C.H. Dexter Company Records
Scope and Content
The collection contains materials relevant to the production and sale of paper products, including administrative, property, financial, and legal records, in addition to product samples, advertising, publications, reports and photographs. This collection also includes a small number of administrative and financial documents from water and electric companies in the Windsor Locks, Connecticut, area in which Dexter had interests.
The administrative files (1871-1999) contain documents from the company when it was a family business (prior to 1967), and from the Dexter Corporation, including documents concerning the name changes of the company. Those earlier documents include correspondence with other Connecticut paper businesses, a small number of employee records and information on the personal affairs of H. R. Dexter. The documents from Dexter Corporation are primarily annual reports. One item of interest is the "War Bonds Drive Manual" (c.1952), a complete guide (including instructions, sample letters and fliers, posters and incentives) to encourage employees to sign up for a payroll deduction for bonds to support the Korean War.
The Land Records (c.1829-1988) include property deeds and records of sales and purchases, as well as records of land transactions with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company. There are also records from several Connecticut River improvement projects in which Dexter had clear interests, as the company depended on the river for production.
While containing some documents from anti-trust court cases from the first half of the twentieth century, the Legal Documents (1862-1997) has a full record of the company's trademarks and patents, both foreign and domestic. The company's original organization of these files has been preserved, with the initial trademark registrations being arranged by date, and the subsequent registration renewals for foreign trademarks being arranged by country.
The company's financial records (1854-1981) include sales and inventory records, receipts, and cash ledgers, as well as a complete record of audits from 1925 to 1976. Stock ledgers, tax documents and records of the company's interactions with its financial institution, the Phoenix State Bank & Trust, are included as well.
The company produced handbooks and manuals, employee newsletters, company histories and later, various brochures and pamphlets for the divisions of the corporation which are organized in Publications (1914-1993). These publications are divided into those commissioned by the company and those written about the company.
There are early twentieth-century advertisements from the company's original paper products as well as print ads from the latter part of the century in the Advertising and Product Samples Series (1956-1988). Samples of their products include manifold tissues, toilet tissues, Sta-brite silverware tissue, paper covers, and tea bags. There are many volumes of the company's periodically published "house organ," the XTRA, a literary advertising booklet. Several binders, containing samples of tissue colors and qualities, show the range of products the company made available at the turn of the twentieth century.
Memorabilia (1950-1998) include photographs, portrait sketches, framed photographs, photographs of corporate headquarters, Dexter physical plants, long-range planning meetings, and the visit to Chirnside, Scotland, by Princess Anne in 1972. There are also three films documenting Dexter's opening of a plant in Scotland and the visit of the princess to Chirnside, along with some company longevity tokens.
C.H. Dexter Company collected some of the records of several affiliated businesses in the Windsor Locks from 1848-1936. The following companies with whom C.H. Dexter & Sons had administrative connections and stock holdings are represented in the collection: Connecticut River Company, Northern Connecticut Securities Company, Northern Connecticut Power Company, Northern Connecticut Light and Power Company, Stafford Springs Aqueduct Company, Coffin Realty Company, and the Grove Cemetery. Dexter held stock in some of the companies, and in others it was directly involved in administrative capacities (see the Coffin Realty Company and the Connecticut River Company records). One of the affiliated businesses, the Grove Cemetery, was established by the grandson of Seth Dexter [the founder of C. H. Dexter] as the family burial grounds in Windsor Locks.
Some of the companies whose records are located here merged in 1926 to form the Northern Connecticut Power Company: The Northern Connecticut Power Co., Connecticut River Co., Northern Connecticut Light and Power Co., Thompsonville Water Co., Somers Electric Co., and Stafford Springs Aqueduct Co. were consolidated into one company. This consolidated company operated until 1936, when it again split into separate business entities. The interest of Dexter in these dynamics, in addition to its stock holdings, was especially strong, given the relationship of its production to the water and electric companies.
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.
The Dexter Corporation began in 1767 as a small, family-operated mill on land in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, purchased by Seth Dexter for his son, Seth Dexter. Originally a saw and grist mill, the business added a paper mill and began marketing specialty papers in the mid-nineteenth century. In its third generation of family ownership, under the direction of Charles Haskell Dexter, the company established itself as the C. H. Dexter Co. and developed products for a well-defined market of papers and tissues. Their Star Mills Medicated Manila Tissue was the first commercially-manufactured tissue. Together with his son, Edwin Dexter, and his son-in-law, H. R. Coffin, C.H. Dexter moved the company into the twentieth century as C. H. Dexter and Sons, Co. In 1914 the company was incorporated and was headed by A. D. Coffin, the son of H. R. Coffin.
The years of the depression in the 1930s saw the company's further evolution with the development of the Long Fiber Papers, and through mergers and divestments. In addition to its specialty tissues and paper covers, the company began producing tea bags and meat casings. To protect its interests in the markets it served, C. H. Dexter and Sons, Inc. carefully patented its products and logos, both domestically and internationally.
