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Corning Glass Works Collection

Identifier: MS-0027

Scope and Contents

This collection contains materials gathered over several decades pertaining to Corning Glass Works (since 1989, Corning Incorporated) and its products. Researchers should note that Corning Incorporated maintains its historic records of enduring value within the the Corning Incorporated Archives. The Corning Incorporated Archives may be reached at the following email address:

This collection consists of two series:

(1) Subject Files, 1868-2013

(2) Corning Glass Center Documentation, Circa 1950-1959


  • Creation: 1868-2013


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Researchers must make an appointment to view this collection.

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.

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.


Dyer, D. _Corning: A Story of Discovery and Reinvention_. Corning, NY: Corning Incorporated, 2001.

Vogt, D. L. "Special Relationship: An Anecdotal History of Corning Glass Works and Corning, New York," 1980. Corning Incorporated Archives. Corning, New York.


6.0 Linear Feet (4 Hollinger boxes and 2 flat boxes)

Custodial History

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

Separated Materials

Materials restricted to use by Corning Inc. employees were returned to the Corning Incorporated Archives in June 2019. These materials include:

Box 20: Production manual, 1963-1966; Operating manual for duplex spinner, 1963 Box 21: Navy Department Specifications for glass on ships, 1916-1935; Railway Signal Association manual, 1918-1927; GRS Color Light and Position Light Signals, 1925; General Electric X-Ray Corp, circa 1930; Air Corps Specifications for glass on planes, 1933-1936; Westinghouse Aviation Lighting price list, 1935-1937; Corning Glass Works thermometer tubing price lists, circa 1945-1964; Loose items, undated; Box 22: Crouse-Hinds Company Lighting Equipment, 1940 Box 23: Corning Glass Works B + C Factory wage incentive standards, 1962-1963 Box 24: Blueprints for semaphore annealing furnace, 1905-1906 Box 25: Blueprint for main plant, March 22, 1937 Box 26: Various blueprints, circa 1930s-1950s

A graphic standards identity manual (1978) and various promotional materials for photochromic lenses for eyeglasses (circa 1983) were also returned to the Corning Incorporated Archives.

Clippings relating to events and exhibitions of The Corning Museum of Glass and Corning Glass Center were moved to CMOG RG04 S02, External Media about The Corning Museum of Glass Newspaper and Magazine Clippings in July 2021.

Corning Glass Works Newsletters and Magazines, 1919-1989, formerly Series 01, was separated from the collection and transferred to periodicals in September 2019.

Corning Glass Works Collection, 1868-2013
A Guide to the Collection
Sandra Glascock
October 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The Rakow Research Library Manuscript Collection Repository

The Rakow Research Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
Five Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA