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Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection

Creator:
Mundel, Marvin Everett, 1916-1996 (industrial engineer)  Search this
Names:
A.O. Smith Company  Search this
Aji-no-moto Corporation  Search this
Albert Trostel and Sons  Search this
Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Comp  Search this
American Colortype Company  Search this
American Institute of Industrial Engineers  Search this
Asian Productivity organization  Search this
Barbar and Coleman  Search this
Bridgestone  Search this
Briggs & Stratton Corporation  Search this
Buffalo China Company  Search this
Cindahy Brothers Company  Search this
College of Technology Birmingham, England  Search this
E.I. DuPont De Nemours  Search this
Gardner Board and Carton Company  Search this
Hamilton Manufacturing Company  Search this
Herbst Shoe Manufacturing Company  Search this
Japan Productivity Center  Search this
Japanese Management Association  Search this
Kanaki Gear Plant  Search this
Kanebo Spinning Co.  Search this
Kawasake Dockyard  Search this
Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Comp  Search this
Milwaukee Dental Research Group  Search this
Milwaukee Gas Company  Search this
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.  Search this
Nihon Denso  Search this
Nippon Electric Company  Search this
Nippon Kokan Tsurumi  Search this
Pillsbury Mills  Search this
Purdue University  Search this
S.C. Johnson and Son  Search this
Society for the Advancement of Management  Search this
Stephan A. Young Company  Search this
Sumitomo  Search this
Walgreen's  Search this
Western Printing and Lithography Corp  Search this
Westover Engineers  Search this
Yanmar Diesel Engine Company  Search this
Deming, Edwards  Search this
Gambrell, C.B.  Search this
Extent:
15 Cubic feet (36 boxes)
75 Motion picture films
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion picture films
Photographs
Field notes
Motion photographs
Diagrams
Loop films
Motion pictures (visual works)
Transparencies
Correspondence
Charts
Place:
United States Navy Long Beach Naval Shipyard
United States Rock Island Arsenal
Date:
1937-1996
Summary:
The Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection contains correspondence, reports, data, notes, publications, books, charts, certificates, awards, writings, photographs, films and videos that document the life and career of Marvin Mundel, a well-known expert in the field of work management and productivity enhancement.
Scope and Contents:
The Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection contains correspondence, reports, data, notes, publications, books, charts, certificates, awards, writings, photographs, films and videos that document the life and career of Marvin Mundel and demonstrate his work practices and teaching techniques.

The collection is organized chronologically into eleven series: Biographical Materials, Writings, Industrial Engineering, Work Methods, Purdue University, Time and Motion Study, Government Work, Japanese Consulting, Asian Productivity Organization, Dupont Case Study, and Films and Videos. While the years in each series may overlap, the separation of series demonstrates the evolution of Mundel's work and teachings. Photographs can be found throughout the collection. Information about the film and video series is located in Appendix A.

Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1953-1996, consists of documentation about Mundel and his career. The series contains bibliographies and curriculum vitae, correspondence, documentation on his memberships in Industrial Engineering groups, photographs, and certificates.

Series 2, Writings, 1937-1994, brings together Mundel's papers, speeches, books, and publications. When possible, the writings are arranged chronologically. The remaining writings are arranged by topic. This series should not be considered a definitive bibliography of Mundel's writings.

Series 3, Industrial Engineering, 1954-1995, combines Mundel's research with correspondence to and from other Industrial Engineers. It also includes Mundel's contributions to the Encyclopedia Britannica on "Industrial Engineering," "Work Measurement," and "Memomotion."

Series 4, Work Methods, undated, contains documents such as forms, office procedure manuals, visual aids, and printed matter about office equipment that offer insight into Mundel's work methods and innovative methods of making his own office more efficient.

Series 5, Purdue University, 1951-1957, documents his teaching career at the Industrial Engineering Department as well correspondence from his trip to England where he taught classes on industrial engineering.

Series 6, Time and Motion Study, 1952-1984, includes notes, data, printed matter, correspondence, charts, and photographs from his consultant work for various companies. This series contains seven subseries: Subseries 1, Consulting Work, 1954-1966; Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1956-1960; Subseries 3, Course work, undated; Subseries 4, Equipment, undated; Subseries 5, Film, 1952-1984; Subseries 6, Memberships, 1970-1977; and Subseries 7, Research, 1957.

Subseries 1, Consulting work, 1954-1966, contains correspondence and data from the corporations that hired Mundel as a consultant. Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1956-1960, the contains letters to and from people with diverse interests in time and motion study. Many people wrote to Mundel asking for advice with projects. Visual aids and handouts make up Subseries 3, Course work. In order to create memomotion, Mundel needed to refine certain electrical and motor parts on the cameras and projectors with which he worked. Subseries 4, Equipment, undated, have brochures on many different kinds of motors and switches. Subseries 5, Film, 1952-1984, contains most of the documentation that relates directly to films and video cassettes in this collection. Mundel was active in many organizations related to industrial engineering that shared his interests in time and motion study. Finally, copies and clippings make up the research subseries, 1957.

Series 7, Government Work, 1952-1971, documents Mundel's work for the government, from his work at Rock Island Arsenal to seminars for NASA. This series contains correspondence, data, reports, course work, visual aids, and photographs. The consulting work is arranged in a chronological manner and, in some instances, alphabetically.

