Michaels Stern Co.

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Michaels-Stern & Co. papers
Creator: Michaels-Stern & Co.
Call Number: D.117
Dates: 1849-1977
Physical Description: 7 boxes, 69 Volumes
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

Table of Contents:

Biographical/Historical Note
Scope and Content
Related Materials
Content List
Series I: Historical materials, printed materials, and ephemera
Series II: Business records
Subseries I: Legal documents
Subseries II: Financial documents
Subseries III: Personnel records
Subseries IV: Sales
Subseries V: Business records, Stern Realty Co.
Subseries VI: Business records, Levy Bros. Adler-Rochester, Inc.
Series III: Correspondence
Subseries I: The Badders Clothing Company bankruptcy case
Subseries II: Cantillon Sommer bankruptcy case
Subseries III: Clyde, NY facility
Subseries IV: Accounts payable conflicts
Subseries V: Miscellaneous
Series IV: Style model books
Collection Overview
Title: Michaels-Stern & Co. papers
Creator: Michaels-Stern & Co.
Call Number: D.117
Dates: 1849-1977
Physical Description: 7 boxes, 69 Volumes
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

Biographical/Historical Note
The manufacture of men's clothing in Rochester, NY began in the mid-nineteenth century, when the city was still very young. It quickly became one of the largest men's clothing markets in the United States, and the leader in quality. An important manufacturer of the time was Henry Michaels (1822-1894), one of Rochester's first pioneers of ready-made men's clothing. In 1849 he founded the successful firm of Michaels-Stern Co. (also written as Michaels, Stern Co. or Michaels/Stern Co.), which became the longest-lived and largest independent clothing manufacturer in Rochester, lasting 128 years in the highly competitive middle-priced men's clothing market.

Henry Michaels came to America in 1845 from England, opening his own tobacco business in Massachusetts. In 1849, he moved to Rochester and established a small clothing firm located downtown on Exchange St. near the aqueduct that carried the Erie Canal across the Genesee River. Michaels gained the reputation of producing quality suits at reasonable prices. However, during the next decade, Michaels' products exceeded retail demand, forcing him to open stores throughout the surrounding area to get rid of the surplus. Additionally, in 1861 Michaels hired Rudolph Lichtenstein, Rochester's first travelling salesman of men's clothing, which proved to be a wise decision. Lichtenstein was so successful throughout the country as a salesman for Henry Michaels that he oversold his product, and the company had to close some of the extra retail stores in order to have enough merchandise to honor Lichtenstein's contracts.

Originally known as Henry Michaels-Clothing Merchant, the company underwent several name changes and partnership agreements throughout its early years. In 1853, Henry Michaels joined with Mark and Isaac Sloman to form Michaels and Sloman Clothiers, only to end the partnership after two years and resume the name of Henry Michaels Clothing. In 1868 he formed a partnership with Nathan Levi, changing the name to Michaels and Levi, which lasted five years. In 1875 the company was reorganized under the name of Henry Michaels Co. when Henry's sons Marcus and Joseph joined the firm. Two years later, Henry's son-in-law Morley A. Stern became a partner, and in 1885 the company adopted the final and permanent name of Michaels-Stern Co.

At this time, contract shops and private homes were slowly being eliminated as a source of manufacturing for clothing firms, as more and more criticisms of sweatshop conditions spread throughout the industry. It was becoming increasingly necessary for companies to contain all of their operations under one roof. In 1894, Michaels-Stern Co. became the first clothing manufacturer in Rochester to build its own modern facility to allow for better supervision of working conditions and product quality. The new seven-story building, located at 87 Clinton Ave. North at the corner of Pleasant St. (the former site of Henry Michaels' family homestead), became the company's headquarters, and contained elevators as well as areas complete with modern equipment for cutting, trimming, and stock maintenance. Michaels-Stern Co. remained headquartered here until its dissolution in 1977.

