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Leo H. Baekeland Papers

Creator:
Baekeland, L. H. (Leo Hendrik), 1863-1944  Search this
Names:
Bakelite Corporation  Search this
Nepera Chemical Co.  Search this
Extent:
15 Cubic feet (49 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Professional papers
Clippings
Laboratory notes
Personal correspondence
Photographs
Notebooks
Diaries
Date:
1976
1863 - 1968
Summary:
The papers document Leo H. Baekeland, a Belgian born chemist who invented Velox photographic paper (1893) and Bakelite (1907), an inexpensive, nonflammable, versatile plastic. The papers include student notebooks; private laboratory notebooks and journals; commercial laboratory notes; diaries; patents; technical papers; biographies; newspaper clippings; maps; graphs; blueprints; account books; batch books; formula books; order books; photographs; and correspondence regarding Baekeland, 1887-1943.
Scope and Contents:
Baekeland documented his life prolifically through diaries, laboratory notebooks, photographs, and correspondence. These constitute the bulk of the collection. The Bakelite company history is also incompletely documented in this collection through Baekeland's correspondence, the commercial laboratory notebooks, and some company ledgers.
Arrangement:
Series 1: Reference Materials, 1863-1868 and undated

Subseries 1.1: Biographical, 1880-1965

Subseries 1.2:Company History, 1910-1961

Subseries 1.3: Related Interests, 1863-1968 and undated

Series 2: Published and Unpublished Writings (by Leo H. Baekeland), 1884-1945

Series 3: Correspondence, 1888-1963 Subseries 3.1: Personal Correspondence, 1916-1943

Subseries 3.2: Charitable Donations, 1916-1938

Subseries 3.3: Family Correspondence, 1888-1963

Subseries 3.4: Clubs and Associations, 1916-1943

Series 4: Diaries, 1907-1943

Series 5: Reading and Lecture Notes, 1878-1886

Series 6, Laboratory Notebooks, 1893-1915

Series 7: Commercial Laboratory Notebooks, 1910-1920

Series 8: Bakelite Company, 1887-1945

Series 9, Patents, 1894-1940

Series 10: Bakelite Corporation Ledgers, 1910-1924; 1935; 1939

Series 11: Photographs, 1889-1950 and undated

Subseries 11.1: Photographs, 1889-1950 and undated

Subseries 11.2: Film Negatives, 1900-1941 and undated

Subseries 11.3: Photoprints, 1894-1941

Subseries 11.4: Stereographs, 1888-1902 and undated

Subseries 11.5: Film and Glass Plate Negatives, 1899-1900 and undated

Series 12: Audio Materials, 1976
Biographical / Historical:
Leo Hendrik Baekeland was an industrial chemist famous for his invention of Bakelite, the first moldable synthetic polymer, and for his invention of Velox photographic paper. Baekeland's career as an inventor and innovator was punctuated by an urge to improve existing technologies and a willingness to experiment both meticulously and daringly. Born in Ghent, Belgium in 1863, Baekeland was a distinguished chemistry student and became a young professor at the University of Ghent. He had a long standing interest in photography and sought to further photographic technology with his expertise in chemistry. In 1887 he obtained his first patent for a dry plate which contained its own developer and could be developed in a tray of water. With the support of a business partner/faculty associate, Jules Guequier, he formed a company named Baekeland et Cie to produce the plate, but the venture failed due to lack of capital.

On August 8, 1889, he married Celine Swarts, daughter of his academic mentor Theodore Swarts, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Ghent. After his wedding he travelled to different countries using a traveling scholarship he had been awarded two years previously. His travels ended in the United States where he was offered a job researching chemical problems associated with manufacturing bromide papers and films with A. and H.T. Anthony and Company, a photographic supply producer. Leo and Celine Baekeland had three children: George, Nina and Jenny (1890-1895).

He left Anthony and Company in 1891 to be a consulting chemist. During that time he invented a photographic print paper using silver chloride which could be developed in artificial light instead of sunlight and thus offered more flexibility and consistency to photographers. In 1893, with financial support from Leonard Jacobi, a scrap metal dealer from San Francisco, he formed the Nepera Chemical Company in Yonkers, New York, to manufacture "gaslight" paper under the trade name Velox. The paper became quite popular and the company expanded its operations after its first three years. Finally, George Eastman bought the company for a reported $750,000 which afforded Baekeland the time to conduct his own research in a laboratory he set up on his estate, "Snug Rock," in Yonkers.

