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Amchem Products, Inc. records


Held at: Wissahickon Valley Historical Society [Contact Us]Whitpain Public School 1895 Building, 799 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, 19422

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Wissahickon Valley Historical Society. 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

James Harvey Gravell was an engineer, innovator, and philanthropist born in Philadelphia in 1880. While employed by Hale-Kilburn Metal Company, Gravell helped develop a chemical treatment for preventing rust and peeling on painted metal. He purchased the patent for the "Deoxidine," and started his own company, the American Chemical Paint Company, in 1914. After operating in a rented space in Philadelphia, Gravell opened an agricultural chemical and paint chemical manufacturing and research facility in Ambler. The company was extremely successful, and Gravell became a rich man.

In 1936, Gravell and the American Chemical Paint Company attracted national attention when, as a Christmas bonus, Gravell paid the outstanding debts and mortgages of all his factory employees. At the same time, he instituted a company profit-sharing plan. Gravell was congratulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and addressed the U.S. Congress about his pamphlet, "The Cause and Cure of the Depression."

After Gravell died in 1939, the company went through some restructuring, including a name-change to AmChem Products, Inc. It was acquired by Henkel in 1980, a company which continues to operate today.


AmChemers. "James Harvey Gravell -- Engineer, Innovator, Philanthropist." Inventory to the collection Amchem Products, Inc. records at the Wissahickon Valley Historical Society.

Amchem records consist of administrative records, photographs, and company publications. The administrative records include a ledger of income and expense, 1934-1938; minutes of weekly meetings, 1933-1939; Tidewater Fertilizer Company director's meeting minutes, 1931-1941; and subject files on products, events, and finances, 1925-1968. There are also a large number of patents dating from 1927-1952. The collection features a large number of photographs depicting views of the factory, company events and conventions, and employees. There are also company publications, including a complete set of American Chemical Paint/Amchem Products News, 1953-1986, arranged chronologically.

Gift of "AmChemers" (former employees of Amchem, Ambler), September 2011.

Wissahickon Valley Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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