Leeds, Morris E.
Hagley Museum & Library
Manuscripts & Archives Department
P.O. Box 3630
Wilmington, DE 19807-0630
The Leeds & Northrup Company traces its origins to Morris E. Leeds & Company, established by Morris E. Leeds in 1899 to develop and manufacture precision instruments. On June 1, 1903 the firm was renamed when Morris Leeds took a partner, Dr. Edwin F. Northrup, a theoretical physicist. The company's single most important early invention was the 1910 continuous recorder. During the First World War the company profited from the suspension of imports of German machine tools. While it remained small, the company had by 1920 become one of the nation's most important producers of precision measuring instruments. Before Morris Leeds' retirement in 1939 the firm had become known as one of the country's most innovative science-based companies as, it continually made substantial investments in research and development. Morris Leeds was president of the Metal Manufacturers Association of Philadelphia, an avowedly open shop organization. Leeds was a believer in employee representation plans or company unions. In 1918 the company established a Cooperative Association to assume direction over social and recreational facilities and handle employee grievances. Executive committee minutes describe the company's strategic planning and the role that research and development played in defining Leeds and Northrup's long-term goals. These records also describe marketing and sales initiatives as well as industrial relations policies. Development committee minutes and reports document the company's research program, placing the Leeds and Northrup Company in the context of the precision tool industry. There is information on the research budget and the relationship between long-term research goals and product development. Cooperative Association minutes describe the company's employee representation plan. These records document employee grievances and also contain references to discussions about wages and hours.