Series 8, Japanese Consulting, 1959-1987, documents Mundel's consulting work for Japanese corporations. The files are arranged alphabetically by company and contain research, data, charts, notes, reports, and correspondence about each manufacturing firm. His notebooks and trip files give insight into his cultural understanding of Japanese firms and his teaching practices. Of special interest are the notebooks that contain photographs and firsthand experiences of adapting to Japanese culture and understanding Japanese work practices.

Series 9, Asian Productivity Organization, 1973-1994, consists of year and country files of Mundel's seminars throughout the Far East. The course work, notes, visual aids, reports, and photographs demonstrate Mundel's shift in emphasis from work measurement to managerial organization. This series also contains books published by the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) that give a context to Mundel's work and writings.

Series 10, Dupont Case Study, 1978-1984, contains correspondence, data, notes, reports, research, and visual aids concerning one of the many American companies where Mundel consulted. Dupont was selected because of its prominence in the American business world.

Series 11, Films and Videos, circa 1939-1973, is comprised of 16mm films and 1⁄2" VHS videocassette tapes. The bulk of the series is 16mm films. The films relate to the documents in Series 6: Time and Motion Studies. There are six subseries: Rating Films, 1939-1973; Memomotion Films, circa 1948-1959; Multi-Image Loops, circa, 1956-1958; Instructional Films, circa 1939-1962; Travel Films, circa 1955-1958 and Papers, undated.

Films are labeled either OF, RF, OV, or RV, for Original Film, Reference Film, Original Video, and Reference Video, respectively. [Example: For "676.24 OF Roll Edge on Sheet Metal Disc, circa 1960 (REF. FILM 676.24 and REF. VIDEO 676.70)," 676 is the collection number; 24 is the item number; OF means original film; "Roll Edge on Sheet Metal Disc" is the title; 1960 is the date followed by any reference copies. In this case there are both a reference film and a reference video. The Archives Center will eventually have reference copies for all of the films. for researchers to view.

Subseries 1, Rating Films, circa 1939-1973, represents Mundel's work with rating or pace films. This technique films a worker doing a repetitive work unit and allows trained motion study analysts to establish time standards. These films show a wide variety of jobs held by both men and women, American workers and Japanese workers. There are three groups of films:

Demonstration Rating Films: These films have the same format as titles with 10 scenes of workers doing a work unit at different paces. The films are arranged according to Mundel's numerical system and retain the original titles. These films should be projected at 1000 frames per minute.

Poultry Rating Films: These are rating films that Mundel did for the USDA and the Consumer Protection Programs.

Miscellaneous Films: These are Mundel's rating films for Tung Sol, ASF, Woods Veterans Hospital, and Montfort. There is also a rating film taken by an English company.

Subseries 2, Memomotion Films, circa 1948-1959, includes memomotion examples that were incorporated into instructional films. Memomotion is a filming technique created by Mundel. Time and motion analysts film a non-repetitive or extended crew activity at one frame per second and then project the film at normal speed. In this manner, the analyst can record a longer work period at a fraction of the cost and be able to analyze the film much more quickly. Memomotion is often used in conjunction with work flow diagrams.

Subseries 3, Multi-Image Loops, circa 1956-1958, combines seven of Mundel's multi-image loops onto one film core. The films display twelve images of rating films at the same time. The worker in each image is working at a different pace (fastest in the top left-hand corner and the slowest in the bottom right-hand corner). Time and motion study analysts could watch the loops for as long as they needed to get an idea of what the range of paces for a certain job could be. The loops were disassembled and spliced together for preservation and viewing purposes.

Subseries 4, Instructional Films, circa 1939-1962, includes Mundel's attempts to educate others about his filming techniques and overall industrial engineering themes. The films teach ways to improve productivity through motion studies, how to make memomotion films, and the College of Technology, Birmingham, England's method of making microscope slides.

Subseries 5, Travel Films, circa 1955-1958, includes films that combine Mundel's love for travel and different cultures with film documentation of Japanese seminars.

Subseries 6, Papers, undated, contains papers directly related to the films. Of importance are the rating sheets which associate different percentages of efficiency to the paces in the film.
Arrangement:
This collection is divided into eleven series.

