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Plastics History Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Title: Plastics History Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1943-2012
Quantity: 2 linear ft.
Abstract: Miscellaneous items relating to the history of the plastics industry and notable figures in plastics research, development and manufacturing. Includes printed material, photographs, technical papers, interviews, and audiovisual material.
Language: English, French
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

In 2008 the National Plastics Center & Museum in Leominster, Massachusetts transferred the majority of its holdings to Syracuse University's Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). The collections include more than 40 manuscript collections from organizations and individuals, as well as several thousand plastics artifacts. The Plastics History Collection includes miscellaneous materials not directly associated with those other collections but pertinent to the history of plastics.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Plastics History Collection is comprised of a range of materials relating to the history of the plastics industry and support organizations and notable individuals.

Documentaries consists of digital recordings of six productions of varying length on Bakelite, polyethylene, and other plastics-related topics.

Exhibitions contain materials related to the National Plastics Exposition, ranging from the 1960s to the 2000s.

Interviews and biographies consists of biographies of and interviews with members of the "Plastics Pioneers," notable figures in the industry. The interviews were originally recorded in 1952 on 1/4" reel tapes (now at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History) and digitized by the donor.

Photographs contain images of machinery and products related to Dupont and Star Manufacturer Co.

Professional organizations contain printed material from the Plastics Historical Society, the Society of Plastics Engineers, the Society of the Plastics Industry, and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Technical papers contains professional papers written by engineers on plastics molding and materials.

Miscellaneous contains awards, bibliographies, miscellaneous printed material, including some on Monsanto's House of the Future.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Alphabetical by subject and chronologically within a folder.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Other general plastics-related collections include the Plastics Artifact Collection and the Plastics Product Literature Collection. For a complete listing of all plastics-related collections held by Special Collections Research Center, please refer to the SCRC Subject Index .

Special Collections Research Center also maintains a comprehensive website which provides historical information on companies, products and individuals. The website serves as a portal for access to digital images of artifacts, print materials, company histories, finding aids for our manuscript collections, and more. Please visit the Plastics Collection website at

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Subject Headings


Anderson, Norman.
Beall, Glenn L.
Kline, Gordon M. (Gordon Mabey), 1903-1996.
Thomas, Islyn.

Corporate Bodies

Imperial Chemical Industries, ltd.
Monsanto Company.
Plastics Hall of Fame.
Plastics Historical Society.
Plastics Industries Technical Institute.
Society of Plastics Engineers.
Society of the Plastics Industry.
University of Massachusetts at Lowell .


Bakelite -- History.
Plastics -- History.
Plastics industry and trade.
Polyethylene -- History.

Genres and Forms

45 rpm records.
Documentary film.
Examinations (documents)
Technical drawings.
Technical reports.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Plastics History Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Substantial portions of collection, including Plastics Pioneers interviews, gift of Glenn Beall.

Additional items, gift of numerous donors over the years.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 9 Aug 2010
Revision history: 25 April 2011 - added material and updated the finding aid (CEG); 28 Oct 2011 - added Kline medal (MRC); 04 Sept 2012 - added material, removed misc printed material to Plastics Product Literature Coll. and updated finding aid (SDG); 9 Sep 2014 - additions (MRC); 2 Oct 2015 - Plastics Industries Technical Institute material added, M15-050 (MRC); 23 Mar 2016 - biographies, Glenn Beall paper (MRC)

