Skip to main content

Hook and Hastings Company Records

Hook and Hastings Company Records

1 of 2
Open Finding Aid
small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
Extra Large
large ( > 500x500)
Full Resolution


Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Hook & Hastings (Firm)
Title:Hook and Hastings Company Records
Quantity:.25 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract:The Hook and Hastings Company produced over 2500 organs, including some of the century's finest church and concert hall organs. This collection consists of correspondence and internal documents related to the building and repair of these pipe organs.
Collection Number:MSS 346

Scope and Content Note

The Hook and Hastings Company produced over 2500 organs, including some of the century's finest church and concert hall organs. This collection consists of correspondence and internal documents related to the building and repair of these pipe organs.

Eight folders of letters and contracts document organs installed in Summit, New Jersey; New York; Philadelphia; Wayne and Greenville, Pennsylvania; and Whitman, Massachusetts between 1893 and 1899. These documents deal exclusively with customers either unwilling or unable to settle their accounts with the firm. Churches in Summit, New Jersey (Folders 1 and 2), Philadelphia (Folder 4), Brooklyn, New York (Folder 6), and Whitman, Massachusetts (Folder 7), and also a private owner in Wayne, Pennsylvania (Folder 5) complained that their organs failed to perform properly despite repeated attempts to remedy the problems. One church in New York (Folder 3) was unable to pay the amount due, and another in Brooklyn, New York (Folder 6) refused to pay for work done by outside contractors. Finally, a college in Greenville, Pennsylvania (Folder 8) continued to negotiate a contract for moving and installing an organ for at least two years. Copies of letters from Francis H. Hastings are present in many of the files, and these show that he made repeated attempts to satisfy the customers and settle the accounts. Unfortunately, the final resolution of most of these cases is not evident from the papers included in this collection.

One bundle of 42 work orders from early 1875 (Folder 9) records repairs made to organs throughout New England and as far south as Baltimore, Maryland. Twelve miscellaneous checks, contracts, and scraps of paper (Folder 10) show office activity in the period between 1845 and 1881. Three business cards, one for E. & G.G. Hook Organ Builders, are present in this group. Finally, one Folder (Folder 11) contains notes on a new water motor for use in the factory, a plan that was abandoned in late 1899.

In summary, this collection reveals the day-to-day operations of a large, successful organ building company in the late nineteenth century.

Historical Sketch

E. & G.G. Hook Organ Builders was founded in 1827 by Elias Hook (1805-1881) and George Greenleaf Hook (1807-1880), sons of William Hook, cabinetmaker in Salem, Massachusetts. Elias Hook was responsible for the technical and business aspects of their work while George, an organist himself, concerned himself with musical and artistic matters. In 1855, Francis H. Hastings (1836-1916) of Weston, Massachusetts, entered the firm and became a partner in 1870; the firm was then known as E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings. By the early 1890s, the firm was known as Hook & Hastings Company and had offices in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, with their organ works in Kendal Green, Massachusetts, and resident tuners in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. By then Francis H. Hastings and Francis W. Hastings were both officers of the company, which survived until 1936, a belated victim of the depression.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Hastings, Francis H., 1836-1916
Hook, Elias, 1805-1881
Hook, George, 1807-1880
E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings (Firm)
E. & G.G. Hook (Firm)
Hook & Hastings (Firm)
Organ (Musical instrument)--Construction
Organ builders--Massachusetts--Boston


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Hook and Hastings Company Records, MSS 346, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was purchased on July 28, 1999 (acc. #1999.047).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lee Jacoby, May 2004.

Related Material

Owen, Barbara, "A Salem Chamber Organ," Essex Institute Historical Collections 110(1974): 111-19.

Ripley, Emma F., Weston A Puritan Town (Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press, 1961), pp. 256-57.

Hook Family Papers, 1797-1862. Letters and accounts of Hook family. A few letters to or from Elias and George Greenleaf Hook pertain to the organ company. MSS 342

William Hook Papers, 1801-1846. Organ company is mentioned in one letter from Elias Hook. MSS 345

you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search