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1907: The New Cutting-Edge Power House at Johnson & Johnson

Margaret on February 20th, 2015 at 5:01PM

The Johnson & Johnson Museum, formerly the company's Power House.

The Johnson & Johnson Museum, formerly the company’s Power House.

Today, the oldest building on the Johnson & Johnson New Brunswick campus – and the only one remaining from the days of our founders – is our museum building.  At first glance, the building may look like the steadfast, unchanging reminder of an earlier era.  But behind the timeless, rich patina of the brick, that peaked roof and those mullioned windows, it’s an example of the continuing path of cutting-edge innovation at Johnson & Johnson.  The museum building originally was the new Power House, built in 1907 to generate electrical power to run the company’s manufacturing machinery.

Johnson & Johnson has been in business since 1886, so it goes without saying that the company employed manufacturing power before 1907. In our first building, power to run the manufacturing machinery was generated by a 200 horsepower engine in the building’s basement.

The engine room of the Old Mill at Johnson & Johnson, 1894. From our archives.

The engine room of the Old Mill at Johnson & Johnson, 1894. From our archives.

Our next generation engine room was in the Old Mill building, seen here in 1894, with the company’s chief engineer John Hannan at work.  (The Old Mill was on the lower part of the campus, directly on the Delaware & Raritan Canal and Raritan River.) Alert blog readers will notice the oil cans on the shelf at the left of the photograph, and the large flywheel behind Mr. Hannan.  The flywheel was part of what looks to be a Corliss engine, a steam-powered engine to generate power to run manufacturing equipment, and one of the driving forces of the Industrial Revolution.

The Johnson & Johnson Gauze Mill: example of the type of steam-driven line shaft and belt machinery used in industry over a century ago, from our archives.

The Johnson & Johnson Gauze Mill: example of the type of steam-driven line shaft and belt machinery used in industry over a century ago, from our archives.

During the late 1800s and up to the mid-20th century, centrally-generated power was transmitted throughout manufacturing facilities using line shafts that ran along the ceiling, with a system of belts and pulleys to power each machine.  Beginning with steam power, these systems were converted to electricity before the development of individual motors to run machinery.

In the January, 1913 edition of the RED CROSS® Messenger, Fred Kilmer discussed the constant innovation and re-invention of processes, products and manufacturing techniques at Johnson & Johnson – which was necessary in order for the company to continue to push the boundaries of product innovation and position itself for the future.  Even mechanical power was not exempt.  “One radical change consisted of the demolishing of all steam-driven machinery, including shafting belts and the like, and the substitution of electric machines in every part of the establishment.”  [The RED CROSS® Messenger, Anniversary Number, Johnson & Johnson, Vol. V, No. 8, January, 1913, p. 212]

Loading equipment into the Power House during construction.  From our archives.

Loading equipment into the Power House during construction. From our archives.

That radical change involved building a new Power House next to the Cotton Mill, which would generate enough electrical power to ensure capacity into the future. Construction was begun under the supervision of the company’s architect, John M—-, who designed and built our early buildings.  In 1908, Fred Kilmer gave an update on the almost-completed building:

“This electric power plant is nearing completion and is the very latest thing in electrical construction.  Sixteen hundred horse power capacity, would arc light quite a large city.”  [The RED CROSS® Messenger, Johnson & Johnson, Vol 1, No. 1, May, 1908, p. 21] 

Johnson & Johnson Power House, 1910.  From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson Power House, 1910. From our archives.

The new Johnson & Johnson Power House used an array of high-powered, large Crocker Wheeler generators.  Crocker Wheeler was a major manufacturer of electrical equipment, located in the “Ampere” section of East Orange, New Jersey.  (They were so large a manufacturer that they, er, generated an electricity-derived name for an entire section of East Orange.)

That same year, Fred Kilmer reported: “An engine of 1,600 horse-power is used to supply electric power for the entire plant.  Under this system belts and pulleys are discarded and very cleanly methods substituted on all apparatus.”  [The RED CROSS® Messenger, Johnson & Johnson, Special 1908 edition, p. 8]  At 1,600 horsepower, the new high-tech power plant operated at eight times the capacity of the company’s original power plant.

Interior of the Power House, showing the large windows and tiled walls.  From our archives.

Interior of the Power House, showing the large windows and tiled walls. From our archives.

The new Johnson & Johnson Power House was constructed with the same exacting standards as the sterile manufacturing buildings.  Its large, mullioned windows and ceiling clerestory let in plenty of light. And the company’s emphasis on a surgical level of cleanliness did not stop at the Power House door:  the interior walls were covered in glazed subway tile so that the Power House could be kept scrupulously clean.

Subway tile in the Power House behind a section of wall removed in the early part of the restoration, revealed for the first time in many decades!

Here’s a special behind-the-scenes glimpse of the glazed subway tiles, seen today.  Uncovered as part of the Museum restoration, the cream and light gray-green tiles with dark grouting still look gorgeous more than a century after they were installed.

Panoramic interior view of the Power House in 1919, from our archives.  Note the pressed tin ceiling, the gantry crane, and check out those indoor streetlamps!  Maybe we can reintroduce them as a lighting trend!

Panoramic interior view of the Power House in 1919, from our archives. Note the pressed tin ceiling, the gantry crane, and check out those indoor streetlamps! Maybe we can reintroduce them as a lighting trend?

In the 1910s, a teenaged Robert Wood Johnson began his career as a mill hand in the Power House.  It was there, working side by side with the mill workers, that he would begin to formulate his ideas about the responsibilities of business that would later be expressed in Our Credo, and in his writings such as Human Relations in Modern Business.

Interior of the Museum, 2014, before restoration.

Interior of the Museum, 2014, before restoration.

As the decades passed and Johnson & Johnson grew and decentralized, the company’s manufacturing moved to larger spaces.  The Power House was reinvented first as meeting space and then — when the company museum moved from its original location in the old Laurel Club building – as the Kilmer Museum, named in honor of Fred Kilmer.  General Robert Wood Johnson spent many an hour there, connecting with and drawing inspiration from the long (and continuing!) history of the company’s innovation and caring.

Now, more than a century after it was built, the Power House is ready to reinvent itself yet again, and reclaim its heritage of innovation as we restore the building, uncover its original architectural features and transform the Johnson & Johnson Museum into a state-of-the-art, modern interactive museum in the last of the innovative early Johnson & Johnson manufacturing buildings.

Stay tuned for updates as the project progresses!

Giving back to the community is one of the oldest traditions at Johnson & Johnson.  It began in the company’s hometown of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and spread throughout the world as Johnson & Johnson expanded globally.  Our earliest records of helping the community previously have dated back to the 1898 donation of dressings to treat wounded soldiers, disaster relief after the Galveston Flood of 1900 and help for the citizens of San Francisco after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.  But now that legacy of giving can be traced back much further:  to the spring of 1887 when Johnson & Johnson was a brand new company just celebrating its first year in existence.