Series 1, Biographical Materials, 1953-1996

Series 2, Writings, 1937-1994

Subseries 1, Books, 1942-1994

Subseries 2, Papers, 1959-1989, undated

Subseries 3, Publications, 1937-1993, undated

Subseries 4, Speeches, undated

Subseries 5, University of Iowa Studies, 1938-1940

Series 3, Industrial Engineering, 1954-1995

Series 4, Work Methods, undated

Series 5, Purdue University, 1951-1957

Series 6, Time and Motion Study, 1952-1984

Subseries 1, Consulting Work, 1954-1966

Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1956-1960

Subseries 3, Course Work, undated

Subseries 4, Equipment, undated

Subseries 5, Film, 1952-1984

Subseries 6, Memberships-Industrial Management Society, 1970-1977

Subseries 7, Research, 1957

Series 7, Government Work, 1952-1971

Subseries 1, General, 1955-1967, undated

Subseries 2, Rock Island Arsenal, 1952-1958

Subseries 3, Consulting, 1959-1971

Subseries 4, Seminars, 1963-1969

Series 8, Japanese Consulting, 1959-1987

Subseries 1, Consulting, 1961-1980

Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1959-1980

Subseries 3, Keio University, 1960-1961

Subseries 4, Memberships, 1959-1987

Subseries 5, Notes, undated

Subseries 6, Photographs, undated

Subseries 7, Scrapbooks, 1960-1965

Subseries 8, Seminars, 1959-1967

Series 9, Asian Productivity Organization, 1973-1994

Subseries 1, Annual Reports, 1973-1994

Subseries 2, Books, 1985-1989

Subseries 3, General, 1976-1995, undated

Subseries 4, Seminars, 1973-1989

Subseries 5, Presentation Album of Jakarta Seminar, 1973

Series 10, DuPont Case Study, 1978-1984

Series 11, Films and Videos, circa 1939-1973

Subseries 1, Rating Films, circa 1939-1973

Subseries 2, Memomotion Films, circa 1948-1959

Subseries 3, Multi-Image Loops, circa 1956-1958

Subseries 4, Instructional Films, circa 1939-1962

Subseries 5, Travel Films, circa 1955-1958

Subseries 6, Papers, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Marvin Everett Mundel, born April 20, 1916, was a major figure in the fields of industrial engineering and time and motion studies. He is known particularly for his consulting work, seminars and teaching, as well as numerous publications based on his expertise in work management and productivity enhancement. He began his engineering career in 1936 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from New York University (1936), followed by an M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering earned in 1938 and 1939, respectively, from the State University of Iowa.

In the late 1930s and 1940s, work measurement studies were considered the state-of-the-art method for improving industrial production. Mundel continued and built upon the achievements of pioneers Frank and Lillian Gilbreth during his teaching career at both Bradley and Purdue Universities. He also conducted seminars at Marquette University Management Center and the University of Wisconsin's Extension Center in Milwaukee. In addition to his American teaching career, Mundel was a visiting professor at both the University of Birmingham in England and Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.

In 1952, Mundel started a consulting firm which aided corporations and governments in either work measurement consulting or, later in his career, industrial engineering consulting. His first clients were United States government agencies that wanted to gain control over lost revenue or manpower. His position from 1952 to 1953 at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, as the first Director of the Army Management Engineering Training Program, transformed management techniques in the Army.

After his employment at Rock Island, Mundel began a series of consultant roles with corporations eager to standardize labor practices and make production more efficient. From 1953 to 1963, Mundel conducted time and motion studies at various manufacturing companies and developed techniques to measure work units. His most important contribution to the field of time and motion study was the development of memomotion, a stop-action filming technique used to determine time standards for work tasks.

Following his refinements of time and motion study, Mundel took his expertise to Japan where he offered his consultant services to various Japanese manufacturing firms during the 1960s. His interests evolved from time and motion studies to include work management and overall management organization consulting. During the 1960s and 1970s, Mundel also returned to government consulting in the United States with these new techniques, in offices such as the Bureau of the Budget and United States Department of Agriculture. This period marked an important evolution in Mundel's career, from time and motion study to work measurement and then to industrial consulting. Mundel was among the first consultants to export American management techniques to Japan, and, in his later career, to other Asian countries. He became an integral part of the Asian Productivity Organization, a group that helped developing Asian countries learn how to increase productivity. His seminars sought to provide corporations and governments with efficient management techniques so that Asia would become a strong economic center. Mundel was sensitive to cultural differences as well as varied methods of management and standards of productivity.

Mundel won the Gilbreth Award in 1982. He continued conducting seminars and writing books and articles well into the 1980s, until failing health prevented him from traveling. When Mundel died in 1996, he was well respected in the field of industrial engineering for his many contributions.
Provenance:
This collection was donated to the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History by Marvin Mundel's wife, Takako Mundel, in January, 1999.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
Rights:
Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Hospitals -- Materials management  Search this
Food processing plants  Search this
Industrial productivity -- measurements  Search this
Industrial films  Search this
Government consultants -- Asia -- Japan  Search this
Government productivity -- Japan  Search this
Machine shops  Search this
Slaughtering and slaughter-houses  Search this
Machinery industry  Search this
Punched card systems -- Machinery  Search this
Steel founding  Search this
Steel industry and trade  Search this
Plant layout  Search this
Diesel motor industry  Search this
Meat -- Packing  Search this
Shipbuilding industry  Search this
Meat inspection  Search this
Meat industry and trade  Search this
Pharmaceutical industry  Search this
Materials handling  Search this
Poultry -- Inspection  Search this
Dental offices  Search this
Box making  Search this
Greeting cards industry  Search this
United States Department of Agriculture  Search this
Refuse collection  Search this
Poultry industry  Search this
Shoe industry  Search this
Dental instruments and apparatus  Search this
Methods engineering  Search this
Industrial engineering -- 1930-2000  Search this
Chronophotography  Search this
Drafting table  Search this
Organizational effectiveness  Search this
Industrial management  Search this
Work measurement  Search this
Motion study  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 20th century
Field notes
Motion photographs
Diagrams
Loop films
Motion pictures (visual works)
Transparencies
Correspondence -- 1930-1950
Charts
Citation:
Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection, 1937-1996, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0676
See more items in:
Marvin E. Mundel Industrial Engineering Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0676
Online Media:

Leo Baekeland Diary Volume 35

Author:
Baekeland, L. H. (Leo Hendrik), 1863-1944  Search this
Collection Creator:
Baekeland, L. H. (Leo Hendrik), 1863-1944  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (6.0" x 3.5")
Container:
Box 20, Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Diaries
Date:
1922 December 22-1923 April 12
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Family -- 20th century  Search this
Genre/Form:
Diaries -- 20th century
Collection Citation:
Leo Baekeland Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Leo H. Baekeland Papers
Leo H. Baekeland Papers / Series 4: Diaries
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0005-ref324
1 Page(s) matching your search term, top most relevant are shown: View entire project in transcription center
  • View Leo Baekeland Diary Volume 35 digital asset number 1

