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Whitaker Collection

Identifier: MG-014
This collection includes various Westclox materials, including clock catalogs, advertising materials, journals, personnel records, photographs, and incorporation papers.


  • 1886 - 1997


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Use

These records are open to researchers for personal or scholarly research. Most of the records in the collection are available for photocopy, depending on the preservation needs of the material as well as other variables not specified here. Researchers, however, are responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use materials and documents. These records are part of the permanent collection in the archives of the Library & Research Center of the National Watch and Clock Museum and researchers are required to comply with the Archive Rules when using the collection.


4 Cubic Feet (4 boxes)

Biographical / Historical

The company that would go on to become Westclox was founded in Peru, Illinois in 1885 as the United Clock Company. Its founders, including lead founder Charles Stahlberg, hailed originally from the Waterbury, Connecticut clock manufacturing scene. They founded the new company intending to make use of an innovation patented by Stahlberg which involved molded lead gear assemblies and movement plates with inset brass and steel pieces. United Clock Company did not succeed, however, and went bankrupt shortly after its founding.

In 1887 United Clock reformed as the Western Clock Company but rapidly went bankrupt again. 1888 brought another reform, this time as the Western Clock Mfg. Co. The company shortened its name to Western Clock Co. in 1912 and trademarked “Westclox” in 1916, though it had been using the name on clocks since about 1909. In 1919 the company incorporated a Canadian subsidiary, Western Clock Co, Ltd. In 1931, Seth Thomas Clock Company and Westclox merged and both became divisions of their parent company, General Time Corporation.

Westclox is perhaps best-known for its Big Ben line of alarm clocks and associated lines such as Baby Ben. Big Ben was the first nationally advertised alarm clock thanks to a series of advertisements in the Saturday Evening Post beginning in 1910 and running until at least the 1930s. It featured a “bell-back” encasement. Westclox also was a large “dollar watch” manufacturer and produced many inexpensive wrist and pocket watches for the masses. During World War II the Peru, IL plant produced war materiel, primarily ordnance fuses, but also compasses, aviation instruments, and clocks, for the United States Army and Navy rather than items for civilian consumption.

After the war Westclox resumed manufacture of consumer goods and opened plants in Scotland, Athens, GA, and Mexico, among other locales, so as to better serve an enlarged market. In 1959 the “drowse” alarm was patented and produced by Westclox. This innovation is more commonly known as the “snooze” function today. After General Time’s acquisition by Talley Industries in 1968, Westclox introduced the quartz movement in 1972.

The original plant in Peru, IL, closed in March 1980, shortly after General Time moved its headquarters to Norcross, GA. In 1988 General Time’s management repurchased the company from Talley Industries. In 2000, all US-based manufacturing was offshored and the Athens plant closed. Shortly thereafter in 2001, General Time went out of business completely and Salton, Inc acquired the Westclox, Big Ben, and Spartus brands. In 2007, NYL Holdings LLC purchased the timekeeping brands, including Westclox, from Salton.


Catherine Whitaker, Jim Whitaker
Kate Van Riper, Archivist. Historical Note written by Morgan Flood (July 2016)
Summer 2016
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the NAWCC Library and Research Center Archives Repository

514 Poplar St
Columbia PA 17512