The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 5, Number 4
Sep 1992

From the Archives of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry: The First Permanence and Durability Committee, 1929-1938

When TAPPI's present Paper Permanence Committee was set up in 1989, few people were aware that there had been a similar committee in the 1930s. Its history has never been written, and few people are alive today who remember what it did.

Recently the people at TAPPI headquarters have been able to locate some of the records for the old Permanence and Durability Committee, which was quite active throughout the Depression, reflecting the flurry of paper permanence research being carried out in Europe and this country. It was more than a flurry, actually: there were twice as many professional publications on the subject between 1930 and 1939 as there were for any other decade before 1960, if the Institute of Paper Chemistry's first permanence bibliography (Number 213, published 1964) is any guide.

TAPPI was only 14 years old when it established the Committee. Prior to 1915 it had existed as a technical section of the American Paper & Pulp Association (APPA), forerunner of the American Paper Institute. It was beginning to set up regional sections, but would not organize its numerous committees into divisions for another two or three years.

Passages from the official records of those years are transcribed below verbatim. No attempt has been made to correct the word usage or terminology in the records.

The minutes of the TAPPI Executive Committee for May 17, 1929, record the Committee's beginnings with a resolution that

A committee of TAPPI on permanence and durability be appointed. This committee to be composed of five members, two representing rag mills, two chemical pulp mills and one so-called neutral. That the duties of this committee shall be to act for the Association on all matters pertaining to permanence and durability. To criticize and act in an advisory capacity in all permanence and durability investigations and literature. To prepare at an early date for wide distribution under the auspices of the A.P.P.A. a report covering the situation on permanence and durability to date and clarifying the many misunderstandings in connection with this problem. This committee at all times to present only well established facts agreed to by all members. There is at no time to be any majority or minority reports. The committee not to issue any report unless the report or opinion is unanimous.

President Glatfelter appointed the following to constitute the membership of the committee: F.C. Clark, chairman; Jessie E. Minor, Edward O. Reed, Bjarne Johnsen, and J.C. Sanburn.

Chairman Clark published the Committee's first report in Technical Association Papers the following May. Other reports appeared in 1933,1935 and 1937. They will be examined in subsequent issues of this Newsletter.

A look at the Executive Committee minutes for the years after 1929 may help explain the high priority this Committee was given. Passages referring to it have been found in minutes for 1930-33, 1935, 1937 and 1938.

In the secretary's report of the Executive Committee meeting in April 1930, the organization's committees were reviewed. The Permanence and Durability Committee, it says, "is a special committee made up of experts in the knowledge of rag content and wood content papers. It is the object of the committee to study the methods and results of research into the subject of permanent and durable qualities of papers and to interpret such findings for the benefit of the public at large."

In May 1931, The annual report of the Permanence and Durability Committee was discussed. It was the consensus of opinion that the report lacked force but undoubtedly indicated the present status of the problem." The report's publication was authorized.

In September 1932, the Executive Committee decided to continue the Permanence and Durability Committee, but the TAPPI Year Book lists it as a subcommittee of the Paper Use Requirements Committee, which was part of the Research and Development Division. The six members of the subcommittee included two founding members (Frederic C. Clark and Edward 0. Reed) and four that joined or were appointed after 1929: Helen U. Kiely, John L. Parsons, Edwin Sutermeister, and B.L. Wehmhoff.

In 1933, in connection with some correspondence between chairman Clark and a certain purchasing organization, the Executive Committee advised "a policy of great caution on the part of the Committee in dealing with questions relating to probable life of paper of various compositions." Perhaps in order to make it easier to keep an eye on the Committee, they took it out of the Research and Development Division and made it a special committee reporting directly to the Executive Committee.

In 1935, Clark proposed a natural-aging study. The Committee's 1933 report had made it dear that they did not trust the accelerated aging test, which had been introduced from Sweden in 1925, and had been readily adopted by the paper lab at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS). In 1933 Royal Rasch of the NBS had published a study comparing results of natural and accelerated aging; a good correlation was found. Conditions used at that time, and until recently, were 72 hours at 100,C. The minutes record the following:

F.C. Clark, Chairman of the Permanence and Durability Committee, suggested that a program be started to investigate the question of permanence and durability by selecting a number of paper samples, testing them for certain properties, storing them away in selected places for a number of years and repeating the tests at certain intervals with the same testing equipment. To carry out such a plan it will be necessary for the Association to purchase some testing instruments.

The Permanence and Durability Committee was requested to investigate this plan further and report back at a future meeting of the Executive Committee.

Another recommendation for a long-term study was made in the fall of 1937. There is no evidence that either recommendation was carried out. The minutes record that

Frederic C. Clark presented the report of the Permanence and Durability Committee, and made recommendations for a long time program of research. It was suggested that this Committee approach the A.P.P.A., the Writing Paper Association and other organizations to see if they would be interested in cooperating in such a program.

In 1938, the Committee seemed to be running out of steam: "F.C. Clark, Chairman of the Permanence and Durability Committee gave a brief report of the Committee's activities and requested an opinion as to whether the committee should be continued. It was the feeling of the Executive Committee that the Committee should be continued." In that year, Clark moved on to become president of TAPPI.

An undated page from the Executive Committee minutes for the late 1930s, perhaps from 1939, states that no report was received from the Permanence and Durability Committee. Here the record ends.

The Committee's four published reports will be taken up in future issues of this Newsletter.

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