General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, Industry and Culture Collection

Established in 1785, The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen (GSMT) is a non-profit organization serving the people of the City of New York for over two centuries, through educational, cultural and philanthropic programs. The 364 objects in the Industry and Culture Collection highlight items of institutional, metropolitan and national history held in the Society’s archival and museum collections.

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GSMT President Portrait, Lewis W. Harrington
Lewis W. Harrington (1845-1939); Initiated: 1888; Trade: Machinist. A General Society member for fifty-one years, his additional service as an officer included Second Vice President (1912), Vice President (1913), and duty as an Inspector of Election (1926-1938). Mr. Harrington's further participation in Society activities such as with the Auditing Committee (1891-1993), Pension Committee, (1905-1911, 1917-1938), Finance Committee (1915) and Membership Committee (1916) summarize a total of forty-eight years of faithful service.
GSMT President Portrait, Matthias Bloodgood
Matthias Bloodgood (1802-1890); Initiated: 1841; Trade: Mason. For many years a leading, successful mason and builder in New York City. Many well known buildings were constructed by him, among them two Dutch Reformed Churches on 5th Avenue (at 29th Street and 48th Street) and the People's Bank at 395 Canal Street. Mr. Bloodgood also served as a Director of the People's Bank and of the People's Fire Insurance Company. Additionally, he was a member of the New-York Historical Society and one of the oldest members and a former President of the Mechanic's and Trader's Society.
GSMT President Portrait, Niles G. White
Niles G. White (1850-1928); Initiated: 1872; Trade: Granite Cutter. Niles Glover White a native of Chatham Connecticut, learned the trade of stone cutting from his father John T. White, also a member of the General Society. He assumed the reins of the White Granite Company early in his career and continued as manager and owner for over forty years. Subsequently, he organized the firm of White and Clark, marble tile and slate contractors, located at Hartford, Connecticut. Besides the presidency, he served the Society as Second Vice President (1904) and Vice President (1905). His committee work included the School Committee (ten years) and the Finance Committee (two years). Additional civic affiliations included service with the Town of West Hartford, as First Selectman, Chairman of the Board of Finance, the Board of Relief, the Town Planning Commission and the Fire Commission. He was also a member of the Mayflower Society of the State of Connecticut.
GSMT President Portrait, Oliver Barrett
Oliver Barrett (1832-1918); Initiated: 1875; Trade: Plumber. Additionally served the General Society for fourteen years, as Second Vice President, Vice President and member of the Finance and Pension (Chairman, 1888) Committees.
GSMT President Portrait, Robert Christie
Robert Christie (1841-1923); Initiated: 1880; Trade: Carpenter and Builder. He was born in Scotland at Chapel Hill, near Airdrie, Lanarkshire,and lived at Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, until he came to New York in 1851. After completing a course of education in the public schools, he apprenticed as a carpenter, a trade which he followed until his retirement in 1919. Robert Christie was a member of the General Society for forty-four years. Besides his presidential year, he was Second Vice President (1896), and Vice President (1897). He served the Society continuously over a period of thirty-five years, as a member of the Finance Committee for seventeen years, School Committee for two years, Library Committee for twelve years, and on the Membership Committee and Nominating Committee for one year. His other memberships included the Building Trades Employers Association, the Master Carpenters Association (president for two years), the St. Andrews Society (member of the Board of Managers) , the American Institute and senior elder of the Central Church of the Disciples of Christ, where he taught Sunday School.
GSMT President Portrait, Robert Rutter
Robert Rutter (1828-1915); Initiated: 1868; Trade: Book Binder. Served the General Society for fourteen years in committee work, such as the Library and Pension Committees. Rutter also served as President of the New York Bookbinders Provident Association.
GSMT President Portrait, Ronald Taylor
Ronald Taylor (1864-1926); Initiated: 1894; Trade: Artificial Stone Asphalt. General Society Second Vice President (1921) and Vice President (1922). He also served on the Membership Committee (1896-1902), Pension Committee (1916-1920) and on the Finance Committee, as chairman from 1924 until the time of his death. Additionally, was President of the Building Trades Employers' Association (1918-1920), and Vice President and Chairman of the House Committee (1916-1917). He served BTEA continuously as a member of the House Committee from the formation of the association in 1903 until February, 1926, and was a member of the Executive Committee from 1916 to the day of his death. As a member of the Apprenticeship Commission of the New York Building Congress, representing this association, he rendered invaluable service in organizing and maintaining the apprenticeship system of the building trades.
