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Published: Monday, 11/26/2007

University of Toledo library adds Owens Corning's historic collection

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Among the items added to the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections is a sample kit about glass that was handed out or sold at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. Among the items added to the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections is a sample kit about glass that was handed out or sold at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City.
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The University of Toledo's library is now the place to go for comprehensive information about the glass industry.

The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections recently acquired the historical collections of Owens Corning.

More than 200 boxes of materials are being added to the Canaday Center's existing collections of the history of Libbey-Owens-Ford, which has become part of Pilkington, and Owens-Illinois.

"It is the history of the glass industry in Toledo and it is the history of the glass industry in the world," said Barbara Floyd, director of Canaday Center. "If you want to know about the glass industry, this is the place to come."

Almost all aspects of the glass business are now represented - the glass fiber industry through Owens Corning, glass bottle production through Owens-Illinois, and flat-glass construction through Libbey-Owens-Ford.

Barbara Floyd, director of the Canaday Center at the University of Toledo, holds a wreath made from fiber-glass. The center is adding more than 200 boxes of materials from the Owens Corning collection. The center already housed materials from the former Libbey-Owens-Ford and Owens-Illinois. Ms. Floyd said researchers, corporations, and collectors from around the world have sought information from the Canaday Center. Barbara Floyd, director of the Canaday Center at the University of Toledo, holds a wreath made from fiber-glass. The center is adding more than 200 boxes of materials from the Owens Corning collection. The center already housed materials from the former Libbey-Owens-Ford and Owens-Illinois. Ms. Floyd said researchers, corporations, and collectors from around the world have sought information from the Canaday Center.
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Since all of the companies are interrelated with the Glass City's history and stem from the work of Edward Drummond Libbey, it is important they are all kept together, Ms. Floyd said.

"These companies all come from one man and in many ways they are interrelated," she said.

"For us, it's so wonderful to have them all together."

The Canaday Center's experience made it a logical place to house Owens Corning's records, company spokesman Jason Saragian said.

"Given the historical archives the University of Toledo has on the glass industry, Owens Corning felt it was the most appropriate place to house its historical records," he said.

The center began receiving records from Owens Corning in August and continues to get more. It probably will be another nine months before everything is inventoried and ready for public view, Ms. Floyd said.

Kim Brownlee pauses in UT s Canaday Center, which has added to its collection of materials about the glass industry.
Kim Brownlee pauses in UT s Canaday Center, which has added to its collection of materials about the glass industry.
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"It's kind of like Christmas because every box you open, you never know what you're going to find," she said.

The center received the Libbey-Owens-Ford collection in 1989 and the Owens-Illinois collection about two years ago, Ms. Floyd said.

The Owens Corning Fiberglas Corporation was founded in 1938 after Owens-Illinois collaborated with Corning Glass Works in Corning, N.Y., to experiment with glass fibers when Prohibition and the Great Depression reduced the need for glass bottles.

"As the newest kid on the block in the glass industry, its history is not as long, but it's certainly as important," Ms. Floyd said.

Fiber-glass, or the Owens Corning trademark Fiberglas, is lightweight, strong, flexible, can withstand severe changes in temperature, and is nonflammable.

The Owens Corning historical collection includes a photograph from the 1939 World s Fair in New York City. The Canaday Center archive also features ads, videos, and glass products. The Owens Corning historical collection includes a photograph from the 1939 World s Fair in New York City. The Canaday Center archive also features ads, videos, and glass products.
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Its most popular use is insulation, but it's also been used to reinforce tires, bathroom sinks, clothing, and other products.

The spacesuit Neil Armstrong wore as the first man to walk on the moon in 1969 included Owens Corning Fiberglas. The product also was used in the roof of the Pontiac Silverdome and the body of the popular Chevrolet Corvette of the 1950s.

The glass industry archive of all three companies at the Canaday Center includes photographs, advertising material, architectural drawings, videos, and products, such as more than 1,000 Owens-Illinois glass bottles and a racing suit made with Owens Corning Fiberglas.

The Canaday Center's collection, on the fifth floor of the UT Carlson Library, draws researchers from many of the major universities in Ohio, as well as people from across the country and world. Corporations also call for glass information, as do collectors, and everyday people who get an antique and want to know the story behind it, Ms. Floyd said.

"It's amazing how the glass industry in Toledo has had a worldwide impact," she said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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