Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Friends of Pine Mountain
Joseph Smith Duncan Jr. (1858-1950) 

Joseph Smith Duncan Board

Addressograph patented by J.S. Duncan. (Earliest known advertisement for Addressograph 1896 model.) Public domain via Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. [pmss_Addressograph_1896.jpg]

TAGS: Joseph Smith Duncan, Joseph S. Duncan, Addressograph, donors, inventors, labeling machines, Darwin D. Martin, Board of Trustees, Boys House, donor cultivation, Franklin Institute Award, Addressograph International, Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation, AM International, YMCA Camp Duncan


Donor in 1919, 1920s, 1936

[NOTE: Confirmation is yet to be made that Joseph Smith Duncan served as a member of the PMSS Board of Trustees.]

Joseph Smith Duncan generously donated to the Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1919, 1920s, and 1936. He was well-known as the inventor of the Addressograph, an automatic labeling machine that could address from 100 to 8,000 names in a printing session depending on the model.


The earliest mentions of Joseph Smith Duncan found in the PMSS Archives are in Trustee Darwin D. Martin‘s account of the School’s first on-campus board meeting in 1919 and in the October 1919 issue of Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School (page 2). Both documents report Duncan’s funding of Boys’ House construction, a building that would be used as a dormitory during the School’s boarding school era. It has not yet been determined how Duncan became interested in so generously supporting the Pine Mountain Settlement School at that time. 

The March 1922 Notes (page 3) reports a $15,000 gift for PMSS’s Endowment Fund, doubling its size. “We are grateful [more] than words can tell for this thoughtful  generosity, which helps us at our weakest point.”

During the year of 1927, PMSS staff and board members worked to encourage Duncan to visit Pine Mountain with a goal of continuing his interest in the School. A May 1927 letter from Darwin D. Martin informed then-Director Ethel de Long Zande that he

…had a most satisfactory interview with J.S. Duncan, former president Addressograph Co., now retired, residence…Chicago, age about 70. I showed him photographs of children, boys’ dormitory, etc., and inspired him with a desire to visit the school this fall….

Later, in an October 1927 letter, Martin pointed out to Zande the urgency of a meeting with Duncan in Chicago by either C.N. Manning (a PMSS board member) or someone like Mrs. Celia Cathcart Holton. “I suggest a visit to Mr. Duncan. He is very receptive of information….” However, Duncan’s response to Martin was to politely decline not only the invitation to visit but to become a member of the Advisory Committee:

Glad indeed to have [your letter] of the 28th, reminding me of my promise to make a trip to Pine Mountain.

This would be a very pleasant trip to the end of the good roads but I am afraid the balance of the journey would be rather bad going, especially for Mrs. Duncan. However, I am in hopes that in the next year or two the roads will have been improved so that we can make the trip without any serious inconvenience.

…. In regard to putting my name on your Advisory Committee, I hesitate to have you do this as I am not at all acquainted with the situation down there and would be of little use to the Committee. I might add that after I once visit the school, I might consider it more favorably. ….

In any case, Ethel Zande responded to Martin, describing Duncan as “a solid friend of the school,” who had already interviewed with Miss Evelyn K. Wells, Mrs. Holton, Martin, and herself. Even though Mr. Manning would be seeing him, she understood “his wish not to be connected officially until he knows the work from first-hand acquaintance.”

In addition to a gift to the School of the Addressograph and funding of the construction of Boys’ House and the Endowment Fund, Duncan is recorded in the director’s 1937-1938 financial report to the Board of Trustees as having established the J.S. Duncan Fund for Pine Mountain School in 1936. It is an independent foundation that continues to benefit the School to this day.

JOSEPH SMITH DUNCAN: The Addressograph at Pine Mountain

The first mention of the Addressograph in the PMSS Collections was in a description of the first PMSS Board of Trustees’ meeting on the School’s premises in October 1919. Among several reports from members was the announcement that J.S. Duncan, inventor of the Addressograph, had recently contributed funds “for a boys’ house” (later known as the Library).

References to the Addressograph also appear in two 1926 documents: an unsigned copy of a March letter to Katherine Pettit and a record of support and budget for that year written by Evelyn K. Wells. Both refer to a gift of an Addressograph to the School’s office, which, as Wells’ record states, “closed a long period of labor at envelopes directed by hand or typewriter, and meant a tremendous easement in getting out our literature.”

It is likely that Pine Mountain’s labeling machine, donated by Duncan, was the electrically-operated F2 Addressograph that was marketed in the 1920s. The machine used embossed metal address plates to print addresses in a typewriter font through an inked ribbon.

JOSEPH SMITH DUNCAN: Inventing the Addressograph

Joseph Smith Duncan, an inventor and manufacturer in Sioux City, Iowa, was issued the first U.S. patent for an addressing machine in 1896, after working to improve on his earlier machines since 1892. He formed the Addressograph International Company in 1896 and went on to invent the Dupligraph, Graphotype, and Icecubator. At the height of his career, he was living and working in Chicago, although his company had offices in other large U.S. cities, with a total of more than 1,000 employees.

