Our First Employees
Johnson & Johnson was started by James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson early in 1886 with 14 employees. Once he was free of his obligations to Seabury & Johnson, Robert Wood Johnson the first joined the new company toward the end of the year. Here’s a list of the 14 original Johnson & Johnson employees who worked in New Brunswick, in the first building:
W. H. Ritter James Smith Thomas Burley Elmer Briscoe Patrick Higgins Harry Smith M. S. Denman Kate Coogan Maggie Smith Annie Keegan Elizabeth Cahill Teresa Smith Agnes King Lizzie Kennedy
It is interesting to note that these first 14 employees were divided evenly between men and women! These original workers would have been manufacturing workers, since the new company’s sales office was located at 32 Cedar Street in New York City. The sales office was established by Edward Mead Johnson; James Wood Johnson oversaw the manufacturing facility in New Brunswick. Here is a picture of some early employees from 1891, though it is not known if any of the original 14 are in this photo.
Here are some more early employees, from later in the Company's history:
Most or all of the initial 14 Johnson & Johnson employees came from Seabury & Johnson in East Orange. Incidentally, the original 19th century Seabury & Johnson buildings are still standing, and are home to a variety of current businesses called Manufacturer’s Village. The historical information on their site is not quite correct (Seabury & Johnson was a separate company in which Robert Wood Johnson was a partner; it didn't become Johnson & Johnson), but the site has some interesting photos of the building interiors, which show that they haven't changed all that much since Robert Wood Johnson and his brothers were there. Here’s a photo of Seabury & Johnson circa 1887 to compare it with.
Since this photograph was taken around 1887, the people shown here were very likely the co-workers of some of the 14 original employees who joined the Johnson brothers at their new company. The very first Johnson & Johnson products were medicated plasters, which were one of the 19th century’s major medicinal products. The Company quickly added aseptic surgical and wound dressings. Here is a very early photograph of employees packing aseptic gauze products.