Johnson & Johnson employees in front of the Old Mill, 1888.  From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson employees in front of the Old Mill, 1888. One of the earliest photos we have, it was taken a year after our first recorded product donation. From our archives.

In the early months of 1887, Johnson & Johnson was a fledgling company, just a year old.  James Wood Johnson’s historic train ride to New Brunswick had happened in January of 1886.  In March of that year, The New Brunswick Times mentioned that a new company named Johnson & Johnson would be setting up operations in the city.  In May, the newspaper carried an article saying that James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson were still getting the business ready.  In September, the progress of the tiny young company accelerated when Robert Wood Johnson published a letter to the health care industry stating that he would be joining his brothers at Johnson & Johnson.

Robert Wood Johnson, from our archives.

Robert Wood Johnson, from our archives.

The arrival of Robert Wood Johnson brought his business expertise, industry connections and much-needed capital and, in the early spring of 1887, Johnson & Johnson was rapidly gaining its feet.  By April of 1887 the company occupied about 8,000 square feet in three buildings (the original 1886 building and two adjoining buildings), and had grown from its original 14 employees to a little more than 125 employees, according to an article in the Detroit Pharmaceutical Era.

Illustration of Johnson & Johnson in 1887, from the Detroit Pharmaceutical Era, April, 1887, from our archives.

Illustration of Johnson & Johnson in 1887, from the Detroit Pharmaceutical Era, April, 1887, from our archives.

“The factories of the house of Johnson & Johnson stand back from the depot of the Pennsylvania Railroad at New Brunswick, N.J., about 150 feet…In the neighborhood of 35,000 square feet of flooring are used in the manufacture of all the products of the firm, and over 125 men, boys and girls are given continual employment the year round.”  [Detroit Pharmaceutical Era, April, 1887, “The Manufacture of Medicinal Plasters.”  From the Johnson & Johnson archives.]

 

1887 First Product Donation News Clip

 

At the beginning of that same month – on April 2, 1887 – The New Brunswick Times noted that Johnson & Johnson donated “quite a quantity of mustard and porous plasters” for distribution to the underserved citizens of New Brunswick.  (Mustard plasters and porous plasters were two of the company’s earliest products – patches that delivered medication directly through the skin. A porous plaster was a medicated plaster that had small perforations running through its surface – like the holes in a modern BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandage.  Mustard Plasters, as the name suggests, used compounds in mustard seed as their active ingredient.)

Example of a porous plaster, from our archives.

Example of a porous plaster, from our archives.

The brief article about the donation appeared in the newspaper’s City Matters column, which covered a variety of short news items about New Brunswick, its businesses and its citizens.  The donation was distributed to underserved residents in the city and those who had to take refuge at the local poor farm.  During the 19th and early 20th centuries, poor farms and poor houses were residential facilities that people were required to go to if they were unable to support themselves.  On the farms, which were common in the United States in that era, able-bodied residents were expected to work. The citizens of New Brunswick who found themselves in that situation would have had the fewest resources and, coming out of a cold winter, the donated health care products would have made a huge impact.

Johnson & Johnson ad for Mustard Plasters, late 1800s.  From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson ad for Mustard Plasters, late 1800s. From our archives.

Since the article appeared on April 2, the donation would have happened either at the end of March — or perhaps on the first day of April, 1887, if the newspaper was quick in reporting it.  To put that date into perspective, Johnson & Johnson made its first recorded large scale product donation two months before the company issued its first professionally printed price list, and seven months before Johnson & Johnson was incorporated. (The company was a partnership before its incorporation.)

This shows that giving back to the community has been a part of the very fabric of Johnson & Johnson since its earliest days.  Although the words “We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well” would not be written until 1943, Johnson & Johnson was already taking that responsibility seriously in 1887 – 56 years before the writing of Our Credo.

 

There’s a saying that the best place to hide something is in plain sight.  Anyone who has frantically tried to find his or her keys certainly can attest to that being the case.  But did you know that it’s also true for Johnson & Johnson history?  Here are some surprising people and things from Johnson & Johnson history that have been hiding in plain sight.

Drawing of the first Johnson & Johnson building, 1886.  From our archives.

Drawing of the first Johnson & Johnson building, 1886. From our archives.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a photograph too? Well, as it turns out, we have more photos than we thought…

1.  The first Johnson & Johnson building:  the four-story former wallpaper factory rented by James Wood Johnson in 1886 played a huge part in our early history.  It was where the company began operations with just 14 employees.  As Johnson & Johnson rapidly grew and expanded and built more and larger buildings, that original four story building became a storehouse. While we have an artist’s rendering of the building, we’re still hoping to find a good, unobstructed photograph of it.   Here’s a photograph of the building from our archives that was taken long after the building was out of use and probably shortly before it was replaced.  The first Johnson & Johnson building is the one all the way on the right of the photo, behind the three side-by-side 1887 Johnson & Johnson buildings.

Photograph circa 1909 of the first Johnson & Johnson building from 1886, from our archives.

Photograph circa 1909 of the first Johnson & Johnson building from 1886, from our archives.

But if you look closely at some early photos of Johnson & Johnson and the surrounding area, you can see that 1886 building hiding in plain sight.

It’s here, in this section from a 1908 panoramic view of the Johnson & Johnson campus:

The first Johnson & Johnson building, from a panoramic illustration of the Johnson & Johnson campus in 1908.  The cotton storage shed, formerly the railroad freight house, also can be seen in this image.  From our archives.

The first Johnson & Johnson building, from a panoramic illustration of the Johnson & Johnson campus in 1908. The cotton storage shed, formerly the railroad freight house, also can be seen in this image. From our archives.

And here, in this photo of New Brunswick taken from the corner of George and Albany Streets:

Undated photograph of New Brunswick, showing the first Johnson & Johnson building.

Undated photograph of New Brunswick, showing the first Johnson & Johnson building.

Chances are good that if you look at enough pre-1909 photos of the area bordered by George, Hamilton and Albany Streets in New Brunswick, you might find the first Johnson & Johnson building in the photos.  In fact, it’s very possible that someone has a yet undiscovered photograph of our first building without even realizing it!

Undated photo of Pennsylvania Railroad train freight cars next to George Street -- and near the first Johnson & Johnson building --  from our archives.  Rutgers University’s Schenck Observatory can be seen in the background.

Undated photo of Pennsylvania Railroad train freight cars next to George Street — and near the first Johnson & Johnson building — from our archives. Rutgers University’s Schenck Observatory can be seen in the background.

2.  The old Pennsylvania Railroad Freight House:  New Brunswick’s early Pennsylvania Railroad freight house also played a role in the Johnson & Johnson story.  In March of 1886, James Wood Johnson wrote the first check from Johnson & Johnson.  It was made out to John Ware, the Pennsylvania Railroad freight master in New Brunswick – whose family is STILL associated with Johnson & Johnson more than 125 years later.  Ware worked in and around the freight house.  So what did that freight house look like?  It turns out it’s been hiding in plain sight in the Johnson & Johnson archives!

