Post-World War I Research

August 1st, 2011 by Lindsay

With the conclusion of World War I, George A. Richter and a number of scientists from the Chemical Warfare Service returned to Berlin ready to expand Brown Company’s research program and create new post-war products.  Perhaps the most notable new arrival was William E. Corbin, whose name spelled backwards, Nibroc, would later be identified with the company’s paper towels products.  Over the next 40 years a number of leading scientists joined the department’s staff.  Through their combined efforts Brown Company held almost 800 patents in the United States and Canada by 1946.  Many of their successes related to improvements to product production.

Portrait of Dr. George A. Richter, 1957

 

George A. Richter served as director of research for Brown Company from 1919 to 1940.  During that period some 400 patents were granted to Dr. Richter.  He specialized in highly purified and high brightness pulps for use in photographic paper.  He was only the second American to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the Chalmers Technical Institute of the University of Goteborg in Sweden.

 

 

Portrait of W. E. Corbin, 1920

 

W. E. Corbin joined Richter at Brown Company following World War I and was recognized as an outstanding expert in kraft paper.  Most notably, Corbin was instrumental in the development of the first wet-strength paper towel (Nibroc), which soon became an important and profitable product.

 

 

 

George A. Day, 1946

 

George A. Day became director of the department after Richter retired.  He had joined the company 20 years earlier after a short career with a consulting laboratory in Toronto.  Under Day the research department boasted over 25 university-trained scientists and 50 research assistants.

 

 

 

Products that Brown Company scientists developed included waxed paper, kraft paper twine, photographic pulp, synthetic insoles, paper filters, sand paper, and cellophane.

 

Bales of pulp ready to be shipped to Eastman Kodak Company, 1936

 

Nibroc towels, 1921