Public domain NASA photo of the Apollo 11 astronauts, whose medical kit contained BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages!  Pictured from left to right are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot.  Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons at this link:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#mediaviewer/File:Apollo_11.jpg

Public domain NASA photo of the Apollo 11 astronauts, whose medical kit contained BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages! Pictured from left to right are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons at this link: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11#mediaviewer/File:Apollo_11.jpg

1.  Today (July 16) is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, which landed human beings on the moon for the first time.  But did you know that BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were part of the medical kit on the Apollo 11 command module?  Here’s a photo of the open medical kit – with its BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages clearly visible – on the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum website.

 

2.  The Apollo 11 mission wasn’t the first time that BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages went into space – they also accompanied the Mercury astronauts in 1963, and Johnson & Johnson First Aid products orbited the moon with the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968.

 

The Johnson & Johnson business office, 1916.  From our archives.  The "computing machine" is not, unfortunately, shown in this photograph.

The Johnson & Johnson business office, 1916. From our archives. The “computing machine” is not, unfortunately, shown in this photograph.

3.  Johnson & Johnson had a computer in its offices in 1916.  Wait… a computer?  Well, sort of.  It was a “computing machine” that used punch cards to keep track of sales data. Here’s how a visiting retail pharmacist described it:  “On the third floor I saw the addressing and statistical departments.  Here I witnessed mechanical bookkeeping for the first time.  By punching holes in cards, by machinery, and running these cards through a computing machine, like the government uses when it counts noses at census time, Johnson & Johnson are able to keep accurate account of the volume of each kind of products sold in any given territory. “  [RED CROSS® Messenger, Vol. VIII, Nos. 9 &  10, March, 1916, “Four Floors of Brains and Energy," p. 490.]  So what was this mystery machine?  Probably something a lot like this, one of the forerunners of the modern computer.

A Johnson & Johnson building, circa 1912, with a fire escape.

A Johnson & Johnson building, circa 1912, with a fire escape.

4.  In 1908, Johnson & Johnson had its own fire department, consisting of employees located in every building and department.  All buildings had automatic fire sprinklers, and hose-houses occupied numerous places throughout the Johnson & Johnson campus.  [RED CROSS® Messenger, Vol. I, No. 5, September 1908, p. 50.]

A photo of Admiral Byrd and his 1928 Antarctic Expedition, with the dental floss they took with them.

A photo of Admiral Byrd and his 1928 Antarctic Expedition, with the dental floss they took with them.

5.  BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages and First Aid Kits are not the only adventurous products from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies.  In 1928, the members of Admiral Byrd’s legendary First Antarctic Expedition (1928-1930) brought Johnson & Johnson Dental Floss with them so that they could take care of their teeth while on expedition to the Antarctic.

PUBLISHED IN: Uncategorized

192

NJ350: Vote for Your Favorite New Jersey Innovations

Margaret on June 27th, 2014 at 4:09PM

This year – 2014 – is the 350th birthday of New Jersey.  The year-long celebration focuses on three major themes that run through New Jersey’s history:  innovation, diversity and liberty.  (Why those three themes?  New Jersey has brought an incredible amount of innovation to the world; it was one of the most diverse of the original thirteen colonies and retains that diversity today; and the state played a large role in the creation of the United States.)  As part of the 350th anniversary activities, The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is conducting a public survey to choose the greatest innovations from New Jersey that had a nation-changing and world-changing impact.   Johnson & Johnson is proud to have four innovations included in the survey:  BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, the commercial First Aid Kit and disposable contact lenses in the Health Care category; and the coronary stent in the Medical category.  Here’s a quick snapshot of the Johnson & Johnson innovations in the voting:

 

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages in 1923, two years after they were introduced.

 

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages:  invented in 1920 by a young cotton buyer for Johnson & Johnson named Earle Dickson, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were the first ever premade commercial dressings for small wounds.  (Before their invention, people tied strips of fabric or gauze around cut fingers to bandage them.)  Earle came up with his idea as a way to help his wife, who was prone to cutting and burning her fingers in the kitchen.  Company president James Wood Johnson loved Earle’s idea and, in 1921 Johnson & Johnson put his invention on the market.  BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were such an entirely new concept at the time that Johnson & Johnson had to explain to people how to use them.  Ninety-four years later, they’re an iconic consumer product – invented in New Brunswick and Highland Park, New Jersey.

 

Railroad First Aid demonstration with a Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit, 1916.  From our archives.

Railroad First Aid demonstration with a Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit, 1916. From our archives.

The First Commercial First Aid Kits:  this piece of modern life came about as the result of a train journey by Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson.  Nineteenth century railroad work was so dangerous that trains had surgeons on board to treat workers’ injuries. While on a Denver & Rio Grande Railway train in 1888, Johnson learned from a fellow passenger, the chief surgeon of the railroad, that railroad workers were frequently injured, but medical help was too far away to do any good.   Johnson had the idea of packing his company’s sterile gauze, dressings and sutures in boxes that could be kept close to the workers to treat and stabilize injuries.  So in 1888, after getting a lot of feedback from railroad surgeons, Johnson & Johnson put on the market two first aid kits: one for the railroads, and one for general use.  In 1901, the Company published the first First Aid Manuals.  Today, life without a First Aid Kit and without basic first aid best practices would be unthinkable.

 

 

The Disposable Contact Lens:  In 1987, Johnson & Johnson’s Vision Care business revolutionized the contact lens industry and contact lens wearing for the public with the introduction of ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses, the first disposable contact lenses that could be worn for up to a week, thrown away and replaced with a fresh pair. In 1995, 1-DAY ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses became the first daily disposable contact lens, eliminating the need for cleaning, disinfecting solutions and storage.

 

Illustration of the PALMAZ-SCHATZ® Balloon-Expandable Stent, from our archives.

Illustration of the PALMAZ-SCHATZ® Balloon-Expandable Stent, from our archives.

The Coronary Stent:  In 1994 a Johnson & Johnson operating company launched the PALMAZ-SCHATZ® Balloon-Expandable Stent, the first coronary stent, which revolutionized cardiology.  (Coronary stents keep vessels open so blood can flow to the heart.)   As health care continued to evolve, the Company exited the coronary stent business in 2011, but the first coronary stent remains an historical innovation from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies that changed cardiology.

Examples of one of the earliest Johnson & Johnson innovations: the first mass produced sterile surgical dressings.

Examples of one of the earliest Johnson & Johnson innovations: the first mass produced sterile surgical dressings.

Founded in 1886, when New Jersey was just a mere 222 years old, Johnson & Johnson began by making the first mass-produced sterile surgical dressings and sterile sutures, helping drive the revolutionary change from non-sterile to sterile surgery.  As it expanded worldwide to become a global healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson has continued to innovate, first in New Brunswick and then worldwide, finding new medicines, medical devices and consumer products that represent practical applications of the major developments in science over the last century and a quarter to save and improve the lives of patients and consumers.  That tradition continues today with the Company’s Innovation Centers, which will unleash the innovations of the future.

