Columbian Rope Company Collection

Cover Image:
The Columbian Crew employee magazine, March-April, 1957
The Columbian Crew employee magazine, March-April, 1957 - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:

Historical Context

Columbian Rope Company was an enormous and internationally successful company, well regarded for the quality of rope and cordage produced in Auburn.  The company employed thousands of Auburnians at its factory on the city's west side between its founding in 1903 and departure in 1982.

The history of the rope company begins with Osborne Works, a farm machinery manufacturing company.  The Columbian Cordage Company was established in order to produce twine exclusively for Osborne Works.  When Osborne Works (with the cordage company) was sold to International Harvester in 1902, the president of the cordage company, Colonel Edwin Dickinson Metcalf, founded Columbian Rope Company a year later.  

The company collected raw fiber from the Philippines and Mexico and brought the fiber Auburn, NY, for processing.  The majority of Columbian Rope Company's workers were immigrants, and usually Italian.  

Scope of Collection

This collection is meant to show the experiences of the workers.  It includes material about the workers, including photographs of the spaces where they worked, and the internal communications created for the workers by the company.  It also includes some advertisements by the company showing the process of rope production. 

Included is a picture of the 1913 rope workers strike, as well as supporting newspaper clippings about the strike.