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Dates given are, as well as can be determined, the original recording dates of the productions. The transfer to DVD was done in 2010 by Special Collections Research Center.
Box 1 All Things Bakelite 1937 - interview and plant tour of the manufacturing facilities of Bakelite (phenol formaldehyde), discovered by Leo Baekeland in 1907. (ID#: phc_012)
Box 1 Discovery of Polyethylene circa 1950 - recreation of events; features many employees of Imperial Chemical Industries, ltd. who were involved in the discovery and subsequent production and development (ID#: phc_013)
Box 1 Modern Marvels: Plastics (A&E/History Channel) circa 1994 - includes cameo by plastics expert Jeff Meikle and some comments on plastics' impact on the environment (ID#: phc_014)
Box 1 To Shape Tomorrow / The Fourth Kingdom 1930s (ID#: phc_015)
"To Shape Tomorrow" follows "befuddled Mr. Bagshot" throughout his day, highlighting how different his life would be without plastics. Produced sometime in the 1930s, the film promotes the wonderful things that could be made by the then-new processes of shell molding, thermoforming, laminated Formica, extrusion of PVC pipe and sheets, and the molding of phonograph records.
"The Fourth Kingdom" is billed as "the birth of the age of plastics."
Box 1 Understanding Plastics 2012 (ID#: phc_016)
Teachers' guide (29.5 minutes), to provide a clear understanding of the basic process used to convert molding materials into finished products. Prepared by the University of Wisconsin-Stout and also distributed by the Milwaukee SPE. In addtion to plastics processes, it considers the history and growth of the plastics industry, problems related to the disposal of discarded plastics, and some of the advantages of using plastics in the manufacture of many consumer products.
National Plastics Exposition
Box 1 Audio recordings 1966 - 45 rpm disk recording of Plastic by Shel Silverstein performed by the Serendipity Singers distributed by Monsanto (ID#: phc_001)
Box 1 Directories 2003 - official exposition and conference directory
Box 1 Photographs 1985 - photo of opening of NPE 85
Box 1 Programs and promotional materials 1948, 1985, 1988, 1997, 2000 2012
Box 1 Souvenirs 1961
Notepad featuring on cover the Marlex exhibit at the 9th National Plastics Exposition. The exhibit was prepared by Garnder displays for the plastics sales division of Phillips Chemical Company.
Interviews and biographies
Box 1 Gigliotti, Michael
Box 1 Heckman, Jerome H.
Box 1 Kretzschmar, John
Box 1 Nissel, Frank
Box 1 Schwab, Fred E.
Box 1 Sherman, Robert W.
Box 1 Spaak, Albert
Box 1 Wayrick, Isobel
Box 1 Winfield, Armand G.
Box 1 Plastics Pioneers interviews, CD # 1 1952 (1 CD) (ID#: phc_002)
Stuart Landas, Celanese Corporation of America; Sandy Brown, Condensite Company; Allen Brown, Bakelite Company; Frank Shaw, transfer molding; Allen Cole, Bresslin Publishing (Modern Plastics); Walter Rom, Bolton Molding Company; J.J. Greeby, Dow Chemical
Box 1 Plastics Pioneers interviews, CD # 2 1952 (1 CD) (ID#: phc_003)
Garson Meyer, Eastman Kodak; Fred C. Meechum, Northern Industrial Chemical of Boston; Herb Spencer, Durex Plastics and Chemicals; Hans W. Wandas, Northern Industrial Chemical of Boston; M.M. McKiver, Megalot Corporation; Charles A. Norris Jr, Bakelite Company; V. Victor Sammett, Northern Industrial Chemical of Boston
Box 1 Plastics Pioneers interviews, CDs # 3 and 4 1952 (1 CD) (ID#: phc_004; phc_005)
Ronald "Chick" Kamea, Albany Billiard Ball Company and Niagara Insulbake Company; C.W. Vaunt, Bakelite Company, division of Union Carbide and Carbon Corp.; George Scribner, Bolton Molding Company; R.E. Brannum, Bakelite Corporation; Gordon Brown, Bakelite Corporation; Sandy Brown, Condensite Company; Lionel Canenoff [Canenauve?], Standard Tool Company; James S. Wilson, Bestway Products Company; J.G. Swanson, independent consultant; [unidentified speaker, reading notes by Gordon Brown]; Donald S. Frederick, Roman-Hawes Company
Box 1 Plastics Pioneers interviews, CD # 5 1952 (ID#: phc_006)
William T. Cruise, Society of the Plastics Industry; Luis Francisco, American Cyanide; D.J. O'Conner, Formica Company; J. Harry DuBois, General Electric; Willard Crane, Cincinnati Milling Machine Company; Al Manoville, Apollo Manufacturing Company; Charles Lichtenberg, Resinox Corporation and Monsanto; N.A. Backscheider, Recto Molded Products; B. Frank Hantz, American Insulator Corporation; Oscar Gold, manufacturer; Fred Behr, Pacific Novelty Company; Allen F. Randolf, Arlington Company (later Dupont); Emery Cleaves, New Jersey Button Works; J. Frank, Albian Realty Corporation
Box 1 Plastics Pioneers interviews, CD # 6 1952 (ID#: phc_007)
William T. Cruise, Society of the Plastics Industry; Luis Francisco, American Cyanide; D.J. O'Conner, Formica Company; J. Harry DuBois, General Electric; Willard Crane, Cincinnati Milling Machine Company; Al Manoville, Apollo Manufacturing Company; Charles Lichtenberg, Resinox Corporation and Monsanto; N.A. Backscheider, Recto Molded Products; B. Frank Hantz, American Insulator Corporation; Oscar Gold, manufacturer; Fred Behr, Pacific Novelty Company; Allen F. Randolf, Arlington Company (later Dupont); Emery Cleaves, New Jersey Button Works; J. Frank, Albian Realty Corporation
Box 1 Plastics Pioneers interviews, CD # 7 and 8 1952 (ID#: phc_008; phc_009)