Johnson & Johnson is proud to be among the innovators included in the NJ350 survey.  If you’d like to vote for your favorite New Jersey innovations, the survey is at this link.

191

More Cool Things from Our Museum Call for Artifacts!

Margaret on June 17th, 2014 at 5:34PM

 

Our public call for artifacts for our Museum restoration is a few weeks old and, so far, Kilmer House readers have seen two of the coolest items – a Zonweiss clock and a Lister’s Fumigator – that have come back to Johnson & Johnson from employees and members of the public.  Thanks to everyone who has answered the call so far!  The artifacts and stories keep coming in, and they continue to amaze.  Here are some more cool things from our artifacts drive.

A brick from the early history of Johnson & Johnson, along with its certificate of authenticity!

A brick from the early history of Johnson & Johnson, along with its certificate of authenticity!

1.  A brick!  But not just any brick – this one is from Kilmer House, an historical Johnson & Johnson building that shares a name with this blog.  Built circa 1896 — when Johnson & Johnson was only a decade old — Kilmer House originally housed the Company’s offices and shipping department, but later grew to encompass, storage, packaging and even some manufacturing.  The building eventually was named in honor of Fred Kilmer.  During the building’s tenure (from 1896 to 1993), Johnson & Johnson grew from a small medical products firm to a global healthcare company.  If you want to know where Company founders Robert Wood Johnson and James Wood Johnson had their offices, they were in Kilmer House.  How about General Robert Wood Johnson’s office?  In Kilmer House as well.

The building that would be named Kilmer House, circa 1901. This particular brick is hidden somewhere in this photo, if only we could get it to raise its hand and wave to the camera.

The building that would be named Kilmer House, circa 1901. This particular brick is hidden somewhere in this photo, if only we could get it to raise its hand and wave to the camera.

When the building was removed, bricks from Kilmer House were given out to employees in recognition of how far Johnson & Johnson had come since 1896.  Thanks to Kathy T. for donating this piece of Johnson & Johnson history!

 

ZONAS® Adhesive Plaster and Dental Floss.  Two of the very cool products that Vince P. sent as part of our call for artifacts

ZONAS® Adhesive Plaster and Dental Floss. Two of the very cool products that Vince P. sent as part of our call for artifacts. The Dental Floss container is around the size of a U.S. quarter coin.

2.  Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies employee Vince P. donated an entire box of cool artifacts, including a 1950s BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin in fabulous condition; a rare and beautiful (and tiny!) ZONAS® Adhesive Plaster tin (adhesive plaster is adhesive tape, for all of us 21st century folks); an early metal flat container of RED CHAIN silk dental floss made for export; an art deco 1930s BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages box; a Johnson & Johnson book for the medical profession, Professional Uses of Adhesive Tape, first published in 1944; a Johnson & Johnson Standard Industrial First Aid Kit from 1980; and historical ads for classic first aid products from our consumer operating company from the 1940s to the 1960s.

 

Photo of James E. Burke and his brother.

Photo of James E. Burke and his brother.

3.  From retired Johnson & Johnson executive F.B. comes two photographs from Johnson & Johnson history, one showing Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO from 1976-1989 James Burke and his brother, and the other showing Chairman and CEO from 1989-2002 Ralph Larsen, both of whom led Johnson & Johnson through times of tremendous transformation and growth.

 

Johnson & Johnson medicated plaster from 1887, with a close up of the early "double J" logo.

Johnson & Johnson medicated plaster from 1887, with a close up of the early “double J” logo.

4.  From Johnson & Johnson retiree J.S. comes a very rare and beautiful Johnson & Johnson medicated plaster in its container from 1887, an extremely rare early first aid kit from 1903 in a paperboard container, and a very old Johnson & Johnson aseptic jar from the 1920s that would have been used to hold sterile bandages or gauze in a doctor’s office.  The medicated plaster container displays the very early double “J” logo (which only appeared on the earliest Johnson & Johnson products) as well as the handwritten Johnson & Johnson logo at the bottom.

Johnson & Johnson Aseptic Jar and 1903 First Aid Kit, donated by J.S. as part of our call for artifacts.

Johnson & Johnson Aseptic Jar and 1903 First Aid Kit, donated by J.S. as part of our call for artifacts.

J’s grandfather worked for Johnson & Johnson too, in one of the historical buildings next to the Delaware & Raritan Canal and Raritan River, and he preserved the Johnson & Johnson aseptic jar and passed down through his family with a great deal of pride.  It returns to Johnson & Johnson as a one-of-a-kind artifact from the Company’s early years, preserved for three generations.

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin from 1926 and its contents, donated by J.S.

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin from 1926 and its contents, donated by J.S.

J. also donated a rare 1926 BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages flat tin, and an incredibly gorgeous and rare Permacel tape tin from Australia.  (Alert blog readers will remember Permacel as the historical Johnson & Johnson operating company that created Duct Tape.)

The rare and beautiful Permacel Cellulose Tape tin from Australia in mint condition!

 

5.  L.T. shared the amazing story that every generation of her family has worked for Johnson & Johnson since the company’s founding in 1886, and that one of them worked directly for James Wood Johnson.   Her family is descended from James Ware, the freight master for the Pennsylvania Railroad in New Brunswick, to whom James Wood Johnson wrote Johnson & Johnson’s first check in March of 1886.  Ware left the railroad and came to work for the Company and, 128 years later, two of his descendants continue their family tradition of working at Johnson & Johnson.

 

6.  S.W. contributed some glass containers of historical Ethicon sutures that were donated by a retired product engineer, a reminder of the Company’s legacy in making surgery sterile.  Sterile sutures remain one of the oldest continuous product lines in the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, dating back to 1887.

 

A Johnson & Johnson Boy Scouts First Aid Kit from 1945, from the Boy Scouts of America!

A Johnson & Johnson Boy Scouts First Aid Kit from 1945, from the Boy Scouts of America!

7.  M.S. contributed this wonderful Johnson & Johnson Boy Scouts First Aid Kit from circa 1945, donated to Johnson & Johnson by the Boy Scouts of America.

 

TYLENOL® physician’s sample bottle from circa 1978.

TYLENOL® physician’s sample bottle from circa 1978.

8.  And just in from employee S.D., this beautiful glass TYLENOL® physician’s sample bottle from circa 1978.

Our call for artifacts and stories continues, so if anyone has a Johnson & Johnson artifact you would like to donate or a story that you or your family have passed down, please let us know by emailing us at artifacts@its.jnj.com.  Here’s more information about our call for artifacts as we restore our Museum.

