volume: 3.5 Linear Feet
Acquired: 02/05/1981.
Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection.
Subject Index
Barnes, John
Machine-tools
Rockford (Ill.)
W. F. & John Barnes Company
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection belong to the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.
Acquisition Notes: Kimball L. Finkenstaedt  Kimball L. Finkenstaedt, Rockford, Illinois, donated the W.    F. and John Barnes Company records to the Northern Illinois Regional History Center on February 5, 1981.
Related Materials: The Regional History Center also holds a number of other industrial collections: Rockford Mitten and Hosiery Company, Rockford Chair and Furniture Company, Smith Oil and Refining Company, National Chair Company, Starline, Incorporated, and Westclox, Incorporated (RC 38, 42, 48, 59, 114, 116).  Researchers also might consult the local history reference collection for information on northern Illinois industries.