Until the mid-20th century, the Simplex Wire & Cable Company on Sidney Street was one of the largest manufacturers in Cambridge. Founded in Boston in 1840, Simplex moved to Cambridge in 1916 and manufactured electrical appliances and wire in a multi-building complex near Lafayette Square. MIT bought the property after the company moved to New Hampshire in 1970; University Park now occupies the site.
This collection holds 18 issues from 1945 of the Simplex Pennant, the company’s employee newsletter that gives us an authentic glimpse into daily life in Cambridge during the 1940s.
Dedicated to manufacturing wires and cables for electrical use, Simplex Wire & Cable rose in the industry as an innovator, developing a submarine cable with a significantly longer lifespan. This invention came in handy as war broke out once again in 1939. Simplex became a main supplier of telecommunications cable to the US Army and Navy.
1945 was a pivotal year in World War II from Hitler’s defeat to VE Day. Woven into the Pennant’s committee reports are hints as to what was going on in the wider world.
As the war raged on, The Pennant was there to capture the goings-on of domestic life and the war effort. The newsletter included birthday and wedding anniversary announcements as well as updates on enlisted employees or relatives.
It also featured cartoon reminders of attendance and safety precautions to keep morale and productivity up.
Come take a step back in time and explore the Simplex Pennant Collection! View the collection finding aid here. You can also take a look at selected pages from issues of the Simplex Pennant, digitized and available on our Flickr page.