Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 1, Number 1
Jun 1994

Alkaline Sizing Pioneers from 30 and 40 Years Ago

by Ellen McCrady

The development of alkaline sizing was the crucial step that made today's permanent papers possible. Aspects of the history of alkaline sizing have been covered in this newsletter, though of course those articles have only scratched the surface of this enormous subject. Herb Espy described the beginnings in the August 1990 issue of the Alkaline Paper Advocate , in his article, "The Genesis of Alkaline Sizing and Alkaline-Curing Wet-Strength Resins." David A. Smith recalled early trials with various forms of Aquapel in his long letter to the Editor in the May 1991 issue of the APA. "Nightmarish," he called them. The perserverence of all the people involved with alkyl ketene dimer sizing formulations in those early years is most impressive.

The librarians and archivists of the United States, through their professional organizations, presented papermakers with tributes in appreciation of all this work in 1992. The ceremony took place at the 1992 TAPPI Papermakers Conference and was reported in the May 1992 APA.

Although these three articles hit some of the high points, they were clearly not enough to document an important development like alkaline sizing. Nobody else was recording this history in print, except incidentally in books on other topics. Oral history seemed to be the way to go. In the late 1980s, many of the people involved in that phase of papermaking history were around retirement age or older. I contacted as many of them as I could find and interviewed some of them over the phone. As it turned out, I was no good at oral history and did not know enough about the technical aspects to write any kind of history. Time ran out, and I had to quit.

On the chance that a historian will one day give the subject the attention it deserves, I would like to make available my list of pioneers of the fifties and early sixties. Their names are given below. They worked for Ecusta, Warren, Hercules, National Starch, Standard and other companies; they were chemists, papermakers, administrators, field representatives, salesmen and inventors. Some, but not all, were totally committed to the idea of alkaline sized paper. Some even remembered Edwin Sutermeister, the paper chemist who championed alkaline paper throughout his career but died in the early 1950s just before the first workable alkaline sizing came into use.

All 18 of the people I talked to were aware of the significance of what they had been involved in, and typically they recommended other names for the list. This is how the list grew.

Dr. Paul Aldrich Bill Marra
Jeff Atkinson Joseph Marton
Gene Baker Emil Mazzarella
Charlie Bechtler Ed Meginniss
Bob Cates Mac Morrow
Charles Chapman John H. Needham
Jim Davis (deceased) Bob Olson
Bob Davison (deceased) Jim Read
Bill Furcht Woody Rice
Dave George Fred D. Richter
Clarence Hanford (deceased) Bill Roberson
Dr. Bill A. Hosmer Louis Rothschild
Warren Jenny (deceased) Dick Seiler
Malcolm Jewell David A. Smith
Dr. Gerald R. Keim Ed Strazdins
Jack Keough R.M. Tofte
Ozzie Kincannon Don W. Thompson (deceased)
Bill Leahy Dr. Cy Weisgerber
Joe Mansley Ty Werner
Leonard J. Wood

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