GSMT President Portrait, Rudolph P. Miller
Rudolph P. Miller (1866-1947); Initiated: 1907; Trade: Carpenter. New Yorker Rudolph P. Miller was first educated in a German Presbyterian School where he was baptized and raised, followed by New York City Public School #34 where he graduated. In 1885, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the City College of New York, then continuing to Columbia University for a degree in Civil Engineering in 1888. In 1914, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Columbia School of Mines (later the School of Engineering and Applied Science), Miller was awarded the honorary degree of Master of Science. His professional career began in the railroad industry, first with Southern Railroad in Richmond, Virginia, followed by work on the Montauk Extension of the Long Island Railroad. In 1895, he was appointed Inspector of Buildings for the City of New York, advancing to Principal Assistant Engineer in 1906. After four years in private practice, he became the Superintendent of Buildings for the Borough of Manhattan, where he was instrumental in revising the New York City Building Code (1915). During the First World War, he was Chairman of Local Board #136 of the City of New York for the Selective Service. Rudolph Miller was a member of the General Society for forty years. He was admitted as a carpenter based upon apprenticeship with the firm of his brother William S. Miller (also a General Society president, 1911). Besides his presidency, Rudolph served in the offices of Second Vice President (1918) and Vice President (1919). Further service was rendered on the Membership Committee (1916-1917), the Finance Committee (1921-1923, 1927-1929), the Library Committee (1926, 1934-1947) and the Pension Committee (1932-1933). His numerous other professional affiliations included the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Fire Protection Association, the Municipal Engineers of New York, the National Federation of Construction Industries and the Columbia University Club.
GSMT President Portrait, Stephen M. Smith
Stephen M. Smith (1883-1961); Initiated: 1911; Trade: Builder. Born in New York City, Stephen Moore Smith was the son of William Chardavoyne Smith (General Society President, 1888) and grandson of Havilah M. Smith (General Society President, 1876). Educated in New York City elementary school and DeWitt Clinton High School, Mr. Smith received a degree in Civil Engineering from New York University. Upon graduation, he found employment with the Pennsylvania Steel Company, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, and as a Consulting Engineer with Rudolph P. Miller. He later joined his father’s business, eventually renamed Stephen M. Smith & Company, Carpenters and Builders. He was a member of the General Society for fifty years. In addition to his presidential year, he was in office as Second Vice President (1924) and Vice President (1925). Society activities of Mr. Smith also included various Standing Committee memberships: School Committee (1912-1923), Finance Committee (1927-1929, 1941-1943), Library Committee (1931-1940), and Membership Committee (1944-1945). Among his other appointments were as a Director of the Franklin Realty Company, a Special Juror in Essex County New Jersey, a Commissioned Officer of the Home Defense Guard and President of the Franklin Club of East Orange New Jersey. Other memberships included the Engineers Society of Pennsylvania and the Sons of the American Revolution.
GSMT President Portrait, Stephen Mott Wright
Stephen M. Wright (1841-1906); Initiated: 1878; Trade: Locksmith. Additionally served as an officer of the General Society for many years: Secretary (1885-1896); Second Vice President (1898); Vice-President (1899). Stephen Mott Wright was also an active and influential member of the Mechanics' and Traders' Exchange, of which he was Secretary for a number of years. He was for several years the New York representative in the Board of Directors of the National Association of Builders; for seven consecutive years he had also been elected a delegate to represent the Building Industry of New York in the Conventions of the National Association. Additionally, he served as Secretary and Treasurer of Webb's Academy and Home for Shipbuilders, and a Trustee of the Dry Dock Savings Bank (1877-1894). During the Washington Centennial celebration in New York, in 1889, Mr. Wright was Secretary of the conference having charge of the civic and industrial division of the parade, and in recognition of his distinguished services in connection with that affair he was publicly presented with a bronze medal by the parade Grand Marshall, Gen. Daniel Butterfield.
GSMT President Portrait, Walter P. Bishop
Walter P. Bishop (1927-2013); Initiated: 1973; Trade: Air Conditioning Engineer. A native of The Bronx, Walter attended New York City P.S. 59, Brooklyn Technical High School, and New York University, receiving a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree and subsequently a Professional Engineering (PE) license. He was also a retired Major in the United States Air Force Reserve. Above and beyond his official capacities, he was a major presence at the General Society. His contributions on many committees (particularly the Facilities Committee) were essential in preparing the Historic Structure Report (HSR) for the General Society’s building at 16-24 West Fortieth Street. He also contributed greatly as an instructor of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) at the Mechanics Institute (1964-1973). Mr. Bishop was also involved with numerous technical and professional societies, including The National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the New York Building Congress.
GSMT President Portrait, Warren A. Conover
Warren A. Conover (1848-1915); Initiated: 1883; Trade: Mason and Builder. Prominent builder and for many years one of the Board of Examiners of the Building Department of New York City, selected and appointed by the Builders' Exchange. Before serving as President of the Society, had served for many years as an officer and member on various committees. He was also for years the Society's representative on the Board of Webb's Academy and Home for Shipbuilders.
