The Resource Tredegar Iron Works records

Tredegar Iron Works records

Tredegar Iron Works records, 1801-1957
Tredegar Iron Works records
Inclusive dates
  • Records, 1801-1957, of the Tredegar Iron Works Company of Richmond, Virginia, including checkbooks, contract books, correspondence, daybooks, deeds, inventories, insurance policies, journals, ledgers, minute books, payroll ledgers, patents, sales books, time books, vouchers, and war department contracts. The records document the history of one of the most important and largest iron making factories in Virginia and the Confederacy. The records are housed in 1343 boxes, 491 volumes on shelf, 7 oversize boxes, 6 oversize map case drawers, and 1 rolled tube. Series have been designated for I. Administrative Records, II. General Accounts, III. Production and Labor Records, IV. Purchase and Receiving Records, V. Sales and Shipping Records, VI. Correspondence: Incoming, VII. Correspondence: Outgoing, and VIII. Anderson family papers
  • Series I: The Administrative Records series, 1801-1957, consists of Albemarle and Tredegar merger data, corporate holdings, deeds and agreements, insurance policies, inventories, minutes, patents, real estate files, reports, stock files, suit papers, tax returns, and wage adjustment papers. These records are housed in 56 boxes and 14 volumes on shelf and arranged alphabetically by folder title, with general materials arranged to the front. Includes two volumes entitled "Copies of deeds/letters, etc.", which include a wide variety of papers collected by Archer Anderson Jr. Topics include the use of slave labor; a description of Tredegar buildings after the Civil War; armor plates made by Tredegar for the C.S.S. Virginia; and the 1837 agreement establishing Tredegar Iron Works. Of note within the series are the real estate files which include deeds and agreements, 1812-1955, relating to the property surrounding Tredegar in Richmond and land surrounding the Cloverdale Iron Property and Grace Furnace Property in Botetourt County, Virginia. A complete listing of deeds may be found in Appendix B at the end of the finding aid. Also of note are the suit papers, 1934-1936, concerning a lawsuit brought by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company against Tredegar, in the Richmond City Courts in 1933, regarding water usage rights on the James River. These papers include an enormous volume of primary research and historical compilations on almost every industrial enterprise on the site of Tredegar. Well documented is the ironworks' waterpower system
  • Series II: The General Accounts series, 1836-1957, consists of account copying and payable books, balance books, cashbooks, checkbooks, daybooks, journals, ledgers, monthly financial statements, notes and bills payable and receivable, operating expense ledgers, and vouchers. These records are housed in 98 boxes and 179 volumes on shelf and arranged alphabetically by title. Daybooks and journal record transactions, i.e., customer name, items sold, amount owed and paid. Of note within the series is the notes and bills payable and receivable volume, 1856-1859. This volume includes lists of slaves who worked at Tredegar's blast furnaces from 1863-1864. Also of note are the vouchers, 1872-1904, which contain numerous receipts from local Richmond merchants, many of whom are no longer extant
  • Series III: The Production and Labor Records series, 1843-1957, consists of clearance sheet books, company store books, foundry records of guns cast, guns tested for the U.S., payroll ledgers, time books, units produced, and weighers returns. These records are housed in 132 boxes and 27 volumes on shelf and arranged alphabetically by title. The volumes of guns cast includes a detailed list of guns produced for the Confederate States from 1861-1865, and the volume of guns tested for the United States, 1857-1858, includes detailed notes on the processes used to cast guns and cannons. The company store books, 1868-1870, contains daily lists of items purchased by employees at Tredegar's company store. Of note are the numerous company pay roll ledgers, 1852-1957. The early years from 1837 to 1880 are sparse, but starting in 1882 the payroll ledgers includes an almost complete run until 1957. The payroll ledgers include employee names, job positions, times worked, and pay received
  • Series IV: The Purchasing and Receiving Records series, 1860-1917, consists of invoice books and receipt books. These records are housed in 3 boxes and arranged alphabetically by title.The invoice books, 1867-1911, contain names of numerous firms or individuals with whom Tredegar filled and placed orders. Of note are the receipt books, including a pig iron receipt book, 1861-1864; coal receipt book, 1879-1885; pig and scrap iron receipt book, 1879-1885; and receiving book, 1862-1865
  • Series V: The Sales and Shipping Records series, 1844-1935, consists of consignment books, contract books, foundry, horseshoe, and rolling mill sales books, order books, railroad loading books, shipment of sash weights books, ticket books, and war department contracts. These records are housed in 32 boxes and 97 volumes on shelf and arranged alphabetically by title, with volumes arranged to the front. For researchers interested in the Civil War munitions, the contract books are of special interest. The contract book, 1859-1865, includes contracts with the Confederate States and include specific details on types and quantities of munitions produced during the war. Also included are contracts with employees, railroad companies, and slave owners, and for purchases of timber, coal, and pig iron. These records provide extensive details of Tredegar output and make it possible to determine the prices, allocation, and often the destination of Tredegar products