By the mid-twentieth century, having established the quality of its specialized papers, C. H. Dexter and Sons, Inc., began production of industrial finishes and laminates. The company renamed itself the Dexter Corporation in 1966 to reflect its expansion and development. In response to economic fluctuations and its new market interests, the company actively acquired, developed and divested itself of numerous subsidiaries. Simultaneously, Dexter Corporation moved further into international markets with plants in Scotland and Japan.
In 1999-2000, when a hostile takeover threatened to displace over 200 years of operations, the Dexter Corporation dismantled, merging its Life Sciences division with Invitrogen Corporation and its Specialty Polymers division with Loctite Corporation. Its Nonwovens Division was sold to the Finish company Ahlstrom Paper Group.
112.5 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The Dexter Corporation originated from a family-owned saw and grist mill that began in 1767 in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and evolved into a multi-national producer of long fiber papers and chemical laminates. In its 233 years of operation, the company grew from manufacturing tissues, toilet paper, and tea bags to marketing more specialized products like medical garments and industrial finishes. Faced with a proposed buyout by International Specialty Products Incorporated in 2000, the Dexter Corporation separated its three divisions and sold them off to avoid a hostile takeover. The Life Sciences division merged with Invitrogen Corporation. The Specialty Polymers division was sold in part to Akzo Nobel, and the remaining businesses merged with Loctite Corporation. The third division, Dexter Nonwoven Materials, located on the company's original site in Windsor Locks, was sold to the Finnish Ahlstrom Paper Group. The physical plant was expected to continue operating, but the corporate headquarters were closed.
Series I: Administrative Records (1871-1999).
Subseries A. Family Papers (1871-1940)
Subseries B. Name Change Records (1914-1966)
Subseries C. Correspondence (1891-1961)
Subseries D. Annual Reports (1967-1999)
Subseries E. Proposals and Contracts (1894-1965)
Subseries F. Property Assessments (1914-1962)
Subseries G. Labor and Employee Records (1908-1969)
Series II: Land Records (c. 1829-1988)
Subseries A: Early Land Documents (c. 1829-1917)
Subseries B: Land Documents (1902-1963)
Subseries C: Railroad Documents (1844-1959)
Subseries D: Connecticut River Improvements (1868-1977)
Subseries E: Property Records (1847-1988)
Series III: Legal Documents (1862-1997)
Subseries A: Licenses, Patents and Copyrights (1862-1953)
Subseries B: Domestic Trademark Registrations (1909-1997)
Subseries C: International Trademark Registrations (1915-1945)
Subseries D: International Trademark Renewals (1918-1997)
Subseries E: Court Cases (1890-1960)
Series IV: Financial Records (1854-1981)
Subseries A: Records of Transactions (1854-1945)
Subseries B: Records for C.H. Dexter Stock (1917-1981) **wrapped ledgers
Subseries C: Tax Documents (1920-1952) **incl. oversize
Subseries D: Financial Reports (1914-1976)
Series V: Publications (1900-1993)
Subseries A: Internal Histories (1900-1988)
Subseries B: Publications by Dexter Corporation (1970-1975)
Subseries C: Newsletters (1955-1987)
Subseries D: Other Publications (1914-1993)
Series VI: Advertising and Product Samples (c. 1880-1992)
Subseries A: Advertisements (1956-1988)
Subseries B: Advertising Booklets (XTRA House Organ) (undated)
Subseries C: Product Samples (undated, c. 1880-1932)
Series VII: Photographs and Memorabilia (1950-1998)
Subseries A: Photographs (1966-1995)
Subseries B: Films (1972-1973)
Subseries C: Longevity Tokens (1967)
Subseries D: Dexter Memorabilia (1978-1990)
Subseries E: Other Memorabilia (1950-1998)
Series VIII: Affiliated Businesses (1848-1936)
Subseries A: Connecticut River Company (1848-1926)
Subseries B: Northern Connecticut Securities Company (1913-1926)
Subseries C: Northern Connecticut Power Company (1905-1936)
Subseries D: Northern Connecticut Light & Power Company (1904-1926)
Subseries E: Stafford Springs Aqueduct Company (1885-1926)
Subseries F: Coffin Realty Company (1909-1926)
Subseries G: Grove Cemetery Documents (1859-1925)
The materials were donated to the University by the Dexter Corporation in 2000.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of this collection have been digitized and digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository
The following materials were removed for cataloging:
The Conservative Advocate Dodd C5946.
- Administrative records Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Advertisements Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Connecticut (state) Subject Source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
- Correspondence Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Financial records Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Paper industry Subject Source: Fast
- Photographs Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Reports Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- C.H. Dexter Company Records
- Archives & Special Collections staff
- 2002 December 05
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- This finding aid was prepared with generous support from the Simon and Doris Konover Endowment Fund.
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