GSMT President Portrait, William C. Smith
William C. Smith (1840-1932); Initiated: 1871; Trade: Carpenter. Son of an earlier President (1876), Havilah M. Smith, and father of a future President (1926) Stephen M. Smith. Served the General Society for thirty years, as Second Vice President, Vice President, Inspector of Elections and member of the Library, Finance, Sinking Fund and Nominating Committees.
GSMT President Portrait, William H. Oliver
William H. Oliver (1863-1923); Initiated: 1878; Trade: Painter. For thirty-five years, a member of the General Society. He was also Second Vice President (1900), and Vice President (1901). He served the society continuously over a period of twenty-eight years, as a member of the School committee for six years, on the Pension Committee for two years, and on the Trade School Committee for seventeen years, ultimately as its Chairman.
GSMT President Portrait, William J. Hoe
William J. Hoe (1862-1943); Initiated: 1893; Trade: Carpenter. A member of the General Society for nearly fifty years, New Yorker William J. Hoe received his education from New York City public schools and New York University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (1883). He was the treasurer of the family construction business, James C. Hoe’s Sons, from that time until his retirement. In addition to his presidential year, Mr. Hoe served the General Society in the official capacities of Second Vice President (1907) and Vice President (1908). Committee work included participation on the Library Committee (1895-1906, 1911-1913, 1922, 1932-1933), Finance Committee (1910, 1914-1915, 1918-1920, 1923-1925, 1927-1929, 1934-1936), Sinking Fund Committee (1916), Membership Committee (1917, 1921, 1931, 1938-1943) and Nominating Committee (1928, 1931-1933, 1936-1937; four years as Chairman). Other affiliations included trusteeships with the Northern Dispensary and the New York Savings Bank, the chairmanship of the New Church, and the presidency of the Swedenborg Foundation.
GSMT President Portrait, William S. Miller
William S. Miller (1858-1917); Initiated: 1894; Trade: Carpenter and Builder. In addition to his presidency William S. Miller held the General Society offices of Second Vice President (1909) and Vice President (1910). His further activity on Standing Committees included the Finance Committee (1912, 1916) and the Chairmanship of the Membership Committee (1905-1908, 1913-1915). In total, Mr. Miller served continuously in committee or executive office for nineteen years.
GSMT President Portrait, William Stoneback
William Stoneback (1834-1902); Initiated: 1883; Trade: Building Material. Also served for many years on various General Society Standing Committees, such as the Pension Committee (Secretary, 1888).
GSMT Secretary and Treasurer
Photograph of GSMT Secretary (Stephen M. Wright) and Treasurer (Richard T. Davies) in their executive office.
General Knox Bringing the Cannon
Lantern slide depicting the journey General Knox took to move a cannon from Lake George in New York to General Washington's position in Boston. Knox and his men moved the cannon 300 miles in 56 days with the help of oxen and ice sledges, arriving in Boston on January 25, 1776. The lantern slides were a gift of Mr. Frederic W. Thomas given to GSMT on May 25, 1928 and were used in a lecture on the American Revolution called 'One Flag. One Country, One People'. Slide number 19.
General Marion and British Officer
Lantern slide depicting the meeting of General Marion and a British Officer. The British Officer was sent to General Marion's camp on the Pee Dee River, South Carolina to arrange a prisoner exchange. The lantern slides were a gift of Mr. Frederic W. Thomas given to GSMT on May 25, 1928 and were used in a lecture on the American Revolution called 'One Flag. One Country, One People'. Slide number 58.
General Society of Mechanic's and Tradesmen Flag Day Parade, 1931
Photograph of the Flag Day Parade in 1931. Flag Day is celebrated on June 14, commemorating the adoption of the flag of the United States which happened on June 14, 1777.
George E. Hoe Membership Certificate
Certificate admitting George E. Hoe to the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen as a member dated March 4, 1885.
Goodnight
Lantern slide depicting a witch on a broomstick. This slide was the final slide in a lecture given on the American Revolutionary War called 'One Flag. One Country, One People'. The lantern slides were a gift of Mr. Frederic W. Thomas given to GSMT on May 25, 1928.
Harrison and Morton Medal, 1889
Benjamin Harrison commemorative inaugral medal dated 1889. Harrison was elected as the 23rd President of the United States and served until 1893; Levi Parsons Morton was his Vice President. The medal has George Washington on the reverse with the date 1789, the year he was elected as the first President of the United States.
Harrison and Morton Ribbon, 1888
A campaign ribbon for the 1888 presidential campaign. This ribbon is for Benjamin Harrison and Levi P. Morton. Harrison went on to win the election becoming the 23rd President of the United States.
Highlights' New York City Chamber of Commerce, 1961
Volume 5, No. 1 issue of 'Highlights' dated January 1961, published by the New York City Department of Commerce and Public Events. On page 7 there is an article on GSMT's 175th anniversary.
