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H.L. Trisch; A.C. Gilbert Company World War II Records

Identifier: MS 063

Scope and Contents

Reports, correspondence, manuals and pamphlets documenting A.C. Gilbert's war time manufacturing. The first series appears to be materials compiled for promotion of Gilbert's war-time contributions and the second series appears to have been compiled for the War Department based on the markings on the original binders. The materials have been taken removed from the binders but foldered in the original order. The empty binders are boxed with the collection.


  • 1941-1945


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the:
Ruth A. Haas Library
Archives and Special Collections
181 White Street
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: 1(203)837-8992

Biographical / Historical

A.C. (Alfred Carlton) Gilbert was born February 15, 1884. According to the A. C. Gilbert Heritage Society, Gilbert was an "inventor, athlete, toy maker, outdoorsman, and businessman." Created in 1916 and located in New Haven, CT, the A.C. Gilbert Company was best known for its production of the Erector Set which allowed children to design and build their own girder models.

Though Gilbert had prevented the company from being converted to wartime productions during the First World War, that would not be the case in the Second World War. According to the company records, later compiled by then vice-president Herman L. Trisch, the A. C. Gilbert Company helped produce hundreds of thousands of mechanical parts for military aircraft, landmines, guns, and other wartime weaponry.

According to the May 1944 issue of Connecticut Industries, during World War II, Connecticut was ranked as the ninth biggest war production state. Between June 1940 and January 1944 war contracts with Connecticut businesses totaled $6,013,536,000. Most of those contracts were for aircraft and ordnance.

After the war, the company returned to making toys until Gilbert’s death in 1961. According to the A.C. Gilbert and Eli Whitney Museum: "The A. C. Gilbert Company was typical; it never got through the second generation man; after a couple years as C.E.O., and his self-prophecy ringing true, Gilbert’s son sold his family's stock." The company was then acquired by Jack Wrather who led the company to bankruptcy, and eventually, its closing in 1967.

The long-time vice president of A.C. Gilbert, Herman L. Trisch, was born February 15, 1889 to Herman and Nellie Trisch in Connecticut. After the Second World War Trisch compiled several binders of materials documenting A.C. Gilbert Co.'s wartime manufacturing. He also, according to the New York Times, stated in July, 1948 that, in order to help with the conservation of steel after the end of the war, the company would begin making its toys out of plastic; a radical shift from the typical steel based train sets of that time. He is related to the university through his daughter Claire Trisch Geddes, the first Dean of Women at WestConn.

According to A.C. Gilbert's book, "The Man Who Lives in Paradise": "One of the mainstays of the company came to New Haven as Sales Mangager in 1924. This was Herman L. Trisch, who had started with the Mysto Manufacturing Company as as supervisor of demonstrators back in 1915. The next year he bacame a salesman in the northwest territory, and then in the Pacific Coast territory. It was during this time that I almost made a serious mistake without realizing it." Because of Trisch's quiet demeanor, Gilbert had contemplated letting Trisch go but was convinced of Trish's value as one of the "best salsesmen" by one of his colleagues. Trisch was sent by Gilbert to run the San Francisco office and later ran the Chicago office. Trisch was promoted to director in 1930, VP in 1940 and executive VP in 1948. ("The Man Who Lives in Paradise," pgs. 185-187)

Ancestry Herman L. Trisch Mother: Herman L. Trisch wife:


1 Linear Feet ( , 2 boxes)

Language of Materials



A collection of materials from the A.C. Gilbert Company documenting their activity during World War II compiled by H. L. Trisch.


Folders are arranged chronologically and by subject matter.

Files are grouped into two series:

I. History
II. War Department Negotiated and Renegotiated Contracts

The materials were contained in four binders; the first two make up the War Production series and the second two make up the War Materiel Contribution series. In guilded stamping each binder reads "Gilbert's Contributions to World War II", The all are labeled in chalk "HLT" on the bottom right hand front corner. The first two binders are marked in chalk on the spine "History - War 1940-43 vol I" and "History - War 1944-45 vol II"; the front covers of the first two binders have in gold stamping the volume number and Trisch written in chalk. The third and fourth binders differ slightly. The third binder is marked in chalk on the spine: "1944 World War II Contributions Negotiate 3"; the fourth is marked on the spine: "HLT 1945, War Renegotiations" - it's cover contains in gold stamping "Vol. III."

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were given to the Archives by Dr. Rich Hanley of Quinnipiac University who obtained the materials from WestConn facutly in the early 2000s for use in a CPTV documentary on Connecticut in World War II. The materials were returned to WestConn in 2016.

The H.L. Trisch; A.C. Gilbert Company World War II Records
Lynn Schoenbeck
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Western Connecticut State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Haas Library
181 White St
Danbury 06810 USA US
203.837.8322 (Fax)