Baekeland worked on problems of electrolysis of salt and the production of synthetic resins. He was hired as a consultant to work with Clinton P. Townsend to perfect Townsend's patented electrolytic cell. Baekeland's work there contributed to the success of the Hooke Electrochemical Company which began in operations in Niagara Falls in 1905.

Simultaneously, in 1902 Baekeland began researching reactions of phenol and formaldehyde, and by 1907 was able to control the reactions and produce a moldable plastic (oxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride) which he named Bakelite. Although the process was not perfected for another couple of years, Baekeland applied for a patent for Bakelite right away. He announced his discovery to the scientific community in 1909, and in 1910 formed the General Bakelite Company. Bakelite was a thermosetting resin that, unlike Celluloid became permanently solid when heated. It was virtually impervious to heat, acids, or caustic substances. It could be molded into a wide variety of shapes and was an excellent electric insulator that came to replace hard rubber and amber for electrical and industrial applications. It was also suitable for a wide variety of consumer products such as billiard balls, jewelry, pot handles, telephones, toasters, electric plugs, and airplane instrument knobs. Two companies challenged Bakelite with significant competition, Condensite Corporation of America and Redmanol Chemical Products Company. Bakelite finally merged with these two companies in 1922 to become the Bakelite Corporation. Union Carbide finally bought the corporation in 1939.

Baekeland sustained his interest in photography by taking numerous photographs throughout his lifetime. He also devoted much of his spare time to professional societies and received various honorary degrees and awards such as the Perkin Medal. He had several hobbies such as boating, wine and beer making, and, exotic plants. He also traveled extensively throughout the world, which is documented in his diaries and photographs.

Baekeland spent his final years mostly in his Coconut Grove, Florida home where he became increasingly eccentric until his mind failed him and he was institutionalized. He died in 1943 at the age of eighty.

Scope and Content: Baekeland documented his life prolifically through diaries, laboratory notebooks, photographs, and correspondence. These constitute the bulk of the collection. The Bakelite company history is also incompletely documented in this collection through Baekeland's correspondence, the commercial laboratory notebooks, and some company ledgers.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Albany Billiard Ball Company Records (AC0011)

Celluloid Corporation Records (AC0009)

J. Harry DuBois Collection on the History of Plastics (AC0008)

Materials at Other Organizations

The Hagley Museum and Library, Manuscripts and Archives Department in Delaware also several related collections including: the Directors of Industrial Research Records, 1929 -982; the Du Pont Viscoloid Company, Survey of the Plastics Field, 1932; The Society of the Plastics Industry, 1937-1987; the Roy J. Plunkett Collection, 1910-1994 (inventor of Teflon); and the Gordon M. Kline Collection, 1903.
Separated Materials:
The National Museum of American History, Division Medicine and Science has several artifacts associated with Baekeland including the original "Bakalizer" the apparatus in which Bakelite was first made. See accession numbers: 1977.0368; 1979.1179; 1981.0976; 1982.0034; 1983.0524; 1984.0138.
Provenance:
The bulk of the collection was donated to the National Museum of American History's Division of Physical Sciences in November, 1981, by Celine Karraker, Leo H. Baekeland's granddaughter.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
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:
Phenolic resins  Search this
Travel -- Photographs  Search this
Chemists -- 1880-1970  Search this
Inventors -- 1880-1970  Search this
Plastics -- 1880-1970  Search this
Chemistry  Search this
Genre/Form:
Professional papers -- 1880-1970
Clippings -- 1880-1970
Laboratory notes
Personal correspondence -- 1880-1970
Photographs -- Black-and-white negatives -- Glass -- 19th-20th century
Notebooks -- 1880-1970
Diaries -- 1880-1970
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 19th-20th century
Photographs -- Black-and-white negatives -- Nitrate -- 19th-20th century
Citation:
Leo Baekeland Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0005
See more items in:
Leo H. Baekeland Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0005
Online Media:

[Student (?), young man in coat and tie studying at desk. Active no. 1891 : photonegative.]

