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MS063: Higgins Family Papers

Identifier: MS063

Scope and Contents

This collection is organized in three series: Milton P. Higgins, Aldus C. Higgins, and Milton P. Higgins II. See introductory material under each series for more detailed description. Series I, records of Milton P. Higgins, contains patents and patent-related materials, some writings of Mr. Higgins, and papers related to Washburn Shops. Series II, records of Aldus C. Higgins, is primarily papers about Norton Company and the building of Higgins House. There are also drawings of Aldus Higgins from his days as a student at WPI. There are also photographs and slides of Higgins House when the family was living there. Photographs in the 9 1/2" X 12 1/2" drop-front box (Box 9) are of both the exterior and interior of Higgins House, as well as some of the Higgins family. These are loosely organized in folders. Series III, records of Milton P. Higgins, contains many speeches Mr. Higgins gave, and other papers related to Norton Company. There are also papers related to other Worcester organizations Mr. Higgins was involved in, honors he received, articles about him, and his own writings about his life.


  • 1870 - 1998


Biographical / Historical

Milton Prince Higgins was born in Maine in 1842. He left home at the age of 17 and served an apprenticeship at the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester, New Hampshire. He put himself through school at Dartmouth College, graduating from the Chandler Scientific School in 1868. He was employed at Washburn & Moen Company in Worcester, and there met Charles Hill Morgan, who asked him to become the first superintendent of WPI's newly opened Washburn Shops, which provided practical shop training for WPI's young men. He served in this capacity for twenty-eight years. In 1896, Mr. Higgins resigned as superintendent, and devoted himself to various business ventures, one of which was Norton Emery Wheel Company, of which he had been a founder in 1885.

In 1903, Mr. Higgins became a trustee of the Institute. He devoted the later years of his life to establishing Worcester's Independent Trade School, to further his lifelong goal of providing practical education to young men. He died in 1912. Aldus Chapin Higgins, son of Milton Higgins and his wife Katherine, was born in Worcester in 1872. He graduated from Tech (WPI) in 1893. He received a law degree from the National University Law School in Washington, D.C. In 1901, he began working for Norton Company as general counsel, and later became manager of the abrasive plants. In 1913, he was elected secretary and general counsel for Norton, and six years later became treasurer and then director.

In 1933, he became president and in 1941 chairman of the board of directors. Mr. Higgins invented a water-cooled electric furnace in which Alundum was made, and won the John Scott medal for exceptional achievement in mechanical arts in 1914. Mr. Higgins was a life trustee of WPI. Mr. Higgins bought land off West Street and Salisbury Street and planned a house modeled on the Compton Wyngates estate built in the 1500s in England. The house was completed in 1923, and Mr. Higgins and his wife, Mary, lived there until Aldus's death in 1948. His wife continued to live there until her death, at which time Higgins House was willed to WPI. Milton P. Higgins II, son of Aldus C. Higgins and his first wife, Edgenie, was born in 1903. He graduated from Harvard University. He worked at Norton Company, successively becoming Worcester plant assistant manager of abrasive production, treasurer, executive vice-president, and president. Mr. Higgins received an honorary degree of doctor of engineering from WPI in 1955. He became a life memiber of the WPI Board of Trustees in 1955. Mr. Higgins was involved in many civic organizations in Worcester. He died in 1997.


4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



These are papers and photographs of three generations of the Higgins family: Millton P. Higgins, first superintendent of WPI's Washburn Shops and one of the founders of Norton Company; his son Aldus, President of Norton Company and owner of WPI's Higgins House; and Aldus's son Milton P. Higgins II, also President of Norton Company and a life member of WPI's Board of Trustees.

Higgins Family Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the WPI Manuscript Collections Repository

100 Institute Rd
George C. Gordon Library
Worcester MA 01609 USA