Bliley Electric Company collection becomes permanent part of archives (1930-1998)
Thursday Dec 14th, 2023
Here is your very, very rare, “Found in the Archives” blog post for 2023! I write to you on this occasion to commemorate a very special donor named Charles A. Bliley. Chuck donated his collection of materials relating to his family’s local company, Bliley Electric Company, founded by Frank Dawson Bliley. The collection came into the archives in September of 2022 as a loan, and recently it was absorbed into the archive as a permanent collection. Pictured is Chuck standing with his donation in our archives.
Photographer, KayAnn Warner
In 1930, Frank Dawson Bliley created his business, Bliley Electric, stemming from a lifelong hobby interest in amateur radio. The company created predominately quartz oscillating crystals that enabled radio transmitters to precisely control their transmitter’s frequency. Quartz crystals have a unique quality that he was able to take advantage of, called the “piezoelectric effect”. The team precisely cut thin slices from the natural quartz crystals and put them between two conductive metal plates connected to a radio transmitter.
Frank Dawson Bliley, provided by Chuck Bliley, 1924
Bliley Electric Company Collection
Above is a physical representation found in the Collection of a later model crystal unit as well as advertisement for an earlier model.
The Bliley business soared during what would be considered the worst economic downturn America has experienced. The Great Depression seemed to feed the small business because by this 1938 photograph (below) the business had bloomed to not only a high number of employees, but also exhibited fantastic diversity! Within the collection, I found a box labeled, “UNION STATION – 1945 FACTORY TOUR” and the number of women working and photographed was amazing to see. However, many returned to their former lives at the end of the war, and some continued their careers until retirement.
Bliley Electric Company Collection, 40 employees at Union Station, 1938
When America entered WWII “the government found itself in urgent need of millions of quartz oscillating crystals for military communications. During the first year of the war, Blileys largely ‘carried the ball’ for the U.S. Signal Corps as far as crystal production was concerned.”12 The company went from employing fewer than 70 local employees (encompassing the entire second floor of Union Station) to needing to build a second location on West 12th St. and employing 1,300 to 1,400 people!
Bliley Electric Company Collection
The business stood as a family-run organization until 1998 when it was sold to Roger Richards who renamed the company Bliley Technologies. Then most recently, it was acquired by Kyocera, a Japanese company. Currently located at 2545 W. Grandview Blvd., Erie, PA, Kyocera said it will continue Bliley production here in Erie as well as its products.
As of October 5th, Penn State Behrend reported, “Kyocera AVX….is planning to build an approximately 50,000-square-foot production facility in Knowledge Park at Penn State Behrend. The facility will serve as a corporate headquarters and manufacturing base for a new division created by Kyocera’s purchase of Bliley Technologies, an Erie-based company that manufactures crystal oscillators and low-noise frequency-control products for the aerospace, defense, and commercial satellite industries.”3
Chuck has been a fantastic archives donor. He curated, processed, digitized, and archived the entire collection himself which I can say I have never seen before. It is a tremendous help for our end as we have only 1 processor and 800+ collections and 100+ acquisitions a year. Chuck’s efforts will help us in a unique and beautiful way. Any future researcher will know not just who Chuck was but will value his meticulous detail and will truly feel his love and appreciation for his family’s history.
Through countless emails and phone calls he and I naturally developed a camaraderie. It has been an immense pleasure to know a donor like I know Chuck.
For more information on the company’s history, visit Chuck’s Web site at www.Bliley.net/XTAL.
1 Bliley Handbook
2 Bliley Electric Company Collection/Erie County Historical Society/Hagen History Center, 2022.76,