Norda Essential Oil and Chemical Company Photograph Collection
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.
Overview and metadata sections
The Norda Essential Oil and Chemical Company was founded in 1924 in Boonton, New Jersey by Hermann J. Kohl (1889-1971), a German chemist and pharmacist. Kohl received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Heidelberg University and emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1910. In keeping with Kohl's chemical training, Norda specialized in aromatic chemicals, essential oils, natural and imitation flavors, and pharmaceutical intermediaries for use in perfume, cosmetic, and food products. In its early years, the company achieved great success as a supplier of essential oils for the soap industry, including scents such as lavender, geranium, Rose Marie, and spike and thyme, and reported a total business of $1,680,000 in 1930. However, Kohl's indictment in February 1930 on liquor conspiracy and federal bootlegging charges cast a pall over Norda and its fellow perfume and fragrance companies, many of which were perceived as fronts for the illegal distribution of grain and denatured alcohol during Prohibition. Eventually, the charges against Kohl were dropped in 1934 following Prohibition's repeal and Norda continued to prosper, making its initial public offering on the stock market in March 1962 and registering several patents for scent-related products, such as a sea shell perfume diffuser. In 1985, Norda was acquired by Unilever, an Anglo/Dutch food and fragrance company jointly based out of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
This collection consists of black and white print photographs of the manufacturing and laboratory facilities at the Norda Essential Oil and Chemical Company in Boonton, New Jersey circa 1950s. The collection is essentially divided into two parts: the first half of the photographs document the plant's equipment and supplies, while the latter half depict the laboratory facilities and steps in the manufacturing process, such as compounding, fractionation, and analytical testing. The equipment pictured includes vacuum stills, autoclaves, centrifuges, and spices used in the production of perfumes and essential oils, as well as specialty apparatus like refractometers and micro-stills. All of the photographs in this collection were removed from spiral albums and re-housed during processing, with the original order and descriptions maintained.
Purchased for collection. Kuenzig Books, July 2013.
Processed by Hillary S. Kativa in 2014. Photographs were removed from albums and re-housed during processing with the original order maintained. Object identification numbers were assigned to individual photographs.
- Science History Institute Archives
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- Finding aid created by Hillary S. Kativa and encoded into EAD by Melanie Grear.
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There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.
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