Publisher:
Underwood & Underwood  Search this
Collection Creator:
Underwood & Underwood  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (4" x 5".)
Type:
Archival materials
Photographs
Local Numbers:
RSN 18368
General:
Currently stored in box 3.1.70 [227A]. Orig. no. A-907.
Collection Restrictions:
The original glass plate is available for inspection if necessary in the Archives Center. A limited number of fragile glass negatives and positives in the collection can be viewed directly in the Archives Center by prior appointment.
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:
Books and reading  Search this
Desks  Search this
Students  Search this
telephone  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- 19th-20th century -- Black-and-white negatives -- Nitrate
Photographs -- Black-and-white negatives -- Nitrate film.
Collection Citation:
Underwood &Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection
Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection / Series 3: Underwood & Underwood glass plates / 3.1: Underwood and Underwood Negatives / RSN Numbers 18289-18412
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0143-ref14795

[Three women and a man posing on edge of seacoast. Stereo photonegative.]

Publisher:
Underwood & Underwood  Search this
H.C. White Co.  Search this
Photographer:
White, C. W.  Search this
Collection Creator:
Underwood & Underwood  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (3-/4" x 7".)
Type:
Archival materials
Seascapes
Photographs
Stereoscopic photographs
Scope and Contents:
All the figures wear hats. The man seems to be wearing a straw boater.
Arrangement:
Formerly stored in box 1.1.29 [160B], moved from [3].
Local Numbers:
AC0143-0005415 (AC Scan No.)

RSN 5415
General:
NOTE! NO IMAGE ON VIDEODISC! "C W White / Personal" on envelope.
Collection Restrictions:
The original glass plate is available for inspection if necessary in the Archives Center. A limited number of fragile glass negatives and positives in the collection can be viewed directly in the Archives Center by prior appointment.
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.
Genre/Form:
Seascapes
Photographs -- Black-and-white negatives -- Nitrate film.
Photographs -- 19th-20th century -- Black-and-white negatives -- Nitrate
Stereoscopic photographs
Collection Citation:
Underwood &Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection
Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection / Series 1: H. C. White glass plates / 1.1: H.C. White Negatives / RSN Numbers 5349-5434
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0143-ref26021

Stump [or Stumpy? Stumpie?] and Stello (dancing) [acetate (or nitrate?) film photonegative]

Photographer:
Scurlock, Addison N., 1883-1964  Search this
Names:
Hartman, Eddie  Search this
Subseries Creator:
Scurlock Studio (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Scurlock, Robert S. (Saunders), 1917-1994  Search this
Custom Craft  Search this
Scurlock, Addison N., 1883-1964  Search this
Scurlock, George H. (Hardison), 1919-2005  Search this
Extent:
1 Item
Container:
Box 34
Culture:
African Americans  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Retouching
Photographs
Date:
[1930s]
Scope and Contents:
Job Number: 18790
The male figure is in blackface, wearing a straw hat, and may be Eddie Hartman. However, in a March 30, 2012 interview with Dr. Harold Corwin, who played "Stumpy" from 1938, curator David Haberstich was told that the male was neither Hartman nor Corwin. Possibly the Stump or Stumpy shown here was part of a Washington act inspired by the Stump and Stumpy of New York. Corwin furrther stated that he had no knowledge of a Stello or Stella in this connection. Title in ink on base side at top edge: "Stumpy & Stello 4 - B&W". No maker's edge imprint. Numbers on original envelope, A206 and 156.
General note:
Notes: In nitrate box
General:
From negative box D.
Subseries Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.

Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
Subseries Rights:
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Minstrel shows -- 1900-1960  Search this
Blackface entertainers  Search this
Vaudeville -- 1930-1940  Search this
Portraits -- Men -- 1930-1940  Search this
African American entertainers -- 1930-1950.  Search this
Dancers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Retouching -- Pencil
Photographs -- 19th-20th century -- Black-and-white negatives -- Nitrate
Photographs -- 1930-1940 -- Black-and-white negatives -- Acetate film
Subseries Citation:
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Scurlock Studio Records, Subseries 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives
Scurlock Studio Records, Subseries 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives / 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin negatives
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0618-s04-01-ref763

Stump [or Stumpy? Stumpie?] and Stello [man and woman, male figure seated] [acetate (or nitrate?) film photonegative]

