Woodruff file

U.S. Patent No. 76,287, issued to E. W. Woodruff and George C. Green, March 31, 1868 (in Record Group 241, Records of the Patent Office, National Archives). Found in “The Era of the Woodruff File” by Victor Gondos Jr. in American Archivist 19, no. 4 (October 1956) on p. 307. n. a storage box designed to slide into and be removed from an opening in a cabinet in which folded documents are held upright through the use of an adjustable brace


Although Edmund Whiting Woodruff and George C. Green were both issued the original patent for their “Woodruff & Green Paper-File” on March 31, 1868, Green’s name never appears in the common names for these files, which are also known as Woodruff file holders, Woodruff’s file holders, or bayonet files. Exactly two weeks after the issuing of Woodruff and Green’s patent, two other men E. J. Smith and B. H. Cheever, were issued Patent No. 76,834 for a very similar but less technically sophisticated “Bill & Paper File.” Other manufacturers have also made versions of these filing systems, but the name Woodruff remains attached to all of these. Originally, Woodruff files were made primarily of wood, but in later years they were made entirely of steel. These files were used most commonly for the storage of case files, sometimes wrapped in red tape or paper sleeves. These file boxes usually came in one size, about 4 inches wide, 10 inches high, and 12 inches deep (approximately 10 X 25.5 X 30.5 cm), but these could be made to order in different sizes. These filing systems were sold from the 1860s until at least 1928. They remain in use in the United States, particularly for the continuing storage of court case files, and often because the conservation work required to humidify and slowly flatten the records is daunting.