Textile factory executive Walter Hinckley Bradley began his career on the factory floor in the Wamsutta mills, working his way up to Superintendent of the mill in Androscoggin, Maine. In 1916, while employed at the Pepperell Manufacturing Company, Bradley traveled to Japan and China as a consultant for the Boston industrial engineering firm Lockwood, Greene & Co.
The firm worked with Bradley to build and equip a large mill for the Yu Yuen Textile Company in Tientsin, China. The firm later used images of the mill in their 1918 advertising campaign, noting their use of the latest technology. Bradley’s 1916 passport extension lists his address as the Palace Hotel, Shanghai, China. Walter definitely needed to have his best top hat with him on such an important business trip, so it is no surprise that a large decal from the Palace Hotel appears on the custom traveling case made for his hat. Although he was working until at least 1916 Mr. Bradley served in the Navy by the end of the First World War, mustering out in 1919. In 1925 he married YMCA worker Florence Royer, whose hat is in the Work section of the exhibition.