  • Series VI: The Incoming Correspondence series, 1872-1957, is housed in 657 boxes and is arranged alphabetically into ten subseries. Subseries have been designated for General; Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company; A.J. Beatty; Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company; Christian, Barton & Parker; George Layman and Others; The Rail Joint Company and Poor & Company; Southern Railroad Company; U.S. Government; and Miscellaneous. This series comprises a large and important section of the Tredegar company records. In this series, researchers have a very complete view, from 1872-1957, of all the correspondence received by Tredegar. These letters provide insight into the types of materials produced, prices, amounts, availability, shipping capabilities, and Tredegars relationships with the business world
  • Series VII: The Outgoing Correspondence series, 1841-1942, is housed in 326 boxes and 171 volumes on shelf. The series is arranged into three subseries: General letterbooks, Foundry letterbooks, and Horseshoe letterbooks. The letterbooks from 1852-1901 are onionskin copies and are often very fragile, faded, and quite difficult to read. Special care must be taken when using these letterbooks. The most fragile letterbooks have been removed from the collection and are in the conservation lab. This series includes correspondence mostly regarding the sale of iron products made by Tredegar and transported to various companies in Virginia and sold throughout the south and northeast. The correspondence includes information on prices, quality sold, shipment, and customer satisfaction. These letters are similar to the incoming correspondence series (Series VI) and contain letters to many of the same companies. This series is a good source for information on products produced by Tredegar and sold throughout its history, as well as its relationships with other companies and its shipping practices
  • Series VIII: The Anderson family papers, 1841-1936, consists of accounts, agreements, bills, correspondence, deeds, insurance policies, journals, ledgers, notebooks, promissory notes, receipts, stock certificates, suit papers, and tax records. These records are housed in 40 boxes and 3 volumes on shelf and is arranged into seven subseries. Subseries have been designated for: Anderson family, 1841-1919; Archer Anderson, 1889-1904; Estate of Archer Anderson, Sr., 1918-1921; Edward R. Archer, 1902-1918; Joseph R. Anderson, 1865-1892; Estate of Joseph R. Anderson, 1848-1930; and Estate of St. George M. Anderson, 1908-1936. This series was maintained in its original order, although there may be much overlapping between this series and the rest of the collection. Researchers should note that there are numerous agreements and deeds in Subseries 4: Estate of Joseph R. Anderson, concerning the organization and land surrounding Tredegar. A complete listing of deeds may be found in Appendix B at the end of the finding aid
  • Items that were separated out because of size were marked on the inventory list and included on the oversize container list in Appendix A. Included are around 1,000 architectural and technical drawings of railroad equipment. Appendix B contains a listing of deeds found in the collection. General materials were arranged to the front of each series. The original order was maintained as much as possible
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Redescribed and processed
Additional physical form
  • also available on microfilm (Misc. Reel 543).
  • also available on microfilm (Misc. Reel 2642).
  • also available on microfilm (Misc. Reel 2562).
  • also available on microfilm (Misc. Reel 2562).
  • also available on microfilm (Misc. Reel 2689).
  • also available on microfilm (Misc. Reel 2689).
  • also available on microfilm (Misc. Reel 2699).
  • also available on microfilm (Misc. Reel 5026).
Biographical or historical data
  • Tredegar Iron Works was chartered in 1837 in Richmond, Virginia, to produce high-quality iron products. In 1848 Joseph R. Anderson purchased the company and developed it into one of the most important and largest iron making factories in Virginia and the Confederacy. The company produced horseshoes, munitions, and railroad products, along with owning several furnaces and timber lots. During the Civil War, Tredegar produced artillery pieces, cannons, shot, and weapons for the Confederacy, including the iron plates for the CSS Virginia (Merrimac). After the war the company continued to grow and supplied iron bridges, rails, and spikes to rebuild the southern railroads.
  • As iron gave way to steel in the 1870s and 1880s, Tredegar found it did not have the capital necessary to make the production conversion. Tredegar continued to make iron products, producing munition for the Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II. Spikes, horseshoes, rail fastenings, and car wheels were constant sellers and led to expanded facilities. In 1957 the company sold its Richmond plant to the Albemarle Paper Manufacturing Company, and moved some of its rolling mill equipment to Chesterfield County, Virginia. In 1986 operation of the rolling mill in Chesterfield County was discontinued and the machinery was sold to the Cleveland Track Material in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2003 the Tredegar National Civil War Center Foundation was created to operate a museum on the original site of the foundry in Richmond, Virginia.