Business boomed throughout the 1920s for Michaels-Stern Co. and for the clothing industry as a whole. It became necessary for the company to expand its operations, establishing factories on Child St. and Smith St. in Rochester and one in Clyde, NY. A pant factory was also constructed in Penn Yan, NY, fifty miles southeast of the city. The 1930s Depression years brought some financial difficulties to Michaels-Stern Co., but the company was able to survive because it specialized in a medium-priced product at an excellent value to the consumer. Privately owned and operated, the company did not experience any of the public panic that other firms encountered, and the Michaels and Stern families bore most of the financial burden themselves.

In 1938 Michaels-Stern Co. reorganized under the leadership of Felix Mayer from New York. Mayer had successfully reorganized a troubled firm in Cleveland, and Michaels-Stern Co. was again experiencing financial difficulties and in need of managerial assistance. The company had spread its line too thin, and sales and profits were down. Under Mayer's leadership, Michaels-Stern Co. converted from a partnership into a corporation, streamlined both its production and its product, and joined the Rochester Clothiers Exchange, accepting the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) as the sole bargaining agent for its workers. Michaels-Stern Co. was the last clothing manufacturer in Rochester to recognize the ACWA, after refusing to do so in 1919 prompted a bitter strike. Once again, the company was profitable, taking its place among the top four men's clothing manufacturers in the nation in the competitive middle-priced field, becoming Rochester's largest independent men's clothing producer.

Michaels-Stern Co. contributed to the World War II effort by making U.S. naval officers' uniforms. After the war, the company increased its productivity, and in 1951 it absorbed the Rochester firm of Levy-Bros. Adler-Rochester, Inc. Included in the takeover were the rights to the successful "Adler-Rochester" and "Mt. Rock" overcoat labels, as well as Levy-Bros. Adler-Rochester's Hand St. factory, where Michaels-Stern Co. subsequently concentrated all of its sewing operations. However, the 1950s saw a steady decline in the men's clothing industry of Rochester as the city failed to keep pace with expansion in other parts of the country.

In 1963, Michaels-Stern Co. was purchased by Lester E. Frankenstein of Chicago. James M. Weil and Henry M. Stern, Jr., who were both great-grandsons of Henry Michaels, remained active in the company. Unfortunately, the 1960s and 1970s brought further declines to the men's clothing industry. Foreign competition, declining sales, high interest rates, and an overall less tailored look in men's clothing, combined with the inability of the new management to supply strong leadership, forced Michaels-Stern Co. to declare bankruptcy in 1977. All manufacturing was ceased and inventory sold, making Bond Clothing Stores and Hickey-Freeman Co. the only remaining men's clothing manufacturers in Rochester.

Scope and Content
The collection consists of 6 boxes of manuscript materials and 69 bound volumes, most of which concentrates on materials from the first half of the twentieth century. The manuscript material is arranged chronologically within each box. Box 1 contains a small but varied range of historical and printed materials about Michaels-Stern Co. Box 2 contains various legal documents and financial materials concerning the company. Correspondence involving several legal disputes of the early 1900s can be found in Box 3, along with miscellaneous company correspondence. Box 4 contains the records of over 700 Michaels-Stern Co. employees, arranged alphabetically. Many names are of Eastern European origin, showing the large quantity of European immigrants working in the clothing industry at the turn of the century. The employment cards also reflect the financial ups and downs of Michaels-Stern Co., evidenced by wage cuts and workers' strikes. Boxes 5 and 6 contain Michaels-Stern Co. style model books from the early 1900s, which show both the endurance of several suit styles as well as the abrupt changes to some styles by the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The bound volumes in the collection contain detailed records of the financial history of Michaels-Stern Co. These volumes were arranged in 1980 with descriptive streamers of each volume's contents. While this previous arrangement is kept intact here, it does not seem to follow any particular chronological order, but each volume is clearly labeled. Some of the materials in these volumes deal with the Stern Realty Co., a corporation consisting of partners of Michaels-Stern Co. organized for the purpose of holding real estate. Of particular historical interest are the bound volumes (Vol. 56-58) of the Value-First Messenger, the company newspaper for Michaels-Stern Co. Catalogued and shelved under the call number HD 9999 f .C585 V2, the newspaper not only discusses company issues, but also contains commentaries on national events and headlines that affected the company and its employees. A loose copy of the newspaper from 1929 can also be found in Box 1, Folder 4.

