217

130 Years Ago: James Wood Johnson Arrives in New Brunswick!

Margaret on January 29th, 2016 at 4:12PM

James Wood Johnson and one of the original set of Johnson & Johnson buildings, from our archives.

James Wood Johnson and one of the original set of Johnson & Johnson buildings, from our archives.

It’s a cold January day in 1886, exactly 130 years ago. James Wood Johnson, one of the founders of Johnson & Johnson, is on a train heading from New York to Philadelphia. Early in 1885,  Johnson and his brothers Robert and Edward had left their former company Seabury & Johnson with the intention of starting a new business, and James was looking for a location. He was on a westbound Pennsylvania Railroad train from New York to Philadelphia. When the train stopped at a tiny station halfway through the journey, Johnson & Johnson found its hometown: the city of New Brunswick, New Jersey.

New Brunswick as it would have looked when James Wood Johnson arrived 130 years ago this month, from our archives. The first Johnson & Johnson building is at the extreme right of the photo.

Photo from our archives showing New Brunswick as it would have looked when James Wood Johnson arrived 130 years ago this month. Alert blog readers will notice the first Johnson & Johnson building at the extreme right of the photo.

In 1886, New Brunswick was a center of entrepreneurial and industrial activity thanks to three things: the railroad, the city’s position on the Raritan River and Delaware-Raritan Canal, and its placement halfway between New York and Philadelphia. The city’s approximately five square miles boasted a thriving, nationally-known wallpaper manufacturer, a fruit jar manufacturer and a box manufacturer (both of which became packaging suppliers to Johnson & Johnson!), an iron works, the Edison Illuminating Company, a hosiery manufacturer, a carriage factory, and more. Johnson & Johnson would join the city’s fledgling first hospital, founded 1884, in forming the nucleus of New Brunswick’s significant health care presence today.

Undated photo of a Pennsylvania Railroad train stopped near the railroad depot, close to the first Johnson & Johnson building, from our archives.

Undated photo of a Pennsylvania Railroad train stopped near the railroad depot, close to the first Johnson & Johnson building, from our archives.

When the Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotive huffed to a stop at the little railroad depot bordered by George and Hamilton Streets in New Brunswick, Johnson looked out the window at the cold January landscape.

Artist's rendition of the first Johnson & Johnson building, from our archives.  The four-story brick building was actually nestled among a variety of other brick manufacturing buildings, close to the railroad depot.

Artist’s rendition of the first Johnson & Johnson building, from our archives. The four-story brick structure was actually nestled among a variety of other buildings next to the railroad.

About 150 feet back from the tracks, past the distinctive oval “Look Out for the Locomotive” street signs, Johnson noticed a four-story red brick building with a walk-in basement, a distinctive square chimney, arched windows and a “For Rent” sign. It was the former Janeway & Carpender wallpaper factory, outgrown by one of the city’s thriving businesses that had moved to larger quarters. Johnson got off the train to take a closer look, and he ended up renting the top floor of the building for Johnson & Johnson.  The company was named for himself and his brother Edward Mead Johnson. Older brother Robert was still bound by the terms of the agreement dissolving the partnership of Seabury & Johnson, and would not join until September of that year.

An employee at Johnson & Johnson in 1895 uses one of the disruptive technologies of the 19th century:  a typewriter.  From our archives.

An employee at Johnson & Johnson in 1895 uses one of the disruptive technologies of the 19th century: a typewriter. From our archives.

As it turns out, 1886 was a great time to start a business. Standard time had been introduced by the railroads in 1883 (before that, strange as it may seem, each town set its clocks to its own time, based on the sun’s position in the sky relative to that individual town). Technological advances such as telephones and typewriters were revolutionizing the workplace, and the economy was transforming from one based on farming to one based on industry. Innovation seemed to be everywhere, and the atmosphere for someone looking to go into business was one of great change and possibility.

James Wood Johnson, from our archives.

James Wood Johnson, from our archives.

Tall, dignified and thoughtful, James Wood Johnson must have presented a reassuring sight when he inquired about the brick factory building for rent. By 1886 he had solid experience as superintendent of manufacturing for Seabury & Johnson. Johnson was a skilled engineer who had designed the manufacturing machinery for his previous company. He would do so again for the tiny little startup that he and his brothers were creating.

Articles about Johnson & Johnson in the March, 1886 New Brunswick Times.

Articles about Johnson & Johnson in the March, 1886 New Brunswick Times.

