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Plastics Artifacts Collection

A description of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Title: Plastics Artifacts Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1870-1990
Quantity: ~250 linear ft.
Abstract: Collection consists of manufactured objects made of various types of plastic.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

The Plastics Artifact Collection was accumulated originally by the National Plastics Center and Museum (NPCM) in Leominster, Massachusetts. Begun in 1970 as a cooperative effort of the Pioneer Valley Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers and several local Leominster Historians, the NPCM was incorporated in 1982 and acquired a building in Leominster in the mid 1980s. In addition to maintaining documents and artifacts documenting the history and development of plastics and related engineering fields, the NPCM initiated a national outreach program to schools (including the traveling PlastiVan) and inaugurated the Plastics Hall of Fame. In 2008 NPCM transferred its manuscript collections and artifactual holdings to the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Plastics Artifact Collection is a supplement to the numerous manuscript collections relating to organizations and individuals who played a significant role in the development and manufacture of plastic products in the United States. Objects include personal items (combs, brushes), toys, dishes, decorative objects, housewares, medical equipment, automotive components, material samples, and more.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Artifacts are in no particular order.

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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.

Kit in Oversize 224 is not accessible to researchers due to presence of asbestos.

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

Many of the items have been photographed and may be viewed on the Plastics website.

Special Collections Research Center has numerous holdings in the areas of plastics and industrial design. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing. See also the Plastics website for digital images of more than 2000 plastic artifacts and a wide range of material on the history and development of plastics.

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Subject Headings

Corporate Bodies

Borg-Warner Corporation.
Monsanto Chemical Company.
Robinson Plastics Corporation.
Tupperware Corporation.


Industrial design -- History -- 20th century.
Plastic containers.
Plastic jewelry.
Plastic novelties.
Plastic tableware.
Plastic toys.
Plastics -- Extrusion.
Plastics -- History.
Plastics -- Molding.
Plastics in automobiles.
Plastics in building.
Plastics in medicine.
Plastics industry and trade.

Genres and Forms

Combs (hair ornaments)
Medical equipment.
Toys (recreational artifacts)

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Plastics Artifact Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Bulk, gift of the National Plastics Center and Museum, 2008. Additional items, gifts of various donors, 2009-present.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 29 Jul 2009
Revision history: 16 Nov 2010 - updated related material (MRC); 1 Jun 2016 - link to full inventory added (MRC); 5 Feb 2019 - restrictions updated (MRC); Feb 2022 - collection reopened; Excel file linked (MRC)

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Note on alternate formats:

Many of the items have been photographed and may be viewed on the Plastics website.

Oversize 1-621 Artifacts
The collection contains more than 3500 items. For a listing of individual boxes/items, please see the published patron listing, in Excel formet.

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