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Henry Booth Collection,
1942-1974

Extent and Forms of Material: 2.5 cubic feet (7 boxes, including one 16mm film and glass plate negatives)
Creator: Henry Booth
Abstract: Papers document Henry Booth’s invention, use and marketing of the PhotoMetriC custom tailoring system.
Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; archivescenter@si.edu ; 202-633-3270; www.americanhistory.si.edu/archives
Collection Number: AC0726
Processing Note: Processed by Jennifer Hecker, August 2000; supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist.
© 2007 by the Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.

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Information for users of the collection

Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an “as needed” basis, as resources allow.
Technical Access: Viewing 16 mm film requires special appointment; please inquire.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use.
Preferred Citation: [Title and date of item], Henry Booth Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXXX

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In-depth information about the collection

Administrative/biographical history
Scope and content
System of arrangement
Acquisition information
Related archival materials
Related artifacts
Access points
Container listing

Administrative/biographical history

Henry Booth was a textile jobber who invented the PhotoMetriC custom tailoring system in the 1940s, an innovation which temporarily revolutionized a small corner of the custom clothing industry.

Henry Booth (1895-1969), son of a Methodist minister, was born in Canada and raised in England where his grandfather, General William Booth, founded the Salvation Army. In 1911, Henry Booth came to the United States from England on the Lusitanian. He worked in the textile industry for a few years; specifically as a manager for John B. Ellison jobbing offices in Portland and Seattle. In 1922 he formed his own firm with Harry Kemp and Robert Walker. By 1929, Booth moved east to New York City in order to pursue his career in the textile industry. He formed Amalgamated Textiles Limited with John and Blake Lawrence. In 1938, Booth met Curt Erwin Forstmann and entered into an agreement whereby Amalgamated Textiles Limited became fabric stylists and sole agents for the Forstmann Woolen Companies.

In the early 1940s, Booth came up with the idea for the PhotoMetriC camera system to be used in the custom tailoring industry. The system consisted of a specially-designed arrangement of nine mirrors. Eight mirrors reflected separate views of the customer and one mirror reflected the customer’s name and other information. These angled mirrors allowed a photograph to be taken which showed the customer from the front, back, side, and top. A slide of this photographic measurement would be sent, along with the customer’s garment order, to the manufacturer. When the order arrived, the tailor would project the customer’s image on a special screen which facilitated the taking of certain physical measurements. With the aid of the PhotoMetriC calculator, the tailor translated the measurements into specifications for a customer-specific garment. When finished, the garment would be mailed directly to the customer’s home. According to testimonials in the collection, the garments fit perfectly the first time, every time. The PhotoMetriC system both saved the tailor money and relieved the customer of the inconvenience of having to return to the tailor again and again for time-consuming fittings, alterations, and adjustments.

The camera which supported this invention needed to be virtually foolproof, enabling the average shop clerk to reliably collect the necessary data. To this end, Booth took his idea to the Eastman Kodak Company, where he worked with Dr. Kenneth Mees, Director of Research and Fred Waller, a camera expert. Waller designed the camera; the remainder of the system design was done by Booth. The PhotoMetriC system made its debut in two Richard Bennett stores in New York City on May 17, 1948. It was subsequently licensed to other select retailers such as: The Custom Gentleman (Englewood, NJ); Nathan’s (Richmond, VA); The Golden Fleece (Point Pleasant Borough, NJ); and Joseph’s (Terre Haute, IN).

Hillandale, a Brooklyn, CT farm which Booth purchased about 1940, was later used to produce hand woven wool fabrics. These fabrics were used extensively by various PhotoMetriC retail outlets. Henry Booth’s son, Robert (b. 1924), took over farm operations circa 1960 and opened a retail outlet on the premises which featured a PhotoMetriC fitting room which provided custom tailoring until the mid-1970s. Today Robert Booth, with his wife, Jimmie, operate the Golden Lamb Buttery Restaurant in Brooklyn, Connecticut full-time.

Patents of Henry Booth:

  • United States Patent: #2,037,192/RE #20,366, “Visible inventory and sales recording device, April 14, 1936
  • United States Patent: #2,547,367, “Method and apparatus for testing fabrics, April 3, 1951
  • United States Patent: #2,547,368, “Cloth rack,” April 3, 1951
  • United States Patent: #2,563,451, “Photographic fitting method,” August 7, 1951
  • United States Patent: #2,624,943, “Proportionally balancing garments,” January 13, 1953
  • United States Patent: #2,664,784,”Apparatus for measuring objects by photography,” January 5, 1954
  • United States Patent: #2, 2,688,188, “Apparatus for proportionally balancing garments,” September 7, 1954

Scope and content

The Henry Booth Collection, 1942-1974, focuses primarily on the PhotoMetriC custom tailoring system. It consists of advertisements, brochures, photographs, glass slides, a 16mm film, correspondence, financial records, meeting minutes, an operating manual, scrapbooks, magazines, and a guest register.


System of arrangement

The collection is arranged into five series.
Series 1: PhotoMetriC Apparatus Materials, 1948-1965
Series 2: PhotoMetriC Advertising and Press Materials, 1942, 1948
Series 3: PhotoMetriC Retail Materials, 1958-1974
Series 4: PhotoMetriC General Business Materials, 1947-1974
Series 5: Hillandale Handweavers, 1960-1962


Acquisition information

This collection was donated to the National Museum of American History by Henry Booth’s son, Robert Booth, in April 2000.


