Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Inc.

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Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Inc. records
Creator: Keller, Heumann and Thompson
Call Number: D.75
Dates: 1885-1973
Physical Description: 4 boxes
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
Subject(s)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Access
Use
Citation
Content List
Series I: Historical materials
Subseries I: Conflicts
Subseries II: Publications, printed material, and ephemera
Series II: Financial and stock information
Series III: Business and legal documents
Collection Overview
Title: Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Inc. records
Creator: Keller, Heumann and Thompson
Call Number: D.75
Dates: 1885-1973
Physical Description: 4 boxes
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

Biographical/Historical Note
An important development in the booming men's clothing industry of Rochester, New York occurred in 1920 with the formation of the firm of Keller, Heumann and Thompson. Fred Keller, Sol Heumann, and T. Howerth Thompson combined their talents to form a clothing company that would compete in the middle-priced suit niche. Keller had been the largest coat contractor in Rochester for twenty-five years; Heumann was a pant contractor, previously for Michaels-Stern & Co.; and Thompson made vests.

The company expanded rapidly in the 1920s and acquired retail outlets as far away as Hawaii, securing control of both the manufacture and sale of suits. In 1932, the firm contracted with Kenwood Mills, well known weavers of fine fabrics, to be the sole user of an exclusive fabric trademarked as "Plateau."

Despite the Depression of the 1930s, Keller, Heumann and Thompson prospered. In 1934 it introduced the Timely trademark, which became successful in record time. The label was so successful that Keller, Heumann and Thompson changed its name to Timely Clothes, Inc. in 1939.

The company remained confident into the 1940s and 1950s and continued to acquire more retail outlets. They bought stores in California and New York City, as well as several stores in the Rochester area. As the 1950s began, however, their profits steadily declined. Timely Clothes owned twelve retail stores and employed over 1,000 people by 1959, but profits continued to shrink. Independent stockholders, dismayed at the loss of profits, believed Timely had overextended itself. They blamed poor management, and after a bitter proxy battle in 1960, they voted to oust George Kaye, the president of Timely Clothes and former highly successful salesman for the company.

In 1966, Timely Clothes was sold to and became a subsidiary of BVD, makers of undergarments. BVD tried to move the company to Virginia, where labor costs were lower, but the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) refused to concede. In 1968, BVD merged Timely with another of its subsidiaries, the Alligator Company. Failing to make a profit, BVD closed Timely's operations in 1969. R.C. Shaheen, a Rochester paint distributor, took over Timely's operations in 1971 and reopened manufacturing. Again, the company failed, and in 1973 all assets of Timely Clothes Inc. were liquidated.

Of particular historical interest to researchers concerned with labor issues is the Keller, Heumann and Thompson strike of 1933. During the early 1930s, the firm was not yet a member of the Clothiers Exchange, the Rochester affiliate of the National Clothing Manufacturers Association (NCMA). Therefore, Keller, Heumann and Thompson was not a part the national labor agreement that recognized the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) as the sole bargaining agent for workers in the NCMA, despite the fact that many of the company's workers belonged to the ACWA. Instead, the firm signed an agreement with the United Garment Workers of America (UGWA), an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), on July 17, 1933.

A code for labor practices in the garment industry had already been established by the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), specifying a maximum forty-hour week, an increase in the minimum wage to thirty-five cents per hour, and the abolition of child labor. The ACWA charged the company with violating the NIRA and called a strike, which was more likely a decision based on a struggle for power between two competing unions than a gross violation of the NIRA. Regardless, on July 17, 1933, more than 200 of Keller, Heumann and Thompson's 1,200 workers walked off the job, crippling the company's operations. Keller, Heumann and Thompson claimed that most of the terms of the contract with the UGWA were agreed upon by the workers. A petition was signed by 600 workers expressing their desire to become UGWA members. Because the petition was signed by only half of the company's workers, however, no definitive victory could be claimed by either of the two unions.

The bitter three-week strike included picketing, rioting and fighting. When the police used tear gas to disperse the strikers, the dispute was covered by the national press. The National Recovery Administrator, General Hugh S. Johnson, requested that the ACWA and Keller, Heumann and Thompson agree to arbitration before the National Code of Clothing. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins demanded the strike be settled. Two solutions were submitted to industrial recovery officials: one by the National Clothing Manufacturers Association (NCMA) and the other by the NIRA officials. The NCMA represented the ACWA, while the NIRA recognized the UGWA as bargaining agents. Both solutions set the maximum workweek at forty hours, minimum wage at thirty-five cents per hour, and the abolition of child labor.

Keller, Heumann and Thompson refused to part with their contract with the UGWA, while the local ACWA now demanded a thirty-five hour workweek and a fifty-cent minimum wage. Unable to break the impasse between the company and the ACWA, William A. Green, president of the AFL, the parent union of the UGWA, conferred with the president of the ACWA and both agreed that the UGWA should withdraw. The local UGWA refused. Meanwhile, another strike occurring at M. Wile & Co., the largest clothing manufacturer in Buffalo, finally came to its end, and Keller, Heumann and Thompson faced even more pressure to settle its strike. On August 3, 1933, the firm finally came to terms with the ACWA, meeting its demands and joining the Rochester Clothiers Exchange, which recognized the ACWA as the sole bargaining power for its members.