The Johnson & Johnson cotton storage shed, formerly the Pennsylvania Railroad freight house.  Alert blog readers will notice the chimney and peaked roof of the elusive first Johnson & Johnson building from 1886 at the edge of the photo on the right, above the stone railroad wall.

The Johnson & Johnson cotton storage shed, formerly the Pennsylvania Railroad freight house. Alert blog readers will notice the chimney and peaked roof of the elusive first Johnson & Johnson building from 1886 at the edge of the photo on the right, above the stone railroad wall.

After the old wooden railroad freight house was decommissioned, it became the cotton storage shed for the Johnson & Johnson Cotton Mill.  Here’s another photo of the building as a new shipment of cotton was being unloaded:

Johnson & Johnson cotton storage shed, from our archives.

Johnson & Johnson cotton storage shed, from our archives.

3.  Fred Kilmer:  Frederick Barnett Kilmer was one of the people who made Johnson & Johnson the company it is today.  Kilmer was responsible for our strong early foundation in science, and he also did the company’s early communication and public outreach.  He was content to stay mostly behind the scenes, but here’s an employee group photo from the 1890s, which has Fred Kilmer — in his white lab coat, with a book under his arm — hiding in plain sight in the front row at the far right of the photo.

Johnson & Johnson employee group photo with Fred Kilmer, from our archives.

Johnson & Johnson employee group photo with Fred Kilmer, from our archives.

4.  Robert Wood Johnson:  old photographs are wonderful windows to the past, because they allow viewers to glimpse a moment from a world long gone.  Here’s a window to the Johnson & Johnson past (to 1895, to be specific) with a surprise: company founder Robert Wood Johnson hiding in plain sight!  He’s in the window of the office on the right.  In the window to the left of him can be seen the company’s early head of sales, A.R. Lewis, meeting with a colleague.  By the way, the large bound books hiding in plain sight on those 1895 office desks can be found in the Johnson & Johnson archives today.

Robert Wood Johnson and the Johnson & Johnson business office, 1895.  From our archives.

Robert Wood Johnson and the Johnson & Johnson business office, 1895. From our archives.

Does anyone have a piece of Johnson & Johnson history that’s hiding in plain sight?  If so, we’d love to see it!

 

It’s hard to believe that December is here!  In celebration of the 12th month of the year and the colder weather it brings, here are 12 cool things from Johnson & Johnson history.

Members of the Laurel Club at Johnson & Johnson, 1910s.  From our archives.

Members of the Laurel Club at Johnson & Johnson, 1910s. A decade earlier, some of their fellow club members met the President! From our archives.

1.  Ken Burns’ latest documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, is a detailed look at three people who helped shape the modern world:  Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Did you know that there are connections between two of those Roosevelts and Johnson & Johnson?  In 1908, five women employees from Johnson & Johnson were selected to travel to Washington, D.C. as delegates from the Laurel Club to attend a national meeting of women employee clubs.  They attended a special reception with President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House.  Johnson & Johnson’s first female scientist, Edith von K, was among the Johnson & Johnson delegates, as was Elizabeth P—-, who was depicted in one of the Company’s stained glass windows.  

Personal letter from President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt to General Robert Wood Johnson, from our archives.

Personal letter from President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt to General Robert Wood Johnson, from our archives.

2.  Several decades later, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the presidential election, Robert Wood Johnson wrote him a letter detailing his ideas for helping to get the United States out of the Great Depression.  That helped put Robert Wood Johnson on FDR’s radar, and during World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Johnson as head of the Smaller War Plants Corporation in Washington, D.C. – which is how he earned the title of General.  FDR also played a part in the invention of duct tape, since Vesta Stoudt, the woman who had the idea for duct tape, sent Roosevelt a letter when no one else would listen to her idea, and FDR set the wheels in motion to make it happen.

Damp and rainy AGAIN?  Not only can we not make mustard plasters until the weather gets better, you should see what this humidity is doing to my hair!

Damp and rainy AGAIN? Not only can we not make mustard plasters until the weather gets better, you should see what this humidity is doing to my hair!

3.  In the early 1900s, before the days of air conditioning, damp and rainy weather in New Brunswick, New Jersey shut down the Company’s mustard plaster department, because the humidity interfered with the manufacturing process.

Close up view of part of the Johnson & Johnson offices in 1895 showing one of the company's candlestick phones on the left.  From our archives.

Close up view of part of the Johnson & Johnson offices in 1895 showing one of the company’s candlestick phones on the left. From our archives.

4.  In 1908, Johnson & Johnson had 64 Bell Telephones throughout its manufacturing buildings connected to the Company’s central exchange, to facilitate instant communication between the departments.  The “ ’phones,” as they were referred to in the June, 1908 RED CROSS® Messenger (because, in 1908, the abbreviation for the word “telephone” was still new), all had long distance capabilities as well.

Some of the amazing women employees at Johnson & Johnson pose inside the company's water tunnel in 1908 during excavation.  From our archives.

Some of the amazing women employees at Johnson & Johnson pose inside the company’s water tunnel during excavation. From our archives.

5.  How impressive are women employees throughout Johnson & Johnson history?  Not only did some of them meet with President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, they were fearless enough to pose for a 1909 photo in the Company’s under-construction water tunnel!

6.  By the way, that Johnson & Johnson water tunnel to the Raritan River was eight feet wide and 275 feet long.  It drew water from the Raritan to power the Company’s new state-of-the-art electricity-generating Power House – which today is our Museum building.

A section of the kitchen that provided free hot meals for the company's night shift workers, complete with rows of coffee cups.  From our archives.

A section of the kitchen that provided free hot meals for the company’s night shift workers, complete with rows of coffee cups. From our archives.

7.  On August 23, 1909, Johnson & Johnson began its practice of serving free hot meals to its manufacturing night shift workers.  The Company hired a French chef who prepared hearty soups and coffee for employees on the night shift.  Although other businesses charged their employees for similar services, Johnson & Johnson assumed the cost for the meals at no charge to employees.  There was a different soup each night and, according to the New Brunswick Times, fish soup was a particular favorite.

ZONAS® Corn Leaf Ad, from our archives.

ZONAS® Corn Leaf Ad, from our archives.

8.  Who here has ever suffered with uncomfortable shoes for the sake of fashion?  We think of that as a very modern phenomenon, but people have been doing that for at least 128 years: corn plasters were among the first Johnson & Johnson products in 1886.

Exterior of the former Ethicon building on Route 1 in North Brunswick, showing its marble exterior.  From our archives.

Exterior of the former Ethicon building on Route 1 in North Brunswick, showing its marble exterior. From our archives.

