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Thermos Company Collection

 Collection
Identifier: 1989-0098

Scope and Content

The records in the collection consist of materials gathered by former employees of the Thermos Company> in an effort to document the history of the company after its closed in 1988. It consists, in large part, of employee photographs, company newsletters and annual reports, and memorabilia.

Dates

  • 1908-1987

Access

The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.

History

In 1906, William Walker, an American businessman visiting Germany, learned of the invention of the vacuum bottle. He immediately began to import and market the new product in the United States. The following year, Walker created the American Thermos Bottle Company and began producing vacuum bottles in a Brooklyn, New York, factory. The product met with such success that the expanded New York plant proved inadequate within the first five years. Walker moved the Thermos Company to Norwich, Connecticut, in 1913. Five years later, the company had nearly doubled its size, and after World War II a second plant was opened in Norwich's Taftville section. The Thermos Company became Norwich's largest employer, with more than 1000 workers.

In 1969, the Thermos Company was sold to Household International, Inc., and in 1984, warehousing and manufacturing at the original plant in the Laurel Hill section of Norwich was consolidated into the Taftville location. In 1986, Household International announced that its Thermos division would be relocated to Freeport, Illinois. Thermos production in Norwich ended in 1988.

Chronology

1643
First vacuum created by Italian physicist, Torricelli, while experimenting.
1892
First use of vacuum as means of temperature retention by James Dewar, English scientist who used vacuum flasks in laboratory.
1903
"Dewar Flask" idea patented for domestic use by two Germans.
1904
Contest conducted by German newspapers to name vacuum bottle. Named "Thermos" (from Greek work therme meaning heat) by Munich resident.
1906
William B. Walker secured patent rights and trademark from "Thermos" vacuum bottles, imported them from Germany and sold them in the United States.
1907
The American Thermos Bottle Company incorporated in Portland, Maine (1/31/07).
"Thermos" vacuum bottles first produced in United States in Brooklyn, New York.
1908
The American Thermos Bottle Company of New York organized (9/23/08).
National advertising begun in The Saturday Evening Post and widespread national publicity popularized "Thermos" vacuum bottles.
1912
Thermos negotiates to move to city of Norwich, Connecticut, and production begins in early 1913.
1919
King-Seeley Corporation formed.
Plants opened in Japan and Huntington, West Virginia.
1920
Thermos Limited of London purchased.
1923
Company reorganized and new era of expansion begun.
1925
Icy-Hot Bottle Company
1933
Automation and mass production methods begun.
1942
98 percent of production tables for military usage during World War II.
1946
Norwich, Connecticut
1952
Plastene Corporation
First character school lunch kits produced.
1955
Hemp & Company
1956
The American Thermos Products Company
1958
Anaheim, California
1960
King-Seeley Corporation
1962
Plastene Corporation
1968
King-Seeley Thermos Company
1970
Dinex insulated ware and institutional market acquired.
1971
Norton Company
1977
Tent orders no longer accepted (2/1/77).
1981
Household International, Inc.
1982
Household Manufacturing
1984
Anaheim plant sold (4/84).
Macomb closed (5/84).
Glass manufacturing ceased at Laurel Hill (Norwich, Connecticut) (9/28/84).
1985
Dinex International, Inc.
1986
Freeport, Illinois

Extent

12 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

In 1906, William Walker, an American businessman,visiting Germany, learned of the invention of the vacuum bottle. He immediately began to import and market the new product in the United States. The following year, Walker created the American Thermos Bottle Company and began producing vacuum bottles in a Brooklyn, New York, factory. The product met with such success that the expanded New York plant proved inadequate within the first five years. Walker moved the Thermos Company to Norwich, Connecticut, in 1913. Five years later, the company had nearly doubled its size, and after World War II a second plant was opened in Norwich's Taftville section. The Thermos Company became Norwich's largest employer, with more than 1000 workers.

Organization

Series I: Annual Reports (1928-1955) contains reports, with some gaps, arranged chronologically.

Series II: Newsletters (1943-1987) contains various Thermos Company publications arranged chronologically.

Series III: Company History (undated, 1984) contains materials such as a history of the company, maps, newspaper clippings, and publicity city Richard Byrd's use of Thermos Company products on his arctic expedition. Pieces of memorabilia, such as visitor pins, employee service pins, and a sample of glass from the last batch produced at the Norwich plant, are included in this series. The materials are arranged alphabetically.

Series IV: Catalogs/Price Lists (1918-1940) contains catalogs and price lists arranged chronologically.

Series V: Photographs (undated, 1946-1969) consists of photographs taken by the Thermos Company photographer of the Thermos plant, its facilities, and employees, as well as informal snapshots of Thermos outings. The photographs have been arranged by subject under such headings as Awards/Presentations, Employee Outings, Employees, Machinery, Production, Products, and Tours. Also included in this series are oversize photographs of the Thermos plant and employees, a display letter from Richard Byrd, as well as a videotape of an oral history project conducted by the Thermos Company. Except for the oversize materials, the series is arranged alphabetically.

Series VI: Negatives (undated, 1950-1970) contains packages of negatives, many of them identified.

Acquisition Information

The materials in the collection were donated to the University of Connecticut Libraryies in 1989/1990 by former employees of the Thermos Company in order to insure that some of the history of the company would be preserved in Connecticut. The carafe was donated in June 2007 by Ms. Andrea Colwell of Manistique, Michigan.

Location of Copies or Alternate Formats

Digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives Special Collections digital repository.

Title
Thermos Company Collection
Status
Published
Author
Archives & Special Collections staff
Date
2002 June
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

Contact:
University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US
860-486-2524