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Century-Old Drilling Equipment Firm Donates Historical Records to Drexel University Archives

October 11, 2018

This summer, the Drexel University Archives received a donation from Schramm, Inc., a local drilling equipment manufacturer, to store and maintain the company’s historical records. Schramm, Inc. is well-known for its role in the 2010 Copiapó mining accident in Chile, when the company’s mining equipment was used to rescue the 33 miners trapped more than 3,000 feet underground.   

The company has kept a well-maintained and organized collection of historical company records since the early 1900s, and Richard Schramm, past Chairman of Schramm, Inc., recently started looking for an archival institution to preserve and store his company—and his family’s—history.

“My great-grandfather, Christian D. Schramm, founded the original company in Philadelphia in 1900. His son, Henry N. Schramm, joined a year later. Henry was proud of the success of the company, and he believed the company story was inspirational and instructive to employees, agents, distributors and other partners,” Richard Schramm said. “I wanted to realize my grandfather’s vision of preserving the more than 100-year record of a successful company and to make those historic materials accessible to those with a connection to the company and to scholars of 20th century industrial development.”

The collection includes documents from 1900 to 2005 and is a model case study of a 20th century company that successfully grew and changed into a modern, 21st century business company. It includes board and stockholder minutes, reports, correspondence, sales literature, technical information about company products, financial records, company newsletters, scrapbooks, and other materials.

A Unique Collection with Strong Drexel Ties

Drexel Archives’ primary purpose has always been to “select and preserve records that document the founding, growth, and function of the University.” According to Matthew Lyons, University Archivist at Drexel, “This collection expands our traditional collecting scope. We have collected the University’s institutional records or materials from students, faculty and alumni that primarily document the history of Drexel and the founding families. The Schramm, Inc. collection extends these categories to include Drexel’s role in the larger community, particularly its relationship with industry and education in the region.”

It was exactly that relationship that lead the founder’s great-grandson to approach the Drexel Archives about the donation.

“Drexel is an obvious home for the collection,” Schramm said. “My grandfather commuted from West Chester to Drexel night school in the 1920s, and Drexel co-ops and graduates have always played a critical role in the success of the company. A business trip to Europe interrupted the final course my grandfather needed to earn a degree; and although he was unable to complete the program, he valued the education he received.”

Records with Extensive Research Value

After reviewing several pieces of the collection, Lyons immediately recognized its research value. The documentation is extensive, varied and in-depth for the period covering 1900 to 2005. It offers a vivid account of the company’s history—including technical developments, marketing patterns, administration and organizational culture, employee relations and economic fluctuations.

Drexel faculty have already expressed interest in using some of the Schramm, Inc. resources for both teaching and research.

"This is truly a rich collection of sources for the history of science and technology during the 20th century,” said Lloyd Ackert, PhD, Teaching Professor of History and Director for the Emerging Scholars Program at Drexel. Ackert took a “sneak peek” of the materials earlier this year. “The collection will offer new insights into the relationship between industrial manufacturing, government, and academic institutions, especially Drexel University as it developed in the Philadelphia area. These materials will absolutely attract a wide range of local and international scholars in engineering, business, business history, history of science and technology, industrial relations, and global impact, to name a few.”

The Importance of Preserving & Documenting Our Histories

Transferring these records to the Drexel University Archives will ensure their safe preservation. When the company began to run out of space for the boxes of records, documents, photos and other symbols of the company’s history, Schramm realized that they needed to be moved to an archive or be destroyed.

“Mr. Schramm’s desire to maintain this collection illustrates the value people place on documenting history,” said Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries. “We take very seriously that he has entrusted the Drexel University Archives to preserve his family’s multi-generational history. We are honored to receive one of the country’s best-organized collection of company records, and with appropriate processing, to make it available to students and researchers for many years to come."

For more information about the Drexel University Archives and the Schramm, Inc. collection, visit or contact

About Schramm, Inc.

Schramm, Inc. is a century-old Chester County, Pennsylvania manufacturer and global supplier to the drilling industry, focusing on land-based applications. Specializing in mobile, top-head hydraulic rotary drilling rigs, Schramm, Inc. products are used in the mining, energy, geothermal and water sectors worldwide. According to historian James Jones, "Schramm is one of the few West Chester industrial firms to survive into the 21st century."