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Fred Conley Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Conley, Fred (Fay Oliver)
Title: Fred Conley Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1939-1990
Quantity: .25 linear ft. (oversize flat box)
Abstract: Clippings, memorabilia, photographs of the American plastics pioneer.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Fred (Fay Oliver) Conley (1899-1981) was an American plastics and automotive engineer.

A descendant of one of the oldest families in the country, Conley's ancestors can be traced back to Mayflower immigrants in 1620. He was the founder, first president and distinguished member of the Society of Plastic Engineers, a charter member of the Plastic Pioneers Association, and a senior member of the Engineering Society of Detroit. He assisted Louis Chevrolet with the first production model of the Chevrolet car, and was a distinguished member of the Automotive Old Timers. According to the Plastics Hall of Fame website, "He is credited with developing several plastics "firsts" in the automotive industry, such as a cowl ventilator and a patented interior sun visor. In 1932, he was instrumental in designing and developing a small portable radio cabinet -- reputedly the first plastics cabinet of its kind. "

Genealogy was his principal hobby and he successfully traced his ancestry back to Charlemagne. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and other automotive, genealogical and hereditary societies, as well as benevolent clubs such as the Boys Club of Detroit, Elks Club, etc. He wasand his wife Polly had no children. [Adapted from Conley's obituary in the Kalamazoo Gazette, 14 Oct 1981]

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Fred Conley Collection consists of biographical material, memorabilia, and miscellanea.

Biographical material consists of two biographical sketches, one published and one a typescript.

Memorabilia contains awards and certificates, many of which are related to the Conley family genealogy (e.g., Sons of the American Revolution). There are also a few photographs of Conley.

Miscellaneous material includes a small plastic artifact manufactured by Makalot Corp. and assorted printed material.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Alphabetical by type of material.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has a number of collections relating to plastics and plastics history; please see the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

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Subject Headings


Conley, Fred (Fay Oliver)
Guest, Edgar A. (Edgar Albert), 1881-1959.

Corporate Bodies

Plastics Hall of Fame.
Society of Plastics Engineers.

Associated Titles

Plastics news.


Plastics -- Research.
Plastics industry and trade -- History.
Plastics industry and trade -- Technological innovations.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Fred Conley Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Gerald Young, 2013.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 27 Mar 2013
Revision history:

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Biographical material
Oversize 1 Biographical sketches 1960, undated - two biographical sketches of Conley, one from Colonial Families of the Americas and the other a typewritten manuscript, possibly by Conley himself.
Oversize 1 Awards and honors 1939-1978, 1990, undated - wide variety, ranging from a certificate appreciation from the War Department to membership in the Descendants of the Knights of the Order of the Garter; the 1990 award was made posthumously
Oversize 1 Clippings about 1992 - includes May 4 issue of Plastics News celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Society of Plastics Engineers
Oversize 1 Photographs 1949, 1977, undated - candid photo, formal portrait photo, photo of framed painting of Conley; also includes business card from Conley's first business venture, "The F. Conley Co."
Oversize 1 Artifact undated - two small pieces resembling a tiny dish and saucer, labeled "One of the first items made of plastics, made by Makalot Corp. (Mac Makeever)"
Oversize 1 Clippings 1969, undated - includes lengthy article on radio personality Eddie Guest, who was a friend of Conley's; front page is annotated by Polly Conley
Oversize 1 Printed material undated - pamphlet on Arlington National Cemetery; "Statement of Principles by the Plastics Industry"

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