1,811 photographs; 10 cm textual records; artifact; VHS video tapes; open reel audio tapes
History / Biography
The Playtex Ltd. plant in Arnprior opened in September of 1953 as the first expansion plant of International Playtex Corporation which had its head office in Dover, Delaware. Playtex was founded in 1921 by A. N. Spanel in Rochester, New York. In June 1967, a distribution centre was added at Malton, Ontario. In 1973, a plant started operation in Amherst, Nova Scotia.
Playtex in Arnprior was a major employer with around 400 employees by 1967, manufacturing at first latex products such as girdles, gloves and infant's wear. The manufacturing facility of over 90 thousand square feet was built by Sullivan & Son Ltd. of Arnprior. In the 1970's fabric girdles, panties and brassieres as well as tampons and swim caps were manufactured here. Around 1978, the sewing and cutting departments moved to the former RCA Victor plant in Renfrew Ontario.
Several employees started in 1953 and were still part of the organization in 1971; Taylor Fitzpatrick (Plant Manager), E. A. Murdoch (Purchasing Manager), Ted Oelsner (Production Engineer), Bill Meek (Automatic Glove Machine), Frances Sales, Marion Watson, Lucy Schnob (Sewing Machine Operators) Bernice Greeley and Garnet Gunn (Shipping), Gladys Schlievert (Inspection). Playtex President, Joe Bellmeyer, started with the plant in 1953, went to Scotland to establish a plant there and returned to Arnprior. In 1967 he left for a position in New York. While several attempts were made by outside forces in the 1970's to establish a union at the Arnprior and later Renfrew plant, they were never successful. Meetings were held outside the plant which later resulted in one-on-one meetings between those who attended and management. In the end, Playtex offered the same terms to its employees as the union sympathisers were asking for and an "inside" union was established. The employees were very happy with this arrangement because they were very well treated by the company and they did not have to pay union dues.
In 1983, Playtex celebrated it's 30th anniversary. Social activities were a large part of the life of the plant including annual family picnics, sports teams, dances, contests etc. A company newsletter called "the Supporter" was started in 1975 that covered all kinds of social news, corporate news and general interest stories. Awards for perfect attendance and service were also an important aspect of the Playtex company life. Each June employees received recognition for years of service starting at 5 years.
The Arnprior plant closed in 2006 following several years of corporate changes including ISO certification. By then, various lines had already been moved off-shore or back to the mother plant in Dover.
Records were transferred to Archives in January 6 2006, upon closure of the plant.
Scope and Content
The Playtex fonds consists of three series: Photographs, Newsletters & News Clippings and Miscellaneous items.
Series 1: Colour and B&W Photographs (some have been identified)
The photographs have been arranged according to subject matter into the following sub-series:
1. Personnel: Box 1 & 2
Box 1 contains approximately 280 small b&w photos of Playtex employees taken for personnel file circa 1950-1980.
Box 2 contains 4 slides boxes and 1 CD with approximately 150 slides of people working at various jobs in administration and on the plant floor as well as at social events; dates unknown. CD contains "Playtex Memories" including Early Years 1 & 2, and Final Banquet produced from slides in 2005.
Box 2 also contains negatives (unsorted) from which prints in fonds were made.
2. Corporate: Box 3
Envelope 1 contains 2 b&w photos of construction of Playtex building 1952
Envelope 2 contains 2 colour photos of Arnprior plant circa 1980's
Envelope 3 contains 5 b&w photos of office staff including Joe Bellemeyer 1950-1960
Envelope 4 contains 7 b&w photos of miscellaneous speakers at various events 1980's
Envelope 5 contains 16 b&w photos of groups on special occassions 1950-1970
Envelope 6 contains 14 colour photos of Amherst plant November 13 1975
Envelope 7 contains 11 colour photos of Arnprior and Renfrew playtex buildings
Envelope 8 contains 2 colour photos of Malton Playtex building
Envelope 9 contains 16 colour photos of opening of Malton plant in 1967
3. Tours: Box 3
Envelope 1 contains 46 b&w and 6 col photos of Tours and Open House events 1957-1990
Envelope 2 contains 10 colour shots of scenes of Renfrew including McDougall Mill circa 1980
Envelope 3 contains 13 colour and 2 b&w shots of scenes of Arnprior circa 1980
4. Office Staff: Box 3
Envelope 1 contains 48 b&w photos of Playtex office staff circa 1980-1990
Envelope 2 contains 49 col photos of Playtex office staff circa 1960-1980
Folder contains b&w photos of "Crazy Legs" contest showing legs (and matching tops) of George Buffam, Taylor Fitzpatrick, Vern Kitchen, Tom Mitton, Bruce Richardson, Bernie Sloan, Roy Turton and another photo of several of the same men wearing bathing caps circa 1960's.
5. Plant/Floor/Production: Box 3
Envelope 1 contains 32 colour photos, 3 b&w of Intimate Apparell in Sewing, Cutting, Molding & Packaging Depts circa 1980-1990
Envelope 2 contains 35 b&w Intimate Apparell in Sewing, Cutting, Molding & Packaging Depts circa 1950-1980
Envelope 3 contains 6 colour labelled photos of silk screening process for baby bottles circa 1970
Envelope 4 contains 18 photos of production of baby products
Envelope 5 contains 7 photos of the lab
Envelope 6 contains 22 col photos of Christmas on the floor
Envelope 8 contains 3 photos of First Aid Training
Envelope 9 contains 39 photos of Glove Production
Envelope 10 contains 22 photos of Tampon Production
Envelope 11 contains 10 b&w photos of Girdle Production 1950's
6. Awards: Box 3
Awards for perfect attendance and service awards were given on a regular basis.
