The long anticipated donation of the Andersen Corporation Archives has arrived at the Minnesota Historical Society. The collection consists of more than 240 cubic feet of manuscript records and three-dimensional objects! We are thrilled to add this major Minnesota company to the many businesses represented in our collections.
Danish immigrant Hans Jacob Andersen and his family founded Andersen Lumber Company in 1903 in Hudson, Wisconsin, where the logs arrived via the St. Croix River. In 1905, Hans introduced an innovative “two-bundle” method of designing and shipping unassembled window frames. By producing bundled pairs of horizontal and vertical window frame sections, Andersen streamlined frame production and simplified mass distribution. This was the first of many innovations for Andersen Corporation. Hans Andersen sold his lumber business in 1908 to focus on window frames, but returned to the retail lumber industry in 1916. The privately owned business moved across the St. Croix River in 1913 to South Stillwater (now Bayport), Minnesota.
Today the Andersen Corporation remains headquartered in Bayport and employs more than 9,000 people across the United States. The company celebrated its centennial in 2003 with a pledge to build 100 homes with Habitat for Humanity. Andersen finished its 100th home this year.
The manuscript portion of the Andersen collection contains Andersen family papers and corporate records from the 1870s-2005. The records include employee newsletters, product catalogs, price lists, advertising, legal files, trade mark and patent documents, sales information, product installation manuals, photographs, audio-visual materials and much more. Together these records document the people and facilities of Andersen Corporation, its predecessors and its subsidiary companies.
The object portion of the collection features a number of important pieces including – naturally – windows. Two pairs of early 20th Century “two-bundle” frames represent Andersen’s first innovation. One double-hung window, complete with frame, represents the most widespread window style. A sales sample of a Fibrex® window – made from a composite of vinyl and wood fibers reclaimed from the manufacturing process – characterizes one of the company’s more recent innovations.
Other three-dimensional pieces include a set of drafting tools used by Fred C. Andersen (son of Hans), a carpenter’s square, a shop apron, and an Army-Navy “E” Award pennant presented in recognition of Andersen’s substantial production of ammunition boxes during World War II.
Molly Tierney, Curator of Manuscripts
Matt Anderson, Objects Curator (who spells it “s-o-n”)