9.  Built in the 1940s, the former Ethicon building on Route 1 in North Brunswick, New Jersey, was one of the company’s most beautiful buildings.  Part of General Robert Wood Johnson’s “Factories Can Be Beautiful” campaign, the building was faced with white marble and had distinctive imported blue glass windows, complemented by apple trees on its expansive lawn.  But here’s something you didn’t know:  the building was the idea of Earle Dickson, the inventor of BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages!  At that time, Earle was the vice president of the Company’s Hospital Division.  Here’s the story direct from Robert Wood Johnson:  “Earle Dickson, our Vice President in Charge of the Hospital Division, told the Directors that the value of the suture department was greatly reduced by its housing.  He felt that when doctors, nurses and hospital authorities came to visit us, they should see the suture laboratories in a fine looking factory.  In fact, he thought it should be the showpiece of all our New Jersey plants.”  [Robert Johnson Talks it Over, Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1949, p. 51]

Employees at the dance celebrating the opening of the Johnson & Johnson Cotton Mill Addition in 1908 (left), and a view of the Cotton Mill empty interior (right) with hardwood floors – perfect for dancing!

Employees at the dance celebrating the opening of the Johnson & Johnson Cotton Mill Addition in 1908 (left), and a view of the Cotton Mill interior (right) with hardwood floors – perfect for dancing!

10.  One cool early custom at Johnson & Johnson was celebrating the company’s growth by holding a dance for employees. When Johnson & Johnson completed a new building, before the manufacturing equipment was loaded in, the company held an employee dance in the finished but empty building to celebrate, complete with live music and food.  Johnson & Johnson did that in 1908 with the opening of the Cotton Mill addition and again in 1912 with the opening of the new storehouse buildings on Nielson Street in New Brunswick.

The 1901 Cotton Mill Time Capsule (left) and the Cotton Mill in 1901, from our archives.

The 1901 Cotton Mill Time Capsule (left) and the Cotton Mill in 1901, from our archives.

11.  Who doesn’t love a time capsule?  They provide fascinating windows to a particular moment in time.  Here’s a time capsule in the Johnson & Johnson Museum, which preserves the first thread and gauze produced by the new Cotton Mill in 1901.

The Johnson & Johnson men's employee baseball team, circa 1913.  It's very possible that the company's baseball superstar Jimmy A-- is somewhere in this photo!  From our archives.

The Johnson & Johnson men’s employee baseball team, circa 1913. It’s very possible that the hope of the Johnson & Johnson vs. Michelin match up, Jimmy A—, is somewhere in this photo! From our archives.

12.  Many people look forward to the excitement of watching sports, whether it’s cheering their children’s games, or taking in a game by major or minor league professional sports teams.  Over a century ago, you could also take in a baseball game from the New Brunswick Factory League, an amateur baseball league in which Johnson & Johnson employees fielded teams.  The New Brunswick Home News devoted pages to covering these games and listing upcoming games.  During the summer of 1913, the Johnson & Johnson baseball team battled the Michelin team for the league championship.  An August 12, 1913 article in the New Brunswick Daily Home News titled “Immense Crowd Will See Michelin and J. & J. Teams Battle for Lead Saturday,” contained the kind of in-depth analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and their members that you might see about the Yankees or Mets today.  The article noted that the J&J team was getting back its ace center fielder, Jimmy A—, who was expected to give his team the edge in the contest.

 

Every Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day across the world, we honor and remember the men and women who have served and who continue to serve their countries.  This year commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the conflict that gave rise to Veterans Day.  To mark that anniversary, here’s a look at that first Armistice Day through the eyes of a Johnson & Johnson employee who served on the front lines in France.

 

Johnson & Johnson employees, World War I.  From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson employees, World War I. From our archives.

World War I began in the summer of 1914, the result of a complex system of alliances, growing nationalism and other causes, catalyzed by a single tragic event.  Many people optimistically thought the war would be over by the end of December that year.  Instead, it lasted a grueling and brutal four years, ending November 11, 1918.  When it was over, the political map had been redrawn, the Edwardian era was over, and the world was forever changed.

Women employee members of the Laurel Club at Johnson & Johnson with wounded World War I veterans, 1919.  From our archives.

Women employee members of the Laurel Club at Johnson & Johnson with wounded World War I veterans, 1919. From our archives.

Originally called Armistice Day, November 11 commemorates the moment when the fighting stopped – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Commemorations are being held worldwide this year to mark the centennial of the start of World War I, one of the most visible being the installation of more than 800,000 ceramic poppies surrounding the Tower of London. 

Johnson & Johnson employee (left) with fellow soldier during the Spanish American War, 1898.  From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson employee (left) with fellow soldier during the Spanish American War, 1898. From our archives.

With Johnson & Johnson being founded in 1886 by the younger brothers of veterans, the company has a long history of supporting those who serve.  Johnson & Johnson employees have served in the military since 1898.  During World War I, a number of employees – and employees of the company’s sales agents worldwide – served.  These veterans included not only employees from New Brunswick, but employees of the company’s sales agents in Canada, Australia, the U.K., Italy and Germany.

“Johnson & Johnson representatives are fighting with practically all of the armies now engaged at the theatre of war.  From the English, German, Australian, Canadian and Italian branches comes the same news – that the staffs have been greatly reduced by valued men joining their Colors.  The London office gave a dozen of its employees, while the Hamburg office gave practically its whole force.  Two editors of the foreign editions of the Red Cross Messenger have gone to the front and are ‘doing their bit.’”    [The RED CROSS® Messenger, Vol. VIII Nos. 7 & 8, January, 1916,p. 461, “Two Editors Enlist.”]

 In the U.S., a number of Johnson & Johnson employees volunteered for military service when the United States entered the war in 1917.  Those employees included Katherine H—, a member of the company’s advertising department and a trained nurse, who became our first female employee to volunteer to serve in the military.  Today, many female veterans at Johnson & Johnson carry forward the tradition she started.  The volunteers also included a young employee named Otto B—-.

The Johnson & Johnson Box Room in 1910, the year Otto B--- joined the company.  From our archives.

The Johnson & Johnson Box Room in 1910, the year Otto B— joined the company. From our archives.

Otto B—- was an employee from the Johnson & Johnson Box Room who had joined the company in 1910.  During World War I, he served as a cannoneer with the 101st Field Artillery, Battery E, in the American Expeditionary Forces in France.  Otto kept up a regular correspondence with his colleagues at Johnson & Johnson, and he included in his letters vivid descriptions of life in the military.

Photo of Otto B ---, from our archives.

Photo of Otto B —, from our archives.

