Home > Business & Industry
Business and Industry Collections
The Ward M. Canaday Center began collecting historical records from Toledo’s corporations in the late 1980s as the city’s economy began to dramatically change. The first of the collections acquired was the records of Libbey-Owens-Ford Inc. (today Pilkington North America.) Subsequently, the Center collected the records of two other large glass corporations, Owens-Illinois and Owens Corning. Together, these three collections provide documentation of the most important glass corporations in the world and the most important corporations in Toledo’s history. The Center branched out from glass companies to collect the historical records of other large companies that have shaped Toledo’s economy, including the Dana Corporation, Toledo Edison, Toledo Scale, and The Andersons. In addition to these large collections, the Center has also collected materials from smaller companies such as Acklin Stamping; the Toledo, Angola, and Western Railway; Rathbun-Jones Engineering Company; the Holden Rightmyer/American Swiss Company; the Toledo Furnace Company; and Inshield Die and Stamping Company.
Since the late nineteenth century, Toledo has gone from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, from a period of growth to one of steady decline, from union to non-union, and from local company ownership to outside investor control. The story is typical of similar industrial cities of the American Midwest like Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, and Youngstown. But Toledo’s story is also unique. The business and industry leaders (and their workers) who made their lives and fortunes in Toledo shaped who we are as a city, and made us different from those other locales. If we look at our city today, we see important marks left by these individuals that continue to make for a good quality of life in spite of these trends. A first-rate art museum free to all that is the legacy of the founder of the glass industry. The commitment of a number of business-related organizations—many started over 100 years ago—that continue to give back to the city. Beautiful buildings that bear the names of their wealthy benefactors. Vital social service agencies endowed by philanthropists decades ago that continue to serve the city’s neediest. And a university—the dream of a business man in 1872—that provides top-quality education to many.
The records documenting the history of business and industry in Toledo that have been collected by the Canaday Center provide essential documentation for discovering this history. Highlighted here are but a few examples from over 1000 feet of resources available to researchers to study this area.