190

Do You Have a Piece of Johnson & Johnson History?

Margaret on May 18th, 2014 at 9:35PM

 

Alert blog readers may remember that we put out a call for historical Johnson & Johnson artifacts on April 23rd.  Why are we looking for historical artifacts?  We’re restoring and revitalizing our Museum, and are hoping to fill in some gaps with your help.  Since Johnson & Johnson has been part of people’s lives since 1886, we recognize that many pieces of our history are pieces of your history as well – and that many people preserve not only historical J&J artifacts, but stories from ancestors and family members who have worked here.  Our call for Johnson & Johnson historical artifacts and stories continues this week, with a takeover of @JNJNews, @JNJCares, @JNJParents and @JNJHistory Twitter handles, our corporate Facebook page, Google+ and, of course, this blog.   So…do you or a member of your family hold a piece of Johnson & Johnson history, or a story from our history?  If you do, please let us know by emailing us at artifacts@its.jnj.com, or contact me through this blog.

The new artifacts are here!  The new artifacts are here! Quick -- tell everyone!

The new artifacts are here! The new artifacts are here! Quick — tell everyone!

We’ve received some amazing pieces of J&J history (artifacts as well as stories) so far, and we’d love to hear from more of you.  Special recognition goes to C.W., a Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies employee in Livingston, Scotland, for being the very first person to answer the call!  Her reply brought us one of the coolest and rarest Johnson & Johnson historical artifacts in existence:  a Zonweiss Clock!   (How rare is it?  This blogger, who’s seen many, many rare Johnson & Johnson historical artifacts, had never seen one before.  Ever.)

A Zonweiss Clock, now part of the Johnson & Johnson Museum thanks to our call for artifacts!

A Zonweiss Clock, now part of the Johnson & Johnson Museum thanks to our call for artifacts!

Zonweiss tooth cream was our first consumer product 128 years ago – a tooth cream whose ads said it would make your teeth sparklingly white — and the Company had alarm clocks produced as a promotional item for the product, showing a woman brushing her teeth with Zonweiss. From the looks of it, our new very old Zonweiss Clock is perhaps from the 1890s or the first decade of the 1900s.  And believe it or not, the alarm on the clock still works – how cool is that!

A Lister's Fumigator and its instruction booklet, more than 100 years old.

A Lister’s Fumigator and its instruction booklet, more than 100 years old.

J.M. brought us another artifact that we didn’t have in our archives – a Lister’s Fumigator, an early Johnson & Johnson public health product.  The Lister’s Fumigator (named in honor of Sir Joseph Lister, the father of modern antiseptic surgery) was designed to help prevent the spread of contagious diseases like typhoid and diphtheria in the era before and antibiotics and most vaccines.  Although we had drawings of the product in our historical price lists and other publications, we didn’t have an actual Lister’s Fumigator, and we’re happy to welcome this artifact back to Johnson & Johnson!

Here’s the full list of some of the specific items we’re looking for.  One of those items is a wooden Johnson & Johnson shipping crate – which was used to ship our products before the era of cardboard boxes.  If anyone has one of these items, or other items from our history, or if you had a parent, or grandparent, or great-grandparent who worked for Johnson & Johnson, please share your story with us – we’d love to hear it!

Next post – some rare historical consumer products from our call for archives, and a surprising story.  Stay tuned!  And for everyone else who holds a piece of Johnson & Johnson history, we’d love to hear from you!   The email address again is artifacts@its.jnj.com.

 

Eight models wearing Charles James gowns, in French & Company's eighteenth century French paneled room.

Eight models wearing Charles James gowns, in French & Company’s eighteenth century French paneled room. Charles James Ball Gowns, 1948. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton/Vogue/Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast.

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York just launched Charles James: Beyond Fashion, a new exhibit at its Costume Institute.  James, one of the 20th century’s most innovative fashion designers, was a man ahead of his time.  Some of his gorgeous dresses were featured in a series of ads by Johnson & Johnson during the 1940s that solved the problem of how to advertise a product that nobody wanted to talk about.  The ads were part of the iconic MODESS®…Because campaign, and the Met’s exhibit features not only some of those Charles James dresses, but one of our historic ads as well (and another of the ads in the exhibit catalog), from a campaign that married innovation in fashion design to innovation in advertising.

Charles James and Johnson & Johnson:  innovation meets innovation in an ad featuring a Charles James gown.

Charles James and Johnson & Johnson: innovation meets innovation in a MODESS® ad featuring a Charles James gown. You can see this ad in the exhibit!

Johnson & Johnson had pioneered mass produced sanitary protection products for women in the 1890s, providing a needed alternative to the homemade methods that women were forced to come up with for most of history.  Although these products played their part in empowering women, they were notoriously difficult to advertise, because the public from the Victorian era onward considered them to be extraordinarily, well…unmentionable.  So Johnson & Johnson came up with a variety of ways to advertise the products through the decades, including silent purchase coupons beginning in 1928 – which allowed women to buy the product and take it home without speaking a single word.  

No need to say a word.  A silent purchase coupon from a MODESS® ad.  From our archives.

No need to say a word. A silent purchase coupon from a MODESS® ad. From our archives.

But that still wasn’t enough, because women did not want to be seen anywhere near an ad for the product.  So during the late 1940s — the result of a really perceptive idea by General Robert Wood Johnson, and with the help of Cecil Beaton, dress designer Charles James and others — Johnson & Johnson took its advertising of the product to an entirely new and tremendously creative level.

General Robert Wood Johnson during the 1940s, photographed by (who else?) Cecil Beaton.  From our archives.

General Robert Wood Johnson during the 1940s, photographed by (who else?) Cecil Beaton. From our archives.

Like his father, General Robert Wood Johnson was interested in advertising, and he had a keen eye, a sense of what would work and an ability to get to the essence of an issue.  Johnson was in a strategy meeting to discuss MODESS® advertising, and he came to a conclusion:  if women didn’t like to read ads for sanitary protection products, then the ads (which had previously been rather wordy) should have fewer words, maybe just a paragraph.  Maybe just a sentence.  Maybe just two words, and Johnson suggested “MODESS®…Because.”  He also suggested linking the campaign to high fashion.  And who better to link it to than innovative fashion designer Charles James and innovative photographer Cecil Beaton for some of the earlier ads?  It was a brilliant idea.

Designer Charles James pinning a suit on model (possibly Ricki Van Dusen)

Designer Charles James pinning a suit on model (possibly Ricki Van Dusen). Charles James with Model, 1948. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Cecil Beaton, Beaton/Vogue/ Condé Nast Archive. Copyright © Condé Nast.

