Monday, July 10, 2017


One of the great misperceptions about NCCHP, and the Archives Project in general, is that the focus is on the Noble & Cooley company history. In fact, manufacturing history is only part of NCCHP's collection and focus. Community history, national events, and cultural trends all factor into the museum's mission to "keep the drumbeat of history" alive. The museum uses Noble & Cooley's company history and manufacturing equipment as a starting point for telling the much bigger story of Yankee Ingenuity, the Pioneer Valley, America, and "how we became who we are."

The Archives Project places a heavy emphasis on telling this same story through the massive amount of "non-Noble & Cooley" material consisting of over 150 years of saved books and documents. That includes manufacturing manuals and catalogs from hundreds of American companies from the 1880's to the present. In many cases we probably have the only copies in existence.

To the question raised in the title of this post (finally), the answer is a resounding, "Yes!" There are many hundreds of company letterheads that provide the names of company officers, which can help researchers identify where an ancestor works and what his or her function was at the place of employment. There are many books including original Dun reference books from the late 1800's and early 1900's. The Cooley journals from 1860 into the late 1800's provide a fascinating, daily window into farming and manufacturing life in Western Massachusetts. There are also group photos of company employees. These may have the only known photographic image of some of the people depicted. That's only the tip of the iceberg.

Closer to home, there are time and payroll books from Noble & Cooley dating from about 1889 into the 20th century. These have detailed, daily information for every employee, in many cases including pay rates. These documents have a remarkable way of almost bringing people to life; certainly their stories becomes much richer, and their lives more clear.

As an example.... Did your ancestor work at Noble & Cooley in 1914? We can tell you with reasonable certainty one way or the other. Here's an employee list from that year. And we tell you how many hours a day they worked; in many cases we can tell you what they made and how many, on a given day or week.

Click on the image below for a larger version: