Sewing in The Filson’s Collections: The McCurdy Manufacturing Company

After my last post on political quilts, Heather told me that she stumbled across a collection of sewing machine ads, photos, and memorabilia. Naturally, I had to take a look, and what I found was fascinating.

The McCurdy Manufacturing Co. made and sold sewing machine parts, sewing machines, bicycles, and sporting goods. The Filson’s collection spans from the 1880s to the 1930s and includes correspondence and advertising related to the merchandise that they carried. The earliest correspondence involves bicycle sales and repairs, and there are several pictures of the inside of the store. It was so interesting to see how stores were set up during this time period. Later, the correspondence covers inquiries into sending sewing machines to European nations after WWII.

One of the most interesting pieces of this collection is the scrapbook. It is fragile, but the McCurdy items were pasted onto a catalog for a rival company. This was a common occurrence for the time and not something I would consider doing today. But it was very cool to see other ads on the same pages as the McCurdy collection.

Singer Machine Ad

Singer Sewing Machine ad. [McCurdy Manufacturing Co. Records, Scrapbook of advertising, Mss. BB M133 7]

Below are a few of my favorite images from the other scrapbook in the collection. These were found in a pay ledger that was used as a scrapbook. It’s so neat to see what sewing machines looked like years ago, and I really like seeing them housed in their own cabinet. An all-in-one sewing area, indeed.

Woman sewing on a Singer machine. [McCurdy Manufacturing Co. Records, Scrapbook of advertising, Mss. BB M133 7]

Woman sewing on a Singer machine. [McCurdy Manufacturing Co. Records, Scrapbook of advertising, Mss. BB M133 7]

Woman hand finishing an item. [McCurdy Manufacturing Co. Records, Scrapbook of advertising, Mss. BB M133 7]

Woman hand finishing an item. [McCurdy Manufacturing Co. Records, Scrapbook of advertising, Mss. BB M133 7]

This collection and many others is available for view in The Filson Historical Society's Special Collections department.

Jamie Evans

Jamie Evans is the Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator at The Filson Historical Society. When she isn’t working on publications for The Filson, you can find her behind her sewing machine or out on the roads training for her next big race.

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