Folder containing approximately 20 colour photos of various groups of employees which are identified. Some of these photos might have been published in various issues of 'The Supporter' newsletter in 1986.
Envelope 1 contains 20 colour photos and 2 b&w photos.
Envelope 2 contains 16 b&w photos 1970's.
Envelope 3 contains 5 b&w photos including Mr. Bellmeyer, Sybil McCann, Doris Murray, Blanch Greeley, Bill Meek, and Gladys Schlievert.
Envelope 4 contains photo of Eunice Burton and Gladys Schlievert circa 1961.
Envelope 5 - 21 contain approx. 137 photos from 1975 to 1998 (with gaps).
Envelope 22 contains 5 Achievement awards photos circa 1980.
Envelope 23 shows Scholarship photo with Ann Kargus and two recipients.
Envelope 24 contains Santa Claus float award with recipients circa 1990's.
Envelope 25 contains Safety Committee awards of various dates.
Envelope 26 contains 36 Miscellaneous awards
Envelope 27 contains 5 Service Awards 1976
Envelope 28 contains 2 Cost Improvement Award photos1960's.
Envelope 29 contains approx 56 Retirement photos for Earl Murdoch, Frances Stevens, G. Thompson, Joan Brown, Jean Yuck, Winnie Reed, J. Gelineau, H. Brodmann, C. Kelly, J. MacMillan, Irene Beaudoin, Marion Watson, R. Jump
Envelope 2 contains 80 b&w photos of Miscellaneous Events 1950-1980
Envelope 3 contains 74 b&w photos of Picnics 1980's
Envelope 4 contains 13 colour photos of Picnics (Arnprior) 1950-1960
Envelope 5 contains 23 colour photos of Picnics (Renfrew) 1980's
Envelope 6 contains 52 b&w photos of dances and Parties 1950-1980
Envelope 7 contains 22 colour and 42 b&w photos of Christmas staff parties, dances and children's parties 1960-1980
Envelope 8 contains 6 b&w photos of goodbye party for Joseph Bellmeyer 1967
Envelope 9 contains 1 b&w photo of the Social Committee circa 1960 with Echo Strutt, Walter Coulas, Gloria Jordan, Marion Brunette, Jacqueline MacDonald, Frances Sales, Esther Kopetoski, Florence Greeley.
Envelope 10 contains 5 colour and 5 b&w photos of Halloween parties circa 1960-1980
Envelope 11 contains 2 b&w photos of Robbie Burns Day circa 1970's
Envelope 12 contains 6 b&w photos and 5 colour photos of Christmas float 1950-1980
Envelope 14 contains 30 colour photos of Silver Dollar Dinner 1981 held at Arnprior Golf Club
8. Sports and Recreation: Box 3
Approximately 10 softball, 21 bowling,14 broomball (one is 1966-67 Silver Dollar Broomball Champs), 13 golf, 1 curling, 4 hockey, (one is of a boys team sponsored by Playtex coached by Jack Robillard).
Series 2: The "Supporter" Newsletter 1975-1985: Box 4
The "Supporter" newsletter was created by several Playtex employees and published two or three times per year. People involved with its creation in the mid 1970's included Fergie Ferguson, Marion Enright, Gladys Schlievert, Vern Kitchen, Bob Brady, Denise Monette. Issues of the "Supporter" covered Sports, Announcements, Community News, Recipes, Joke Corner and Comic Strip, Household Hints, Contests, Arts, Crafts & Hobbies, Business, Letters to the Editor, Safety and Coming Events. The collection includes issues from September 1975 to November 1985 with gaps and one file of administrative material related to the production of the newsletter.
Series includes approximately 200 b&w contact sheets of social, plant floor and corporate events prepared by Tom Hanson Photography or Peter Turton for the staff of the Supporter to choose from. Also included are contact sheets of Playtex employees taken for personnel files by Tom Hanson Photography. Some sheets have date stamp. Contact sheets stored in Box 3.
Series 2: News Clippings 1959-1982: Box 4
File contains numerous, dated and undated newsclippings from the local papers. Coverage includes social and corporate news items between the late 1950's and early 1980's with gaps.
Series 3: Miscellaneous Items Box 4
1. Package of Nylon Hosiery (circa 1950's)
2. Playtex Living Girdle package (tube circa 1950's) donated by Noreem Melema, daughter of employee William Meek.
3. Platex Benefit Plan 1981
4. 7 plans showing details of changes to plant 1952 - 1973 (one undated)
5. Audio and Video Training and promotional materials (not described) Box 5 & 6
1. The Town of Arnprior entered into an agreement with Playtex under By-law 1541 on July 25, 1952.
2. Information regarding union activity was provided by several former employees.
3. Processing and identification of photographs assisted by former employees Diane Bresson, Mildred Schlievert and Carol Timmons thoughout the winter and spring of 2013.
Tom Hanson photography holds copyright to many images.