On May 2, 1918, Otto wrote a letter back to his colleagues describing conditions in the trenches in France.  “Now where we have to go for our meals is across a big field to another battery and the field is full of shell holes for the Germans are shelling the field nearly all the time; so we take a chance going across for we don’t know when they will open up and shell us…”  On the positive side, he mentioned that he was able to speak “quite a little French now.”  In his understated fashion, he asked everyone to keep the letters coming and said would write as soon as he could, since being in the trenches made him “sometimes very busy.”  He closed the letter saying “The mail comes in today.  Here is hoping that I get a letter from good old N.B.”  [Letter from Otto B---, May 2, 1918, from the Johnson & Johnson archives.]

Two weeks later, Otto wrote another letter to Johnson & Johnson:

“Over there, May 16th, 1918,

“It has been quiet the last few days but you can never tell what is going to happen the next minute; the Germans are shelling us now while I am writing to you but I am in my dug-out about 10 feet under the ground, so they will have to hit right square on top of the dug-out to do any damage to us. You can feel the jar when the shells land a little ways off and they blow out the candle by the force of the shock.”  [Letter from Otto B---, May 16, 1918, from the Johnson & Johnson archives.]

By then, Otto had been at the front since April and he wrote to his colleagues that he had taken part in some of the biggest battles of the war.  The support from New Brunswick was tremendously important to him, and he thanked his co-workers for sending him letters, packages and the New Brunswick Home News – he mentioned in his letter of May 16, 1918 that he looked at the newspaper nearly every day.  In the same May 16th letter, Otto wrote:  “Well as I am only allowed four letters a week I will send one home and the rest to J. & J.”  He signed the letter with “Regards to all, I remain the boy from the box room over there.”  On December 5, 1918, Otto expressed those same sentiments in a letter he wrote from Culey, France to a coworker named Mary:

“I know you all don’t realize what great friends and wonderful help you all have been to me while I have been over here with all your welcome letters that I have received; don’t know what great help it has been to me, it sure made me do my best every day.”  [Letter from Otto B---, May 16, 1918, from the Johnson & Johnson archives.]

JOHNSON’S® Shaving Cream Soap, one of the products requested by Otto from his colleagues back in New Brunswick.  From our archives.

JOHNSON’S® Shaving Cream Soap, one of the products requested by Otto from his colleagues back in New Brunswick. From our archives.

Good soap was a prized commodity and very difficult to obtain in the field, and it was an item much requested by Otto and others in their letters from the front.  The superintendent of manufacturing at Johnson & Johnson and other employees sent soap and shaving cream from the company’s product lines to Otto and their other colleagues, for which they were thanked in the letters the soldiers wrote to New Brunswick.

Otto B -----.  From our archives.

Otto B —–. From our archives.

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the guns went silent, signaling the end of fighting.  Here’s how Otto described that moment:

“I was up at the front the morning that the war was called off just before eleven o’clock on the morning of November 11th.  Every gun around me was sending them over as fast as they could and just at eleven o’clock, they all stopped.  It sure did feel queer that afternoon when everything was so quiet and you could walk around where you pleased; everyone started celebrating that night and I took a hand in it myself; it sure was a great sight.”  [Letter from Otto B----, December 5, 1918, Johnson & Johnson archives.]

A month later, Otto wrote about his anticipation of returning home and coming back to Johnson & Johnson:

“Culey, France, December 11, 1918

Dear Bett,

Just a month today Bett when the big fight was called off and I guess a month from today, why, we may be back to the good old U.S., and then it sure will be a great day for the boys and I know it will be for me, when I walk up in the good old box room again and see all of my friends and to see the flag that is hanging there it sure makes me feel proud…”

Otto’s colleagues in the Johnson & Johnson Box Room, from our archives.

Otto’s colleagues in the Johnson & Johnson Box Room, from our archives.

To Otto B— , to every veteran who has ever served, and to those still serving, a huge thank you for your service from everyone at Johnson & Johnson.

197

John J. Heldrich: 1926-2014

Margaret on October 29th, 2014 at 6:41PM

John J. Heldrich

John J. Heldrich

John J. Heldrich, retired vice president of administration and retired member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors at Johnson & Johnson, passed away this week at age 88.  Born in New Brunswick, N.J., during the Great Depression, Mr. Heldrich would later lead the transformation of the city based on a commitment to the community as outlined in the Johnson & Johnson Credo.

John Heldrich was born January 15, 1926, in New Brunswick and was raised in Highland Park, across the Raritan River from Johnson & Johnson.  The youngest of five boys, he recalled playing baseball as a child near the company’s campus.  [Interview with John Heldrich, “John J. Heldrich Banks on Leadership to Maintain the Momentum of New Brunswick’s Turnaround,” Business News, October 11, 1999, page 15, from our archives.]

The former Permacel building in North Brunswick, from our archives.

The former Permacel building in North Brunswick, from our archives.

Upon his graduation from Rutgers University, Mr. Heldrich began his Johnson & Johnson career in 1950, starting at the Company’s’ Permacel division (home of Duct Tape) in North Brunswick, N.J.  When Mr. Heldrich arrived at Johnson & Johnson, General Robert Wood Johnson was Chairman of the Board.  Also on the board at that time were future Chairman Philip Hofmann and Earle Dickson, the inventor of BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages and vice president of the Company’s Hospital Division.  During that same period, the classic children’s book, Doctor Dan the Bandage Man, featuring Earle Dickson’s invention, had just hit store shelves, the new Johnson & Johnson Research Center had opened in North Brunswick and the Company was expanding globally and developing new products.

After progressing through positions of increasing responsibility at Johnson & Johnson operating companies, Mr. Heldrich was promoted to vice president of operations planning and control in 1964, and became corporate vice president of administration in 1970.  He was elected to the Johnson & Johnson Board of Directors in 1971 and became a Corporate Officer that same year.

Letter to Johnson & Johnson Chairman Richard Sellars from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, 1975, detailing a story about John Heldrich’s lifelong commitment to public service. From our archives.

Mr. Heldrich was dedicated to public service.  As a teenager, he earned recognition from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for having the fourth highest total sales of War Savings Stamps among newsboys across the U.S.   He is best known for his legacy in the revitalization of New Brunswick, the hometown of Johnson & Johnson since the company began in 1886.  Mr. Heldrich was the founding chairman (from 1975 to 1995) of New Brunswick Tomorrow, the private, non-profit organization that has spearheaded the economic, social and cultural revitalization of the city.  He was instrumental in seeing that a restored cultural center could serve as an economic engine for revitalization, and he volunteered his time and resources to help restore the historic State Theatre, one of the cornerstones of the city’s renaissance.

John Heldrich (second from left) and Richard Sellars (center) in a meeting during the early stages of New Brunswick's revitalization, 1976.  From our archives.

John Heldrich (second from left) and Richard Sellars (center) in a meeting during the early stages of New Brunswick’s revitalization, 1976. From our archives.

Hand-in-hand with the revitalization effort, Mr. Heldrich focused on workforce development in the region. He was the founding chairman of the New Jersey State and Employment Training Commission, the state agency responsible for preparing the state’s workforce to meet the needs of employers,  employees and the economy.