Charles James was a fashion designer decades ahead of his time.  Largely self-taught, he came up with unique and creative ways of draping fabric to make stunningly  beautiful dresses.  Among his pioneering innovations are the wrap dress, the infinity scarf and puffer jackets, but he was so far ahead of the curve that he frequently didn’t get credit for his innovations.  Perhaps through the connection with Cecil Beaton (a friend of General Robert Wood Johnson and his wife Evie), some of James’s distinctive gowns were featured in MODESS®…Because ads, worn by leading fashion models of the day.  (Models in the ads included Dorian Leigh and Susie Parker, and photographers included Beaton, Ruzzie Green, Valentino Sarra and others.)

 

If you didn’t know what the MODESS®…Because ads were advertising, they could be high fashion ads for designer clothing – and that was entirely the point.  Since the meaning of the ads was obvious only to the women who bought the product, and not to anyone else who might be looking at the ad at the same time, women did not feel uncomfortable with the advertising.  In fact, they loved the ads.  Women could imagine themselves in those beautiful and sophisticated dresses from Charles James and other leading designers, posed in beautiful settings.  The two words in the ads allowed them to supply their own reasons for buying the product.  The MODESS®…Because ads connoted elegance and innovation, and they elevated something previously viewed as an unmentionable necessity that no one wanted to think about into something aspirational.  You bought the product because

 

 

The MODESS®…Because ad campaign was tremendously successful.  It ran until the 1970s, and is considered to be one of the most iconic and effective advertising campaigns of the 20th century.  And now you can see Charles James’s creations and one of our MODESS®…Because ads at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Anna Wintour Costume Center, from May 8 to August 10, 2014.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit, Metropolitan Museum of Art Gallery View, First Floor Special Exhibitions Gallery.  Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit, Metropolitan Museum of Art Gallery View, First Floor Special Exhibitions Gallery. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In the meantime,  The New Yorker has a great biographical article about Charles James.  Charles James’s gowns contributed to a meeting of fashion innovation and advertising innovation, which formed one of Johnson & Johnson’s most memorable historical ad campaigns.

188

Johnson & Johnson Museum Artifacts Drive

Margaret on April 23rd, 2014 at 5:26PM

Do You Have a Piece of Johnson & Johnson History?

Since 1886, Johnson & Johnson has been part of the lives of generations of patients, families and communities throughout the world.   As we work to preserve our history through the restored Johnson & Johnson Museum, we welcome everyone to join us in this exciting historical project.

Interior of the Johnson & Johnson Museum before restoration.

Interior of the Johnson & Johnson Museum before restoration.

We recognize that our history is a shared experience with the generations of people who have used our products or who have worked for the Company.  Johnson & Johnson and its operating companies have been part of people’s lives for more than a century, and many people still preserve artifacts and stories from Johnson & Johnson’s heritage that have been a part of their families as well.

So…do you have a piece of Johnson & Johnson history?  Find out how you can participate on the blog’s museum artifacts drive page!

 

The countless female scientists in the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies across the world are examples of the pioneering work that women in science do every day.  With so many necessary efforts underway to encourage girls and young women to study science, technology, engineering and math (referred to as STEM), women scientists are crucial role models for girls aspiring to careers in these fields.  Johnson & Johnson has known that women make good scientists for a long time.  Way back in 1907 or 1908, when the barriers to women in science were much higher, Johnson & Johnson hired its first female scientist – a chemist in our Scientific Department.

Johnson & Johnson in 1908, from our archives.  During an era in which opportunities for women in the sciences were extremely rare, Johnson & Johnson hired its first female scientist.

Johnson & Johnson in 1908, from our archives. During an era in which opportunities for women in the sciences were extremely rare, Johnson & Johnson hired its first female scientist.

 

Let’s turn the clock back to the first decade of the 1900s.  The world was a very different place:  long-distance overland travel was still mostly by steam locomotive and, although automobiles were becoming increasingly more popular, the nationwide network of highways in the United States would not exist for another half century.  In the U.S., the struggle for women’s suffrage had been underway since the mid-1800s, but women did yet not have the right to vote:  that would not come until 1920.   Many women did work out of economic necessity, and growing numbers of them pursued higher education, but the prevailing attitude of the day (which may not have matched the reality for many women) remained the Victorian mindset that women should remain in the home, not very independent, and needing to be “protected.”

According to research by the American Association of University Women, only 2.8 percent of women attended college in 1900, a number that was vanishingly small. In 1902, when our first female scientist started her freshman year of college, that number could not have been much different, and the percentage of women studying science was even smaller.  The prevailing stereotype of that era was that going to college would make women into “bookworms” who would be inhibited from fulfilling what was seen then as their traditional role in society.

Page from the 1905 edition of The Gopher, the University of Minnesota Yearbook:  "The Eternal Question: Book worm or Butterfly -- which?  Image Courtesy of University of Minnesota Archives, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Page from the 1905 edition of The Gopher, the University of Minnesota Yearbook: “The Eternal Question: Book worm or Butterfly — which!” Image Courtesy of University of Minnesota Archives, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

(University of Minnesota Gopher 1905  Yearbook, page 55, at this link.)

In defiance of the prevailing attitude of her day, and no doubt at risk of being considered a “bookworm,” Minneapolis resident Edith von K—- applied to and was accepted by the University of Minnesota (which had admitted women for some years) and she was a member of their 1902 freshman class.  Edith didn’t study rhetoric, as many women undergraduates there did:  she studied chemistry.  Perhaps she was inspired by contemporary scientists like Marie Curie, who would go on to win a Nobel Prize in science in 1903 and one in chemistry in 1911.

A page from the University of Minnesota’s 1905 yearbook, showing what female students wore in the early 1900s.  Image Courtesy of University of Minnesota Archives, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

A page from the University of Minnesota’s 1905 yearbook, showing what female students wore in the early 1900s. Image Courtesy of University of Minnesota Archives, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

(University of Minnesota’s 1905 edition of The Gopher yearbook, page 55, at this link.)

The women in Edith’s college yearbook wore long skirts with upswept hair in the Gibson Girl style.  Despite the many female students at the University of Minnesota, and despite their very visible presence in the college yearbooks, higher education in the early 1900s was still very much oriented toward men.

Page from the University of Minnesota 1907 Gopher Yearbook, showing Edith von K-- as an instructor in general chemistry.  Image Courtesy of University of Minnesota Archives, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Page from the University of Minnesota 1907 Gopher Yearbook, showing Edith von K– as an instructor in general chemistry. Image Courtesy of University of Minnesota Archives, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

(University of Minnesota’s 1907 edition of The Gopher yearbook, page 21, at this link.)

It was in this setting that Edith von K— pursued her degree in chemistry.  She must have been good at what she did, since she was listed as first a scholar and assistant and then as an Instructor in General Chemistry in 1907.  You might even say that Edith was (if readers can forgive the excruciating chemistry pun) in her element.  Edith was also cited in a book as having begun research work on the halogen compounds of aluminum, work that was being continued by others in 1912-1913 when the book was published.