The Michaels-Stern Co. maintain their original arrangement as compiled by the author.

New York (State)--Rochester
Clothing trade
Men's clothing industry
Financial records
Pattern books
Michaels, Henry, 1822-1894
Stern, Morley A.
Michaels-Stern Co.
Stern Realty Company
Levy Bros. Adler Rochester, Inc.
Clothing workers
The Michaels-Stern & Co. papers is open for research use. Researchers are advised to contact Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation prior to visiting. Upon arrival, researchers will also be asked to fill out a registration form and provide photo identification.Use
Reproductions are made upon request but can be subject to restrictions. Permission to publish materials from the collection must currently be requested. Please note that some materials may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information contact rarebks@library.rochester.eduCitation
[Item title, item date], Michaels-Stern & Co. papers, D.117, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of RochesterRelated Materials
See also: Arnold Family Papers.

See also: Herbert Morland Stern Papers.

Administrative Information
Publisher: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055

Content List
Series I: Historical materials, printed materials, and ephemera
The company newspaper, Value First Messenger, was removed and shelved in HD9999.C585 V2. It includes: Volume 56 (1919-1923); Volume 57 (1919-1925); Volume 58 (1927-1930)

Box 1, Folder 1Advertisements and circulars for Michaels-Stern Co., 1908-1986
Box 1, Folder 2Program -- Celebration for Rudolph Lichtenstein, salesman from 1861-1911, 1911
Box 1, Folder 3Journal articles on Michaels-Stern Co., 1924-1974
Box 1, Folder 4Company newspaper -- Value-First Messenger, July 1929
Box 1, Folder 5Historical essay on Andrew Johnson, by Lloyd Paul Stryker, undated [circa 1940s?]
Box 1, Folder 6Genealogical information on Henry Michaels and Michaels-Stern Co., 1949-1986
Box 1, Folder 7Manuscript -- "Tradition with tomorrow's touch: the long and happy life of Michaels/Stern, 1849-1974," by Howard C. Hosmer, 1974
Box 1, Folder 8Newspaper articles on Michaels-Stern Co. -- Daily News Record article on Lester Frankenstein, president, 1974; Upstate Magazine article, 1984
Box 1, Folder 9Photograph of Michaels-Stern Co. buildings and shops
Series II: Business records
Subseries I: Legal documents
Box 2, Folder 1Miscellaneous deeds for properties in Monroe County, 1873-1909
Box 2, Folder 2Partnership and profit distribution agreements for Michaels-Stern Co., 1882-1912
Box 2, Folder 3Salesmen contracts, 1886-1912
Box 2, Folder 4Mortgage agreements with George Humpfer, 1893-1907; Humpfer's last will and testament, 1903
Box 2, Folder 5Miscellaneous Michaels-Stern Co. business agreements and contracts, 1898-1908
Box 2, Folder 6Partnership agreements between Emanuel Friedlich, Joseph Michaels, and others, 1900
Box 2, Folder 7Land contracts for Michaels-Stern Co. and Stern Realty Co., 1902-1909
Box 2, Folder 8Land contracts between L. Adler Bros. Co., Stern Realty Co., and Frederick and Emma Herr, 1902-1912
Box 2, Folder 9Stock certificates -- Mills Averill Tailoring Co., 1905; Maurice Silverberg Co., 1929
Box 2, Folder 10Chattel mortgage agreements with Sol Heumann, 1907-1909
Box 2, Folder 11Declarations of power of attorney, 1909-1913
Box 2, Folder 12Patent rights of Michaels-Stern Co. -- Bartell Patent Pocket Co., 1909-1915; Gray Bros. Co., Inc. hair cloth cape patent, 1914
Includes sample of hair cloth cape