Writings: "What Men Think of Women Pilots"

Collection Creator:
Junkin, Hattie Meyers, 1896-1985  Search this
Container:
Box 4, Folder 14
Type:
Archival materials
Text
Date:
1939
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.
See more items in:
Hattie Meyers Junkin Papers
Hattie Meyers Junkin Papers / Series 3: General materials of Hattie Meyers Junkin
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-xxxx-0171-ref127
2 Page(s) matching your search term, top most relevant are shown: View entire project in transcription center
  • View Writings:
  • View Writings:

Report of Inspection of United States Possessions in the Pacific and Java, Singapore, India, Siam, China & Japan by Brigadier General William Mitchell

Collection Creator:
Milling, Thomas DeWitt, 1887-1960  Search this
Container:
Box 2, Folder 5
Type:
Archival materials
Text
Date:
1923 October 24
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.
Collection Citation:
Thomas DeWitt Milling Collection, NASM.XXXX.0133, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Thomas DeWitt Milling Collection
Thomas DeWitt Milling Collection / Series 3: Reports and Manuscripts
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-xxxx-0133-ref31
1 Page(s) matching your search term, top most relevant are shown: View entire project in transcription center
  • View Report of Inspection of United States Possessions in the Pacific and Java, Singapore, India, Siam, China & Japan by Brigadier General William Mitchell digital asset number 1

Robert E. Johnson Collection (1939-1958)

Creator:
Johnson, Robert E., 1903-  Search this
Names:
Curtiss-Wright Corporation  Search this
Johnson, Robert E., 1903-  Search this
Extent:
4.95 Cubic feet ((1 flatbox) (4 records center boxes))
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Correspondence
Date:
1939-1958
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains Johnson's profession papers during his tenure as Chief Field Engineer at Wright Aeronautical. It consists of correspondence relating to flight and engine testing, engine production, and civil aviation.
Biographical / Historical:
Robert E. Johnson (1903- ) was an aeropropulsion expert with Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Co. and Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Following his graduation from Worchester Polytechnic Institute (BS(CS), 1927) Johnson worked as a draftsman for Curtiss in Garden City, NJ. He rose to become Chief of the Aerodynamic Section, first at Garden City (1929-31) then at Curtiss' Buffalo, NY plant (1931-32). Moving to the Wright Aeronautical Division of Curtiss-Wright, Johnson worked as a Field Engineer (1934-37) with Curtiss-Wright's airline customers, then as Chief Field Engineer (1937-58).
Provenance:
No donor information, gift, unknown, XXXX-0054
Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Rights:
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests
Topic:
Aeronautics, Commercial -- United States  Search this
Aeronautics, Commercial  Search this
Aeronautics  Search this
Airplanes -- Flight testing  Search this
Motor industry  Search this
Airplanes -- Motors  Search this
Genre/Form:
Correspondence
Identifier:
NASM.XXXX.0054
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nasm-xxxx-0054

Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials

Creator:
Jeffers, Grace  Search this
Formica Corporation.  Search this
Names:
Faber, Herbert A.  Search this
Loewy, Raymond  Search this
O'Conor, Daniel J.  Search this
Stevens, Brooks  Search this
Extent:
18 Cubic feet (59 boxes, 11 oversize folders )
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Scripts (documents)
Videotapes
Posters
Samples
Advertisements
Brochures
Blueprints
Photographs
Newsletters
Exhibition catalogs
Catalogs
Correspondence
Date:
1913-2003
Summary:
The Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials consists of textual files, photographs, slides, negatives, drawings, blueprints, posters, advertisements, product brochures, newsletters, and informational pamphlets documenting the history of the Formica Corporation and the use of Formica brand plastic laminate.
Scope and Contents:
The Formica Collection, 1913-2003, consists of textual files, photographs, photo slides, drawings, blueprints, posters, advertisements, product brochures, informational pamphlets, and research notes documenting the history of the Formica Corporation and the use of Formica brand plastic laminate.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into ten series.

Series 1: Corporate Records, 1920-1992, 2003

Subseries 1.1: Annual reports, 1949, 1966, 1988

Subseries 1.2: Correspondence and company identity, 1920-1988

Subseries 1.3: Corporation histories and timelines, 1949-1991, undated

Subseries 1.4: Newspaper clippings and articles, 1934-2003

Subseries 1.5: Awards, 1940s-1987

Subseries 1.6: Patent information, 1925-1994

Subseries 1.7: Photographs, 1927-1966

Series 2: Personnel Records, 1943-1992

Series 3: Newsletters, Magazines, and Press Releases, 1942-1990

Subseries 3.1: Newsletters, 1942-1988

Subseries 3.2: Press releases, 1973-1990

Series 4: Product Information, 1948-1994

Series 5: Advertising and sales materials, 1913-2000

Subseries 5.1: Advertising materials, 1913-2000

Subseries 5.2: Sales materials, 1922-1993

Series 6: Subject Files, circa 1945, 1955-1991, 2002

Series 7: Exhibits, 1981-1994

Series 8: Grace Jeffers Research Materials, 1987-1997

Series 9: Audio Visual Materials, 1982-1995, undated

Series 10: Martin A. Jeffers Materials, 1963-1999

Subseries 10.1: Background Materials, 1965-1999

Subseries 10.2: Employee Benefits, 1963-1998

Subseries 10.3: Product Information, [1959?]-1997

Subseries 10.4: Advertising and Sales Records, 1987-1999
Biographical / Historical:
Since its founding in 1913, the history of the Formica Company has been marked by a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. The history begins with the discovery of Formica by two men who envisioned the plastic laminate as breakthrough insulation for motors. Later, Formica became a ubiquitous surfacing material used by artists and architects of post-modern design. The various applications of the plastic laminate during the twentieth century give it a prominent role in the history of plastics, American consumerism, and American popular culture.