John J. Heldrich retired from Johnson & Johnson in February of 1991 after a career spanning nearly 41 years with the company.  He remained active in community organizations and in workforce development, continuing to volunteer his time, energy and considerable expertise.  Throughout his retirement, he continued to visit the company to catch up with colleagues, meet new people and stay up to date on events at the company he loved.

Public domain photo of the restored State Theatre, courtesy of Wikimedia commons, at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:State_Theatre_NJ.jpg

Public domain photo of the restored State Theatre, courtesy of Wikimedia commons, at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:State_Theatre_NJ.jpg

Mr. Heldrich’s legacy – and his name – live on in the beautifully restored landmark State Theatre, one of the cornerstones of New Brunswick’s cultural life and revitalization; in the Heldrich Hotel and Conference Center, designed to bring more visitors to the downtown and to celebrate the city’s history of innovators and artists; and in the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, part of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Equally visible, his legacy continues in the improved quality of life and growing number of resources for the men, women and children who live in New Brunswick and for everyone who continues to make the city their home during the workday.

The year 2014 is a big year in New Jersey, the state in which Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886.   This year is New Jersey’s 350th anniversary and, as part of the celebrations, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is counting down the Top 25 innovators in New Jersey history.  Number nine on that list – which so far also includes inventors, scientists, astronauts, entrepreneurs and activists – is General Robert Wood Johnson.

Congratulations, Robert Wood Johnson!  Number nine on the All Time New Jersey Innovators List!  Photo of Robert Wood Johnson, taken by Cecil Beaton, from our archives.

Congratulations, Robert Wood Johnson! Number nine on the All Time New Jersey Innovators List! Photo of Robert Wood Johnson, taken by Cecil Beaton, from our archives.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is revealing the name of one New Jersey innovator each week, counting down to the organization’s October 27th Gala, at which they will release the names of the Top 5 greatest New Jersey innovators.  On its website, the Chamber of Commerce recognizes Robert Wood Johnson as being one of the Top Ten for transforming Johnson & Johnson into a global, decentralized and broadly-diversified health care company, for his work heading the Smaller War Plants Corporation in Washington, D.C. during World War II, for his pioneering insights into hospital management and the founding of a school for hospital management at Northwestern University, for pioneering innovations from Johnson & Johnson during his tenure, and for the creation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  

General Robert Wood Johnson in a rare candid photo at his home in Princeton, New Jersey.

General Robert Wood Johnson in a rare candid photo at his home in Princeton, New Jersey.

Most people are familiar with General Robert Wood Johnson for his far-reaching ideas about the responsibilities of business. But Johnson was also an innovative thinker in a number of other areas, such as advertising and hospital management.  During the 20th century, advances in medical science were adding complexity to the management of hospitals.  Surprised that there was no formal training for hospital administrators, in 1943 Robert Wood Johnson set out to do something about it:  he provided the funding to establish the School of Hospital Administration at Northwestern University – the first hospital management school in the United States.  Johnson’s partner on the project was Dr. Malcolm T. Mac Eachern of the American College of Surgeons.  During the 1930s, Johnson worked with one of New Brunswick’s hospitals – then called Middlesex Hospital, now Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (it was named in his honor due to his many contributions to improving health care)  – on some ideas that were decades ahead of their time.  One of those ideas was to organize the medical staff into departments according to medical specialty (something that became common practice at larger general hospitals decades later).   He also helped start nurse training programs, including one in Brazil.  His experiences as a patient led to immediate improvements in hospital beds and noise control that benefitted thousands of patients, according to Robert Wood Johnson: The Gentleman Rebel, by Lawrence G. Foster.

Our Credo

 

Robert Wood Johnson’s innovative ideas about the responsibilities of business found their expression in his 1935 pamphlet Try Reality and in Our Credo, written in 1943, and in projects like the building of the first modern textile plant in the U.S. in the late 1920s, along with a community for employees that emphasized health and well-being.

In his 1949 book, Or Forfeit Freedom, Robert Wood Johnson wrote about the importance of businesses using renewable natural resources to protect the environment.

In his 1949 book, Or Forfeit Freedom, Robert Wood Johnson wrote about the importance of businesses using renewable natural resources to protect the environment.

Here’s another example of how far ahead of the curve Johnson was:  he wrote about the necessity of using renewable natural resources in 1949 – decades before the modern concept of sustainability.    

General Robert Wood Johnson

General Robert Wood Johnson

Although General Robert Wood Johnson retired from Johnson & Johnson in 1963, he remained active both at Johnson & Johnson and in helping the community until his death in 1968. As the author of Our Credo and the driving force behind the growth of Johnson & Johnson into a global decentralized health care company that touches over a billion lives each day, General Robert Wood Johnson and his ideas continue to make an impact not only at the company he helped build, but on global healthcare, on business and on corporate social responsibility.

This week, as part of United Nations General Assembly Week in New York, Johnson & Johnson is participating in discussions about the U.N. Millennium Development Goals and the Company’s progress in its five year commitment to goals four, five and six.  Those goals focus on reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating HIV-AIDS, malaria and other diseases.  Johnson & Johnson has been committed to maternal and child health and disease prevention for more than a century, and the roots of that commitment go back to the 1890s.

Dr. Simpson's and Dr. Cooke's Maternity Kits from Johnson & Johnson, from our archives.

Dr. Simpson’s and Dr. Cooke’s Maternity Kits from Johnson & Johnson, from our archives.

In the early 1890s, Johnson & Johnson was less than a decade old.  The Company had been making its pioneering mass produced sterile surgical products, it had pioneered the first commercial First Aid Kits, it began selling toothpaste in a tube way back in 1889, and employees were continuing to identify health care needs and find ways to meet them.  One of those needs was maternal and child health. During the 1890s, most children were born at home, and expectant parents did not always have a doctor’s help with the birth.  Many expectant mothers relied on midwives or, in very rural areas, a neighbor.  (These conditions – or worse conditions – remain in place for many women in developing nations today.)  In addition, expectant parents generally were the ones responsible for getting any medical supplies that might be needed for childbirth.  Without access to medical care — and before the age of the automobile brought the paved roads that enabled easier access to hospitals — there was a higher incidence of maternal and child mortality surrounding childbirth.

Dr. Cooke's Maternity Kit label for international version of the kit, circa 1920.  From our archives.

Dr. Cooke’s Maternity Kit label for international version of the kit, circa 1920. From our archives.

So to help make childbirth safer, Johnson & Johnson collaborated with two leading obstetricians of the day, Dr. Simpson and Dr. Joseph Brown Cooke (Surgeon to the New York Maternity Hospital and lecturer on obstetrics to the New York City Training School for Nurses), to develop Maternity Kits.  The company put the first kit – Dr. Simpson’s Maternity Kit — on the market beginning in 1894.  The Maternity Kits contained everything in one box that the doctor, nurse or midwife would need to ensure a safe delivery for the mother and child, plus instructions on delivering a baby and caring for the mother.  Just as the Company highlights the work its partners do today, Johnson & Johnson put the doctors’ names on the kits.  The Company made Maternity Kits until the 1920s.