Box 2, Folder 13Debt repayment agreement with David M. Garson, 1909; Garson's balance sheets and asset listings, 1909-1916
Box 2, Folder 14Mortgage agreements between Barnett and Dora Sablowsky and Stern Realty Co., 1910; Fire insurance agreements, 1916
Box 2, Folder 15Lease agreements with Croisic Realty Co., 1912-1915; New York County Supreme Court case documents against Croisic Realty Co. and others, 1914-1915
Box 2, Folder 16Copyright registration certificates, 1913
Box 2, Folder 17Credit agreement with E.G. Underwood, 1914, 1917
Box 2, Folder 18Chattel mortgage agreements with Payne Tailoring Co., Inc., 1935-1938
Box 2, Folder 19Cancelled demand loan notes from Michaels-Stern Co. to Stern family members, 1937
Box 2, Folder 20Cancelled demand loan notes from Michaels-Stern Co. to miscellaneous individuals, 1937
Box 7Insurance maps of various Michaels-Stern locations
Clinton Avenue, Rochester NY
Child Street, Rochester NY
Hand and Emmet Streets, Rochester NY
Smith Street, Rochester NY
Penn Yan, NY
Volume 15Report of investigation of Michaels, Stern operations, March 1921
Subseries II: Financial documents
Box 2, Folder 21Sales order books, 1890-1926
Box 2, Folder 22Cancelled checks and payment receipts, 1900-1917
Box 2, Folder 23Utility bills, service invoices, and miscellaneous receipts, 1879-1909, 1938
Volume 69Balance sheets, 1906-1938
Box 2, Folder 24Balance sheet, profit and loss statement, schedules and report, November 30, 1907
Volume 14Balance sheets -- probabilities, log statements, May 1943-November 1960
Box 2, Folder 25Property and city tax receipts, 1907-1909 and undated
Box 2, Folder 26Audit report, December 2, 1911
Box 2, Folder 27Invoices from Rochester Electrical Supply Co., 1923
Box 2, Folder 28Profit and loss reports, 1926-1934
Box 2, Folder 29Profit and loss reports, budgets and expense reports, sales reports, 1935
Box 2, Folder 30Profit and loss reports, budgets and expense reports, sales reports, 1936
Box 2, Folder 31Accounting worksheets, undated
Volume 1Financial journal, November 1914-November 1918
Volume 2Financial journal, November 1918-December 1922
Volume 3Financial journal, January 1923-December 1926
Volume 4Financial journal, December 1926-February 1930
Volume 5Financial journal, February 1930-October 1932
Volume 6Financial journal, October 1932-December 1936
Volume 7Financial journal, November 1936-February 1938
Volume 8Financial records, December 1899-November 1901
Volume 9Financial records, September 1905-December 1908
Volume 20Retail accounts, suspended, 1907-1922
Volume 21Retail accounts, suspended, 1922-1928
Volume 22Retail accounts, suspended, 1928-1932
Volume 23Retail accounts, suspended, 1932-1937
Volume 29Bills and loans receivable journals, 1911-1932
Volume 30Bills and loans receivable journals, 1921-1938
Volume 31Notes and bills receivable journal, 1930-1938
Volume 38Employee payroll record, 1918-1920
Volume 39Payroll summary, 1918
Volume 40Private payrolls, 1911-1923
4 parts, volume 40.1-40.4

Volume 45Office payroll books, 1924-1929
2 parts, volume 45.1-45.2

Volume 46Executive and office payrolls, 1923-1932
2 parts, volume 46.1- 46.2

Volume 59Expenditures, 1901-1905
Volume 60Expenditures, 1908-1910
Volume 61Expenditures, 1910-1912
Volume 62Comparative expenditures, 1921-1926
Volume 63Expense records, 1925-1938
Volume 64Expense journal, January 1937-December 1937
Volume 65Expense journal, January 1938-February 1938
Volume 66Expense journal: fiscal year 1940, December 1939-November 1940
Volume 67Budgets and expenses, 1939-1963
Volume 68Overhead and manufacturing costs, 1934-1937
6 parts, volume 68.1-68.6

