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Featherbone Company Records Collection

Identifier: RH-A-1572

Scope and Contents

Edward K. Warren was born in Vermont in 1847 and moved to Three Oaks in Berrien County, Michigan in 1858 with his parents. In 1883, Edward established the Warren Featherbone Company after recognizing a market for improved corset materials. After securing a patent, Edward began producing "featherbone," an alternative to pricey and frail whalebone. Featherbone was made from pointer feathers discarded by regional feather duster factories. Warren opened his first featherbone factory in Three Oaks. Warren branched out his business to include production of whips and corsets.

Due to changing fashion styles, Warren continued to offer new products and promotions that included bustles, bust extenders, featherbone-stiffened fabrics, and collar and belt foundations. To further promote his products, featherbone parlors were opened in major cities where fashion shows were offered to demonstrate the uses of his products to customers. It was not long after the turn of the century that fashions no longer required featherbone. Warren anticipated this change and made plans to switch his manufacturing facilities to making other millinery items such as ribbon, elastic, and braid.

The Warren Featherbone Company continued on for more than 125 years with various ventures including manufacturing, banking, agriculture, and investments. It was able to continue its operations through major changes in society, industry, and technology.

Before starting the Warren Featherbone Company, Edward K. Warren was a partner in two different firms: McKie & Warren and Chamberlain, Warren & Hatfield (later to become the Three Oaks Exchange).

The American Featherbone Company was based in Chicago and was the defendant is several of the Warren Featherbone Company's patent infringement lawsuits involving the featherbone manufacturing process.

The Babson's Reports most likely belonged to C.K. Warren, as his initials are written on several of them.


  • Record Keeping: 1835-1934



73.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



The collection consists of records relating to the Featherbone Company dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Often referred to as the Featherbone Company Records, the collection contains records relating to Edward K. Warren of Three Oaks, Michigan, who invented featherbone and founded the Warren Featherbone Company and the Warren Featherbone Whip Company. Other items in the collection relate to similar companies like the Chicago-based American Featherbone Company.

Physical Description

For the most part the ledgers are in good condition and vary in size.

Featherbone Company Records Collection Finding Aid
In Progress
Suzanne Grimmer
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490