Insulator Factories -- Part of the Community
Reprinted from "Crown Jewels of the Wire", September 2001, page 21
4086 Blackstone Avenue
Gurnee, IL 60031 847-782-8602
Usually when collectors think of insulator factories, the focus is on the
products they manufacture, not the role the factory has in the community.
Nevertheless, insulator companies are major contributors to the community. Their
contribution comes in the form of employment, community involvement, and, to a
very minor extent, what I will label as tourism. This display presents some of
the tangible signs of these contributions.
The Ohio Brass Company provided jobs for these three
employees - badges for identification.
From Square-D Company, an employee service anniversary pin.
Hemingray advertised in the Muncie, Indiana high
school yearbooks in the 1930s as did Ohio Brass in the Mansfield, Ohio
yearbooks. None encouraged graduates to become employees of their company.
Educational Materials for Schools
A 1939 booklet by Owens-Illinois
specifically does appeal to potential employees by stating that, "The
Company has always had the reputation of paying its employees as high wages in
all brackets of the industry as any glass manufacturing plant."
City Anniversary Celebrations and Histories
Local companies published their
own histories (Akron Porcelain and Plastic - formerly Mogadore Insulator
Company) or were included in community histories (R. Thomas & Sons in
sesquicentennial celebration book of Lisbon, Ohio). The Square-D Company
produced this paperweight for the Peru, Indiana Centennial celebration in 1949.
Company Tours and Postcards
A booklet by Porcelain Plant of Westinghouse in
Derry, Pennsylvania was issued for a 1947 tour that described what the visitor
would see and a 1939 publication of Owens-Illinois welcomed "college people
and older children who are genuinely interested in the work and in the processes
by which their products are made."
Many postcards related to insulators
companies were used exclusively by the company in the course of their business
(e.g., soliciting business, advertising wares, or allowing potential customers
to request a catalog). However, some postcards with views of factories were sold
to tourists and residents.
This display probably just touches the tip of the iceberg in terms
of ways insulators companies contributed to the community. Many contributions
probably had no tangible artifacts. Other contributions are buried in sources
the average collector would not think to consult -- like high school yearbooks
or community histories.
It's generally agreed that insulators were instrumental
in opening up the world to communication and electrical technologies. What is
not always recognized is that they also helped sustain the communities that
(Information compiled by Rick Soller for display handout.)
Insulator Factories -- Part of the Community by Rick Soller