Subseries III: Personnel records
Box 4Employment/application cards for Michaels-Stern Co. employees, 1891-1937
Volume 17Personnel ledger, 1891-1902
Volume 18Personnel records, 1907-1912
Volume 19Personnel records, 1915-1920
Volume 36Employee registers, from August 1, 1902
Volume 37Employee registers, undated
Subseries IV: Sales
Volume 47Sales records, 1894-1896
Volume 48Sales records, 1906-1925
Volume 49Sales records, 1919-1937
Volume 50Sales records, 1932-1938
Volume 51Retail accounts by salesmen, 1902-1907
Volume 52Sales of by-products, 1917-1921
Volume 53Sales of by-products, 1927-1936
Volume 54Sales statistics, 1939-1942
Volume 55Sales and related records, 1938-1943
Subseries V: Business records, Stern Realty Co.
Volume 16Stern Realty Co. -- secretary's records, by-laws, and annual meetings, 1909-1939
Volume 10Financial records (Stern Realty Co.), December 1909-1931
Volume 11Financial records (Stern Realty Co.), 1932-1938
Volume 12Stern Realty Co. -- cash book journals, January 1909-December 1936
Volume 13Stern Realty Co. -- cash book journals, January 1937-December 1938
Volume 24Stern Realty Co. -- check book stubs, 1912-1923
Volume 25Stern Realty Co. -- check book stubs, 1923-1929
Volume 26Stern Realty Co. -- check book stubs, 1923-1932
Volume 27Stern Realty Co. -- check book stubs, 1929-1936
Volume 28Stern Realty Co. -- check book stubs, 1937-1939
Volume 32Stern Realty Co. -- stocks and bonds records (Michaels, Stern Co.), 1911-1929
Volume 33Stern Realty Co. -- stocks and bonds records (stock certificates), 1925-1938
Volume 34Stern Realty Co. -- stocks and bonds records (stock book), 1909-1939
Volume 35Stern Realty Co. -- stocks and bonds records (capital stock certificates), 1909-1939
Subseries VI: Business records, Levy Bros. Adler-Rochester, Inc.
Volume 41Levy Bros. Adler-Rochester, Inc. -- accounts receivable ledgers (A-G), 1951
Volume 42Levy Bros. Adler-Rochester, Inc. -- accounts receivable ledgers (H-M), 1951
Volume 43Levy Bros. Adler-Rochester, Inc. -- accounts receivable ledgers (N-Z), 1951
Volume 44Levy Bros. Adler-Rochester, Inc. -- general ledger, 1946-1951
Series III: Correspondence
Subseries I: The Badders Clothing Company bankruptcy case
Box 3, Folder 1Correspondence -- Michaels-Stern Co. and miscellaneous, 1913-1914 and undated
Includes promissory notes, February 1, 1913, and undated newspaper clipping.

Box 3, Folder 2Correspondence -- Seward R. Graham and Michaels-Stern Co., 1913-1917
Subseries II: Cantillon Sommer bankruptcy case
Box 3, Folder 3Cantillon Sommer lease agreement and cancellation, 1915
Box 3, Folder 4Cantillon Sommer store inventories, assets and liabilities, December 1, 1915
Box 3, Folder 5Correspondence -- Isaac Adler, Jacob F. Smith, attorneys for Michaels-Stern Co. and Cantillon Sommer, 1915-1916
Box 3, Folder 6Correspondence -- Arnold, Louchheim Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1915-1917
Box 3, Folder 7Correspondence -- Cantillon Sommer and Hickey-Freeman Co., 1915
Box 3, Folder 8Correspondence -- Cantillon Sommer and Michaels-Stern Co., 1915-1916
Box 3, Folder 9Correspondence -- Hickey-Freeman Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1915-1917
Box 3, Folder 10Correspondence -- J.L. Hudson Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1915
Box 3, Folder 11Correspondence -- Peavy Brothers Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1915-1916
Box 3, Folder 12Correspondence -- The Salvation Army and Michaels-Stern Co., 1915-1917
Box 3, Folder 13Correspondence -- Sherman Welton Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1916
Box 3, Folder 14Correspondence -- The Snow-Church Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1916-1917
Box 3, Folder 15Correspondence -- Sohn, Oppenheimer Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1915-1916
Box 3, Folder 16Correspondence -- Isaac Stern, miscellaneous notes, 1916 and undated
Box 3, Folder 17Account books -- Isaac Stern, trustee for Cantillon Sommer, 1915-1917
Box 3, Folder 18Cancelled checks and payment receipts, 1916-1917
Subseries III: Clyde, NY facility
Box 3, Folder 19Agreement between Michaels-Stern Co. and the business men of Clyde, NY, January 1923
Box 3, Folder 20Correspondence -- re: appraisal of building and property, 1923-1924
Box 3, Folder 21Correspondence -- re: plumbing supplies and repairs, 1924
Includes blueprint of Clyde factory

