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Singer Manufacturing Company records

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Singer

Scope and Content of the Collection

Letters and orders sent mainly from the Chicago office of the Singer Manufacturing Company to the main office in New York, 1862-1871.

Materials pertain to request for supplies (e.g. needles, varnished covers, papers, etc.), financial transfers, machine shipments and repairs, the appointment of authorized sales agents, an exhibition at the state fair, competition with other firms, and other details regarding the daily operation of a branch office. A few letters are signed by Bolton, but most are signed for him by his assistant, John Voight. Also, there is one letter each from the Lamb Knitting Machine Co. in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; a Singer office in Buffalo, N.Y.; an Oswego, N.Y. firm; and A. W. Todd of Chicago.


  • Creation: 1861-1871



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Singer Manufacturing Company records are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Singer Manufacturing Company records are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

History of the Singer Manufacturing Company

Sewing machine manufacturer founded in 1853 from a predecessor firm, the I. M. Singer and Company.

I. M. Singer and Edward Clark were partners in the company, which was based in New York. It was the first to introduce a treadle-operated household sewing machine in 1856 and pioneered the installment plan in order to sell it. The company quickly expanded, authorizing dealers and establishing branch offices, including one in Chicago, as exclusive sales outlets for its machines.

The Singer Chicago office, managed by James Bolton, was located prior to the 1871 Chicago fire at 50 Clark Street (location of the Sherman House), and 111 State Street. Bolton and an assistant, John Voight, managed the office.

In the early 1860s, Bolton, a machinist, designed the Singer New Family or Model 12 sewing machine while working at the Chicago office. The first known machine of his design was produced in 1863.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Invoices, order forms, records, and correspondence, mainly from the Chicago office to the New York office of the Singer Manufacturing Company, 1861-1871.


Arranged chronologically.

Collection Stack Location

1 31 2


Purchased from Stuart Lutz, 2001.

Processed by

Karyn J. Goldstein, 2003.

Inventory of the Singer Manufacturing Company records, 1861-1871
Karyn J. Goldstein
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States