Edith graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1907.  Shortly after that, Johnson & Johnson took what was then a tremendously progressive step and hired her as a staff scientist.  (In contrast, Ellen Swallow Richards, the most prominent female chemist of the 19th century and a Vassar and MIT graduate, found that she was completely unable to get a job in industry several decades earlier.)

The Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department in 1906.  Our first female scientist, Edith Von K---, was a university educated chemist who joined the Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department in 1906.

The Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department in 1906. Our first female scientist, Edith von K—, was a university educated chemist who joined the Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department in 1907 or 1908.

 

Edith left Minnesota to move halfway across the United States to New Brunswick, New Jersey to take the position at Johnson & Johnson.  She likely would have traveled by railroad — an adventurous and independent move in an era when young women traveling by train were still advised by etiquette books to keep to themselves and not accept calling cards from male travelers.  Did Edith see an ad for the open position at Johnson & Johnson in a trade journal, or through her university?  We don’t know, but it would be interesting to find out how she arrived at the Company.  Edith would have been hired for the position by our Scientific Director Fred Kilmer, who was an early advocate for women pursuing the profession of pharmacy, so he would have welcomed our first female scientist.

The Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department in 1908, from a program to celebrate the opening of the Company's new Cotton Mill addition.  From our archives.

The Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department in 1908, from a program to celebrate the opening of the Company’s new Cotton Mill addition. From our archives.

Edith von K— is listed in the 1908 program for a reception and dance for Johnson & Johnson employees to commemorate the opening of the new addition to the Company’s cotton mill in New Brunswick.  Under the heading “Executive and Superintending Staff,” she is listed as one of the four members of the Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department, working for our Scientific Director, Fred Kilmer along with two other male scientists.  According to Kilmer, the Scientific Department was staffed by scientists skilled in chemistry, bacteriology, pharmacy and the “allied sciences.”  In Edith’s day the department conducted scientific research, published a scientific journal for the medical and pharmaceutical profession (RED CROSS® Notes) and also oversaw the testing of raw materials and finished products.  Edith and her colleagues examined and tested raw materials used in the manufacture of products, checked and tested them throughout every step of the manufacturing process, and then checked and tested the finished products.

Example of the type of testing work done by Edith von K-- and her colleagues in the Scientific Department lab.  From our archives.

Example of the type of testing work done by Edith von K– and her colleagues in the Scientific Department lab. From our archives.

Scientific Director Fred Kilmer was an early advocate of what we now refer to as transparency, and he made sure the department’s research findings were made available for the advancement of science and the industry:  “The work of Johnson & Johnson’s Scientific Department is accessible to laborers in science through a statement of its results before societies, by publication in journals, and from time to time it adds a quota to the work of lightening the labors of the pharmacopoeial committee.”  .”  [RED CROSS® MESSENGER Anniversary Messenger 1913, Johnson & Johnson, January 1913, Vol. V, No. 8, page 226, “Scientific Department.”]

The Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department in 1906 –in  the year or so before our first female scientist was hired.  The corner of the lab shown in this photo would have been a very familiar sight to Edith.

The Johnson & Johnson Scientific Department in 1906 –in the year or so before our first female scientist was hired. The corner of the lab shown in this photo would have been a very familiar sight to Edith.

 

Settling in at Johnson & Johnson, Edith joined the Laurel Club, the organization for female employees, and she is mentioned in articles in the New Brunswick Times as having been involved in the community volunteer work the organization did.  (As a fellow Laurel Club member, she would have known Elizabeth P—, of stained glass window fame.)  In 1908, Edith was one of five delegates from the Laurel Club chosen to represent the club at a national meeting of women employee clubs in Washington, D.C., which included a reception at the White House with President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt.

“Did you hear the latest news?  We hired a female scientist!”  "How exciting!"

“Did you hear the latest news? We hired a female scientist!” “How exciting!”

 

The arrival of the Company’s first female scientist – a university educated chemist from halfway across the country — must have caused quite a splash at Johnson & Johnson.  It certainly attracted the notice of the Company’s superintendent of manufacturing, W— Johnson Kenyon, a nephew of our three founders.  Kenyon, who had at least one patent to his name – for an early Johnson & Johnson public health product – struck up a friendship with Edith, which led to an engagement, which led to marriage.  (By the way, Edith’s future spouse would go on to further fame in 1920 when he came up with the name for that new product invented by cotton mill employee Earle Dickson: BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages!)

Stop the presses:  an early office romance at Johnson & Johnson!  Clipping from the May 21, 1909 front page of The Home News, courtesy of The New Brunswick Free Public Library.

Stop the presses: an early office romance at Johnson & Johnson! Clipping from the May 21, 1909 front page of The Home News, courtesy of The New Brunswick Free Public Library.

The article about Edith’s wedding mentioned that the wedding was held at her house in New Brunswick – perhaps another sign of her independent spirit.  (The article can be found at this link.)

In keeping with the customs of the Edwardian era, Edith did not, unfortunately, resume her position as staff scientist after her marriage. But she remained local to New Brunswick, and no doubt she kept up with what was happening at the Company through her family and friends.  As an early pioneer in earning a degree and a job in science at a time in which the barriers to women doing both were extraordinarily high, Edith would no doubt have been thrilled to see the advances made by women over the long decades of her life.  And if she were able to be given a glimpse of Johnson & Johnson 107 years into the future, she would no doubt be overjoyed at seeing not only the many female scientists here, but also the many women in leadership roles.  Despite her short tenure at Johnson & Johnson, Edith von K— remains one of our pioneers as our first female scientist, and an example of the opportunities for women at Johnson & Johnson in the Company’s earliest days.

Unfortunately, neither Johnson & Johnson nor the University of Minnesota has a photograph of Edith von K—, so if any readers have a photo, we would love to see one!

General Robert Wood Johnson, the author of Our Credo, had tremendous respect for the dignity and merit of Johnson & Johnson employees at every level of the organization. In or around the 1930s (at our best estimate), he sponsored a very special project:  the creation of a set of beautiful stained glass windows representing the different types of work done at Johnson & Johnson.  The windows featured actual employees, and one of those windows allows us to meet one of the Company’s most remarkable early employees face-to-face: one of our women employees from 1886, the year we were founded.

Three of the four Johnson & Johnson stained glass windows in the Wolfsonian collection.  Images courtesy of the Wolfsonian – full photo credit at the end of this post.

Three of the four Johnson & Johnson stained glass windows in the collection of the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami, Florida. Images courtesy of the Wolfsonian – full photo credit at the end of this post.