A close up look at Dr. Cooke's Maternity Kit, 1920s.  From our archives.

A close up look at Dr. Cooke’s Maternity Kit, 1920s. From our archives.

Today, Johnson & Johnson works with partners like text4baby to provide free information for expectant mothers on prenatal and newborn care.  In the modern world, that’s done via text messaging on mobile phones, since even in areas without much infrastructure, people have access to mobile phones.  More than a century ago, Johnson & Johnson provided the same type of free information, using the technology of that era – small booklets that women could carry with them in a pocket.

Johnson & Johnson Hygiene in Maternity Booklet, 1902 (left) and 1927 (right).  From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson Hygiene in Maternity Booklet, 1902 (left) and 1927 (right). From our archives.

These booklets provided free, science-based information for expectant and new parents.  Johnson & Johnson also had a campaign called Every Child Has the Right to be Well Born in the early 20th century that sought to improve newborn and infant health.

"Save the Babies" information from early New Brunswick, New Jersey infant health campaign.  from our archives.

“Save the Babies” information from early New Brunswick, New Jersey infant health campaign. from our archives.

Johnson & Johnson Scientific Director and public health pioneer Fred Kilmer also helped lead campaigns to reduce infant mortality, beginning in the Company’s hometown of New Brunswick.  This included a day nursery staffed with trained nurses to help sick children, as well as numerous campaigns to reduce the spread of contagious disease.

Inside cover of the Johnson & Johnson Household Hand Book, showing some of the Company's early public health products.  From our archives.

Inside cover of the Johnson & Johnson Household Hand Book, showing some of the Company’s early public health products. From our archives.

On a broader scale, Johnson & Johnson made a wide range of public health products – disinfectants, antiseptic soaps and more – to help protect people against contagious diseases such as typhoid, diphtheria, and smallpox.  The Company also published information for the public to help people protect themselves and their families.

 

More than a century later, maternal and child health and disease prevention remain two major focuses for Johnson & Johnson.  In 2010, the Company became one of the first private sector companies to pledge its commitment to the MDG health goals.  Today, working with its partners, Johnson & Johnson has reached more than 200 million women and children across the world.  You can learn more about this work here, but there’s more:  you can also participate!  Through the Company’s Donate a Photo app, you can donate a photo from your smartphone to help one of the organizations that’s helping meet these goals, such as Save the Children or DoSomething.org.  So now interested blog readers will have the opportunity not just to read about the history of our commitment in these areas, they can also be a part of it.

Two Johnson & Johnson employees in uniform during World War I, from our archives.

Two Johnson & Johnson employees in uniform during World War I, from our archives.

To mark the centennial of World War I this year, Britain’s National Archives is putting more than a million pages of war diaries from WWI online, and museum exhibits, articles and commemorations are bringing that era — and how it changed society — back into focus.  World War I, which began in the summer of 1914 (a century ago this month) brought profound changes to the world:  it redrew the political map and marked the end of the Edwardian era and the birth of the modern world.  World War I also changed Johnson & Johnson and its employees in many ways, and it planted the seeds that would lead Johnson & Johnson to change its successful early business model and create the modern global company that we know today.

New building construction at Johnson & Johnson, early 1900s, from our archives.  Alert blog readers will recognize two of the Company's first set of 1886-1887 buildings in back of the construction.  The new building is on the site of the first Johnson & Johnson building from 1886.

New building construction at Johnson & Johnson, early 1900s, from our archives. Alert blog readers will recognize two of the Company’s first set of 1886-1887 buildings with their distinctive peaked roofs directly in back of the construction. The new building is being built on the site of the first Johnson & Johnson building from 1886.

Johnson & Johnson, founded in 1886, had enjoyed steady growth that continued with the advent of the new century, opening an addition to its Cotton Mill in 1908, introducing new products, continuing the first of many advertising campaigns that would capture the public’s imagination and continuing to strengthen its relationships with the sales agents and retail pharmacists who sold its products worldwide.  Looking back over the years since Johnson & Johnson was founded, Fred Kilmer in 1913 wrote about scientific progress and medical advances in that period, and said “To make the world better because of our existence, to build up a better environment, a better life…is the end towards which the onward movement of the history of our time and day is directed.”  [The RED CROSS® Messenger, Vol. V, No. 8, January, 1913, "The Years Glide By, p. 1]  But as 1914 progressed, a tangle of European alliances and agreements, rising nationalism and multiple other factors were catalyzed by the tragic events in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.  By August, the world was at war.  In the September, 1914 issue of the RED CROSS® Messenger, a full page notice acknowledged the situation and the growing scarcity of resources.

Announcement in the RED CROSS® Messenger, 1914, from our archives.

Announcement in the RED CROSS® Messenger, 1914, from our archives.

By 1915, shortages of raw materials were presenting new challenges, and employees worked to secure the raw materials they needed to continue production with no interruption of service to retail pharmacists, doctors, hospitals and consumers. When the war reduced European supplies of belladonna (an ingredient in some medicated plasters), Johnson & Johnson stepped up its experiments in growing its own belladonna, and increased its cultivation of the plant in Highland Park, New Jersey.  (For New Jersey readers, the site on which it was grown is now part of Johnson Park!)

Shadowbox in our museum showing the Johnson & Johnson wound dressing packet for soldiers developed in 1914.

Shadowbox in our museum showing the Johnson & Johnson wound dressing packet for soldiers developed in 1914.

Sterile gauze, dressings, first aid kits and other wound care products from Johnson & Johnson were in great demand.   The Company developed a wound dressing packet for soldiers, which consisted of layers of cotton encased in gauze, a gauze pad and roller bandages, one of which was attached to the cotton and gauze dressing.  This was designed to treat the new types of severe wounds from shrapnel and shells.  Johnson & Johnson also produced Carlisle dressings – wound dressings in small, watertight metal containers that could be carried in a pocket.  When the United States entered the war in 1917, Johnson & Johnson began making bandages and dressings for the U.S. military and stepped forward to mass – produce kits for the Carrel-Dakin method of antiseptic wound treatment, developed in a battlefield hospital as a new technology to treat wounds.  The Company also improved upon a novel new burn dressing developed in European field hospitals, putting it on the market as Redintol.

Cotton Mill employees stand in front of bandages and dressings produced to help injured soldiers, 1915.  From our archives.

Cotton Mill employees stand in front of bandages and dressings produced to help injured soldiers, 1915. From our archives.