The Formica Company was the brainchild of Herbert A. Faber and Daniel J. O'Conor, who met in 1907 while both were working at Westinghouse in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. O'Conor, head of the process section in the Research Engineering Department, had been experimenting with resins, cloth, paper, and a wide array of solvents in an effort to perfect a process for making rigid laminate sheets from Kraft paper and liquid Bakelite. O'Conor produced the first laminate sheet at Westinghouse by winding and coating paper on a mandrel, slitting the resulting tube, and flattening it on a press. The finished product was a laminated sheet with the chemical and electrical properties of Bakelite that were cut into various shapes and sizes. O'Conor applied for a patent on February 1, 1913, but it was not issued until November 12, 1918 (US Patent 1,284,432). Since the research was done on behalf of Westinghouse, the company was assigned the patent, and O'Conor was given one dollar, the customary amount that Westinghouse paid for the rights to employees' inventions.

Herbert Faber, Technical Sales Manager of insulating materials, was excited about O'Conor's discovery. Faber saw limitless possibilities for the new material. However, he quickly became frustrated by Westinghouse's policy limiting the sale of the laminate to its licensed distributors. After failing to persuade Westinghouse to form a division to manufacture and market the new material, Faber and O'Conor created their own company. On May 2, 1913, the first Formica plant opened in Cincinnati, Ohio. On October 15, 1913, the business incorporated as the Formica Insulation Company with Faber as president and treasurer and O'Conor as vice-president and secretary. The company began producing insulation parts used in place of or "for mica," the costly mineral that had been used in electrical insulation.

Like most new companies, Formica had modest beginnings. Faber and O'Conor faced the challenge of looking for investors who would let them maintain control over the company. Finally, they met J. G. Tomluin, a lawyer and banker from Walton, Kentucky, who invested $7,500 for a one-third share in the Formica Company. Renting a small space in downtown Cincinnati, Faber and O'Conor began work. The company's equipment list consisted of a 35-horsepower boiler, a small gas stove, and a variety of homemade hand screw presses. By September 1913, Tomluin had brought in two more partners, David Wallace and John L. Vest. With the added capital, O'Conor, Faber, and Formica's eighteen employees began producing automobile insulation parts for Bell Electric Motor, Allis Chalmers, and Northwest Electric.

Initially, the Formica Company only made insulation rings and tubes for motors. However, by July 4, 1914, the company obtained its first press and began to produce flat laminate sheets made from Redmenol resin. Business gradually grew, and by 1917 sales totaled $75,000. Fueled by World War I, Formica's business expanded to making radio parts, aircraft pulleys, and timing gears for the burgeoning motor industry. In the years that followed, Formica products were in high demand as laminate plastics replaced older materials in washers, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators. By 1919, the Formica Company required larger facilities and purchased a factory in Cincinnati.

During this time, patent battles and legal suits emerged to challenge Formica's success. On June 11, 1919, Westinghouse sued Formica for patent infringement on its laminated gears; Formica won. Later that year, Westinghouse brought two new lawsuits against Formica. The first was for a patent infringement on the production of tubes, rods, and molded parts; the second was over an infringement based on a 1913 patent assigned to Westinghouse through O'Conor. Formica prevailed in both suits.

Legal battles did not deter the company. Having to defend itself against a giant corporation gave Formica a reputation as a scrappy contender. Finally, Faber and O'Conor made a quantum leap in 1927, when the company was granted a U.S. patent for a phenolic laminate utilizing lithographed wood grains of light color, forming an opaque barrier sheet which blocks out the dark interior of the laminate. In 1931, the company received two more patents for the preparation of the first all paper based laminate and for the addition of a layer of aluminum foil between the core and the surface, making the laminate cigarette-proof. These patents would allow Formica to move from a company dealing primarily with industrial material to the highly visible arena of consumer goods.

In 1937, Faber had a severe heart attack which limited his activity within the company. O'Conor continued as president, encouraging new product lines, including Realwood, as a laminate with genuine wood veneer mounted on a paper lamination with a heat-reactive binder. With the introduction of Realwood and its derivatives, manufacturers started using Formica laminate for tabletops, desks, and dinette sets. By the early forties, sales of Formica laminate were over 15 million dollars. The final recipe for decorative laminate was perfected in 1938, when melamine resins were introduced. Melamine was clear, extremely hard, and resistant to stains, heat, light, less expensive than phenolic resins. It also made possible laminates of colored papers and patterns.

Due to World War II, Formica postponed the manufacturing of decorative laminate sheets. Instead, the company made a variety of war-time products ranging from airplane propellers to bomb buster tubes.

