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Collection Number: 04154-z

Collection Title: Rufus Lenoir Patterson Papers, 1894-1900; 1943; 1956; 1967.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; this finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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Size 33 items
Abstract Rufus Lenoir Patterson (1872-1943) of Salem, N.C., was an inventor and the founder of the American Machine and Foundry Company. The collection contains letters, 1894-1895, to Patterson about the development of tobacco processing machinery; two letters, 1896 and 1900, from Patterson to his wife, Margaret; printed articles about Patterson; and a scrapbook, 1967, of materials related to the Patterson World Tobacco Engineering Center, Richmond, Va.
Creator Patterson, Rufus Lenoir, 1872-1943.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Rufus Lenoir Patterson Papers, #4154-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Howard Patterson of New York, N.Y., October 1977.
Additional Descriptive Resources
A copy of the original finding aid for this collection is filed in folder 1.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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Rufus Lenoir Patterson (1872-1943) of Salem, N.C., was an inventor and the founder of the American Machine and Foundry Company. Patterson was the son of Rufus Lenoir Patterson (1830-1879), a lawyer and planter, and his wife Mary Fries Patterson (1844-1927). He gave up formal schooling at the age of fifteen, worked a short while for a railroad, then spent a year studying at the University of North Carolina.

Patterson left the University to work with North Carolina inventor William H. Kerr and in 1891 went to England to introduce the Kerr tobacco machine. After studying in England for two years he returned to Durham, N.C., and in 1898 became associated with James Biddle Duke and the American Tobacco Company, of which Patterson later became a vice-president. During this period Patterson developed several machines, including the Patterson packer, to weigh, pack, label, and stamp smoking tobacco, which revolutionized the tobacco industry.

When in 1900 American Tobacco spun off its machinery division as the American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF), Patterson became its first president, a position he held until 1941 when he became chairman of its board of directors. Patterson was also president of the International Cigar Machinery Company, which eventually became an AMF subsidiary.

Under Patterson's leadership, the companies developed a number of machines, including the Standard Tobacco Stemmer, 1908; the Standard Cigarette Machine, 1908; and a long filler cigar machine, 1918; used in the tobacco industry, and diversified into other fields beginning with the development of the Standard Bread Wrapper in 1924.

In 1895 R. L. Patterson married Margaret W. Morehead and they had one son, Morehead, and one daughter, Lucy Lathrop. When he retired as president of American Machine and Foundry Company in 1941, he was succeeded by his son Morehead, who also became chairman of the board following his father's death in April 1943.

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The collection includes letters, 1894-1895, to Rufus Lenoir Patterson about the development of tobacco processing machinery; two letters, 1896 and 1900, from Patterson to his wife, Margaret; printed articles about Patterson, his machines, and the American Machinery and Foundry Company; and a scrapbook, 1967, of materials related to the dedication of the Rufus Lenoir Patterson World Tobacco Engineering Center, Richmond, Va., June 1967.

The letters to Rufus Lenoir Patterson concern the development, manufacture, sale, and patenting of the tobacco-bagging machine designed by Patterson. Topics include plans for the sale of the machine, the terms offered for the development of the machine, similar machines already patented by other companies, and the assumption and assignment of patent rights and royalties. Most of the correspondence is with William Kerr. Other correspondents include Lewis K. Keizer, Julian S. Carr, and T. B. Fuller. There are also letters, 1895, to Patterson from American consuls in Scotland, England, Germany, and France about tobacco consumption and manufacture in their respective countries, and two letters, 1896 and 1900, from R. L. Patterson to his wife which include news of his daily life, mutual friends, and his business and professional plans, including comments about his relationship with James Biddle Duke.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff

Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Kate Stratton and Jodi Berkowitz, May 2009

This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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