Plastics Pioneers Association written histories and interviews, read by J. Harry DuBois]; John J. Kevel, Plastics Technology; John G. Slater, Tennessee Eastman Plastic; W.T. LaRose, W.T. LaRose and Associates, Inc.; Sven Moxness, Honeywell; Lloyd G. Schenck, Bootin Rubber Company; Sam Moore, Interchemical Corporation; Siegfried Higgins, Williamson and Company, Caldwell, NJ; F. Reed Estabrook, Brook Molding Corporation; Elmer E. Mills, manufacturers' representative; George H. Bowmer; Ruth Rossitor, wife of plastics leader John G. Rossitor; William Morris Lester, Pyro Plastics; Edwin L. Hobson; C. William Cluworth, Plastics World; E.O. Wokeck, Bangor Plastics; Walter F. Grote, Grote Manufacturing Company (Grotlite); Arthur R. Tennom
Box 1 Plastics Pioneers interviews, CD # 9 1952 (ID#: phc_010)
Arthur Tennom, continued
Box 1 Plastics Pioneers interviews, CD # 10 1968 (ID#: phc_011)
Meeting of the Pioneers of Plastics Association at Bald Peak Country Club, Sep 1968; Bill Cullom, manufaturers' representative
Oversize 1 Plastics Pioneers Association group photo undated
Box 2 Dupont machinery and employees 1942, 1948, 1952, 1959, 1965, 1969, - toothbrush and comb production (2 folders)
Box 2 Miscellaneous 1952-1953, undated - rattlers and children's toys (Star Manufacturer Co. of Leominster, Mass.); loading pipe onto a horse-drawn carriage; workers outside of The Horn and Supply Company
Box 2 Miscellaneous 1961, 1984, undated - factory in Leominster, Walter Stenning, the cast of The Bandolero, and several photos of Banner Mold,Tool & Die
Professional organizations
Box 2 National Plastics Center & Museum 2006-2007 - membership card belonging to David Harper
Plastics Historical Society
Box 2 Evolution of Plastics in America, by Glenn Beall / Plastics History Society Occasional Paper #1 (1 CD with 1 pdf file) (ID#: phc_017)
Box 2 Miscellaneous 1989, 1993, 1996-1997, undated - newsletters, various membership documents
Box 2 Plastics Industries Technical Institute - several examinations and a curriculum brochure
Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE)
Box 2 Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) 1953, 1968, 1984, 1992, 1996 - general program for Ninth Annual National Technical Conference of the SPE; 100 Years Young by Armand Winfield for 26th annual technical conference; programs for ANTEC '92 and '96
Box 2 Printed material, miscellaneous 2011 - 2 booklets from "SPE Celebrates" Banquet; "Plastic is Fantastic" bumper sticker
Box 2 Publications 1987-1988 1992 - newsletters from 1987 and 1988,Plastics Ingenuity magazine, and the golden anniversary issue of Plastics Engineering
Box 2 Technical papers 1977 - Regional Technical Conference: Injection Molding of Engineering Thermoplastics, Boxborough, MA, and list of trademarks
Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI)
Box 2 Correspondence 1955 - letter from SPI president Norman Anderson to Islyn Thomas, Sept. 29, 1955
Box 2 Publications 1959, 1989, 1992-1993, 2012, undated - publication of the Society of the Plastics Industry
Plastic film correct use and mis-use, helpful hints to parents (1959),
Plastics & You, 16 pp booklet (spring 1989)
SPI at Your Service: Member Preference Guide 1992-1993
Plastics at your service every day in every way (n.d.)
SPI: Celebrating 75 Years of Progress (2012)
Box 3 University of Massachusetts Lowell 2011-2012 - publications and promotional materials related to the plastics engineering department
Technical papers
Box 3 Clippings from technical journals 1945, 1947
Box 3 Reports and papers 1956, 1959, 2008, undated
Society of Plastics Engineers, "Automatic High Speed Injection Molding"; Durez, "Advances in Thermoset Molding"; DOW Chemical, "The Importance of Rigidity in Injection Molding"; Monsanto, "Rules for Satisfactory Dielectric Preheating of Resinox Materials"; Brian Ralston and Tim Osswald, "The History of Tomorrow's Materials: Protein-Based Biopolymers"
Box 3 1964 World's Fair circa 1988 - draft manuscript, "The new frontiers: Science and technology at the 1964 World's Fair," by Sheldon J. Reaven
Box 3 Army-Navy production award, given to the employees of Doyle 1945, undated - includes blank complaint record and blank request for quotation for Consolidated Molded Products
Box 3 Bibliographies undated
Box 3 Modern Plastics Competition 1937 - presentation dinner program
Gift of Ansi Vallens, 2014.
Box 3 Monsanto house of the future 1955, 1957, 2003 - articles and other writing related to Monsanto's use of plastics in building
Box 3 Museum of Design in Plastics (MoDiP), U.K. circa 2013 - research institute within the Arts University Bournemouth; brochure, postcard
Gift of Glenn and Patsy Beall, 2014.
Oversize 1 Plastics Hall of Fame medal, Gordon Kline 1973 - award given to Gordon Kline at his induction into the Plastics Hall of Fame
Oversize 1 Printed material, miscellaneous 1943, 1953 1959, 1973 1987, 2010-2011 - articles, magazines, journals, promotional material for "toothbrushes: past and present"
Box 3 Proverbs and adages from Plastics Bulletin 1986 - small printed book of saying collected from Plastics Bulletin
Gift of John Kretzschmar, 2014.
Oversize 1 Dr. West advertisement 1943 - advertisement for Dr. West's "miracle-tuft" toothbrushes

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