  • Joseph Reid Anderson (1813-1892), was the youngest of nine children of William and Anna Thomas Anderson of Botetourt County, Virginia. He graduated West Point in 1836 and worked as an engineer in Virginia. He married Sally Archer in 1837, daughter of Dr. Robert and Frances Williamson Archer. By 1841, he had acquired an interest in the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond which supplied iron products to railroads and the U.S. government, and he became owner of the company in 1848. When the South seceded, Anderson offered his services to the Confederate Government as an infantry officer and was commissioned a brigadier-general in September 1861, serving meritoriously in North Carolina and Virginia. After being wounded at the battle of Frazier's Farm in 1862, Anderson resigned in mid-July to return to Tredegar Iron Works where his talent was needed more than on the battlefield. The company operated throughout the war, but after the surrender of Richmond, the U.S. government confiscated Tredegar Iron Works. Upon Anderson's request to President Johnson for a pardon in the fall of 1865, the Works were returned to him. Anderson continued to head Tredegar Iron Works and remained active in state, city, and local affairs until his death in 1892.
  • Archer Anderson (1838-1918), eldest of twelve children of Joseph Reid Anderson and Sally Eliza Archer Anderson, was born at Old Point Comfort, Virginia. He served with the 21st Virginia Infantry, Company F, 1st Brigade, Aquia District, and as chief of staff to General Joseph E. Johnston during the Civil War. On 9 August 1859 he married Mary Anne Mason, daughter of John Young Mason, U.S. minister to France. They had seven children including, Archer Anderson, Jr., J.R.J. Anderson, and St. George Mason Anderson. He was president of Tredegar Iron Works from 1892 to 1918. He died 4 January 1918 and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
  • Archer Anderson, Jr. (1866-1942), third of seven children of Archer Anderson and Mary Anne Mason Anderson, was born in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from the University of Virginia with a masters of arts and practiced law in Virginia. Upon his father's death in 1918, he became president of Tredeger Iron Works. He died 30 January 1942 and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
  • Robert Archer (1794-1877), oldest of four children of Edward Archer and his second wife, Mary Silvester Wormington Archer, was born in Norfolk, Virginia. He became a physician and in 1813 enlisted in a local artillery company and was commissioned as a lieutenant and surgeon's mate. He spent the next twenty-five years as an army physician, stationed at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and, for a short while, at Fort King, Florida. On 28 March 1816 he married Frances Williamson in Norfolk, Virginia. They had five sons and seven daughters. In 1839 Archer retired from the army and took up farming near Fort Monroe. In January 1848 Joseph Reid Anderson, Archer's son-in-law and head of Tredegar Iron Company, persuaded Archer to move to Richmond to become superintendent of the Armory Iron Company. By Mary 1848 Archer had risen to presidency of the company. In 1859 the Armory mill and Tredegar works merged into the newly formed Joseph R. Anderson and Company. While Anderson served in the army during the first year of the Civil War, Archer and John F. Tanner ran the company. After the war Robert Archer and his son Robert Samuel Archer both sat on the board of directors of Tredegar Company. Robert Archer died 19 May 1877 in Richmond, Virginia, and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
  • Edward Richard Archer (1834-1918), son of Robert Archer and Mary Silvester Wormington Archer, was born in Old Point Comfort, Virginia. He served with the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. After the war he became the chief engineer at Tredegar Iron Works and held that position until his death on 13 March 1918. He never married and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.
Cataloging source
Citation source
Available for purchase: Edwards, Conley L., III et al., comps. A Guide To Business Records In The Virginia State Library And Archives. Richmond : Virginia State Library and Archives, 1994
Tredegar Iron Works records
  • Accession numbers 22989c, 24297, 23881, 24808, and 24809 are ALL FILED UNDER ACCESSION 23881, 24808
  • For a detailed scope and content note, series description, and historical background note please refer to the finding aid, which is available online and in the repository
  • Note to Archives Reference: For oversize folders in drawers, search in Infolinx by folder number using three numerals, e.g. for Oversize Folder 81, search "f081". If the folder is in a box, search by box number
  • Photocopies are available for Letterbooks May 1861-August 1861; August 1861-December 1861; August 1864-December 1864; December 1864-February 1865; June 1871-October 1871; and May 1875-June 1875. SERVE PHOTOCOPIES INSTEAD OF ORIGINALS
  • Microfilm is available for Receipt Books, 1861-1864, 1862-1865, 1879-1885 (box 174). SERVE MISCELLANEOUS MICROFILM REEL 5026 INSTEAD OF ORIGINALS
  • Dates of record-keeping activity: 1836-1986
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
Immediate source of acquisition
  • Eckenrode, H.J.
  • Tredegar Company
  • Trigg, E.H.
  • Albemarle Paper Manufac. Co.
  • Robertson, Charles H.
Organization method
Organized into eight series: I. Administrative Records, II. General Accounts, III. Production and Labor Records, IV. Purchasing and Receiving Records, V. Sales and Shipping Records, VI. Correspondence: Incoming, VII. Correspondence: Outgoing, VIII. Anderson Family Papers.
Type of unit
cu. ft.



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Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
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