Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
36 documents - page 1 of 2

Earl S. Tupper Papers

Creator:
Tupper, Earl Silas, 1907-  Search this
Tupper Corporation  Search this
Names:
Tupperware (Firm).  Search this
Tupper, Glenn O.  Search this
Tupper, Miles  Search this
Extent:
14 Cubic feet (27 boxes, 1 map-folder)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Letters (correspondence)
Advertising fliers
Business records
Personal papers
Photographs
Business letters
Notes
Clippings
Family papers
Interviews
Date:
2003
1908-1989
Summary:
Papers documenting inventor Earl S. Tupper, his inventions, Tupperware and the Tupper Company.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the life of inventor Earl S. Tupper through correspondence, notes, photographs, drawings and sound recordings.
Arrangement:
The collection is organized into five series.

Series 1: Personal Papers, 1910-1989

Series 2: Early Business Papers and Scientific Notes, 1930-1965

Series 3: Tupper Corporation/Tupperware Business, 1908-1983

Series 4: Neil Osterweill Oral Histories and Research Notes, 1926-1989

Subseries 4.1: Research Files, 1926-1989

Subseries 4.2: Original Masters, 1987-1989

Subseries 4.3:Research Copies, 1987-1989

Subseries 4.4:Research Copies, 1987-1989

Subseries 4.5: Preservation Copies, undated

Series 5: Center for Advertising History, Oral History Interviews, 1992

Subseries 5.1: Original Masters, 1992

Subseries 5.2: Research Copies, 1992

Subseries 5.3: Research Copies, 1992

Subseries 5.4: Preservation Copies, 1992

Subseries 5.5: Abstracts and Transcripts, 1992, 2003
Biographical / Historical:
Earl Silas Tupper was born in 1907, to a New Hampshire farming family of modest means. During his youth and boyhood in New England, his mother Lulu Clark Tupper, took in laundry and ran a boarding house, while his father, Earnest Leslie operated a small family farm. Earnest Tupper loved to tinker, developing labor-saving devices for the farm and family greenhouses; one of his devices, a frame to facilitate the cleaning of chickens, was granted a patent. It is from his father that Earl Tupper is said to have developed a love for invention. Even as a boy, Tupper showed an enterprising and entrepreneurial spirit. At the age of 10, Earl discovered he could move more of the family's produce by selling door-to-door, bringing the product directly to the customer.

After high school graduation in 1925, Tupper continued to work in the family greenhouses in Shirley Massachusetts for two years. Tupper was an ambitious young man, though, and he was determined to earn his first million by the time he was thirty. During the twenties, he set out on a number of different paths, including work as a mail clerk and on a railroad labor crew. In 1928, he took a course in tree surgery, with the idea of setting up his own tree surgery and landscaping business. He continued to help out with the family business, and got married in 1931. Through the early thirties, the landscaping and nursery business continued to grow and thrive, despite the Depression, enabling Tupper to pursue some of his ideas and inventions. His scientific notebooks for this period reflect the diversity of his interests. Even after Tupper Tree Doctors was forced into bankruptcy in 1936, Tupper remained optimistic about his ability to develop and manufacture some of his inventions.

In 1936, Tupper met Bernard Doyle, the inventor of Viscoloid, the plastics manufacturing division of DuPont, located in nearby Leominster, Mass. He went to work for DuPont in 1937, but stayed there only one year. Later, Tupper would say it was at Dupont "that my education really began." Tupper took the experience he had gained in plastics design and manufacturing at DuPont, and struck out on his own. In 1938, he formed the Earl S. Tupper Company, advertising the design and engineering of industrial plastics products in Leominster, Massachusetts. Much of the fledgling company's early work was performed under subcontract to DuPont. Business was good during the war, because despite the difficulty of acquiring the raw materials necessary for plastics production for the domestic market, Tupper Plastics was able to garner several defense contracts, molding parts for gas masks and Navy signal lamps.

After the war, Tupper turned his attention to developing plastics for the growing consumer market. Many of his earliest designs, which included plastic sandwich picks, cigarette cases, and an unbreakable tumbler for the bathroom, were offered as premiums with other products. For example, Tek toothbrushes offered the tumbler with purchase of a toothbrush, and cigarette companies and other businesses offered cigarette cases imprinted with their logo.

Plastics was still in its infancy in the forties, and the commercial market for plastics product was limited by plastic's reputation for being brittle, greasy, smelly and generally unreliable. Tupper's contributions were twofold. First, he developed a method for purifying black polyethylene slag, a waste product produced in oil refinement, into a substance that was flexible, tough, non-porous, non-greasy and translucent. Second, he developed the Tupper seal, an airtight, watertight lid modeled on the lid for paint containers. Together, these innovations laid the foundations for the future success of Tupperware. Nevertheless, marketing the new product presented a challenge. Tupper experimented with department store sales, but as Businessweek reported in 1954, "in retail stores it fell flat on its face." It seemed clear that the new lid required explanation or demonstration.