Box 3, Folder 22Correspondence -- Roy S. Syron Insurance Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1923-1924
Box 3, Folder 23Correspondence -- H. Burton Exner Law Offices and Michaels-Stern Co., 1923-1925
Box 3, Folder 24Correspondence -- Jesse C. Petteys, Attorney and Counselor-at-Law and Michaels-Stern Co., 1923-1928
Box 3, Folder 25Correspondence -- John T. Kellogg Insurance Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1924-1926
Box 3, Folder 26Correspondence -- A.D. Colyer, Citizens Bank of Clyde, NY and Michaels-Stern Co., 1928
Box 3, Folder 27Correspondence -- Clyde Water Supply Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1928
Box 3, Folder 28Correspondence -- Castle and Fitch, Attorneys and Counselors at Law and Michaels-Stern Co., 1928-1929
Box 3, Folder 29Correspondence -- Miscellaneous memorandums and notes, 1923-1928
Box 3, Folder 30Correspondence -- re: state and local taxes, 1923-1924
Box 3, Folder 31Correspondence -- re: state and local taxes, 1925-1926
Box 3, Folder 32Correspondence -- re: state and local taxes, 1927-1929
Box 3, Folder 33Correspondence -- re: school taxes, 1924-1928
Box 3, Folder 34Tax collector's receipts, 1923-1927
Subseries IV: Accounts payable conflicts
Box 3, Folder 35Correspondence -- Durable Clothing Co. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1938
Box 3, Folder 36Correspondence -- Felix A. Evangelist and Michaels-Stern Co., 1938-1939
Box 3, Folder 37Correspondence -- Mandelbaum Konner, Inc. and Michaels-Stern Co., 1938-1939
Subseries V: Miscellaneous
Box 3, Folder 38Correspondence -- re: credit check of Alfred L. Meyerstein, guarantor of credit loan for Alfred Lilienfeld Co., 1912-1916
Box 3, Folder 39Correspondence -- re: property mortgage for John W. Nace of Blooming Glen, PA, 1912-1916
Box 3, Folder 40Investigative reports -- detective reports on Michaels-Stern Co. Child St. location, 1916
Box 3, Folder 41Minutes -- manufacturing office meeting, Jan. 26, [1920s]
Box 3, Folder 42Correspondence -- miscellaneous, 1902-1935
Series IV: Style model books
Box 5, Folder 1Price lists and circulars, 1920, 1921, 1929-1930
Box 5, Folder 2Style model books, undated and 1918
Box 5, Folder 3Style model books, 1921-1928
Box 5, Folder 4Style model books, 1928-1934
Box 5, Folder 5Style model books, 1934-1939
Box 5, Folder 6Style model books, Chapel-Hill Clothes, 1932-1936
Box 6, Folder 1Style model books, 1954-1958
Box 6, Folder 2Style model books, 1960-1969
Box 6, Folder 3Style model books, 1969-1973
Box 6, Folder 4Style model books, Fall 1973
Box 6, Folder 5Style model books, 1974

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