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Superintendent of Shops (Georgia School of Technology) Records

Superintendent of Shops (Georgia School of Technology) Records

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Superintendent of Shops (Georgia School of Technology) Records
Identification: UA444
Date: 1888-1895
Size/Quantity: 3.2 linear feet (6 volumes and 1 archival folder in 6 oversize boxes)
Language: This collection is written in English.
Creator: Georgia School of Technology. Shops. Superintendent.
Repository: Archives & Records Management, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology
Abstract:The volumes in this collection contain copies of outgoing correspondence covering the day-to-day operations and transactions of the shops at the Georgia School of Technology.

Biographical/Historical Note

When Georgia Tech opened in the fall of 1888, the shops occupied a two-story building with a tower that resembled the academic building. The building housed the metalworking and drawing room, office, machine and wood shop, engine room, blacksmith shop, iron foundry, and brass foundry. The superintendent managed the shop with the assistance of four foremen who supervised work in the machine shop, the blacksmith shop, the foundry, and the wood shop. The shops also employed some skilled paid workmen, but much of the work was by Tech students who were unpaid unless they were employed in the shops during the summer vacation.

Although the seeming function was education, the shops were run for the first several years as contract job shops that were largely independent from the academic departments. Much of the business from the Tech shops came from Atlanta, though some orders were filled from customers elsewhere in Georgia and from outside the state. Amoung the most frequent customers were the Fulton Cotton Spinning Company, the Exposition Cotton Mill, and Oliver Porter's cotton.

Milton P. Higgins served as the first Superintendent of Shops during Georgia Tech's first academic year (1888-1889). Higgins was hired on a one-year leave of absence from Worcester Free Institute, the school on whose curriculum Georgia Tech's was modeled. W. F. Cole took over after Higgins' departure and continued until August 1890, when he was let go because of an uncertain financial future. G. E. Cassidy, who had been the wood shop foreman, assumed the duties of acting superintendent in September of that year. It was not until December 1892 that the Board decided to replace Cassidy by hiring Alfred Jessop as shop superintendent.

After a fire destroyed the original shop building in April 1892, immediate plans were made to replace the equipment and structure, but the financial situation continued to worsen. The commercial shop at Tech ended and the position of Superintendent of Shops discontinued in January 1896 with a decision by the Georgia Tech Board of Trustees "to change it from a commercial to a purely education institution." However, the students continued to be required to work for several hours every week in the shop.

Source: Robert C. McMath, Jr. et al., Engineering the New South (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1985), Chapter 2.

Scope and Content Note

The volumes in this collection contain copies of the outgoing correspondence of the Superintendent of Shops at the Georgia School of Technology. Besides correspondence, copies of invoices, class lists, balance sheets, and other financial information are also included in the volumes. While there is no coverage for 1891 and the first months of 1892 (these copies may have been lost in the April 1892 fire), the day-to-day operations and transactions of the shops are very well documented for the first three years (October 1888 through 1890), as well as for the period directly after the fire (April 1892 through September 1893).

The collection also includes two pieces of outgoing correspondence from 1895, as well as a printed memorandum from the same year announcing a contract with Mr. T. H. Tabor to manufacture his patented corn sheller.

Index Terms

Cassidy, G. E.
Cole, W. F., 1859-1942
Georgia Institute of Technology. History.
Georgia School of Technology. Curricula.
Georgia School of Technology. Shops.
Higgins, Milton P., b. 1842
Jessop, Alfred
Machine shops--Georgia--Atlanta.

Physical Characteristics

The volumes in this collection are very fragile and require careful handling. In addition, some pages are partially or fully illegible.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

The 1892-1893 volume was originally acquired by the Archives as a cataloged item. The catalog record has been suppressed. The first five volumes were acquired as part of the Ledgers Collection.

Preferred Citation

Please cite [Item, Volume], Superintendent of Shops Correspondence, Archives, Library and Learning Excellence, Georgia Institute of Technology.


The first five volumes were acquired as part of the Ledgers Collection (accession number 2007.007). The 1895 correspondence was accessioned in 2001 (accession number 2001.132). The 1892-1893 volume was accessioned in 2010 (2010.094).

Processing Information

Christine de Catanzaro processed these records in June 2013.


Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.

Separated Material

The first five volumes in this collection have been separated from the Ledgers Collection (UA335). The 1895 correspondence was originally processed as MF018. The 1892-1893 volume was originally cataloged and assigned the call number T171 .G442 G4x. This catalog record has been suppressed.

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available on request in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.

Container List

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1Letters Copied (Volume 1), October 1, 1888-March 26, 1889


2Letters Coppied (Volume 2), March 27, 1889-June 17, 1889


3Letter Book (Volume 3), June 17, 1889-August 1889


4Letters (Volume 4), August 30, 1889-February 6, 1890


5Letters (Volume 5), February 1, 1890-December 31, 1890


6Correspondence: Shop Superintendent (Volume 6), April 23, 1892-September 1893
61Correspondence, 1895