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The Johnson & Johnson Heritage Vacation Challenge

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By MargaretGurowitz
Jun 30, 2017

No Johnson & Johnson heritage vacation would be complete without a vintage Johnson & Johnson Vacation First Aid Kit.  This one is from 1942.  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.
No Johnson & Johnson heritage vacation would be complete without a vintage Johnson & Johnson Vacation First Aid Kit.  This one is from 1942.  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.

With summer officially here, families’ thoughts turn to getting away from their daily routines and going on vacation. But vacation time doesn’t mean you have to miss out on Johnson & Johnson’s rich heritage! Because the company has touched so many lives in so many locations for more than 130 years, many places have surprising connections to Johnson & Johnson. With this handy guide, you can make sure you visit a site with a Johnson & Johnson connection wherever your vacation plans take you.

General Robert Wood Johnson at home at Morven, 1940s.  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.
General Robert Wood Johnson at home at Morven, 1940s.  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.

If you’re vacationing in New Jersey, here are just a few of the many places with connections to Johnson & Johnson. Morven, the historic 18th century mansion in Princeton, was once home to General Robert Wood Johnson, and he is included in an exhibit there about the historic house’s former owners. It was at Morven that Robert Wood Johnson wrote Try Reality, the 1935 booklet containing the earliest written expression of the ideas in Our Credo.

Fred Kilmer’s Opera House Pharmacy, George and Albany Streets, New Brunswick: Thomas Alva Edison was a customer!  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.
Fred Kilmer’s Opera House Pharmacy, George and Albany Streets, New Brunswick: Thomas Alva Edison was a customer!  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.

If you’re near Menlo Park and West Orange, New Jersey, you can visit two historical sites related to Thomas Alva Edison. Edison was a friend of Johnson & Johnson scientific director Fred Kilmer, and he bought supplies from Kilmer’s Opera House Pharmacy to make his early incandescent light bulbs. In Manhattan for the day? Johnson & Johnson’s New York offices in the 1880s were located on Cedar Street and William Street. Philadelphia, with its many museums and more than 300 years of history, also has a Johnson & Johnson connection. It was the location of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, at which company founder Robert Wood Johnson was inspired to help make surgery sterile while attending a lecture by English surgeon Sir Joseph Lister.  

 The Award for Excellence earned by Johnson & Johnson at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.
The Award for Excellence earned by Johnson & Johnson at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.

Going to the Midwest? There’s Johnson & Johnson history there too! Johnson & Johnson won an award for excellence for its sterile surgical products and medicated plasters at the legendary 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. How about the Southwest? Galveston, Texas, was the first recipient of large-scale disaster relief from Johnson & Johnson after the devastating Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

Chicopee Village, Gainesville, GA.  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.
Chicopee Village, Gainesville, GA.  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.

If you find yourself in Gainesville, Georgia, Johnson & Johnson’s 1927 healthy community for employees, Chicopee Village, is on the National Historic Registry, as is the Chicopee Mill building, the nation’s first modern, one-story cotton mill, which is now home to a craft brewery with a small exhibit about the history of the building! 

One of the Johnson & Johnson First Aid products that you can find in the National Air and Space Museum. This one’s from our archives, but you can see one at the Smithsonian as well!  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.
One of the Johnson & Johnson First Aid products that you can find in the National Air and Space Museum. This one’s from our archives, but you can see one at the Smithsonian as well!  Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.

Visitors to Washington, D.C. can find Johnson & Johnson heritage in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Our first aid products are part of the Charles Lindbergh exhibit. In addition, Johnson & Johnson is a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Early photo of a Johnson & Johnson building in Montreal. Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.
Early photo of a Johnson & Johnson building in Montreal. Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.

Traveling to Canada?  We opened our first international operating company there – in Montreal – in 1919. How about the U.K.? Sir Joseph Lister, whose 1876 talk about sterile surgery inspired the founding of Johnson & Johnson, practiced medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland, as did his colleague Dr. Joseph Bell – a fellow proponent of sterile surgery and the real-life inspiration for fictional detective Sherlock Holmes! If you find yourself in Mumbai, India, Johnson & Johnson Garden is a famous park where residents and their families go to relax outdoors in a beautiful setting. Switzerland is not only home to some of our most innovative businesses, it’s also where company founder Robert Wood Johnson was persuaded by a friend, early science fiction writer Edward Page Mitchell, to throw his tall stovepipe hat into the gorge at the scenic St. Gotthard Pass during their travels in the 1870s. (Mitchell wasn’t a fan of the hat and, much to his dismay, Robert Wood Johnson bought a replacement to wear on the rest of the journey!) Planning a trip to Norway? There’s a large Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit on exhibit in the Fram Museum, the museum of Norwegian polar exploration. Always wanted to vacation in China? Janssen Pharmaceutica helped save and preserve one of the must-see archaeological treasures there: the world heritage Xian Terracotta Warriors. 

The Johnson & Johnson Dental Floss that went to the Antarctic in 1928 with Admiral Byrd. Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.
The Johnson & Johnson Dental Floss that went to the Antarctic in 1928 with Admiral Byrd. Image: Johnson & Johnson Archives.

If readers feel the need to truly get away from it all by going to the Antarctic region, where technology and history -- and this list! -- can’t reach you, you can still take Johnson & Johnson heritage with you, because the company’s dental floss was one of the personal care supplies on Admiral Byrd’s 1928 expedition to the South Pole. 

Image courtesy: iStock.com/Onfokus
Image courtesy: iStock.com/Onfokus

With even the remote and icy polar regions having a Johnson & Johnson connection, historically-minded vacationers may be inspired to come up with a heritage vacation challenge location so remote, so far-flung and so impossible for anyone to visit that there could not possibly be a connection to Johnson & Johnson history: the Moon. But it turns out that even the Moon has a Johnson & Johnson connection: BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were part of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon Mission Command Module medical kit.   

 

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