History of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York
A pamphlet published on the history of GSMT entitled 'Romance and Realism of a Great Achievement'.
Hudson-Fulton Celebration Program, 1909
The Hudson-Fulton Celebration from September 25 to October 9, 1909 in New York and New Jersey was a dual commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River and the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s first successful commercial application of the paddle steamer.
Hun or Home? Buy More Liberty Bonds, WW1 Poster
A World War One propaganda poster depicting a woman and child cowering away from German soldier.
Independence Day Decoration Souvenir Fan
This patriotically themed personal fan was given to attendees at the 1919 General Society Independence Day Celebration. The verso is written on by E.L. Hoffman, General Society Secretary and Longtime Superintendant of the Society's property at 20 West 44th Street in New York City.
Intermission
Lantern slide for the intermission of a lecture on the American Revolutionary War. The lantern slides were a gift of Mr. Frederic W. Thomas given to GSMT on May 25, 1928 and were used in a lecture on the American Revolution called 'One Flag. One Country, One People'. Slide number 37 1/2.
Invitation Honoring DOB Commissioner Jeremiah F. Walsh, 1974
Invitation card to a reception honoring Department of Buildings Commissioner Jeremiah J. Walsh on March 6, 1974.
Invitation to Founders Day honoring Carnegie
Invitation for the Founders Day banquet honoring Mr and Mrs Carnegie. The celebration was held on November 18, 1905 at Delmonico's in New York and honored Mr and Mrs Carnegie; Andrew Carnegie, himself a member of GSMT, contributed over half a million dollars to the General Society between 1899 and 1908.
John Dawson Membership Certificate
Certificate admitting John Dawson to the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen as a member dated December 1, 1802.
Letter from W. E. Donnelly to Louis Rouillion
Letter from W. E. Donnelly, Secretary of Alumni Association of Mechanics' Institute to Institute Director, Louis Rouillion dated September 22, 1930.
Liberty Bell
Lantern slide depicting the Liberty Bell located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The lantern slides were a gift of Mr. Frederic W. Thomas given to GSMT on May 25, 1928 and were used in a lecture on the American Revolution called 'One Flag. One Country, One People'. Slide number 24.
Library Award Ribbon
Official ribbon from the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 awarded to the Library of the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen in the category of Library Charging System.
Louis Rouillion Plaque
Photograph of the plaque dedicated to Louis Rouillion, a former president of GSMT and the founder of the Alumni Association.
Louis Rouillion Plaque Dedication
A small group portrait in front of the plaque dedicated to Louis Rouillion.
Louis Rouillion Plaque Dedication Group Shot
A large group portrait in front of the plaque dedicated to Louis Rouillion.
Mechanics Bank Cancelled Check, 1880
A cancelled check dated June 8, 1880 from the Mechanics' National Bank. The Mechanics and Metals National Bank was founded in 1810 as the Mechanics National Bank and in 1910 it merged with the National Copper Bank that was founded in New York in 1907. In 1926 MMNB consolidated with the Chase National Bank.
Mechanics Institute "Dance Card"
Blueprint announcement for the 1st Annual Dance of the Class of 1922, Mechanics' Institute held on April 1st, 1921 at St. Bartholomew's Lyceum Hall (209 E. 42nd St, New York City). Listed are the dances of the evening including the Waltz, Fox Trot and One Step.
Mechanics' Institute Commencement Program, 1899
Program for Mechanic's Institute Commencement dated June 8, 1899 held at Chickering Hall. Program includes schedule of events for the evening and a list of the graduating classes.
Mechanics' Institute Diploma
Diploma awarded to Michael Markel Geiter for free hand drawing dated April 14, 1905 from the Mechanics Institute of General Society for Mechanics and Tradesmen.
Mechanics' Institute Electricity Classroom
Photograph of Mechanics' Institute classroom scene with students working taken on December 2, 1957.
Mechanics' Institute Electricity Classroom Interior
Photograph of interior of a classroom at the Mechanics' Institute.
Mechanics' Institute Electricity Classroom Interior, 1914
Photograph of interior of a classroom for teaching industrial electricity at the Mechanics' Institute.
Mechanics' Institute Electricity Classroom Student's Working
Photograph of Mechanics' Institute classroom scene with students working taken on December 2, 1957.
Mechanics' Institute Faculty Dinner, 1930
Program for the Mechanics' Institute faculty dinner held at the Fraternity Club. Included in the program are jokes and anecdotes about fellow instructors, a one-act play entitled 'Properly Wade' and a paraody on the school song.
Mechanics' Institute Graduation Radio WJZ Text
A transcript for a broadcast made on Station WJZ on April 12, 1948 at 1:30pm regarding the graduation exrecises held at GSMT the evening of April 12.

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