Photographer:
Scurlock, Addison N., 1883-1964  Search this
Names:
Hartman, Eddie  Search this
Subseries Creator:
Scurlock Studio (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Scurlock, Robert S. (Saunders), 1917-1994  Search this
Custom Craft  Search this
Scurlock, Addison N., 1883-1964  Search this
Scurlock, George H. (Hardison), 1919-2005  Search this
Extent:
1 Item
Container:
Box 34
Culture:
African Americans  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Retouching
Photographs
Date:
[1930s.]
Scope and Contents:
Job Number: 18790
Male is in blackface, possibly Eddie Hartman. However, in a March 30, 2012 interview with Dr. Harold Corwin, who played "Stumpy" from 1938, curator David Haberstich was told that the male was neither Hartman nor Corwin. Possibly the Stump or Stumpy shown here was part of a Washington act inspired by the Stump and Stumpy of New York. Corwin furrther stated that he had no knowledge of a Stello or Stella in this connection. Title in ink on base side at top edge. No maker's edge imprint. Numbers on original envelope, A206 and 155. Faces retouched. In a
General note:
Notes: In nitrate box
General:
See also framed print from negative in collection, 1998.0011.
From negative box D, now in Freezer Box 34.
Subseries Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.

Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
Subseries Rights:
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Minstrel shows -- 1900-1960  Search this
Blackface entertainers  Search this
Vaudeville -- 1930-1940  Search this
Portraits -- Men -- 1930-1940  Search this
African American entertainers -- 1930-1950.  Search this
Dancers  Search this
Genre/Form:
Retouching -- Pencil
Photographs -- 19th-20th century -- Black-and-white negatives -- Nitrate
Photographs -- 1930-1940 -- Black-and-white negatives -- Acetate film
Subseries Citation:
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Scurlock Studio Records, Subseries 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives
Scurlock Studio Records, Subseries 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin Negatives / 4.1: Black-and-White Silver Gelatin negatives
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0618-s04-01-ref793

Transportation Nitrate Negatives

Collector:
Transportation, Division of, NMAH, SI.  Search this
White, Roger  Search this
Transportation, Division of, NMAH, SI.  Search this
Photographer:
Finney, Bill  Search this
Extent:
0.2 Cubic feet (1 box)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographs
Place:
Cumberland (Md.)
Newark (Ohio)
Baltimore (Md.) -- 1920-1930
Huntington (W. Va.)
Date:
1925-1930.
Summary:
Nitrate negatives depicting street views with automobiles and railroad cars, in several areas of the country. Many are numbered and dated in ink on the negative. The groups are: views of Newark, Ohio, by Bill Finney, March 19, 1926; Huntington, West Virginia, 1927; Cumberland, Md., by Bill Finney, Oct. 28, 1925; and "Baltimore, Md.--Sharp St. Looking South from Camden St. / for Police Dept. / Oct. 21, 1930.
Scope and Contents:
This is a group of forty-three (43) cellulose nitrate negatives (8" x 10", 5" x 7", and smaller)depicting streets and railroad tracks with buildings such as houses, stores, and other commercial establishments. In many cases vehicles such as automobiles, trucks, and railroad cars from about 1925-1930 appear in the images. Dates on the photographs include 1925, 1926, 1927, and 1930, and the unidentified images appear to have been made within the same date range. Most of the photographs apparently were taken by Bill Finney of Concord, New Hampshire. The locales depicted include Baltimore and Cumberland, Maryland; Newark, Ohio; Huntington, West Virginia; and areas in New England.
Arrangement:
1 series. Numerically arranged.
Provenance:
Immediate source of acquisition unknown.
Restrictions:
Advance appointment required, as original negatives are stored in a freezer. Researchers should use copies. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
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:
Automobiles -- 1920-1930  Search this
Streets -- Maryland -- Baltimore  Search this
Streets -- Maryland  Search this
Streets -- Ohio  Search this
Streets -- West Virginia  Search this
Railroads  Search this
Railroads -- Trains  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- Black-and-white negatives -- Nitrate -- 19th-20th century
Citation:
Transportation Nitrate Negatives, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0790
See more items in:
Transportation Nitrate Negatives
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0790

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