Libraries Announce $1 Million Gift to Endow Plastics Pioneers Curator Position

Plastic figures Willie and Millie, used to promote Kool cigarettes

Plastic figures Willie and Millie, used to promote Kool cigarettes

Dean of Libraries David Seaman has announced a new endowed fund to support the Plastics Pioneers Historical Plastics Collection, created by a $1 million gift to the Syracuse University Libraries. The donor, a successful member of the plastics industry, wishes to remain anonymous. The annual revenue from this endowment will provide support for a new curator who will manage and develop the plastics collection.

The plastics collection was given to the Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center in 2008 upon the closing of the National Plastics Center, which had amassed one of the nation’s largest private collections of artifacts, books and papers related to the history and use of plastics. The collection continues to be supported by the Plastics History and Artifact Committee of the Plastics Pioneers Association.

In making this gift, the donor and the Plastics Pioneers Association commit to supporting the Syracuse University Libraries as it maintains, preserves and makes accessible the history and artifacts of the plastics industry. Glenn Beall, a plastics historian and industry activist who helped to broker the gift, says about the anonymous donor, “He was a plastics processor, sold his business a few years ago, and this is his way of giving back to the industry for the wonderful career and business opportunities that the plastics industry provided to him.”

“This generous gift recognizes the importance of our research collections to University scholarship,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “It also affirms our commitment to curating and promoting cutting-edge research materials. This collection enables students and faculty to learn how plastics have shaped the modern world, transforming life as we know it.”

Dean Seaman adds that “This new endowed position will allow us to encourage use of the plastics collection across the curriculum, including industrial design, history, chemical engineering, environmental science and entrepreneurship.” The collection can be accessed through the Plastics Collection website ( and in the Plastics Pioneers Reading Room (a 2013 gift of Glenn and Patsy Beall) on the sixth floor of Bird Library.

For more information, contact Lucy Mulroney, senior director of the Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center, at 315-443–8539 or

Share this story
Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+