The Crowell-Collier Co. played a huge role in Springfield history. Crowell-Collier provided over 2,000 jobs. When the plant announced it would close operations in December of 1956, the City of Springfield was devastated.
Although from radically different national and religious backgrounds, the founders of the publishing companies (which would merge in 1934) both began their long and successful business careers in the same way. Peter Collier would begin by peddling books in New York City, and John Crowell by selling newspapers on the streetcorners of Lexington,Kentucky.
Peter Fenelon Collier (1849-1909) a staunch Roman Catholic was born in County Carlow, Ireland. Collier was educated in Ireland and the United States after his father emigrated in 1850. Collier first move was to purchase the popular periodical Father Burke?s Lectures, in 1873. Afterwards, Collier began publishing in the Roman Catholic book trade. In 1874, he published a life of Pius IX and went on to publish Chandler?s Encyclopaedia, several editions of the Bible, and the history of the United States.
Concurrently, Collier began publishing popular novels, which were sold in connection with the magazine, Collier?s Once a Week. In 1895 the name of the magazine was changed to Collier?s Weekly: An Illustrated Journal. The magazine was noted for its half-tone news pictures that flourished under James H. Hare, a leader of photojournalism. Norman Hapgood was also recruited by Collier to become the editor of Collier?s Weekly in 1903. One of the decisions that Hare made in his capacity as an editor was to employ Jack London to report on the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Peter Collier died in New York City in 1909. His son, Robert Collier took over Collier Weekly. Eventually, Robert Collier became the editor after Norman Hapgood left for Harper?s Weekly in 1912.
John Stephen Crowell (1850-1921), a Presbyterian, was born in Lexington, Kentucky.After receiving his education in Lexington, Kentucky, Crowell moved to Springfield, Ohio where he founded the publishing firm of Mast, Crowell, & Kirkpatrick. This firm would later become the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company. The firm could count among their accomplishments the purchase of the magazine Home Companion that eventually would be renamed Woman?s Home Companion.
The Crowell Publishing Company was incorporated under the laws of New Jersey on January 31, 1906. At that time, the Company owned and published Farm and Fireside, Woman?s Home Companion, and American Magazine, which were edited and printed in the Springfield plant. In the summer of 1919, the Crowell Publishing Co. purchased Collier Weekly. Under the terms of the contract Crowell would publish the magazine and all the books formerly published by P.F. Collier & Son. Although now on a subsidiary of Crowell-Collier & Son was given assurance that there would be no changes made in its editorial policies and that the independence of Collier?s Weekly would be respected. Collier & Son continued to circulate over one million copies a week of Collier's Weekly, and annually published more than six million books covering a wide range of popular and serious literature.
In the spring of 1920, Crowell Publishing Co. was incorporated in Delaware as the successor of the New Jersey company. By 1921, Crowell owned the majority of common stocks in P.F. Collier & Son. In 1934, the two companies merged; and in 1939 the new company changed its name to Crowell-Collier Publishing Co. Subsidiaries of the company included P.F. Collier & Son Corp., a book subscription business, and P.F.Collier & Son Ltd. The latter was formed in 1935 as distributors for Canada.
Collier?s magazines published and distributed by the new company were Woman's Home Companion, American Magazine, Collier Weekly, and Country Home. The latter was discontinued by Crowell-Collier. In November 1939, the remaining three, led by Woman's Home Companion, enjoyed increased circulation reaching by 1948 the total average circulation of 9,366,030 and the total advertising income of $36,167,172. In January 1952, P.F. Collier & Son Corp. was merged and the book subscription of Crowell-Collier operated as P.F. Collier & Son Division.
As of 1955 (the latest year reflected in the records) Crowell-Collier owned and published Woman?s Home Companion, Collier's Weekly, Collier Encyclopedia, and Collier books. In August, 1956, American Magazine was discontinued, and in 1957, unfilled subscriptions to Woman's Home Companion, and Collier Weekly were sold to McCall Corporation, and the publishers of Look respectively so that the new company might use the division formerly publishing magazines to distribute Collier's Encyclopedia and operate book divisions.
The Springfield, Ohio plant was sold in 1957. On December 30, 1960, Crowell-Collier merged with Macmillan of New York whose assets were transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary incorporated in Delaware, which changed its name to Macmillan Company. The Crowell-Collier holding company operated through its subsidiaries, among them P.F. Collier Inc. On May 6, 1965 the name Crowell
Collier & Macmillan, was adopted; the title was changed to Macmillan, Inc.
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