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Rubber Division Oral History Collection Online

by Linda R. Raber
September 28, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 39

Oral-history interviews with innovators and leaders of the early rubber industry collected by the ACS Rubber Division are now available in a digital audio format and accessible through the Summit Memory Project (, a collaborative digital project administered by the Akron-Summit County Public Library, in Ohio.

Rubber Division historian Herbert Endres began conducting interviews in 1964 with individuals who made significant contributions to rubber science and technology. Those interviewed include scientists, engineers, publishers, executives, academics, and representatives of the publishing industry and the United Rubber Workers Union. Many of these individuals have been recipients of the Charles Goodyear Medal, the highest scientific award given by the division.

Each interview provides an overview of the narrator's life and a reflection on his achievements and legacy in the rubber industry. Narrators include M. G. (Jerry) O'Neil of General Tire; Edwin J. Thomas of Goodyear; Santoprene inventor Aubert Y. Coran; Neoprene inventor Arnold Collins; Nelson Goodyear, great-grandson of Charles Goodyear; and Waldo Semon, inventor of polyvinyl chloride. The program was continued in 1978 by Benjamin Kastein, a past-chair of the Rubber Division, and then taken up by Shelby Washko.

In 2007, Henry (Hank) J. Inman was commissioned to write the 100-year history of the Rubber Division, "Rubber Mirror: Reflections of the Rubber Division's First 100 Years." Many of the interviews recorded were on reel-to-reel and cassette tapes, so Inman and Rubber Division librarian Christopher Laursen converted the recordings to MP3 digital audio files. These interviews were an invaluable source of material for Inman's research because many of the early officers and past-chairs of the division are deceased.

The Rubber Division's Historic Interviews Collection, which was initiated by Laursen, was combined with the Summit Memory Project with funding provided by a grant from the Robert W. Little Foundation. The collaboration provides digital access to the history of Summit County, Ohio. contains more than 10,000 items contributed by 12 partners and is itself a partner in Ohio's Heritage Northeast, which brings together in one searchable database digital collections from libraries, universities, and other historical organizations throughout northeastern Ohio.

For more information, contact the Special Collections Division at (330) 643-9030 or



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