In the late 1940s, Thomas Damigella (in Massachusetts) and Brownie Wise (in Florida) were selling household products through Stanley Home Products. Purchasing through local plastics distributors, both began offering Tupperware as part of their product line, and were moving enough Tupperware to attract Earl Tupper's attention. In 1948, Tupper met with Damigella, Wise, and several other local distributors at a Sheraton in Worcester Massachusetts to discuss a new distribution plan. Modeled on the home party plan pioneered by Stanley Home Products and expanded and refined by Brownie Wise, the home party plan became and remains the exclusive outlet for Tupperware. Wise was named Vice President of the company (named Tupperware Home Parties) in 1951, a position she held until 1958, when Tupper sold the company to Rexall for $16 million.

Tupperware's success stems from the combined genius of Earl Tupper, the self-styled Yankee inventor and entrepreneur and Brownie Wise, the consummate saleswoman and motivator. If Tupper personified reverence for the product, Wise personified respect for the sales force. "If we build the people," she was fond of saying, "they'll build the business." Almost half a century later, their legacy remains an important part of Tupperware's continuing success.

Earl S. Tupper died on October 5, 1983.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Leo Baekeland Papers (AC0005)

DuPont Nylon Collection (AC0007)

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

Celluloid Corporation Records (AC0009)

Albany Billiard Ball Company Records (AC#0011)

Brownie Wise Papers (AC0509)

Ann and Thomas Damigella Collection (AC0583)

Materials at the National Museum of American History

Tupperware related artifacts are located in the Division of Home and Community Life (now Division of Cultural and Community Life), the Division of Medicine and Science and the Division of Work and Industry. See accessions: 1983.0711; 1984.1098; 1985.3014; 1985.3015; 1987.0180; 1990.3055; 1992.0209; 1992.0605; 1993.0257; 1994.0118; 1994.0124; 1995.0109; 1998.0070; 1998.0220; 2012.0133; and 2014.3077.
Provenance:
The materials were donated to the Archives Center in 1992 by Glenn O. Tupper, Earl Tupper's son.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but master (preservation) tapes are stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. 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  Search this
Plastic container industry  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Product demonstrations  Search this
Business -- History  Search this
Marketing  Search this
advertising  Search this
Inventors  Search this
Genre/Form:
Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century.
Advertising fliers
Business records -- 20th century
Personal papers -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Business letters
Notes
Clippings
Family papers
Interviews
Citation:
Earl S. Tupper Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0470
See more items in:
Earl S. Tupper Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8ad4a9c5b-f0e3-47e5-8cc3-97c5acb9a0a4
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0470
Online Media:

Negative Log Book Number 18, (86-5143 to 88-15270)

Creator:
Smithsonian Institution Archives Smithsonian Photographic Services  Search this
Physical description:
Ink on paper
Type:
Logs (records)
Collection descriptions
Date:
1986
1986-1988
Topic:
Photography--History  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 10-001 [SIA_10-001_NLB18]
Restrictions & Rights:
No restrictions. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Contact SIA Reference Staff for further information (email photos@si.edu)
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_367115
1 Page(s) matching your search term, top most relevant are shown: View entire project in transcription center
  • View Negative Log Book Number 18, (86-5143 to 88-15270) digital asset number 1

Brownie Wise, Tupperware queen : a biography / by Fergus Mason

Author:
Mason, Fergus  Search this
Subject:
Wise, Brownie  Search this
Tupper, Earl Silas  Search this
Tupperware Corporation History  Search this
Physical description:
98 pages ; 21 cm
Type:
Books
History
Place:
United States
Date:
2014
Topic:
Home parties (Marketing)--History  Search this
Plastic container industry--History  Search this
Plastic tableware--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1082021

France Waves "Au Revoir" to Plastic Tableware

Creator:
Smithsonian Magazine  Search this
Type:
Blog posts
Smithsonian staff publications
Blog posts
Published Date:
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:33:44 +0000
Topic:
Search this
See more post:
Smithsonian Article Database
Data Source:
Smithsonian Magazine
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:posts_4b3a509ab14d1ca95f0e6130e48977eb

Winning Nature Photos Capture Triumph and Turmoil in the Animal Kingdom

Creator:
Smithsonian Magazine  Search this
Type:
Blog posts
Smithsonian staff publications
Blog posts
Published Date:
Tue, 14 Feb 2017 19:03:46 +0000
Topic:
Search this
See more post:
Smithsonian Article Database
Data Source:
Smithsonian Magazine
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:posts_80a2683459d5b6b2d7340f3e9755d446

France May Say ‘Au Revoir’ to Fossil-Fueled Vehicles

Creator:
Smithsonian Magazine  Search this
Type:
Blog posts
Smithsonian staff publications
Blog posts
Published Date:
Fri, 07 Jul 2017 19:30:51 +0000
Topic:
Search this
See more posts:
Smithsonian Article Database
Data Source:
Smithsonian Magazine
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:posts_c7a87c7689a6d25de7d1e79ff81db4c4

