[Indianapolis, IN]: J. Walter Hannon, Indiana Telephone Company, 1920 - 1955. 3 Photograph Albums, of varying pages. Two typewritten notebooks, one folder of Indiana journal publications laid-in, and many loose photographs and adverts. Many b/w photographs throughout albums (some sepia toned), including 28 photo postcards; most group company photographs commercial, remaining photographs by Hannon(?) or perhaps a company photographer. Nine loose 8" x 10" original photos, six 2.5" x 4" photos tipped-in on loose board with clipping attached. Labor report with photo plates, illustrations, diagrams, numerous letters on letterhead, memos, tipped-in printed brochures, text illustrations, color illustrated wrappers. Photo Albums oblong format: (1) 10-1/2" x 13-1/2". (2) 8-1/2" x 11-1/2". (3) 10-1/4" x 13-1/2". Two black (one dark brown) flexible leatherette bindings with gilt stamped lettering to front, two albums with black cord ties. One black blind-stamped stiff cloth covered folder, one flexible black plastic folder. Loose photographs in mylar covers. Albums with modest rubbing to edges and light soiling/aging to covers; light musty odor; minor bumping to edges and scuffing to fore-edges. Item #41459
An extensive archive chronicling nearly 40 years of the Indiana history of what would become AT&T Co., during the more than half-decade career of one of the company’s Indianapolis-based plant supervisors, J. Walter Hannon. Hannon took a job at the Leavensworth, KS, telephone plant in order to pay his way through high school and college, and transferred to Indiana Telephone Co. in 1916. Over 700 b&w images provide a dense visual record of the company’s workers and operations, with a particular emphasis on the natural and manmade disasters that affected service during these years; additionally, a large framed lithograph (23-1/2” x 30-3/4”) entitled “Loyalty to Public Service,” from 1921, is also included. Hannon’s notes, memos, and trade publications offer an accompanying, if far from complete, documentary record of company policies and internal workings.
The photograph albums and loose photos are the undeniable heart of the archive. The first album, which includes a few leaves of personal photographs, depicts Hannon early in his career, showing both the young man and the still fairly young telephone company at work. Photos include images of laborers — including at least two female workers — digging ditches for conduit pipes and laying lines of cable across muddy fields and beside city streets; cutting and erecting telephone poles; repairing ice-laden telephone wires, etc. Several views are included of the destruction following the F3 or F4 tornado that ripped through Indianapolis on May 18, 1927, destroying over 400 homes in the eastern part of the city and doing considerable damage to the area’s telephone wiring.
The second album covers the Anderson, IN fire that decimated the building housing the city’s telephone switchboard, as well as the department store in which the fire began and several doctors’ and dentists’ offices, on January 29, 1934, and the third album is almost entirely devoted to recording the effects of the Ohio River Flood of 1937 on plant operations in Jeffersonville, IN. Jeffersonville was heavily submerged, but fared better than some: water levels reached nearly 54’ in Evansville, IN, during the flood, causing the city to declare martial law, and reached 80’ in Cincinnati. Images include telephone crews boating to work and rowing out to half-submerged telephone poles; discussing engineering problems at the “Log Cabin,” where ~300 workers were housed and fed in dormitories during and after the flood (including one of the “bar” at Log Cabin, which the Index notes was the “[d]raft table during weekdays. Altar on Sundays”); the workers’ in their dorms; and much more.
Accompanying the albums are Hannon’s notes and reports, as well as various trade publications. Of particular interest, given AT&Ts long resistance to labor unions, is a note in Hannon’s hand from a 1926 conference that “[o]rganized labor gave more production & share of profits […] get into larger connecting(?) co’s first” (AT&T instituted Employees’ Committees around this time, which the Wagner Act of 1935 ruled were illegal); later reports and a binder of internal memos from 1950 on labor, equipment and cost efficiency make up the remaining portion of Hannon’s personal material in the archive.
Full list of material available upon request.