The post-World War II building boom fueled the decorative laminate market and ushered in what would come to be known as the golden age for Formica. The company, anticipating the demand for laminate, acquired a giant press capable of producing sheets measuring thirty by ninety-six inches for kitchen countertops. Between 1947 and 1950, more than 2 million new homes were designed with Formica brand laminate for kitchens and bathrooms.

Formica's advertising campaigns, initially aimed at industry, were transformed to speak to the new decorative needs of consumer society, in particular the American housewife. Formica hired design consultants, Brooks Stevens, and, later, Raymond Loewy who launched extensive advertising campaigns. Advertising themes of durability, cleanliness, efficiency, and beauty abound in promotional material of this time. Advertisers promised that the plastic laminate, known as "the wipe clean wonder," was resistant to dirt, juices, jams, alcohol stains, and cigarette burns. Atomic patterns and space-age colors, including Moonglo, Skylark, and Sequina, were introduced in homes, schools, offices, hospitals, diners, and restaurants across America.

The post-war period was also marked by expansion, specifically with the establishment of Formica's first international markets. In 1947, Formica signed a licensing agreement with the British firm the De La Rue Company of London for the exclusive manufacture and marketing of decorative laminates outside North America, and in South America and the Pacific Basin. In 1948, Formica changed its name from the Formica Insulation Company to the Formica Company. In 1951, Formica responded to growing consumer demand by opening a million square foot plant in Evendale, Ohio, devoted to the exclusive production of decorative sheet material. In 1956, the Formica Company became the Formica Corporation, a subsidiary of American Cyanamid Company. A year later, the international subsidiaries that Formica formed with De La Rue Company of London were replaced by a joint company called Formica International Limited.

The plastic laminate was not merely confined to tabletops and dinette sets. Formica laminate was used for skis, globes, and murals. Moreover, well-known artists and architects used the decorative laminate for modernist furniture and Art Deco interiors. In 1960, Formica's Research and Development Design Center was established, adjacent to the Evendale plant, to develop uses for existing laminate products. In 1966, the company opened the Sierra Plant near Sacramento, California. Such corporate expansion enabled Formica to market its laminates beyond the traditional role as a countertop surface material.

In 1974, Formica established its Design Advisory Board (DAB), a group of leading designers and architects. DAB introduced new colors and patterns of laminate that gained popularity among artists and interior designers in the 1980s. In 1981, DAB introduced the Color Grid, a systematic organization of Formica laminate arranged by neutrals and chromatics. The Color Grid was described as the first and only logically arranged collection of color in the laminate industry. DAB also developed the Design Concepts Collection of premium solid and patterned laminates to serve the needs of contemporary interior designers.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the corporation continued to produce laminates for interior designers, artists, and architects. In 1982, Formica introduced COLORCORE, the first solid-color laminate. Due to its relatively seamless appearance, COLORCORE was adopted by artists for use in furniture, jewelry, and interior design. The introduction of COLORCORE also marked the emergence of a wide variety of design exhibitions and competitions sponsored by the Formica Corporation. In 1985, Formica Corporation became independent and privately held. Formica continues to be one of the leading laminate producers in the world with factories in the United States, England, France, Spain, Canada, and Taiwan.

For additional information on the history of the Formica Corporation, see:

DiNoto, Andrea. Art Plastic: Designed for Living. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985.

Fenichell, Stephen. Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century. New York: Harper/Collins, 1996.

Jeffers Grace. 1998. Machine Made Natural: The Decorative Products of the Formica Corporation, 1947-1962. Master's thesis. Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts.

Lewin, Susan Grant, ed. Formica & Design: From Counter Top to High Art. New York: Rizzoli, 1991.
Related Materials:
Materials at the Archives Center

Leo Baekeland Papers, 1881-1968 (AC0005)

DuPont Nylon Collection, 1939-1977 (AC0007)

J. Harry DuBois Collection on the History of Plastics, circa 1900-1975 (AC0008)

Earl Tupper Papers, circa 1914-1982 (AC0470)

The Division of Medicine and Science holds artifacts related to this collection. See accession # 1997.0319 and #1997.3133.
Provenance:
This collection was assembled by Grace Jeffers, historian of material culture, primarily from materials given to her by Susan Lewin, Head of Formica's New York design and publicity office when the office closed in 1995. The collection was donated to the Archives Center by Grace Jeffers in September 1996.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Plastics industry and trade  Search this
Plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastics as art material -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastics in interior design -- 1920-2000  Search this
advertising -- plastic industry -- 1920-2000  Search this
Plastic jewelry -- 1920-2000  Search this
Laminated plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Exhibitions -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
House furnishings -- 1920-2000 -- United States  Search this
Housewives as consumers -- 1920-2000  Search this
Electronic insulators and insulation -- Plastics -- 1920-2000  Search this
Inventions -- 1920-2000 -- United States  Search this
Women in advertising  Search this
Women in popular culture -- 1920-2000  Search this
Genre/Form:
Scripts (documents)
Videotapes
Posters -- 20th century
Samples -- 1920-2000
Advertisements
Brochures
Blueprints -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Newsletters -- 20th century
Exhibition catalogs
Catalogs
Catalogs -- 1920-2000
Correspondence -- 20th century
Citation:
Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0565
See more items in:
Grace Jeffers Collection of Formica Materials
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0565
Online Media:

[Trade catalogs from Lima Electric Motor Co.]

