Skip to main content

Blatchford, Seward, and Griswold records

Identifier: MC-0004

  • Staff Only
  • Select item to request

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Blatchford, Seward & Griswold Records consist of material pertaining to thirty-four inventions. Materials date from 1841 to 1910 and include handwritten copies of patent applications and letters patent, correspondence, notes, newspaper clippings, drawings, printed court records, court notices, bills of complaint, briefs, witness lists, depositions, subpoenas, affidavits, transcripts of testimony, and patent assignments. Most of the cases were heard in the U.S. Circuit Courts, in a New England, New York, or New Jersey district. A few were heard in State Supreme Courts.

Several of the most significant disputes are worth highlighting. For example, Samuel Blatchford represented Samuel F. B. Morse in a series of infringement suits in the 1840s and 1850s. These suits were brought by Morse against men constructing telegraph lines without proper license. The collection contains correspondence and copies of court records (box 1) on these cases.

During the 1850s the firm was hired to represent Ross Winans, a Baltimore inventor of railroad car chassis. Winans became embroiled in several infringement suits, only one of which, Winans vs. Danforth, is represented in the collection (box 4).

The letters patent issued to Charles Goodyear on June 15, 1844, for his rubber manufacture process signaled the beginning of twenty-two years of legal maneuvering for Blatchford, Seward & Griswold. Suit followed by countersuit produced nearly two dozen cases, seventeen of which are documented in the collection. In most of the suits, the firm represented Goodyear’s main antagonist, Horace H. Day. In 1858, however, the firm was hired by Goodyear as chief counsel in the application for extension of the 1844 patent. A seven-year extension was granted on June 15, 1858. At the same time as the extension proceeding, the firm argued on behalf of the Congress Rubber Company, owned by Day, against several companies licensed to use Goodyear’s vulcanization process.

Blatchford, Seward & Griswold continued to represent Day during the late 1850s, but in 1864 Seward argued on behalf of Goodyear’s heirs against Day. The amount of material in the collection on the rubber patent cases (boxes 1-3) reflects both the intricacy of the Goodyear-Day conflict and the extent of the firm’s involvement in the litigation.

A series of infringement suits concerning Elias Howe’s sewing machine patent presented another challenge for the firm between 1854 and 1863.The material on the sewing machine (box 3) includes transcripts of testimony from workers in Boston and New York City. The testimony was taken to illustrate changes in work conditions brought by the introduction of the sewing machine. The transcripts provide a glimpse into the lives of working men and women. Many of the witnesses were in the clothing trade, including factory owners and seamstresses. (See Appendix for a list of the witnesses and their occupations.)

Several decades later Seward was counsel for the Gramme Electrical Company (box 5). This case is unique in the collection because it concerns the introduction of a foreign patent into the U.S. market.

The William Webster carpet loom patent (boxes 4, 7), Samuel W. Tyler mowing machine (boxes 4, 5, and 7), and Clinton G. Colgate telegraph cable patent (box 5) were each the subject of infringement suits during the 1870s and are represented by briefs, correspondence, and printed court records.

The collection contains material on fifteen other patent cases between 1880 and 1910, but none is documented as thoroughly as the cases mentioned above.

List of Witnesses in the Sewing Machine Patent Case (in box 3)

