The Hawthorne Works, in Cicero, Illinois, was a large factory complex built by Western Electric starting in 1905 and operating until 1983. It had 45,000 employees at the height of its operations. Besides telephone equipment, the factory produced a wide variety of consumer products, including refrigerators and electric fans. Hawthorne Works was named for Hawthorne, Illinois, a small town that was later incorporated into Cicero. The facility even contained a private railroad to move shipments through the plant to the nearby Burlington Northern Railroad freight depot. Workers regularly used bicycles for transit within the plant. It was purchased in the mid-1980s by the late Donald L. Shoemaker and replaced with a shopping center. One of the original towers remained at the corner of 22nd Street and Cicero Ave.
In addition to its enormous output of telephone equipment, Hawthorne Works was the site of some well-known industrial studies. The Hawthorne effect is named for the works. North American Quality pioneer Joseph Juran referred to the Hawthorne Works as "the seed bed of the Quality Revolution". The career arcs of other notable quality professionals such as Walter Shewhart and Edward Deming also intersected at the Hawthorne Works.
Hawthorne Works Museum
The Hawthorne Works Museum, operated by Morton College, tells the story of the Hawthorne Works facility - its products and its employees. Exhibits include Western Electric products such as telephones, communications and electronics equipment, inventions by Bell Laboratories, local immigrant workers and local history.
In 2014 a book by Dennis Schlagheck and Catherine Lantz was published by Arcadia Publishing. The book draws on the Hawthorne Works Museum to give pictorial history of the plant and its workers.
- Juran (1995). A History of Managing for Quality. ASQC Quality Press. p. 557.
- Weber, Austin (August 1, 2002). "The Hawthorne Works". Assembly Magazine. Retrieved 2007-03-24.
- Western Electric History
- Western Electric Co., from Encyclopedia of Chicago
- Hawthorne Works Museum
- Hawthorne Works book, Lantz & Schlagheck
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