Why Michigan Banned Banning Plastic Bags

Creator:
Smithsonian Magazine  Search this
Type:
Blog posts
Smithsonian staff publications
Blog posts
Published Date:
Mon, 02 Jan 2017 21:37:41 +0000
Topic:
Search this
See more post:
Smithsonian Article Database
Data Source:
Smithsonian Magazine
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:posts_fd071966b32b5abd8023c8f8f4e47367

Tupperware, transparent / with an introduction of Lieven Daenens ; texts from Moniek E. Bucquoye ... [et al. ; translations, Ilze Raath-Bezuidenhout, Michael Robinson]

Title:
Transparent
Author:
Tupperware Home Parties  Search this
Daenens, Lieven  Search this
Bucquoye, Moniek E  Search this
Design Museum Gent  Search this
Physical description:
189 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 27 cm
Type:
Exhibitions
Place:
United States
Date:
2005
C2005
Topic:
Tupperware (Firm)  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Plastic container industry  Search this
Call number:
HD9662.C664 T8633 2005
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_826216

Articoli in Plexiglas : F.lli Guzzini

Author:
Fratelli Guzzini (Firm)  Search this
Subject:
Fratelli Guzzini (Firm)  Search this
Physical description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 19 cm
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1968
Topic:
Tableware  Search this
Plastic kitchen utensils  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Drinking glasses  Search this
Plexiglas (Brand name)  Search this
Call number:
051937
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_681965

Articoli in Plexiglas

Author:
Fratelli Guzzini (Firm)  Search this
Subject:
Fratelli Guzzini (Firm)  Search this
Physical description:
1 v. (unpaged) : ill. (some col.) ; 20 cm
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1967
[1967]
Topic:
Plastic kitchen utensils  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Flatware  Search this
Salt and pepper shakers  Search this
Plexiglas (Brand name)  Search this
Call number:
051938
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_681966

Melmac dinnerware / by Gregory R. Zimmer & Alvin Daigle, Jr

Author:
Zimmer, Gregory R. 1947-  Search this
Daigle, Alvin  Search this
Physical description:
104 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 28 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1997
C1997
20th century
Topic:
Plastic tableware--Collectors and collecting--Catalogs  Search this
Plastic tableware--History--Catalogs  Search this
Call number:
NK8598.2.T33 Z56 1997
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_518141

Danish Plastics A/S : [brochure of tableware products]

Author:
Dansk Plastics A/S  Search this
Harvey L. Reid Co  Search this
Subject:
Dansk Plastics A/S Catalogs  Search this
Physical description:
[4] p. : col. ill. ; 22 cm
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
19uu
19--]
Topic:
Plastic tableware  Search this
Plastic kitchen utensils  Search this
Call number:
NK8595.2.T34 D36 1900z
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_533358

Tupperware : the promise of plastic in 1950s America / Alison J. Clarke

Author:
Clarke, Alison J  Search this
Subject:
Tupperware (Firm) History  Search this
Physical description:
x, 241 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1999
C1999
Topic:
Plastic container industry--History  Search this
Tableware industry--History  Search this
Plastic tableware--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_568306

Catalog C, 1949 [Tupperware]

Author:
Tupper Corporation  Search this
Physical description:
12 p
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1950
C1950
Topic:
Plastic tableware  Search this
Plastic containers--Catalogs  Search this
Food containers--Catalogs  Search this
Call number:
46817
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_442443

Tupperware : an airtight case for freshness

Author:
Tupper Corporation  Search this
Physical description:
46 p
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1971
C1971
Topic:
Plastic containers--Catalogs  Search this
Food containers--Catalogs  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Toys  Search this
Call number:
46819
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_442471

Tupperware : an airtight case for freshness

Author:
Tupper Corporation  Search this
Physical description:
46 p
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1973
C1973
Topic:
Plastic containers--Catalogs  Search this
Food containers--Catalogs  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Toys  Search this
Call number:
46820
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_442476

Tupperware : an airtight case for freshness

Author:
Tupper Corporation  Search this
Physical description:
31 p
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1975
C1975
Topic:
Plastic containers--Catalogs  Search this
Food containers--Catalogs  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Toys  Search this
Call number:
46821
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_442482

Tupperware home parties

Author:
Tupper Corporation  Search this
Physical description:
39 p
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1979
C1979
Topic:
Plastic containers--Catalogs  Search this
Food containers--Catalogs  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Call number:
46822
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_442491

Tupperware home parties

Author:
Tupper Corporation  Search this
Physical description:
47 [i.e. 59] p
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1983
C1983
Topic:
Plastic containers--Catalogs  Search this
Food containers--Catalogs  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Call number:
46823
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_442495

Tupperware home parties

Author:
Tupper Corporation  Search this
Physical description:
47 [i.e. 59] p
Type:
Catalogs
Trade catalogs
Date:
1983
C1983
Topic:
Plastic containers--Catalogs  Search this
Food containers--Catalogs  Search this
Plastic tableware  Search this
Call number:
46824
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_442513

Modify Your Search







or


Narrow By