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Corning Glass Works Collection

 Collection
Identifier: BIB-110988
This collection contains materials gathered over several decades pertaining to the Corning Glass Works (now known as Corning Incorporated) company and its products.

The primary series in this collection is Series I. Periodicals, which is comprised of the employee newsmagazine spanning the years 1919-1989. First known as the Cullet, this periodical was published to inform Corning Glass Works employees about corporate and personnel activities. This collection does not include a full run of the newsmagazine. Also in this series is the Corning Glassmaker, a periodical produced for an external audience such as suppliers, shareholders and customers. Another significant series of the collection is Series II. Subject Files, which contains materials on a variety of topics including information on the company’s principal products, the Houghton family and manufacturing history. The majority of items in each file are photocopies.

The collection also contains documents and newspaper clippings on the Corning Glass Center, which was the name of the complex consisting of the museum, the Hall of Science and Industry, and the Steuben Glass factory from 1951-1998; publications such as corporate literature for employees, as well as books for the public produced by the company; and blueprints.

Dates

  • 1868-2013 [inclusive dates]
  • Majority of material found in 1919-1989 [ dates]

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Portions of this collection are open to researchers, others are restricted due to fragility of materials and proprietary information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.

Extent

28 Boxes

20 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

In 1851 Amory Houghton, an enterprising merchant from Massachusetts, decided to become involved in the glassmaking industry. After a decade of directing several different companies, Houghton and his son, Amory Houghton Jr., purchased the Brooklyn Flint Glass Works in Brooklyn, New York in 1864. Both men served as directors and officers at the company. Financial difficulties, though, as well as a fire in the factory forced the Houghtons to take extreme measures in order to save the company. In May of 1868, the board of Brooklyn Flint Glass agreed to move its entire business to Corning, New York after a local banker, Elias Hungerford, convinced the Houghtons that the town could be transformed into a center of glassmaking. Just five months after the move, the Corning Flint Glass Works opened its new factory. The initial products included goblets, globes, jars, fruit dishes, lamp chimneys, and glass blanks for cutters and engravers. In 1875, the company was incorporated as the Corning Glass Works.

After operating successfully for several years, Amory Houghton, Jr., the company’s president, decided to focus on a few specialty products. These included colored glass for railroad signal lenses, blown glass for lamp globes and chimneys, glass tubing for scientific and industrial uses, and glass blanks for cut crystal glassware. The high quality of the company’s crystal glass blanks stimulated the development of a local industry dedicated to glass cutting and engraving. By the turn of the century, cut glass firms such as J. Hoare & Co. and H. P. Sinclaire & Co. enabled the town of Corning to promote itself as “the Crystal City.”

In the early 20th century Amory Houghton Jr.’s sons, Alanson and Arthur, began to institute significant changes at Corning Glass Works. In 1908 they established a research and development laboratory dedicated to the study of scientific glass and hired Dr. Eugene Sullivan to lead and organize the new department. Dr. Sullivan, who earned his PhD at the University in Leipzig in Germany, hired physicists, chemists, and optical scientists to collaborate in the newly formed research facility. Due to the innovations of Dr. Sullivan and his staff, Corning Glass Works was able to expand its light bulb making business, manufacture more laboratory glassware, and begin making optical glass. In 1913 the Research & Development team made a breakthrough in the production of temperature-resistant borosilicate glass. Marketed as Pyrex, this highly durable cookware and laboratory glass was one of Corning Glass Works’ most successful products.

Throughout the twentieth century, Corning Glass Works continued to gain a worldwide reputation for its innovation. In 1935, Dr. George McCauley, a Corning physicist, designed and produced a 200” mirror blank, regarded as the world’s largest piece of glass at the time, for the Hale Telescope at Mount Palomar. Corning also mass produced TV picture tubes, a contribution allowing millions of people to afford televisions. In 1994, Corning received the National Medal of Technology for life-changing and life-enhancing inventions.

The company is now known as Corning Incorporated, and produces advanced optics products, science equipment such as microplates and petri dishes, optical cables, environmental filters, pharmaceutical tubing, and much more. Corning Incorporated has research centers distributed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The Corning Glass Works tower that once produced thermometer tubes, fondly known as Little Joe, still stands over the town of Corning today.

Bibliography:

Dyer, D. (2001). Corning: A story of discovery and reinvention. Corning, NY: Corning Incorporated.

Vogt, D. L. (1980). Special relationship: An anecdotal history of Corning Glass Works and Corning, New York. Corning, NY: Corning Glass Works, Corporate Archives.

Arrangement

The Corning Glass Works Collection is arranged in 5 series. Series I. Periodicals, 1919-1989; Series II. Subject Files, 1868-2013; Series III. Corning Glass Center, 1952-1962; Series IV. Publications, 1916-1983; and Series V. Blueprints, 1905-circa 1950s.

Custodial History

This collection is of mixed provenance, gathered over a number of years.

Related Materials

Corning Glass Works Photograph Collection

Creator

Title
Corning Glass Works Collection, 1868-2013
Status
completed
Author
Sandra Glascock
Date
October 2016
Description rules
dacs

Repository Details

Part of the Rakow Research Library Repository

Contact:
Rakow Research Library
Corning Museum of Glass
5 Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA
607.438.5300