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Series V. Carnegie, Phipps & Company, Limited, 1888-1897

Historical Background

In 1883, the Carnegie Brothers & Company, Limited purchased Homestead Steel Works from Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Company in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Carnegie then bought back the Lucy Furnaces from Wilson, Walker & Company and with the mill at Homestead formed the Carnegie, Phipps, & Company, Limited on January 1, 1886. Carnegie and his partners now owned all the steel production in Homestead. The Carnegie firms in Pittsburgh at this time were organized into two separate companies, each owned by the same group of partners. Carnegie, Phipps & Company, Limited owned Homestead Steel Works while Carnegie Brothers & Company owned the Edgar Thomson steel mill. Carnegie created two separate chairman positions placing William L. Abbott as chairman of the board for Carnegie and Phipps & Company, Limited and Henry Clay Frick as chairman of Carnegie Brothers & Company, Limited.

The purchase of the Homestead Steel Works helped eliminate one of Carnegie’s biggest rivals, but it also came with a dilemma. Labor problems plagued the mill even when it was owned by the Pittsburgh Bessemer Steel Company. In 1882, there were labor issues that resulted in a strike that lasted for ten weeks. A few weeks after the settlement, unions were threatening another strike. When Carnegie bought the mill, the labor issues did not improve. In 1889, labor relations suffered and another strike ensued. Although Abbott was a knowledgeable businessman who had worked his way up in Carnegie’s various companies, he was inexperienced in dealing with strike matters. Abbott ignored Carnegie’s advice to keep the Homestead mill shutdown until the strikers agreed to the company’s terms. Carnegie urged Abbott to stand firm, but instead he compromised and settled the strike dispute. A new contract was signed which would expire on July 1, 1892. On July 1, 1892, Carnegie Brothers and Company, Limited bought the Carnegie, Phipps & Company, Limited and both were consolidated into the Carnegie Steel Company, Limited.

Scope and Content Notes:

This series contains records of the Carnegie, Phipps & Company, Limited. The majority of the material consists of correspondence, memoranda, reports, statements, and summaries that pertain to armor plate production. In 1890, the Homestead Works signed an armor plate contract with the United States government. The correspondence contains letters mostly from the Secretary of Carnegie, Phipps, and Company, Limited, Otis H. Childs to B.F. Tracy, Secretary of the U.S. Navy, as well as Commodore William M. Fogler, Chief of Bureau of Ordnance for the U.S. Navy.

Childs also created weekly armor reports for Henry Clay Frick, the company’s chairman. Most of the reports deal with the shipment of armor, but there are a few reports that pertain to the Bethlehem Iron Company. Childs reported back to Frick on Bethlehem’s equipment and armor production. In 1892, both Bethlehem Iron Company and Homestead Steel Works had contracts with the government to produce armor belts for naval ships.

Also included in this series are statements, shipments, product orders, and monthly reports of work completed at the armor plate department. Folders one, five, six, and seven contain materials that were created when the company was Carnegie, Phipps, and Company, Limited., but also extend into the Carnegie Steel Company, Limited. The materials in this series date from 1887 to 1893. Additional files relating to Carnegie, Phipps, & Company, Limited, may be found in Carnegie Steel Company, Limited Series.

Box 27
Folder 1 Bids, December 16, 1892
Folder 2 List of Shareholders, December 31, 1887, June 30, 1897
Folder 3 Memoranda, October 15, 1891-November 14, 1892
Folder 4 Reports, September 12, 1891-May 23, 1892
Folder 5 Reports, June 14, 1892-February 17, 1893
Folder 6 Statements, 1888-1892
Folder 7 Summaries, April 30, 1892-January 31, 1893
Folder 8 Correspondence, November 13, 1889-April 12, 1892
Folder 9 Correspondence, April 15-May 11, 1892
Folder 10 Correspondence, May 18-June 29, 1892