Hickey Freeman Company Papers

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Hickey Freeman Company papers
Creator: Hickey Freeman and Company
Call Number: D.80
Dates: 1881-2004
Physical Description: 1 box
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
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Content List
Collection Overview
Title: Hickey Freeman Company papers
Creator: Hickey Freeman and Company
Call Number: D.80
Dates: 1881-2004
Physical Description: 1 box
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

Biographical/Historical Note
The once booming men's clothing industry of Rochester, NY had begun to decline in the middle of the 20th century, and today the only remaining manufacturer is the Hickey-Freeman Co. At the turn of the century, however, many new clothing firms were established in Rochester, when the industry was rapidly growing and reaching new levels of production. Hickey-Freeman Co. was the most notably distinguished and enduring of these firms.

During the 1880s and 1890s, Jeremiah G. Hickey (1866-1960) was a bookkeeper for Wile, Brickner & Wile, then the largest manufacturer of men's clothing in Rochester. His close friend Jacob L. Freeman (d.1925) was a private contractor of the firm. Together with fellow Wile, Brickner & Wile employees Thomas Mahon and George A. Brayer, they formed Hickey, Freeman, & Mahon Co. in 1899, after rejecting job offers in prestigious clothing firms in Boston and Chicago. Jeremiah ("Jerry") Hickey contributed the most capital, giving him a controlling interest in the firm. Mahon, who made no original investment, left the firm in less than a year, and in 1900 the name was changed to Hickey-Freeman Co. The business was originally located in small quarters on St. Paul St., near the hub of Rochester's clothing district.

In the beginning, progress was slow but steady for Hickey-Freeman. By 1902, the company was able to take over the business and the larger premises of Michael Kolb & Co. Hickey-Freeman grew even more, and in 1908 it merged with Beckel, Baum & Leopold Co., retaining the Hickey-Freeman name. The president of Beckel, Baum & Leopold Co. was Emmett Baum, who became vice-president of Hickey-Freeman Co. after the merger. Baum was largely responsible for Hickey-Freeman's decision in 1908 to manufacture only high quality clothing. At that time, ready-to-wear suits were seldom made with hand-craftsmanship of any quality, but Hickey-Freeman recognized the importance of quality in the manufacture of men's clothing.

By 1912, Hickey-Freeman Co. had amassed enough capital and business to build a larger, more modern factory on N. Clinton Ave. at the corner of Avenue D on the city's northern outskirts. This location was chosen in order to retain the company's skilled workers, after a survey showed that a majority of the company's employees lived within walking distance of this area. Although the new factory was one of the most complete facilities of its kind in the country, it became necessary for Hickey-Freeman to add space to the building twice more during the 1920s, to accommodate the company's increased volume and over 1700 employees.

Hickey-Freeman Co. never altered the price of its product for its retail customers, nor did it compromise quality. A Hickey-Freeman suit was, and still is, one of the most expensive suits made. The company never advertised its product nationally, but instead relied on loyal customers and retailers. Hickey-Freeman adopted a policy of selling its suits to only one specialty retail store in an area, and that store had exclusive rights to use the Hickey-Freeman name. In the 1920s, to increase revenue while maintaining that loyal retail base, the company introduced the "Walter-Morton" label, named after the sons of Hickey and Baum. The "Walter-Morton" line of suits was identical to the "Hickey-Freeman" line, but the names were never explicitly associated, allowing for more than one store to carry the company's product in any given selling area. This proved to be a very successful business strategy for Hickey-Freeman. Despite the Great Depression of the 1930s, the company still made a profit throughout the decade and in the decades to follow.

For the first sixty years of Hickey-Freeman Co.'s existence, only one man held the position of company president. In 1959, a year before his death, Jeremiah G. Hickey became chairman of the board of Hickey-Freeman, passing on the title of president to Morton J. Baum, Emmett Baum's son. Following the death of Morton J. Baum in 1963, Jeremiah Hickey's son Walter B.D. Hickey became president. A year later, Hickey-Freeman merged with the Chicago firm of Hart, Shaffner & Marx. While no longer locally or family owned, Hickey-Freeman Co. remained in Rochester as an autonomous unit of the Hartmarx Corporation, keeping the Rochester management and production intact, as well as the quality Hickey-Freeman label.

In 1976, Walter B.D. Hickey Jr. ("Duffy") became president of Hickey-Freeman Co., when his father became chairman of the board. Seven years later, Walter B.D. Hickey Sr. retired from the company, succeeded by his son as chairman, and Gasper A. Tirone as president. Today, Duffy Hickey remains chairman of Hickey-Freeman, with no plans to move the firm out of the Rochester area. As the only manufacturer left in the city that was once the leader in quality production of men's clothing, Hickey-Freeman still produces the finest clothing of any manufacturer in the country.

