Held at: Science History Institute Archives [Contact Us]315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Science History Institute Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
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Based in Reading, Pennsylvania, the Althouse Chemical Company was founded in 1915 by C. Scott Althouse (1880-1970) as a small, family-owned firm specializing in fabric dyes. While German imported dyes dominated the marked prior World War I, wartime shortages notably spurred the creation of American dye companies like Althouse, which primarily served as a supplier for the associated Neversink Dyeing Company. Over time, a surplus of dyestuffs allowed Althouse to expand its business to the public market, focusing on a limited range of specialty colors of a superior quality and class. In an effort to diversify beyond the manufacture of industrial weaving equipment, the Crompton and Knowles Corporation of Worcester, Massachusetts acquired Althouse in 1954. As a division of Crompton and Knowles, Althouse in turn acquired the Bates Chemical Company, a firm based in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania that specialized in food and cosmetic dyes, in 1960. Together, Althouse and Bates continued to serve as leaders in the specialty dyes industry and eventually combined their operations at a new plant in Gibraltar, Pennsylvania. In 1999, Crompton and Knowles merged with Witco Corp. to become the Crompton Corporation and ultimately ceased its production of dyes before becoming part of the Chemtura Corporation in 2005.
This collection consists of print photographs of the instrumentation and facilities of the Althouse, Bates, and Crompton Chemical Companies collected by Dr. James F. Feeman during his career as a research chemist. The photographs span 1946 to 1974, but primarily document operations at the Althouse Chemical Company facilities in Reading in the 1950s and the Crompton and Knowles Research Laboratories in Gibraltar in the 1960s. The photographs depict various steps in the manufacturing process and instrumentation pictured includes autoclaves, blenders, spectrophotometers, and portable pH meters, as well as equipment used in Althouse's Customer Service and Quality Control Laboratory to gauge the durability and "wash-fastness" of dyed fabric. Photographs from the Customer Service and Quality Control Laboratory likewise capture the preparation of fabric samples to illustrate dye properties and notably highlight Althouse's role as a niche manufacturer of dyes used in apparel, upholstery, and carpeting. Several photographs of Feeman in the laboratory and facilities at the new Crompton and Knowles Research Center in Gibraltar dating from 1974 round out the collection.
Collected by Dr. James F. Feeman during his career as a research chemist with the Althouse, Bates, and Crompton Chemical Companies.
This collection has been digitized in its entirety and is available online in our Digital Collections: https://digital.sciencehistory.org/collections/j098zb128
Separated from the Records of the Althouse, Bates, and Crompton Chemical Companies, 1903-2000 (bulk 1930-1999); Gift of James Feeman, 2004.
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