Company Name:
Lima Electric Motor Co.  Search this
Notes content:
Gearshift drives, gearheads, electric motors, industrial motors, pedestal grinders, magnetic polishing lathes, brackets, swivel plate and mounting table, fan duty motors, magnetic brakes, bearings, pulleys and milling spindle. Electric motors ; gearshift drives ; magnetic polishing lathes ; with design specification drawings...this comprises the uncataloged portion.
Includes:
Trade catalog and price lists
Black and white images
Physical description:
1 piece; 1 box
Language:
English
Type of material:
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Place:
Lima, Ohio, United States
Date:
1900s
Topic (Romaine term):
Electrical apparatus and equipment  Search this
Engines and motors: steam; oil; gas; etc.  Search this
Machine tools and metalworking equipment  Search this
Topic:
Electric apparatus and appliances  Search this
Engines  Search this
Machine-tools  Search this
Metal-working machinery  Search this
Motors  Search this
Record ID:
SILNMAHTL_26888
Location:
Trade Literature at the American History Museum Library
Collection:
Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collections
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILNMAHTL_26888

[Trade catalogs from Peerless Light Co.]

Company Name:
Peerless Light Co.  Search this
Notes content:
April and June 1926 wholesale catalogs ; electric light fixtures and lamps ; electrification supplies ; plugs ; cords ; conduits ; switches ; telephone wire ; outlets ; fuses ; sockets ; plates ; bells ; buzzers ; transformers ; fans ; X-ray reflectors for store window displays ; A.C. motors ; industrial lighting equipment ; bulbs/lamps ; household appliances (toasters, irons, fans, heating pans, vibrators, vacuum cleaners, radios & tubes)
Includes:
Trade catalog and price lists
Black and white images
Color images
Physical description:
2 pieces
Language:
English
Type of material:
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Place:
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Date:
1900s
Topic (Romaine term):
Engines and motors: steam; oil; gas; etc.  Search this
Foods and beverage products and processing equipment (including brewing; distilleries; beer; wine; etc.)  Search this
Heating; ventilation and air conditioning  Search this
Industrial equipment or mechanical machinery (including supplies and components)  Search this
Lighting (electric; gas; candle; oil; etc.)  Search this
Measuring; calculating and testing devices  Search this
Radios and radio equipment  Search this
Telephone; telegraph and telecommunications equipment and supplies  Search this
Topic:
Air conditioning  Search this
Beverage industry  Search this
Calculators  Search this
Candles  Search this
Distilleries  Search this
Engines  Search this
Food industry and trade  Search this
Heating  Search this
Heating and ventilation industry  Search this
Industrial equipment  Search this
Lamps  Search this
Lighting  Search this
Machinery  Search this
Measuring instruments  Search this
Motors  Search this
Radio supplies industry  Search this
Telecommunication systems  Search this
Telephone  Search this
Telephone supplies industry  Search this
Ventilation  Search this
Weighing instruments  Search this
Record ID:
SILNMAHTL_29645
Location:
Trade Literature at the American History Museum Library
Collection:
Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collections
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILNMAHTL_29645

[Trade catalogs from National Pneumatic Co., Inc.]

Variant company name:
Since 1875 ; New York, NY ; Chicago, IL ; Rahway, NJ  Search this
Company Name:
National Pneumatic Co., Inc.  Search this
Related companies:
Holtzer-Cabot (Boston, MA) ; Railway and Power Engineer Corp., Ltd. (Toronto, Canada)  Search this
Notes content:
bus treadles ; synchronous and induction capacitor type motors ; industrial control motors ; D.C. Servo motor ; fume eliminators ; instrument motors ; bus door and step controls
Includes:
Trade catalog
Black and white images
Physical description:
11 pieces; 1 box
Language:
English
Type of material:
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Place:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Date:
1900s
Topic (Romaine term):
Electrical apparatus and equipment  Search this
Automobiles and automotive equipment (including trucks and buses)  Search this
Engines and motors: steam; oil; gas; etc.  Search this
Topic:
Automobiles  Search this
Electric apparatus and appliances  Search this
Engines  Search this
Motor vehicles  Search this
Motors  Search this
Record ID:
SILNMAHTL_33050
Location:
Trade Literature at the American History Museum Library
Collection:
Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collections
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILNMAHTL_33050

[Trade catalogs from Eastern Industries, Inc.]

Variant company name:
New Haven, CT ; Hamden, CT  Search this
Company Name:
Eastern Industries, Inc.  Search this
Related companies:
Automatic Signal Div. ; Automatic Signal Corp. ; Econolite Control Products ;  Search this
Notes content:
"Electro-matic" traffic dispatching systems ; "McIntyre" pumps and fluid motors ; industrial centrifugal pumps ; variable speed mixers for the laboratory.
Includes:
Trade catalog and price lists
Black and white images
Physical description:
14 pieces; 3 boxes
Language:
English
Type of material:
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Place:
Norwalk, Connecticut, United States
Date:
1900s
Topic (Romaine term):
Road building machinery and equipment  Search this
Engines and motors: steam; oil; gas; etc.  Search this
Pumping machinery and air compressors  Search this
Laboratories and laboratory supplies and equipment  Search this
Industrial equipment or mechanical machinery (including supplies and components)  Search this
Topic:
"Laboratories -- Furniture, equipment, etc."  Search this
Air-compressors  Search this
Engines  Search this
Industrial equipment  Search this
Machinery  Search this
Motors  Search this
Pumping machinery industry  Search this
Road machinery  Search this
Roads -- Design and construction  Search this
Record ID:
SILNMAHTL_14424
Location:
Trade Literature at the American History Museum Library
Collection:
Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collections
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILNMAHTL_14424

[Trade catalogs from Republic Hardware & Supply Co.]