By 1916, with the war in Europe at the two-year mark, Johnson & Johnson was running its manufacturing around the clock to meet the demand for surgical dressings.  Although Johnson & Johnson had perhaps the highest capacity for production output of any American or European company at that time, demand for sterile dressings grew even faster than the Company’s ability to keep up.  So in 1916, in order to increase capacity to meet those needs, Johnson & Johnson made a significant acquisition: the Chicopee Manufacturing Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.  An historic textile mill founded in 1823 and part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies until the mid-1990s, it remains to this date the oldest business ever acquired by Johnson & Johnson.

 

The editors of the British and Australian editions of The RED CROSS® Messenger in 1916, from our archives.

The editors of the British and Australian editions of The RED CROSS® Messenger in 1916, from our archives.

Although the United States had not yet entered the war in 1916, employees of the Company’s trusted sales agents in Canada, the U.K. and Australia were serving their countries on the front lines, and periodically the RED CROSS® Messenger, the Company’s publication for retail pharmacists, would list their names.  The January, 1916 edition of the RED CROSS® Messenger noted that two of the publications editors – for the English and Australian editions – enlisted in the military, as did staff members of the Company’s various sales agents in Canada, Europe and Australia.  According to the Messenger,

“Johnson & Johnson representatives are fighting with practically all of the armies now engaged at the theatre of war.  From the English, German, Australian, Canadian and Italian branches comes the same news – that the staffs have been greatly reduced by valued men joining their Colors.  The London office gave a dozen of its employees, while the Hamburg office gave practically its whole force.  Two editors of the foreign editions of the Red Cross Messenger have gone to the front and are ‘doing their bit.’”    [The RED CROSS® Messenger, Vol. VIII Nos. 7 & 8, January, 1916,p. 461, “Two Editors Enlist.”]

A rare photograph of the Johnson & Johnson Cotton Mill at night, from our archives.  This is how the Mill would have looked as employees worked around the clock to meet the demand for dressings and bandages to treat wounded soldiers.

A rare photograph of the Johnson & Johnson Cotton Mill at night, from our archives. This is how the Mill would have looked as employees worked around the clock to meet the demand for dressings and bandages to treat wounded soldiers.

When the United States entering the conflict in April of 1917, Johnson & Johnson began running its manufacturing day and night, seven days a week to keep up with the demand for bandages and dressings, which now included the American Expeditionary and Allied Forces as well as military and civilian hospitals.

Two of the many Johnson & Johnson employees who fought in World War I.  From our archives.

Two of the many Johnson & Johnson employees who fought in World War I. From our archives.

Increasing numbers of employees in New Brunswick were also serving in the military overseas, including Katherine H—, our first female employee to volunteer for military service.  As a result, Johnson & Johnson – a company that had always had many female employees since its founding in 1886 – began hiring more and more women to fill the gaps left by employees in the military.  Fred Kilmer encouraged employees who were serving to write letters, and they sent letters, photographs and postcards back to their colleagues at Johnson & Johnson from training and from the trenches.  Today, those letters and photographs – preserved and collected in a thick scrapbook by Fred Kilmer – are a fascinating part of the Johnson & Johnson archives.

Two examples of the letters employees wrote to their colleagues, from the Johnson & Johnson archives.

Two examples of the letters employees wrote to their colleagues, from the Johnson & Johnson archives.

With his own son Joyce fighting in France, Fred Kilmer kept meticulous track of not just Johnson & Johnson employees who were serving, but also the employees of the Company’s sales agents in the U.K., Canada and Australia.

One of the most remarkable things in our archives:  a thick scrapbook put together by Fred Kilmer containing postcards, letters and photographs from Johnson & Johnson employees, World War I.

One of the most remarkable things in our archives: a thick scrapbook put together by Fred Kilmer containing postcards, letters and photographs from Johnson & Johnson employees, World War I.

A century later, the incredible scrapbook he assembled provides a window into our employee-soldier’s lives, their impressions of training, of the brutal conditions in the trenches, their pride in seeing Johnson & Johnson medical supplies used to treat injuries, and their joy and gratitude at receiving letters and care packages from their Johnson & Johnson colleagues.

Members of the Laurel Club at Johnson & Johnson with wounded soldiers, WWI.  From our archives.

Members of the Laurel Club at Johnson & Johnson with wounded soldiers, WWI. From our archives.

World War I ended on November 11, 1918.  In the U.S., the aftermath of the conflict and the tremendous toll it took gave rise to an increased desire for isolationism, a feeling that the United States should look inward and pull back from international involvement.  At Johnson & Johnson, the prevailing opinion was that the Company should continue to expand its successful existing network of overseas sales agents and distributors.

Robert Wood Johnson:  when everyone wanted to pull back from global involvement, his idea was to get involved globally.

Robert Wood Johnson: when everyone wanted to pull back from global involvement, his idea was to get involved globally.

But 29-year-old Robert Wood Johnson realized that the Company’s export business model was not going to be sustainable in this new era, and that new opportunities for growth would have to be found.  At a time in which the U.S. was pulling back from global involvement, Johnson understood that the way forward was not to work through sales agents, but to get involved globally:  his idea was to open locally-managed Johnson & Johnson operating companies around the world, since they would better understand and be able to meet local needs. He also was keenly aware of the shortages in raw materials and the difficulties in getting crucial products like sterile sutures to surgeons during World War I, and he felt that local operating companies also would help ensure that the movement of critical products was not interrupted.   So in 1922, Robert Wood Johnson persuaded the Company’s senior management to send him and his younger brother on a year-long, worldwide trip to study and assess business conditions.  As a result of their study, by the 1930s, Johnson & Johnson had locally managed operating companies in the U.K., Canada, Australia, South Africa and Latin America.   Not only were these operating companies better able to anticipate and meet local needs, they did make a difference for the Company’s supply chain – and for the people who needed the products — during World War II.  In his book Robert Johnson Talks it Over, Robert Wood Johnson gave an example of how that worked:

“…we had everything in order long before World War II.  At first, the war brought shipping to a standstill, when vessels did begin to come through, they carried almost nothing for civilians.  Because of Johnson & Johnson, however, Australia was able to make all the surgical dressings needed by both her civilian population and her military forces.  [Robert Johnson Talks it Over, Robert Wood Johnson, Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J., 1949, p. 115]

Manufacturing at the Johnson & Johnson operating company in Australia, 1931.  Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson, 75 Years of Caring, Australia and New Zealand, by Peter Donovan, 2006.

Manufacturing at the Johnson & Johnson operating company in Australia, 1931. Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson, 75 Years of Caring, Australia and New Zealand, by Peter Donovan, 2006.

For Johnson & Johnson – as it did for the rest of the world – World War I marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.  The changes in society that would come with the 1920s – the rise of the automobile, the growth of advertising, expanded roles for women – would leave their mark on the Company, which was well-placed to grow with these changes.  And because of Robert Wood Johnson’s realization in the wake of the dislocation caused by World War I that the Company’s global growth had to be approached in a new way, Johnson & Johnson has been a local, trusted presence in communities around the world for generations.

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.

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