Marion Mallory Papers

Identifier: 98-34

Scope and Contents

A majority of the Marion Mallory Papers consists of records of Mallory's businesses, Mallory Research Company and Mallory Electric Corporation. Records include original patents that describe automotive parts developed by Marion Mallory and Marion "Boots" Mallory, Jr. beginning in the 1920s. Most of the patents were filed in the United States; a small number were also filed in foreign countries, including Great Britain, France, Germany, and Canada. Additional correspondence, photographs, some minutes, and clippings document the business, its move from Toledo, Ohio to Detroit, Michigan, and, eventually, to Carson City, Nevada. Although much of the collection consists of original documents, some photocopies and reproductions of originals are included. A scrapbook documenting some of Mallory's inventions and business dealings and a few miscellaneous documents and newsletters were also received with the collection.

The collection also contains a small amount of information and materials about the Mallory family. This is primarily comprised of photographs of Jean and Boots Mallory as well as photographs of their homes in Florida, Detroit, and a cottage they owned on Higgins Lake in Roscommon, Michigan. Some correspondence is included and is in the form of letters from Mallory to his children, Jean and Boots.


  • 1907-2000


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Historical Note

Marion Mallory, Sr. was born on April 4, 1893 in Nevada, Missouri. He had only a fourth-grade education but a natural talent for mechanical things and identifying the shortcomings of the current designs. Mallory originally worked as a mechanic for the Harley Davidson firm in Wichita, Kansas, but by 1919 had been inventing and patenting components for automobiles and other motorized vehicles. He has held hundreds of patents in the automotive field since 1916. He first held patents under his own name, and then the name Mallory Research Company. After 1925, all of his patents were under the name Mallory Electric Corporation.

His patents are on items such as electrical systems, shock absorbers, internal combustion engines, ignition coils, times, and systems, governors, air inlet devices, carburetors, and even children's toy race tracks. Mallory's specialty was ignitions, but also invented a breakerless magneto and improved distributors and coils. His patents are held in several countries including the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany. Many of the patents have been licensed to other manufacturers. For many years, Mallory was second only to Thomas Edison in patent holdings.

Mallory married his secretary, Louise, and they had two children: Marion "Boots" Mallory, Jr. and Jean L. Mallory. Both children worked in the Mallory plant throughout their adult lives. Mallory remained president of the company until his retirement in 1959, leaving the entire company to his son, Boots. Mallory died a the age of 70 on December 26, 1963 in Michigan.

Mallory Electric Corporation was started at 1742 Nicholas Building in Toledo, Ohio. It was incorporated in 1925 Mallory in Delaware. In August 1935, the company unincorporated, moved to Detroit, Michigan, and reincorporated in Michigan. The new company was located at 12416 Cloverdale Avenue. The move was made because they quickly outgrew their previous facility and their close ties to the Ford Motor Company. Mallory was a close friend of Henry Ford. Together they designed the ignition system for the 1932 Ford V8. Mallory supplied much of the "original-equipment" ignition components for Ford through 1948, when Ford built his own manufacturing facility. During this time, Mallory also had branch offices at 1819 Broadway in New York City, 1124 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and 1835 S. Hope Street in Los Angeles. Additionally, the company also had a warehouse on Vancouver Avenue and PMRR in Detroit.

Since Mallory founded his company, it has been involved in the development and sponsorship of auto racing. The first Mallory ignition system won the Pikes Peak Hill Climb on a Stutz in 1926. He was particularly active in the 1930s at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wilbur Shaw, well-known race car driver and eventual president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, finished second there in 1933 while driving the No. 17 "Mallory Special" with a top speed of 100 MPH. Mallory continued to set records at The Brickyard for many years, including winning more than 16 consecutive races between 1961 and 1983. In 1958, a Mallory equipped Thunderbird established a new Century Club record of 152 MPH at Daytona Beach.

Beginning in the 1940s, the Mallorys visited Nevada several times. By the late 1960s, Mallory Electric began facing trouble in Detroit, including a too-small plant, rising auto labor union costs, and crime in the area. In 1969, Boots made the decision to move the operation to Carson City, Nevada. Ten of the company's 100 employees and their families moved from Michigan to Nevada to help establish the company in Nevada. Within a short period of time, the entire company was located at what was then 1801 Oregon Street in Carson City. In 1973, a 13,000 square foot addition was constructed, the first of many additions. The Mallorys sold the company to W. R. Grace, Inc. in 1976, with Boots retained as company president. Tragically, Boots was killed in a car accident in Washoe Valley on August 12, 1978 at the age of 48.

Just prior to his death, Boots established a charitable trust, called Uni-Trust, as a way to help people within the state of Nevada. In 1989, Boots' sister, Jean, gave a total of $1.6 million to the Carson-Tahoe Hospital, the University of Nevada, Reno, the American Heart Association Nevada Affiliate, and the American Cancer Society. This was just the beginning of charitable giving by the family. In July 1991, Jean Mallory founded the Mallory Foundation. In the following years, the foundation gave to a number of organizations, including the University of Nevada, Reno. Jean Mallory died on March 12, 2002.

[Much of the above note is taken from "The History of Mallory, Inc." by Graham W. Fordyce]


3.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



Includes official copies and photocopies of patents issued to Mallory in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and France between 1919-1954 for Mallory's automotive inventions; text explaining the importance of several auto parts invented by Mallory; memos; newsletter article about an exhibit featuring Mallory's inventions at the University of Nevada, Reno; a scrapbook (1926-1934) of clippings, brochures, advertisements, and photographs related to Mallory's inventions and business, the Mallory Electric Corporation; Mallory companies history; and Mallory family history. Material from 1907-2000.


The Marion Mallory Papers are divided into the following series: 1) U.S. Patents; 2) Foreign Patents; 3) Marion Family History; 4) Miscellaneous; 5) Scrapbook; 6) Mallory Companies History

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Jean Mallory in 1994. Additional material donated by the Mallory Foundation in January 2009 and July 2018.

Separated Materials

Photographs have been transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P1998-30.

Guide to the Marion Mallory Papers
Diane Pickett and Susan Searcy
November 30, 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)