Related archival materials

The Archives Center houses the Jimmie Booth Collection (# 729). Jimmie Booth is the wife of Robert Booth, and she was a buyer for Lord and Taylor.


Related artifacts

A PhotoMetriC camera, stand, and measuring tapes were donated to the Division of Information Technology and Communication, National Museum of American History.


Access points

Subjects/Topical:
Tailoring
Garment cutting
PhotoMetriC (camera system)
Photography-Equipment and supplies
Inventors—1940-1990
Inventions—1920-2000
United States
Fashion

Subjects/Names:
Booth, Virginia
Eastman Kodak Co.
PhotoMetriC Corporation
Hillandale Handweavers
Hillandale Farms
Amalgamated Textiles Limited
Richard Bennett Associates, Inc.

Form/Genre:
Photographs—1940-2000
Photoprints
Pamphlets—1950-2000
Scrapbooks—20th century


Container listing

Box Folder  
    SERIES 1: PhotoMetriC APPARATUS MATERIALS, 1948-1965
1 1 Yonkler, T., Screen for Taking Measurements from Projections, U.S. Patent No. 2,547,425, 1951 April 3
  2 Booth, H., Photographic Fitting Method, U.S. Patent No. 2,563,451, 1951 August 7
  3 Waller, F., Method of Photographically Correcting Photographic Images of Objects, U.S. Patent No. 2,644,780, 1954 January 5
  4 Waller, F., Apparatus for Measuring Objects by Photography, U.S. Patent No. 2,644,784, 1954 January 5
  5 Science Comes to an Ancient Art report on PhotoMetriC process, 1948 April 20
    Diagram of PhotoMetriC room, undated
    Picture of PhotoMetriC camera, undated
    PhotoMetriC Operating Manual, 1955
    PhotoMetriC measurement photos, 1948, undated
    PhotoMetriC measurement photos, 1965
    PhotoMetriC measurement photo, 1960
7   PhotoMetriC measurement slides, circa 1950s
    SERIES 2: PhotoMetriC ADVERTISING AND PRESS MATERIALS, 1942, 1948
1 6 Time, 1948 June 7
4 2 Life, 1948 June 7
  1 Fortune, July 1948
1 6 Popular Science, August 1948
6   Scrapbook, 1948
1 6 PhotoMetriC advertising booklets, undated
5 4 PhotoMetriC advertising posters, undated
1 6 Opening announcement for new PhotoMetriC location in New Jersey, undated
    Advertising photos, undated
    Copy of film canister and mailing label, 1962
  OF 726.1 Science Comes to an Ancient Art, 1942 (16mm film)
    SERIES 3: PhotoMetriC RETAIL MATERIALS, 1958-1974
1 7 Copy of instructions for PhotoMetriC order taker/operator, undated
    PhotoMetriC Alteration Tickets, undated
    PhotoMetriC lab Assignment of Order Numbers forms, undated
    PhotoMetriC Work Sheets, undated
5 1 Order forms for PhotoMetriC garment, undated
  2 Order forms for PhotoMetriC garments, undated
1 7 Postcards for notice of shipment to customer, undated
  8 Henry Booth's personal PhotoMetriC garment orders and memos, 1958-1969
1 8 Photograph of Henry Booth's PhotoMetriC measurement session, undated
2 1 PhotoMetric price chart, 1968 June 27
    PhotoMetriC price chart, December 1968
    PhotoMetriC price chart (revised), December 1968
    PhotoMetriC price chart, January 1971
    PhotoMetriC style book, Dimensions in Fashion, 1964
    PhotoMetriC style book, 1970
  2 PhotoMetriC style book, 1972
    PhotoMetriC style book, 1974
  3 Price List Fall, 1974
    Photos of Tom James store probably a PhotoMetriC outlet, circa 1970s
    SERIES 4: PhotoMetriC GENERAL BUSINESS MATERIALS, 1947-1974
  5 Testimonial letters, 1947-1948
5   PhotoMetriC Customer Opinion scrapbook, 1947-1948
2 4 PhotoMetriC Corporation memos and financial records, May 1962 to August 1969
  5 PhotoMetriC and YOU booklets, undated
    What A Retailer Wants To Know About The PhotoMetriC Process brochures, undated
4   Richard Bennett Inc. meeting scrapbook, circa 1953
2 5 Resume of the PhotoMetriC Conference, 1963 February 25-26
    PhotoMetriC Sales Meeting packet, 21 September 1974
    SERIES 5: HILLANDALE HANDWEAVERS, 1960-1962
3 1 Connecticut Life, May 1960
    Hillandale guest register, 1960 September 26 to 1962 September 8
2 6 Telegrams to Robert Booth, 12 October 1960
3 2 American Fabrics, Spring/Summer 1962
    Poster version of American Fabrics article, Spring-Summer 1962
5 3 Christian Science Monitor page, 1964 December 22
2 6 Copies of Christian Science Monitor article, 1964 December 22
    Photos of Hillandale/PhotoMetriC dinner, December 1964
    Hillandale cloth brand labels and paper tag, undated

 

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Last Update: 22 Jun 2009

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