The People

For some, working at Hamilton was a way of life while for others it was just a job. Many of the envelopes I encountered noted that their contents were from “G.E. Shubrooks files.” Typical of the era and industry, Hamilton had employees like Shubrooks who started work in their teens or twenties, progressed through different departments and positions, and retired forty years later.

G.E. Shubrooks employee ID card. Issued 1947.

G.E. Shubrooks employee ID card. Issued 1947.

For the majority of his career at Hamilton, Shubrooks was Chief Chemist. His record keeping was impeccable, as a lot of his letters, memos, and reports indicate where they should be filed. Shubrooks was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1900. He was the only child of his father George, a coffee merchant, and Alice, his mother. At 18 years old, Shubrooks was employed by Lancaster Steel Products Company, where he began what would become a lifelong career in lab work.

Shubrooks spent approximately 35 years at Hamilton before his retirement in 1961-1962 amid changes in the company and its broader focus. He started as a foreman in 1926, progressed to Chief Chemist, Metallurgist, and later became Manager of Research. He is described in Don Sauer's book, "Time for America," as meticulous, which is reflected in his record keeping practices. He married Stella Shenk, a clerk at the County Treasurer's Office. They did not have children. Shubrooks died in Lancaster during September of 1986.

Some of the most revealing and informative items in the collection are from his personal files. For instance, his desk diaries humanize his role at Hamilton by illuminating the social structures of his department, mostly as he would reflect on conversations with colleagues. Moreover, his photo albums document company picnics and events, as well as other aspects of his personal life, like vacations to the mountains of New York.

In contrast to individuals like Shubrooks, there are countless employees who circulated in and out of manufacturing or clerical roles, perhaps not identified anywhere in the collection. While it is fortunate to have such detailed documentation from Shubrooks, there are many perspectives and experiences associated with Hamilton that the collection does not account for, especially those of women. Photographs and advertisements show that women were present in the early days of the company and took part in manufacturing jobs alongside men. One might speculate that they typed the vast majority of the reports and memos I handled, yet their names rarely appeared on anything. While of great interest, this is a topic that requires research beyond the scope of my work but that I would encourage exploration of in the future.