The windows, four of which are in the collection of the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami, Florida, originally may have been twelve in number.  They represented a wide range of work at Johnson & Johnson, ranging from mill hands to machinists to lab workers to supervisors to office workers.  Employees were specially selected to model for the windows, and it was a great honor to be chosen.  According to oral histories —  our only source of information besides the windows themselves — the windows either were part of a building that housed the company’s human resources department, or they were in a corridor connecting that department with the rest of the offices.

 

Image courtesy of the Wolfsonian – full photo credit at the end of this post.

 

The rich, jewel tones of the stained glass give the employee portraits a tremendous reverence and dignity and, with the light shining through them, they would have been truly magnificent.  They were a tangible reminder of the centrality of employees to everything being accomplished by Johnson & Johnson, from the first mass produced sterile surgical dressings to the invention of new products, to our employees’ work in the community.   The windows were also a tremendous source of pride to the employees chosen to represent the Company.  Here’s what the daughter of one of those employees said:

“My father…worked in the paint department…and then he was one of the twelve or so J&J employees who were selected for a special project of General Robert Johnson, to display stained glass likenesses of representative persons of the various departments at J&J.  So my father represented the mechanical department…Those portraits were prepared first by taking a photograph of the worker, and then the photograph became an oil painting and finally the resulting product was the stained glass portrait.  They were on display in the employment office, and I know my father took great pride in showing that to us on one of the open house tours of J&J.”  [Transcript of Yolan V-- video interview conducted by Johnson & Johnson, 2003] 

Robert Wood Johnson (left) circa 1930s, and with employees, from our archives.  The stained glass windows were one of his special projects.

Robert Wood Johnson (left) circa 1930s, and with employees, from our archives. The stained glass windows were one of his special projects.

Years later, when the building was taken down, General Robert Wood Johnson had the windows carefully taken out, framed and given to the employees or to their families.  Descendants of those employees still display their windows proudly in their homes, and four of these beautiful windows recently joined the collection of the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach, Florida.

The four Johnson & Johnson stained glass windows in the Wolfsonian collection. Images courtesy of the Wolfsonian – full photo credit at the end of this post.

The four Johnson & Johnson stained glass windows in the Wolfsonian collection. Images courtesy of the Wolfsonian – full photo credit at the end of this post.

The windows in the Wolfsonian collection were acquired in Miami, and they show four Johnson & Johnson employees: three men and one woman.  One of the men wears a shirt and tie and is shown in an office setting.  The other two men, Edward A— and William P— worked in a mill or manufacturing setting, as did the woman.  An empty glass jar to hold sterile dressings can be seen at her left.  The windows came with nameplates, and here’s where the additional surprise comes in:  the nameplate for the female Johnson & Johnson employee identifies her as Elizabeth P—, who joined Johnson & Johnson in 1886, the year we were founded.  Here, now, for the first time, readers can meet one of our original employees face-to-face:

Image courtesy of the Wolfsonian – full photo credit at the end of this post.

Image courtesy of the Wolfsonian – full photo credit at the end of this post.

Meet Elizabeth P—.  Born and raised in New Brunswick, Elizabeth joined Johnson & Johnson in July of 1886, just a few months after the company started operations and — remarkably — she was still at Johnson & Johnson in 1941.  In her window, she is shown representing the Label Department which, as readers might imagine, put the labels on our products.  Her face in the stained glass portrait reflects quiet dignity and pride in her work, and her remarkable at least 55-year career with the company made her an eyewitness to the birth and early history of Johnson & Johnson.

Just a few of the milestones that Elizabeth P--- witnessed, and people she knew at Johnson & Johnson.

Just a few of the milestones that Elizabeth P— witnessed, and people she knew at Johnson & Johnson.

Elizabeth worked in our first building – the four-story former wallpaper factory.  She knew James Wood Johnson.  She witnessed Robert Wood Johnson’s whirlwind arrival at Johnson & Johnson in 1887, and she no doubt heard his favorite enthusiastic phrase of “it’s a go!” many times.  She knew Fred Kilmer.  She was there when we made our first sterile surgical dressings and sterile sutures. She witnessed the Company’s invention of the commercial First Aid Kit in 1888, the birth of JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder in 1894, and the invention of the BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandage in 1920.  She saw our first international expansion from 1919 through the 1930s.  Elizabeth watched as the Company’s leadership transitioned from the first Robert Wood Johnson to James Wood Johnson, to Robert’s son – who she would  have seen grow up as he came to work with his father.  She was part of Johnson & Johnson as the world around her transformed from horses and buggies to automobiles to airplanes.  But there’s more to her story.

Elizabeth P---, who joined Johnson & Johnson in July of 1886.  Image courtesy of the Wolfsonian Museum.  Full image credit at the end of this post.

Elizabeth P—, who joined Johnson & Johnson in July of 1886. Image courtesy of the Wolfsonian Museum. Full image credit at the end of this post.

At a time when it was unusual for women to do so, Elizabeth P — had a leadership role at Johnson & Johnson.  In 1908, Elizabeth was listed as part of the executive and superintending staff, as department supervisor for the Label Department, and she was one of the women listed in 1912 as part of the management and supervisory ranks.  In a February 10, 1910 article about Johnson & Johnson in the New Brunswick Times, she is listed as a head of department at the Company.

Laurel Club invitation, from our archives.  Support for New Brunswick's underserved children was part of the community work that Elizabeth did.

Laurel Club invitation, from our archives. Support for New Brunswick’s under-served children was part of the community work that Elizabeth did.

In 1908, Elizabeth was elected president of the Laurel Club, the first organization for women employees over 100 years ago, and she volunteered in the New Brunswick community.  One of the activities she was involved in was helping the city’s orphaned children.  Elizabeth was also trained in First Aid and in 1912 she was one of the Company’s team of employee first responders.

The Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, November 1, 1941, from our archives.

The Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, November 1, 1941, from our archives.

Decades later, the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin was the Company’s new employee publication, and the November 1, 1941 issue had a front-page story reporting that a dinner had been held in Elizabeth P—‘s honor to celebrate her remarkable 55–year tenure with Johnson & Johnson to that date.  Unfortunately, no one interviewed Elizabeth for the Bulletin, an incredible missed opportunity since, in 1941, she was the only employee remaining who had witnessed the birth of Johnson & Johnson.  (If any readers are considering inventing a time machine, doing that interview might be a good first outing for it.)

While we can’t interview Elizabeth P—, readers who find themselves in Miami can visit her stained glass portrait – and those of her colleagues – at the Wolfsonian Museum.  The Wolfsonian Museum is part of Florida International University, and is located at 1001 Washington Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33139 at the corner of 10th Street and Washington Avenue.  Since the Johnson & Johnson employee stained glass windows are not in the Museum’s public collection, anyone who’s in the Miami area and wishes to visit them can make arrangements by calling the museum at 305-535-2611 or by emailing Lea Nickless at lea@thewolf.fiu.edu.

