Arnold B. Tofias Industrial Archives
Scope and Contents
The Arnold B. Tofias Industrial Archives is comprised of approximately 1,500 linear feet of archival material plus approximately 2,600 artifacts. This finding aid does not include artifacts, but instead focuses on archival materials.
The collection includes unique and extensive business and some personal records of Easton, Massachusetts’ Ames family and their shovel-making and associated enterprises. A few records in the collection date back to the late 18th century, but the bulk of materials are from the early 19th through mid-20th centuries.
The collection includes historic materials that document a far wider geographic area than Easton. The company owned additional shovel-making and waterpower facilities in the Massachusetts communities West Bridgewater, Bridgewater, Canton, Stoughton, and Braintree. In addition, through mergers and acquisitions the Ames company owned and managed factories in Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Texas and was closely associated with wood-working (handle) operations in Maine. Due to the company’s vast shovel-making empire it had close relationships with individuals and business throughout the nation. The collection includes documents of a far wider breadth than may be expected.
Although the collection’s main thread is the shovel-making enterprise, other industrial ventures by family members include merchant houses in Albany and New York City as well as extensive ironworking operations and associated community building in Connecticut and New Jersey. In addition in 1860-1 Oliver Ames and Sons became owners of a Worcester agricultural implement company which became the Ames Plow Company. While Ames Plow’s factories were in Worcester and Ayer, Massachusetts, its sales office and a large warehouse was prominently located at Quincy Market in Boston. Ames Plow became a well known maker and distributor of nearly every agricultural tool and machine one could imagine: shovels of course but also plows, rakes, corn shellers, etc. The Tofias Archives contains a limited amount of information on Ames Plow.
In addition to materials which document business and industrial changes during a crucial period of American development (the “industrial revolution” and beyond), the Ames’ involvement with community development, politics, social causes, and other issues of the day has left a collection that is extensive in its ability to inform about our past. Politics, wars, immigration, religion, social changes, and the evolution of the little things in life we often don’t think too much about are well represented in our collection. Documents such as housing, company store, and payroll records all provide important pieces of the larger puzzle of American history.
The Tofias Archives resources are of particular value to genealogists, labor historians, industrial historians, historians of technology, landscape historians, etc.
The collection was graciously donated to Stonehill College by Mr. Arnold B. Tofias in 1973. Mr. Tofias had purchased the then abandoned Ames shovel works in Easton and discovered the collection stored in one of the building’s attics. The Arnold B. Tofias Industrial Archives was stored in the basement of Stonehill’s Donahue Hall, the former estate of Frederick Lothrop Ames who was the great-grandson of Oliver Ames, the founder of Easton’s Ames shovel company.
In March 2000 with the acquisition of additional collections and in preparation for its move to an enhanced facility, the college formed the Stonehill Industrial History Center, of which the Arnold B. Tofias Industrial Archives is the core element. In 2001 the college renovated Cushing Martin Hall (the former Cushing Martin Library) and included within it enhanced space for the Industrial History Center, featuring the Tofias Archives. The collections are now stored in climate controlled storage areas.
- late-18th century to mid-20th century
1500 linear ft.
Language of Materials
This collection is organized categorically into sections with each record receiving an item number
- A/AR, Administrative Records
- B, General Accounts
- BB, Banker Boxes
- C, Purchase and Receiving Records
- D, Production Records
- E, Sales and Shipping Records
- F, Correspondence
- G, Miscellaneous
- H, Other Plants/Facilities
- HA, Backus Ames Co
- HC, Witherell Ames & Co
- HD, Ames Shovel & Tool Co. of Texas
- HF, Ames Shovel & Tool Co. Cumberland Mills Plant
- HG, Elwood Steel Plant (Elwood, Indiana)
- HJ, Ames Shovel & Tool Co. New Albany and Martinville Plants
- HK, H.M. Myers Co./ Beaver Falls Plant
- HL, Ames Shovel & Tool Co. Oakland Handle Plant
- HM, Ames Shovel & Tool Co. T. Rowland & Sons Cheltenham, PA Plant
- HN, St. Louis Shovel Co.
- HO, Ames Shovel & Tool Co. Warren, OH Plant
- HP, Wright Shovel Co., Anderson, IN
- HQ, Various Plants
- TMP, Temporary Category
- Arnold B. Tofias Industrial Archives
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.