Hamilton Stories: Bill Ahearn

Hamilton Stories: An Oral History, was a six-event speaker series at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in 2015 and early 2016, that commemorated the occupational heritage and process of making wood type. Founded in Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1880, the Hamilton Manufacturing Company became the largest manufacturer of wood type in the United States. As a local employer and an enduring legacy, Hamilton established a culture of quality, pride and innovation that influenced the community to this day.

Hamilton Stories was established to preserve the stories of six former Hamilton employees who worked in the company’s wood type cutting area. Each event featured one guest speaker who shared his or her personal experience at the company. The Museum Director interviewed each speaker with a series of questions to reveal their experiences and guide audience members through the process of creating wood type. Beginning with harvesting wood, cutting letterforms on a pantograph and finally trimming finished pieces each person shared his or her unique story. Commemorative posters were created at each event were designed for the speaker series and printed at the museum. If you would like to purchase any of the commemorative posters they are available through Hamilton Dry Goods.

On April 16, 2016 Jim Moran, the museum director, interviewed Bill Ahearn. Bill was born in June of 1918 and was 98 years old at the time of his interview. He started at the Hamilton Manufacturing Company in 1940 and worked there 43 years. He started in the juvenile department, but most of his time spent at the Hamilton Manufacturing Company was working in the machine repair department. You can hear more of his story in the video from the event. Watch it on our YouTube channel.

Check out the program page for more information about this series. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.