And if any readers have a Johnson & Johnson employee stained glass window in their homes, I would love to see a picture of your window and hear the story behind it.

 

Thank you to the Wolfsonian Museum for sharing the Johnson & Johnson employee stained glass windows with us!

 

FULL PHOTO CREDIT:  Images of the Johnson & Johnson stained glass windows courtesy of The Wolfsonian – Florida International University, Miami Beach, Florida, the Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, Promised Gift. 

 

 

185

The Writing of Our Credo

Margaret on December 18th, 2013 at 5:03PM

This year marks a very significant anniversary at Johnson & Johnson:  the 70th anniversary of Our Credo, the business philosophy that guides Johnson & Johnson.  Written in 1943 by General Robert Wood Johnson and presented to the Board of Directors in December of that year, Our Credo is one of the earliest statements of corporate social responsibility, drafted almost three quarters of a century ago. But the origins of Our Credo actually go back much further than December of 1943.  In fact, they go back to 1935 — and back even further to the founding of Johnson & Johnson.

Early Johnson & Johnson sterile surgical products, from our archives.

Early Johnson & Johnson sterile surgical products, from our archives.

The first tenet of Our Credo: Responsibility to the Medical Profession, Patients, and Consumers:  When Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886, modern health care was in its very early infancy and most of the standards and technologies of modern medicine that we take for granted didn’t exist yet.  The Johnson brothers’ new company, at the forefront of helping make surgery sterile, began addressing the great unmet needs of that era beginning with the introduction of mass produced, ready to use sterile dressings and sutures (1887), and a free how to do sterile surgery manual (1888); the first commercial first aid kits (1888); trusted products for parents to care for babies and small children (1894); maternity kits to make childbirths safer (1894), and more.  Johnson & Johnson pioneered these products with the collaboration of doctors and surgeons and feedback from consumers. The Company also provided free information to the public on prenatal and infant care, disease prevention and more.  This early philosophy of putting patients and customers first was summed up in Fred Kilmer’s 1910 quote about founder Robert Wood Johnson:

“When once convinced that an article which he could manufacture would save life and prevent suffering, he caused it to be manufactured and placed before the [medical] profession irrespective of any consideration of profit.”   [Fred Kilmer, 1910, writing about Robert Wood Johnson.]

Group photo of employees, circa 1890s to 1900, from our archives.  Very observant blog readers will notice Fred Kilmer, wearing a lab coat with a book tucked under his arm, at the bottom right of the photo.

Group photo of employees, circa 1890s to 1900, from our archives. Very observant blog readers will notice Fred Kilmer, wearing a lab coat with a book tucked under his arm, at the bottom right of the photo.

The second tenet of Our Credo:  Responsibility to Employees:   The Company’s early sense of responsibility to employees – at a time before that was usual — was reflected in the wide range of employee benefits at Johnson & Johnson.  The Company had an early emphasis on the health and well-being of its employees, which included – over 100 years ago — on-site medical care, free hot meals for night shift workers, free educational classes, on-site exercise facilities and classes, comprehensive safety measures (again, at a time before that was standard practice) and teams of trained employee first aid responders.  Employees, responding to the care and concern for their welfare, embraced the Company’s attitude and values, and began volunteering in the community beginning in 1907.

New Brunswick, New Jersey, photo taken in 1912: where Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to the community began over a century ago. From our archives.

The third tenet of Our Credo:  Responsibility to the Community:  Caring for the community also has early roots at Johnson & Johnson.  In 1898, when it was discovered that the U.S. Army had greatly underestimated the number of dressings to treat wounded soldiers that it had budgeted for, Johnson & Johnson supplied the additional dressings at no cost, because they were needed to save lives. Johnson & Johnson began its long tradition of disaster relief two years later, in 1900 and, in 1936, General Robert Wood Johnson used some of his own personal stock to form the Johnson New Brunswick Foundation, designed to help the people of New Brunswick through the Great Depression.  Some of the early work the foundation did included feeding and clothing the city’s children, helping residents who had lost their homes, and helping people further their education by attending medical, dental and nursing schools.

Robert Wood Johnson, around the time he began working at Johnson & Johnson.  From our archives.

Robert Wood Johnson, around the time he began working at Johnson & Johnson. From our archives.

General Robert Wood Johnson, the author of Our Credo, had quite literally grown up at Johnson & Johnson.  His father began bringing him to work when he was a small child, and he started his career here as a teenager in the 1910s.  Johnson rose through the ranks and took over the leadership of the Company in 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression.  He expanded on the Company’s business philosophy put in place by his father and uncles.  Johnson’s experience starting his career as an entry level mill hand gave him an appreciation for the dignity of work at all levels of the organization, and his service as mayor of Highland Park, New Jersey during the 1920s emphasized the importance of service and of meeting people’s needs.  Johnson quickly became known as a creative, forward-thinking and outspoken business leader.

Yes, this really is a personal letter from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Robert Wood Johnson, thanking him for his service.  One of the very cool items from our archives.

A personal letter from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Robert Wood Johnson, thanking him for his service! One of the very cool items from our archives.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1933 as President of the United States, Robert Wood Johnson sent him a letter outlining his ideas for a plan for the nation’s recovery, calling for a Federal law increasing wages and reducing the number of hours in the work week.  Johnson’s plan received wide attention in the media, and it caught Roosevelt’s attention.  In June of that year  — during the Depression — Johnson gave employees a five percent raise, saying that he hoped it would sent a trend for the rest of the industry.  (It didn’t; very few companies followed his example.)  In that same year, Johnson & Johnson expanded, opening new facilities in Chicago.

A copy of Try Reality – with matching envelope!  From our archives.

A copy of Try Reality – with matching envelope! From our archives.

Frustrated by the lack of response to his ideas from other business leaders, Robert Wood Johnson sat down at his home in Princeton, New Jersey in 1935 (he was living at Morven, the historic mansion at the time), and wrote a pamphlet called Try Reality.  Johnson was in the habit of writing out his ideas longhand on yellow legal pads (we have some of his letter drafts on yellow legal paper in our archives), and that’s how he wrote Try Reality.  Johnson intended it to be his answer to his peers, and copies of the pamphlet in our archives are housed in specially-fitted envelopes, used to mail the booklet to other business leaders.  Try Reality contains the earliest written expression of the ideas in Our Credo.   Here are some excerpts:

“Industry only has the right to succeed where it performs a real economic service and is a true social asset.”

It is to the interest of modern industry to realize that service to its customers comes first; service to its employees and management second, and service to its stockholders last.  It is to the enlightened self-interest of industry to accept and fulfill its share of social responsibility.”

