After RCA closed its Camden, New Jersey operations, the legendary company's one-time headquarters were demolished or left vacant. The contents of the buildings were transferred elsewhere, sold off, or simply abandoned.
In the early 1990s, among the items that were sold upon its closure was an old safe, purchased by Harold S. Riess. Inside that safe, unknown to Mr. Riess at the time of purchase, were ten minute books, one volume of president’s reports to the board of directors, and two binders of production contracts. In 2016, these records became part of the Hagley Library’s collections, thanks to Riess’s daughter.
The records in this collection span the last two decades of the Victor Talking Machine Company (1901-1929), the Victor company’s absorption into the Radio Corporation of America, and the subsequent corporation reorganizations into the RCA Victor Company, RCA Victor Division of the RCA Manufacturing Company, and the Radio Corporation of America. They cover a wide range of corporate activities, ranging from big-ticket contract negotiations with famous musical artists, the minutiae of day-to-day business management, corporate responses to national crises like the Great Depression, and business interactions with other major industry leaders like Warner Bros. Pictures.
Since this collection has been frequently requested resource by researchers, we have made them even more accessible through digitization. Online visitors can now find these records with searchable text in the Hagley Digital Archives here.
Skylar Harris is the Digitization and Metadata Coordinator at the Hagley Museum and Library.