Backster, Charles C.
Foreman, Accountant
Baker, Ezra
Shoe Manufacturer
Benson, John J.
Coat Manufacturer
Blatchford, Samuel
Bowker, John P
Occupation unknown
Bradshaw, John A.
Burlingame, Anson
Bush, Mary O.
Ladies’ and Children’s Clothing Manufacturer
Chapin, Seth P.
Sewing Machine Operator
Clapp, George P.
Occupation unknown
Clark, Burton E.
Bag Manufacturer
Dalton, Annie
Leather Seamstress
Douglass, Alexander
Skirt Manufacturer
Ellis, Jonathan T.
Farron, Margaret
Sewing Machine Operator
Fisher, George
Newspaper Publisher
Gardner, Smith
Gleason, Sewall
Occupation unknown
Hasler, Henry
Carriage Trimmer
Horne, William M.
Howe, Amasa B.
Sewing Machine Manufacturer
Inglis, Charles
Jacobs, Herman
Satchel Manufacturer
Jeffers, William H.
Ladies Shoemaker
Johnston, William
Boot Fitter
Kolher, Gottlieb
Lerow, Jacob H.
Occupation unknown
McCall, James
McCurdy, James S.
Marsh, Seymour N.
Bandage Manufacturer
Millar, James W.
Murray, Joseph
Phelps, Orson C.
Potter, Orlando Brunson
Lawyer, Sewing Machine Manufacturer
Proctor, William F.
Raymond, James M.
Renwick, Edward Sabine
Inventor, Patent Expert
Renwick, Henry Brevoort
Engineer, Patent Expert
Rollin, Daniel G.
Sheldon, Julius
Hat Manufacturer
Simpson, Edwin B.
Shoe Manufacturer
Simpson, Emma
Thorpe, Abraham
Townsley, George R.
Boot Manufacturer
Tucker, Hiram
Bed Manufacturer
Tyng, Stephen Higginson
Udall, William M.
Shirt Manufacturer
Waters, Harvey
Whiting, William E.
Winchester, Oliver Fisher
Gun and Shirt Manufacturer


  • Creation: 1841 - 1910


Access note

This collection is open.

Digital Access Note

Some parts of this collection are available online. Links to specific online digital items are found within their entry in this finding aid.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Historical Note

The Blatchford, Seward & Griswold firm was formed by the merger of two partnerships, one started in New York City by Richard Blatchford in 1819, and another in Auburn, New York, by William Henry Seward and Elijah Miller in 1823. In 1854 the two firms merged, maintaining one office in New York City. The partners were Samuel Blatchford (1820-1893), Clarence Armstrong Seward (1828-1897) and Burr Wakeman Griswold (1823-1886). The firm was known as Blatchford, Seward & Griswold until 1869, when Charles Mandes Da Costa (1837-1890) became a senior partner. The firm specialized in patent cases; they worked with many prominent nineteenth century American inventors on patent applications, provided counsel during infringement suits, and worked with newly formed manufacturing firms on patent license matters. Between 1885 and 1910, six other men became senior partners. Blatchford, Seward, and Griswold retired from the firm in 1867, 1897, and 1884 respectively. The firm has been known as Cravath, Swaine & Moore since 1941.


7 Cubic Feet (6 record cartons, 1 flat storage box, 3 folders of oversize drawings and patents)

Language of Materials

Multiple languages


Blatchford, Seward & Griswold was a New York law firm specializing in patent cases. The firm worked with inventors to apply for patents, provide counsel during infringement suits, and advise companies formed to market new inventions. The collection contains material on 34 patents including Samuel F. B. Morse's telegraph, Charles Goodyear's rubber manufacturing process, Elias Howe's sewing machine, Ross Winans' railroad car chassis, William Webster's carpet loom, Samuel W. Tyler's mowing machine, and Clinton G. Colgate's telegraph cable. Materials in the collection span the years 1841 to 1910 and include letters patent, patent applications, correspondence, notes, clippings, drawings, printed court records, court notices, bills of complaint, briefs, witness lists, depositions, subpoenas, affidavits, transcripts of testimony, and patent assignments.


Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Source of Acquisition

The collection was given to the MIT Libraries in May 1954 and March 1955 by the New York City law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

Appraisal note

Needs review.

Related Materials in the Institute Archives Legacy Book Collection

Goodyear, Charles, 1800-1860. [Depositions in the case of Charles Goodyear vs. Horace H. Day. Volume 2.]. [United States: s.n., 1852?]. TS1891.G664 1852

Goodyear, Charles, 1800-1860. Horace H. Day ads. Charles Goodyear: depositions (counsel and clerk's copies), taken under the rule of the court, made at Trenton, October 1, 1851. [United States : s.n., 1852?]. TS1891.G66 1852

[Collection of materials concerning 19th century patents and patent challenges in U.S. courts]. 1852-1859. KF125.C86.C65 1852

Guide to the Records of Blatchford, Seward, & Griswold, 1841-1910
Ready For Review
Roland Madany
(Copyright 1981)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Processing of the collection was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US