Company Name:
Republic Hardware & Supply Co.  Search this
Notes content:
1952-1953 ; distributors of: hardware, motors, industrial and office supplies, appliances, tools and house furnishings
Includes:
Trade catalog and price lists
Black and white images
Physical description:
2 pieces; 1 box
Language:
English
Type of material:
Trade catalogs
Trade literature
Place:
Buffalo, New York, United States
Date:
1900s
Topic (Romaine term):
Industrial equipment or mechanical machinery (including supplies and components)  Search this
Hardware and hand tools  Search this
Office equipment and supplies  Search this
Appliances (household)  Search this
Furniture and furnishings  Search this
Engines and motors: steam; oil; gas; etc.  Search this
Machine tools and metalworking equipment  Search this
Topic:
Engines  Search this
Furniture industry and trade  Search this
Hardware  Search this
House furnishings  Search this
Household appliances  Search this
Industrial equipment  Search this
Interior decoration  Search this
Machine-tools  Search this
Machinery  Search this
Metal-working machinery  Search this
Motors  Search this
Office equipment and supplies industry  Search this
Tools  Search this
Record ID:
SILNMAHTL_10577
Location:
Trade Literature at the American History Museum Library
Collection:
Smithsonian Libraries Trade Literature Collections
Data source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:SILNMAHTL_10577

Fairbanks Morse : 100 years of engine technology / C.H. Wendel

Author:
Wendel, C. H (Charles H.)  Search this
Fairbanks, Morse and Company  Search this
Subject:
Fairbanks, Morse and Company History  Search this
Physical description:
175 p. : ill. ; 29 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1993
C1993
19th century
20th century
Topic:
Motor industry--History  Search this
Internal combustion engine industry--History  Search this
Machinery industry--History  Search this
Engines--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_526790

The engine that could : seventy-five years of values-driven change at Cummins Engine Company / Jeffrey L. Cruikshank, David B. Sicilia

Author:
Cruikshank, Jeffrey L  Search this
Sicilia, David B  Search this
Cummins Engine Company  Search this
Subject:
Cummins Engine Company History  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 589 p., [32] p. of plates : ill. ; 27 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1998
C1997
Topic:
Internal combustion engine industry--History  Search this
Diesel motor industry--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_561111

Diesel, fifty years of progress : a fifty-year history and an appraisal of the present and future of the diesel industry in America

Author:
Anderson, John Wallace 1885-  Search this
Physical description:
352 p. ill., ports. 35 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1948
Topic:
Diesel motor industry  Search this
Diesel motor  Search this
Call number:
TJ795 .A547f 1948
TJ795.A547f 1948
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_404465

Guide to the motor industry of Japan, 1982

Author:
Jidōsha Kōgyō Shinkōkai  Search this
Physical description:
262 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm
Type:
Catalogs
Place:
Japan
Date:
1982
Topic:
Automobile industry and trade  Search this
Automobiles  Search this
Commercial vehicles, Japanese  Search this
Motorcycles  Search this
Call number:
HD9710.J3 G94 1982
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_478767

Guide to the motor industry of Japan, 1983

Author:
Jidōsha Kōgyō Shinkōkai  Search this
Physical description:
272 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm
Type:
Catalogs
Place:
Japan
Date:
1983
Topic:
Automobile industry and trade  Search this
Automobiles  Search this
Commercial vehicles, Japanese  Search this
Motorcycles  Search this
Call number:
HD9710.J3 G94 1983
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_478769

The legend of Briggs & Stratton / Jeffrey L. Rodengen

Title:
Legend of Briggs and Stratton
Author:
Rodengen, Jeffrey L  Search this
Subject:
Briggs & Stratton Corporation History  Search this
Physical description:
ix, 208 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1995
C1995
Topic:
Motor industry--History  Search this
Internal combustion engine industry--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_497824

[Trade catalogs on gearshift drives, gearheads, electric motors, industrial motors, pedestal grinders, magnetic polishing lathes, brackets, swivel plate and mounting table, fan duty motors, magnetic brakes, bearings, pulleys and milling spindle]

Author:
Lima Electric Motor Co  Search this
Condec Corporation  Search this
Smithsonian Libraries American History Trade Literature Collection DSI  Search this
Physical description:
<343> v. : ill
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1939
1939-
Topic:
Lathes  Search this
Lathes--Equipment and supplies  Search this
Milling-machines--Equipment and supplies  Search this
Grinding machines--Equipment and supplies--Catalogs  Search this
Call number:
48947
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_498067

Guide to the motor industry of Japan 1987

Author:
Jidōsha Kōgyō Shinkōkai  Search this
Physical description:
256 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Japan
Date:
1987
[1987]
Topic:
Automobile industry and trade  Search this
Automobile--Catalogs  Search this
Call number:
HD9710.J3 G94 1987
HD9710.J3G94 1987
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_342477

Guide to the motor industry of Japan 1988

Author:
Jidōsha Kōgyō Shinkōkai  Search this
Physical description:
262 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Japan
Date:
1988
[1988]
Topic:
Automobile industry and trade  Search this
Automobile--Catalogs  Search this
Call number:
HD9710.J3 G94 1988
HD9710.J3G94 1988
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_367709

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