McCormick collection, 1850-1937

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Format Mixed Materials
  • Contributors
  • Physical Details
    • 2070.9 cubic feet and
    • 1188 reels of microfilm (35mm); plus
    • additions of 1247.4 cubic feet (papers and photographs)
    • 50 photographs
    • 4 tape recordings
    • 46 disc recordings
    • 4 videorecordings
    • 72 film reels
    • 4 film strips with 1 folder, and
    • 1 slide carousel
  • OCLC ocn145775867
  • Finding Aids
    • Described in the published finding aid: Guide to the McCormick Collection, Margaret R. Hafstad, ed., Madison: 1973; additional finding aids are located in several archives boxes in the Archives Research Room, in various card file indexes and lists, and online


  • The McCormick Collection is a collection of papers--of individuals, companies, and organizations--primarily concerning but not limited to the life and work of Cyrus Hall McCormick, inventor of the reaper. Following his death in 1884, McCormick's widow and children began employing secretaries to seek out and preserve manuscripts and memorabilia relating to the inventor and the development of the agricultural implement industry. Subsequent curators assembled and organized a mass of material consisting of papers of various types and a large quantity of non-manuscript items such as photographs, books, publications of the McCormick companies, agricultural machinery and models, and museum pieces.
  • The McCormick Collection is composed of the papers of Cyrus Hall McCormick, his wife Nettie Fowler McCormick, and several of their children including Anita McCormick Blaine and Cyrus McCormick, Jr.; domestic and foreign correspondence and business papers of the various McCormick companies in Chicago prior to 1902; and a number of collateral collections relating to agriculture and particularly to McCormick's native state of Virginia, including the papers of James D. Davidson and James McDowell of Rockbridge County, Virginia. Also included are records of other companies which joined with the McCormick company in 1902 to form International Harvester; extensive records of International Harvester; papers of other family members; papers documenting the amassing and preservation of the Collection as a whole; and the papers of its long-time curator, historian Herbert A. Kellar.
  • The collection covers a wide range of subjects. The papers deal extensively with McCormick family affairs and the McCormick companies; with the development and spread of the agricultural implement industry in the United States and abroad; and with many phases of rural life and agriculture, particularly prices and production. The growing wealth of the McCormicks, and their desire to be of influence, created manuscripts relating to railroad, timber, and mining investments; Democratic party politics of the nineteenth century; Presbyterian church history and missions; educational institutions; wide-ranging philanthropies; and Chicago social and economic life. The Virginia Papers, assembled to serve as a background to the inventor's association with the state where he first developed the reaper, provide information on local commerce and business, early iron furnaces, agriculture in the Valley of Virginia, state and local politics, slavery and the Civil War, canal construction, and land speculation.


  • All processed series and some unprocessed series within the McCormick Collection have been cataloged individually. Several smaller accessions are described in the holdings
  • Portions of this collection are available only on microfilm.
  • Presented by the McCormick families and companies, by the International Harvester Company, and by various others.
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