Dennison Manufacturing Company records
Conditions Governing Access
258 linear feet (62 volumes, 425 boxes)
The collection is organized in to seven series: Corporate records, Manufacturing and Works records, Marketing records, Financial records, Research records, Office Service Department records and Foreign Office records. The organization of the collection roughly follows the structural organization of the company. While the inclusive dates of the collection range rom 1815 to 1990, the bulk of the materials date from circa 1900 to 1970.
The mid to late 19th century saw numerous products introduced by E. W. Dennison, who improved the product so that it became the best and most sought after on the market and under the Dennison name. In order to grow the business, Dennison needed to mechanize the box making process. Dennison introduced the box machine to meet the growing demand of jewelers and watch makers, who began ordering large numbers of boxes. Until the introduction of the box machine, the boxes were still being made one at a time, by hand. The machine mechanized and sped up the box-making process. The company continued to expand, and a larger, centrally located factory was needed. Dennison chose Boston, Mass., as the site of the new factory in order to be close to the city's retail store.
In 1854, Dennison introduced card stock to hold jewelry and jewelry tags. Dennison's tags became wildy popular and the business began to expand rapidly, from the jewelry industry to textile manufacturers and retail merchants. E.W. Dennison noticed a deficiency in the quality of shipping tags and patented a paper washer that reinforced the hole in the tag. Sales of tags hit ten million in the first year. Stationery gummed labels were introduced just after the end of the Civil War. These labels had an adhesive on the back side and were manufactured to stick on boxes, crates or bags. The tag business alone required E.W. Dennison to move his factory in order to fulfill demand. The boxes, shipping tags, merchandise tags, labels and jeweler's cards were moved to the new factory in Roxbury in 1878. That same year the company was officially incorporated as the Dennison Manufacturing Company.
In just over thirty years, the company grew from a small jewelry box maker to a large manufacturer of paper products under the direction of E.W. Dennison and his partner and treasurer Albert Metcalf. Dennison died in 1886 and his son, Henry B. Dennison succeeded him as president of the company. Henry B. Dennison had worked for the company for many years, having opened the Chicago store in 1868 and served as superintendent of the factories since 1869. Henry B. Dennison served as president of the company for only six years and resigned due to poor health in 1892. Henry K. Dyer was then elected president, and under his direction the company consolidated its many factories and operations. In 1897, the Dennison Manufacturing Company purchased the Para Rubber Company plant located on the railroad line in Framingham, Mass. The box division was transferred from Brunswick, Maine; the wax and crepe paper operations from the Brooklyn, NY factory; and the labels and tags from the Roxbury plant. The move was complete in 1898 and the factory was up and running. The factory was divided into five manufacturing divisions: first, the jewelry line, which included boxes, cases, display trays; second, the consumers' line of shipping tags, gummed labels, baggage check and specialty paper items; third, the dealers' line which included all stock products sold to dealers and some consumers; fourth, the crepe paper line; and fifth, the holiday line. Also located at the Framingham plant were financial offices, advertising and marketing departments, sales division and director's offices. Although the company was divided into divisions, all aspects of the company worked together in unison to plan and execute the production, marketing, and sale of a product. The Dennison Mfg. Co. planned well in advance of any sale by conducting market research, reviewing past statistics and gauging future interest in products.
Henry Sturgis Dennison, grandson of the founder, began working for the family business after graduating from Harvard in 1899. He held various jobs at the company including foreman of the wax department and in the factory office. He was promoted to works-manager in 1906, director in 1909 and treasurer in 1912. In 1917, H.S. Dennison was elected president of the company. While serving as president of the company, H.S. Dennison oversaw the international expansion of the firm, consolidation and streamlining of certain processes and procedures, reduction in working hours, implementation of employee profit sharing plans, an unemployment fund and the creation of company wellness facilities. H.S. Dennison was heavily focused on getting the highest quality work out of each of his employees and eagerly sought their advice and suggestions for improving working conditions and manufacturing processes. He employed market analysis and research when venturing into a new sales territory or rolling out a new product. His focus on industrial management led him to be a prolific writer, speaker, and expert advisor on the topic. Outside of his management of the company, he served as an advisor to the administrations of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and lectured at Harvard Business School. Henry Sturgis Dennison served as president of the Dennison Manufacturing Company until his death in 1952.
Dennison's long time director of research and vice president, John S. Keir, was elected to succeed him in 1952. Keir only served for a short time, and continued running the company the way Dennison would have. After World War II, an emphasis was placed on manufacturing products that appealed to women, especially housewives. New products included photo corners, picture hangers, stationery, scotch tape, diaper liners and school supply materials for children. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Dennison Manufacturing Company began actively researching new products and proposed acquiring small, competing office product companies with new technologies. This effort was undertaken by president Nelson S. Gifford in order to diversify Dennison's product line, maximize profits for shareholders, and keep the company fresh. In 1975, Dennison acquired the Carter's Ink Company, a Boston, Mass. based manufacturer of ink and writing utensils. This acquisition and others broadened Dennison's product line as the company moved away from paper manufacture to a manufacturer of all office products.
Dennison Manufacturing Company merged with Avery Products in 1990 to become, Avery-Dennison, a global manufacturer of pressure sensitive adhesive labels and packaging materials solutions.
- Series I. Corporate records, 1815-1990
- ___Subseries IA. Central subject files, 1878-1988
- ___Subseries IB. Board of Directors records, 1878-1990
- ___Subseries IC. Henry S. Dennison records, 1896-1958
- ___Subseries ID. Nelson S. Gifford records, 1928-1978
- ___Subseries IE. Phillip B. Hamilton records, 1970-1974
- ___Subseries IF. Correspondence, 1815-1953
- ___Subseries IG. Carter's Ink records, 1958-1974
- Series II. Manufacturing and Works records, 1901-1980
- ___Subseries IIA. Works Committee records, 1901-1962
- ___Subseries IIB. Merchandise Committee reports, 1906-1973
- ___Subseries IIC. Order Handling, 1905-1980
- ___Subseries IID. Factory and Warehousing, 1907-1965
- Series III. Marketing records, 1875-1969
- ___Subseries IIIA. Sales records, 1875-1931
- ___Subseries IIIB. Advertising and Sales Promotion records, 1900-1969
- ___Subseries IIIC. Records of Retail Stores, 1875-1953
- ___Subseries IIID. Records of Sales Territories, 1907-1939
- ___Subseries IIIE. Market Research, Planning and Pricing records, 1903-1967
- ___Subseries IIIF. Correspondence, 1908-1932
- Series IV. Financial records, 1879-1982
- ___Subseries IVA. Treasurer's records and Budget office, 1879-1982
- ___Subseries IVB. Central Accounting and Controller's records, 1928-1978
- ___Subseries IVC. Statistical records, 1899-1962
- ___Subseries IVD. Purchasing Department records, 1908-1965
- Series V. Research records, 1909-1972
- ___Subseries VA. John S. Keir records, 1924-1959
- ___Subseries VB. Research and Development records and reports, 1909-1972
- Series VI. Office Service Department records, 1901-1967
- Series VII. Foreign Office records, 1896-1987
- ___Subseries VIIA. London Office records, 1896-1968
- ___Subseries VIIB. Berlin Office records, 1913-1929
- ___Subseries VIIC. International Office records, 1915-1987
By: Benjamin Johnson
- Dennison Manufacturing Company. Dennison Manufacturing Company Records, 1815-1990: A Finding Aid
- Baker Library
- EAD ID
Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository
Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.
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