Scope and Content
This collection is housed in one box, consisting almost entirely of historical material about the company. The materials are arranged chronologically, and include photographs of Jeremiah G. Hickey, several printed articles about the history of Hickey-Freeman Co., newspaper clippings, and a limited amount of research correspondence. Folder 14 contains an orientation packet for a visit to Hickey-Freeman by Jennifer Tirone, daughter of CEO Gasper Tirone, in May 1987.

New York (State)--Rochester
Clothing trade
Men's clothing industry
Newspaper clippings
Hickey Freeman and Company
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Added material given by Erin Debski, Industrial Relations Administrator, Hickey Freeman Co. on March 9, 2005. Added material (New Employee Orientation Materials) given by Erin May, Human Resources Dept., Hickey Freeman Co. on May 27, 2003. Oversize Planner purchased from the Allyn Fund and added December 2008.Access
The Hickey Freeman Company 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], Hickey Freeman Company papers, D.80, 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
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055

Content List
Box 1, Folder 1Photographs, 1881-circa 1950s
There are photographs of Jeremiah G. Hickey, a photo of the front of Wile, Brickner, a photo of Jeremiah G. Hickey in front of the Wile building, ca.1881, a photo of the Hickey-Freeman office, 1904 with secretary Alice Blanche Burke and Jeremiah G. Hickey, a photo of Jeremiah G. Hickey and Jacob L. Freeman, 1912 in an office and portraits, n.d. Also includes photograph of Hickey-Freeman building, n.d. [ca.1950s].

Box 1, Folder 2Historical article
This article was written about Rochester's clothing industry.

Box 1, Folder 3Biographical article, 1912
This article was written about Mire Greentree, the beginnings of Rochester's clothing industry, and from The History of the Jews in Rochester which was published in 1912.

Box 1, Folder 4Journal article, 1938
The article is entitled,"No Danger: Hands at Work!" that discussed Rochester's clothing industry, the article was published in Men's Apparel Reporter in January 1938.

Box 1, Folder 5Historical articles about Hickey-Freeman Company, 1947 and undated
Box 1, Folder 6Speech
The speech was made by Hugo Gemignani, vice-president of Hickey-Freeman Co., n.d. [ca. late 1940s].

Box 1, Folder 7Report, 1949
The National Planning Association Committee wrote a report entitled Causes of Industrial Peace Under Collective Bargaining: Hickey-Freeman Company and Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America: A Case Study written by Donald B. Straus, 1949.

Box 1, Folder 8Journal article, 1951
The article, "Maturity in Industrial Relations: A Case Study," by Morton J. Baum, in Industrial and Labor Relations Review, January 1951.

Box 1, Folder 9Historical article, 1959
The transcript of the article,"The Affluent Society: Where Does It Go From Here?" by Morton J. Baum, April 7, 1959. Also, the transcript is 29 pages.

Box 1, Folder 10Article, 1961
The pre-print copy of the article that would be published in the Daily News Record column which was sponsored by Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) and written by Morton J. Baum, January 3, 1961.

Box 1, Folder 11"The Hickey-Freeman Story," by Howard C. Hosmer, manuscript, undated [circa 1974]
Box 1, Folder 12Research correspondence, 1982
Robert M. Adler and Walter B.D. Hickey, Senior, 1982, in reference to the history of Hickey-Freeman Company includes draft and final copy of history by Adler.

Box 1, Folder 13Newspaper clippings, circa late 1940s, 1981-1988. 1981-1988
Box 1, Folder 14Orientation packet, 1987
In May 1987 Jennifer Tirone's created an orientation packet. The materials include: orientation schedule, Jennifer Tirone's notes, sample human resources forms, order forms, business cards, production data, inventory sheets, news releases, Spring 1987, biography-Walter B.D. "Duffy" Hickey, photographs-Walter B.D. "Duffy" Hickey modeling suits, Hickey-Freeman Company circulars, style model books, and fabric samples,

Box 1, Folder 15Temple of Fine Tailoring, by G. Sheldon Brayer
This book was written in celebration of the 100 year anniversary

Box 1, Folder 16Copy of letter, 1929
Dated January 8, 1929 from Rochester Clothing Workers Credit Union.

Box 1, Folder 17Photograph of Governor Pataki of New York at a meeting, May 13, 2004
Pataki was there to announce a $7 million investment to renovate and expand the Hickey Freeman facility

Box 1, Folder 18Advertisements
Hickey Freeman catalog and brochures

Box 1, Folder 19New employee orientation materials
Box 1, Folder 20Newspaper ad planner, Fall and Winter 1960

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