For his invention of the Addressograph, Duncan was a recipient of the Franklin Institute Award in 1903, from a prestigious Philadelphia institute that continues today to recognize “outstanding achievements in science, technology, and industry around the world.”

Several years after Duncan sold the Addressograph Company and retired in 1926, the company merged with American Multigraph of Cleveland, Ohio, The resultant Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation manufactured “highly efficient Addressograph and duplicating machines.” It became “one of the best-known companies in business annals…[and] a darling of Wall Street…,” according to The New York Times in its 1982 article* about the company’s history.

 In 1978 the corporate headquarters moved from Cleveland to Los Angeles, California, and the corporation name changed in 1979 to AM International, Inc. Various versions of the Addressograph were sold through the years until the 1980s. The firm filed for bankruptcy in 1982 under Chapter 11, after “a desperate effort to migrate from the mechanical to the electronic age.”

*(“AM’s Brightest Years Now Dim Memories” New York Times, April 15, 1982.)


Among his charitable gifts was a donation of land that he purchased in 1921 to Chicago’s YMCA for a summer camp named after him: YMCA Camp Duncan. The camp gave city boys a chance to learn about nature through outdoor programs. Part of each day was spent working for a local farmer to pay for their camping fees. After over 100 years in operation, Camp Duncan currently provides a year-round camp for both boys and girls.

He also gave approximately $50,000 to the West Side YMCA in Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s.


Joseph Smith Duncan was born in Florence, Pennsylvania, on April 5, 1858. His father, Joseph Smith Duncan Sr., was born in 1831 and died on February 3, 1858, at age 26, two months before his son was born.

His mother, Mary Elizabeth Guy Duncan (1834-1915) later married a farmer, Jacob Johnston (1816-1886) in 1866.

Joseph Smith Duncan Jr. had one sibling, Ida Duncan (1855-1864), two step-sisters, and two step-brothers. (The middle name of the father and son, “Smith,” was the maiden name of his paternal grandmother, Jane Smith.)

In 1886, J. S. Duncan, Jr. married Margaret Sullivan (1860-1886) in Woodbury, Iowa. She died three weeks later. His second marriage was to Adelaide Virginia Yochey (1862-1963) in 1888.


Joseph Smith Duncan Jr. died on May 11, 1950, at the age of 92. He was buried in the Duncan Family Room at Rosehill Mausoleum, Chicago, Illinois.


 Joseph Smith Duncan

Alt. Title

 Joseph S. Duncan ; Joseph Duncan ; J.S, Duncan ; Joseph Smith Duncan Jr. ;



Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

 Joseph Smith Duncan, Joseph S. Duncan, Addressograph,

Subject LCSH

Duncan, Joseph Smith, — 1858 – 1950.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2018-12-17 hw (draft)
2022-12-09 aae


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet.


Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Friends




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: BIOGRAPHY. 

Coverage Temporal

1858 – 1982

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Chicago, IL ; Philadelphia, PA ; Cleveland, OH ; Los Angeles, CA ; Florence, PA ; Woodbury, IA ; 


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Joseph Smith Duncan ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Joseph Smith Duncan ;




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

 2024-02-11 aae ;


Internet Sources (Accessed 12 December 2022):

“Addressograph.” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Burns, J.S. “History of the Steward Family: Biographical and Chronological History of the Stewart Family of Western Pennsylvania 1754-1912.” 

“Child’s Plays.” Reader Newsletters: Chicago’s alternative nonprofit newsroom.

“Joseph S. Duncan.” The Franklin Institute Awards.

“Joseph Smith Duncan.” Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Friends. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

“Joseph Smith Duncan.” FamilySearch Family Tree.

“Joseph Smith Duncan.” Find A Grave.

“Joseph Smith Duncan.”

“J.S. Duncan For Pine Mountain School.” 990 report on Instrumentl; Foundation Directory, Chicago, IL.

Kleinfield, N.R. “AM’s Brightest Years Now Dim Memories.” The New York Times, Section D, Page 1. April 15, 1982.

“YMCA Chicago Camp ‘Camp Duncan.’” ttps://

See Also:
BOYS HOUSE (Library)

Return To:


For more information, go to the following sites ( (Accessed 12 December 2022):
“About the Franklin Institute Awards.” The Franklin Institute Philadelphia, PA.

“Addressograph Company, est. 1893.” Made in Chicago Museum: An Industrial History in Everyday Objects.”

“Printing machine: U.S. Patent 1481860.” FPO: Driving IP Forward. See link “View Patent Images” for images of a printing machine filed by Joseph S. Duncan, on August 29, 1921. ttps://