– Robert Wood Johnson Try Reality, A Discussion of Hours, Wages and The Industrial Future, 1935

Johnson continued to advocate publicly for his ideas and put them into practice at Johnson & Johnson.  He was appointed by President Roosevelt to serve as the head of the Smaller War Plants Corporation in Washington, D.C. in 1942, and while he was in Washington on a leave of absence from Johnson & Johnson, he continued to think about the social responsibilities of business.  (For anyone who’s wondering how Johnson got the title of “General,” his Washington position was a military one.  He was named a one-star Brigadier General, and the title followed him back to civilian life.)

A rare photo of General Robert Wood Johnson in uniform, 1940s, from our archives.

A rare photo of General Robert Wood Johnson in uniform, 1940s, from our archives.

Late in 1943, the Johnson & Johnson Board of Directors got the word that General Johnson would attend the December board meeting, his first since his return from Washington.  At the meeting on December 13, 1943, he presented the board with some momentous news:  Johnson & Johnson was going to go public in 1944, with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. But before that happened, Johnson wanted to reinforce the Company’s philosophy to make sure it remained unchanged as this very personally-run organization went public.  Thanks to D.C. and L.K., here is a quote from the minutes of that historic meeting, at which Robert Wood Johnson and the Company’s Board of Directors formally discussed the defining values Johnson & Johnson has held since its formation.

“General Johnson expressed the thought that it was an opportune time to review the general concepts which he felt should govern the conduct of the corporation’s affairs.  The first concern should be to provide the consuming public with goods of the highest quality…Next in importance he ranked the maintenance of full employment at a fair scale of wages…Fourth he placed an adequate return on the capital invested by the stockholders…  ”  [Minutes of A Meeting of the Board of Directors, Johnson & Johnson, December 13, 1943, from our archives.]

(Although responsibility to the community was understood in Try Reality’s line about companies accepting and fulfilling their fair share of social responsibility, it would not officially be part of the wording of Our Credo until 1948.)  Johnson called these values “…the fundamental basis for conduct of the corporation’s affairs…”

It is to this 1943 board meeting that we date the introduction of Our Credo.  The following year, Robert Wood Johnson published it in his book, But, General Johnson –, calling it “An Industrial Credo” that all of American industry should adopt. Our Credo remains one of the earliest statements of corporate social responsibility.  Seventy years after that historic board meeting — and 127 years after Johnson & Johnson was founded – Our Credo remains the guiding set of values at Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson has just launched a new global giving platform called Care Grows.  Care Grows is a website that allows visitors to pick causes that are close to their hearts and donate to them, and Johnson & Johnson will match their donations.  Since everyone has at least one cause that has special meaning and motivation to them, Care Grows will enable people to make a very personal choice in how they give.  The Care Grows platform is a very high tech, modern way to help make the world a better place.  And although it uses the latest technology, it continues and broadens a legacy of very personal giving at Johnson & Johnson that dates back to the earliest days of the Company.

 

 

The Care Grows platform centers on helping mothers, keeping kids healthy, raising future leaders, empowering women and building healthy families.  Visitors to the site can select one of three ways to give.  The first way is through Johnson & Johnson’s really cool Donate a Photo app, which lets people donate a photo of their choice to a cause they choose.  For every photo they share, Johnson & Johnson matches their contribution by donating $1 to the cause they’ve chosen.  Another way to donate on the site is through partner organization Catapult.org, which crowd sources donations for projects as varied as supporting mothers and babies in Brazil, helping small business women in Mexico, sending emergency relief to children in the Philippines, and helping empower young mothers in Mongolia.  The third organization through which visitors can donate – and through which Johnson & Johnson will match your gift — is Save the Children.  This wide variety of choices allows each person to find a cause that appeals very powerfully and personally, a way of giving that has its roots deep in Johnson & Johnson history.

Fred Kilmer: he was a retail pharmacist before joining Johnson & Johnson, so sending medicines to help people in 1889 was his personal way of giving.

Fred Kilmer: he was a retail pharmacist before joining Johnson & Johnson, so sending medicines to help people in 1889 was his personal way of giving.

The origins of giving at Johnson & Johnson were very personal, and our archives hold a number of early examples of giving back that were close to employees’ hearts.  In 1889, before he joined Johnson & Johnson, our future Scientific Director Fred Kilmer personally donated medications as part of a disaster relief package from the citizens of New Brunswick to Johnstown, Pennsylvania to help victims of the devastating flood that occurred there on May 31 of that year.

Company founder Robert Wood Johnson: helping save soldiers’ lives through donated dressings was one of his personal ways of giving.

Company founder Robert Wood Johnson: helping save soldiers’ lives through donated dressings was one of his personal ways of giving.

In 1898, when it was discovered that the U.S. Army had greatly underestimated the amount of dressings needed to treat wounded soldiers during the Spanish American War, Company founder Robert Wood Johnson made the decision that Johnson & Johnson would supply whatever else was needed at no extra cost.  Johnson — whose older brothers were veterans, and who had employees serving in the military during that conflict — knew that the dressings would be used to save lives.

Three employee volunteers from the Laurel Club, early 1900s, from our archives.

Three employee volunteers from the Laurel Club, early 1900s, from our archives.

In 1907, the Company’s women employees in the Laurel Club began Johnson & Johnson’s tradition of employee volunteerism in the community.  The Laurel Club’s monthly dues supported members’ community work, which included providing warm clothing and holiday meals for underserved children in New Brunswick, buying beds for one of the city’s hospitals and organizing clinics with doctors for the city’s mothers and babies – three very great local needs over a century ago.

General Robert Wood Johnson: born and raised in New Brunswick, his very personal giving during the Great Depression centered around helping families in need in the Company’s hometown.

General Robert Wood Johnson: born and raised in New Brunswick, his very personal giving during the Great Depression centered around helping families in need in the Company’s hometown.

 

In December of 1936, during the depths of the Great Depression, Robert Wood Johnson set aside some of his personal stock to form the Johnson New Brunswick Foundation.  The Foundation – which decades later became the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – was originally formed by Johnson for a very personal reason: to help the people of his hometown New Brunswick through the Depression.  The foundation’s giving centered largely around the needs of children and families in New Brunswick, and some of the things it did were very personal:  providing food and clothing to men, women and children; paying for dental work for an orphaned child, and helping provide housing for families who had lost their homes.

Employees at a Johnson & Johnson operating company in Thailand celebrate the Company's 125th anniversary in 2011 by packing disaster relief supplies to help families in the community.

Employees at a Johnson & Johnson operating company in Thailand celebrate the Company’s 125th anniversary in 2011 by packing disaster relief supplies to help families in the community.

Many decades later, Johnson & Johnson is a global decentralized Family of Companies, and our employees around the world give back to their local communities in a variety of ways.  The Care Gives platform is the next evolution in the Company’s long tradition of employee giving, since it allows not just employees, but everyone with access to a computer or a mobile device to become part of a more than a century-old tradition at Johnson & Johnson:  helping people by giving to a cause that’s close to your heart.

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