Scope and Content
The most significant historical contents in this collection are the materials found in Box 1, which include photographs and a scrapbook of newspaper accounts detailing the ACWA Strike of 1933, as well as a substantial amount of material regarding the proxy battle of 1960. Box 2 contains a broad collection of general historical material about the company, such as newspaper articles, advertisements, and style model books, as well as an original Heumann patent and Heumann biographical information. Significant financial and stock information is found in Box 3, including original turn of the century bank account books, annual reports, executive payroll reports, and stockholder correspondence. Finally, Box 4 contains miscellaneous business and legal documents related to Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Inc. such as by-laws, constitutions, and minutes of meetings.

Subject(s):
New York (State)--Rochester
Men's clothing industry
Clothing trade
Keller, Heumans and Thompson Strike, Rochester (N.Y.), 1933
Labor movement
Photographs
Minutes (Records)
Financial records
Newspaper clippings
Keller, Heumann and Thompson
Timely Clothes
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
Clothing workers
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the University of Rochester in 1977 in part by Bernard S. Heumann, nephew of Sol Heumann and a member of the Board of Directors of Timely Clothes from 1939-1970.Access
The Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Inc. records 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], Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Inc. records, D.75, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Administrative Information
Author: Finding aid prepared by Rare Books and Special Collections staff
Publisher: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Address:
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055
rarebks@library.rochester.edu
URL:


Content List
Series I: Historical materials
Subseries I: Conflicts
Box 1, Folder 1Agreement between Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Co. and the United Garment Workers of America (UGWA), July 22, 1933
Statement released re: the agreement

Box 1, Folder 2Employee attendance during ACWA strike, July 1933
Box 1, Folder 3Newspaper clippings scrapbook of ACWA strike, July 17-August 4, 1933
Box 1, Folder 4Photographs of ACWA strike, July 24-August 1, 1933
Some dates were mislabeled "June" on the photos

Box 1, Folder 5Independent Stockholders' Committee reports and correspondence, January 1960; Heumann Family stockholders' proxies, unsigned.
Box 1, Folder 6Timely Clothes management correspondence, Jan. 1960; Heumann Family Stockholders' proxies, signed, Jan. 19, 1960; General proxies, unsigned.
Box 1, Folder 7Transcript of Annual Meeting of Stockholders of Timely Clothes Inc., Jan. 19-20, 1960; Final vote count for Board of Directors election
Box 1, Folder 8Election ballots of stockholders, signed, January 19, 1960
Box 1, Folder 9Documentation of expenses and bills covering costs of proxy fight, December 1959-April 1960
Box 1, Folder 10Employment contract of George N. Kaye, president, 1927; Stock accounts of George N. Kaye, 1927-1946; 1959 income information for members of the management of Timely Clothes Inc.; Fact sheet on Timely's purchase of McFarlin Clothing Co., 1956-1959.
Box 1, Folder 11Newspaper clippings and press releases, January 14-October 3, 1960 and undated.
Subseries II: Publications, printed material, and ephemera
Box 2, Folder 1Press releases, 1931 and undated (1939 or after)
Box 2, Folder 2Newspaper clippings, 1936-1961
Box 2, Folder 3Newspaper clippings, 1962-1972
Box 2, Folder 4Advertisements - Life Magazine, Mar. 29, 1937 (p.55) and Sep. 27, 1937 (back inside cover) issues featuring Timely Clothes advertisements
Box 2, Folder 5Journal articles, 1937 and 1938
Box 2, Folder 6Style model books, 1927, 1928-1930, 1936, 1948, undated
Box 2, Folder 7Patent for cloth measuring and facing machine - Bernhard Heumann and Franklin B. Pease, January 6, 1885
Box 2, Folder 8Photographs - Sol Heumann, undated; Timely Clothes main plant and offices, undated
Box 2, Folder 9Biographical information re: Timely Clothes and Sol Heumann, undated
Includes 1983 correspondence from Bernard S. Heumann to Robert Adler (?)

Box 2, Folder 10Timely Clothes tape measure
Gift of Carole Edgerly, September 2009).

Series II: Financial and stock information
Box 3, Folder 1Bank account books for Raphael Heumann and Sol Heumann and Co.
Merchants Bank of Rochester, October 1, 1897-March 30, 1903; Alliance Bank, July 27, 1906-September 27, 1912
Includes 4 original account books and photocopies

Box 3, Folder 2Executive payroll book - Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Co., December 1921-October 1942
Box 3, Folder 3Executive payroll book - Timely Clothes, November 1942-May 1960
Box 3, Folder 4Annual reports, 1921-1963 (several years missing)
Box 3, Folder 5Bank of America document - Timely Clothes - "Corporate Resolution to Borrow", September 10, 1957
Box 3, Folder 6Stock information, 1921-1968
Miscellaneous documents, stockholder lists, proxies, prospectus, registration forms, minutes

Box 3, Folder 7Stockholder correspondence, 1941-1964
Series III: Business and legal documents
Box 4, Folder 1By-laws, minutes of meetings of Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Co., Inc., June 1920-February 1928
Box 4, Folder 2Constitution of the Mutual Benefit Association of Keller, Heumann and Thompson, Co., Inc., undated (pre-1939, most likely pre-July 1933)
Box 4, Folder 3Reorganization papers and transcript, March 27, 1928
Box 4, Folder 4Purchase agreement between Timely Clothes Inc. and John David Inc., May 27, 1941


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