By March of 1886, things were progressing. On March 3, 1886, The New Brunswick Times carried news of the new company with the headline “A New Factory.”   The Times optimistically reported that Johnson & Johnson would begin manufacturing with “from 50 to 100 hands,” but in fact the company started with just 14 employees: eight women and six men. Just thirteen days after that newspaper article, the City Matters column in the Tuesday, March 16 edition of the newspaper noted:

“A building 20 x 30 feet and one story high is being erected in the rear of the factory of Mr. Parsons, above the railroad bridge. It will be used for a drying room by the Johnson Bros., who have leased the factory and will move into it about the 1st of May, or as soon as the present occupants vacate the premises. Mr. Johnson is staying in this city, and hopes to get in the factory before May. Already $10,000 worth of machinery has been contracted for and will arrive in this city in a few weeks.” [The Daily Times, New Brunswick, N.J., Tuesday, March 16, 1886, p. 3, courtesy of the New Brunswick Free Public Library.]

The Times went on to note that the majority of employees in the new business would be women.

The first check ever written by Johnson & Johnson, signed by James Wood Johnson, from our archives.  Pay close attention to the way James Wood Johnson wrote the company's name:  the familiar and iconic Johnson & Johnson logo is based on his handwriting!

The first check ever written by Johnson & Johnson, signed by James Wood Johnson, from our archives. Pay close attention to the way James Wood Johnson wrote the company’s name: the familiar and iconic Johnson & Johnson logo is based on his handwriting!

On March 25, 1886, Johnson & Johnson wrote its first check, to the railroad freight master John W—. According to an interview with one of his descendants in the April, 1948 Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, the check was written for shipping furniture on the railroad from East Orange (where Seabury & Johnson was located) to New Brunswick.

Employees at Seabury & Johnson, from our archives.

Employees at Seabury & Johnson, from our archives.

Now that they had space for their new company, James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson got to work setting up their new business with the eight women and six men recruited from their previous company. These employees helped Johnson & Johnson open its doors, and two of them – Mathilda D— and William R—, earned positions of supervisory and management responsibility as the company grew. But in January of 1886, the brand new business was still setting up, and beginning to make the connections that would help it thrive, taking its first steps on the pathway to becoming the company known and trusted around the world today.

 

216

Five Cool Things from the Johnson & Johnson Archives!

Margaret on December 14th, 2015 at 5:27PM

 

An historic key from the days of our founders. A one of a kind First Aid Kit with a one of a kind story. A Hollywood movie star from the 1920s demonstrating one of our heritage consumer products. It has been said that every picture tells a story, and that’s certainly true from the earliest photographs to today’s digital images. In the Johnson & Johnson archives, every object tells a story too. Here are five cool things from the Johnson & Johnson archives – each complete with a cool story that goes with them!

The key to the first Johnson & Johnson boardroom, from the days of the company’s founders. You might even say that the room this object unlocked was, er…key to the company’s early success.

The key to the first Johnson & Johnson boardroom, from the days of the company’s founders. You might even say that the room this object unlocked was, er…key to the company’s early success.

Antique skeleton keys are prized by collectors, and here’s an antique key that has special significance at Johnson & Johnson: it’s the key to the company’s first boardroom. That room was in the company’s first executive offices, part of a building built in 1896 that later was named Kilmer House in honor of scientific director Fred Kilmer.

Johnson & Johnson offices, circa 1897, from our archives.  The company's first boardroom was in this building.

Johnson & Johnson offices, circa 1897, from our archives. The company’s first boardroom was in this building.

Beginning in early days of the company’s history, the room unlocked by this key was the site of many (if you’ll pardon the pun) key decisions that shaped the future of Johnson & Johnson and changed the lives of the patients, families and communities we serve. Although the original boardroom and its surrounding building are part of history, the key was preserved and passed down by employees until it was donated to our archives by Johnson & Johnson retiree J.S.

Rare Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit made for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, from our archives. The weathered condition of this very sturdy kit reflects the many decades it was in use by the family who received it.

Rare Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit made for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, from our archives. The weathered condition of this very sturdy kit reflects the many decades it was in use by the family who received it.

This rare early Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit was donated to our museum by C.R., along with its amazing story. Johnson & Johnson made the first First Aid Kits in 1888 to treat injured railroad workers, but by 1890 the demand was so great that the company was making kits for every need. This kit was made specifically for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, but it never left New Jersey. Here’s its story: many decades ago, a New Brunswick resident named Mrs. P— who lived on College Avenue needed a first aid kit. Two young men would park at the end of her block each day and walk to work at Johnson & Johnson, greeting her each morning on their way to work. One day, knowing that Johnson & Johnson made first aid kits, the woman asked the two young men if they could get her a kit from their workplace. Later that day or the very next day, they delivered the first aid kit to Mrs. P—.    The names of the two young men? Robert Wood Johnson and his younger brother Seward Johnson.

Robert Wood Johnson and his brother John Seward Johnson, from our archives. They brought Mrs. P--- this First Aid Kit.

Robert Wood Johnson and his brother John Seward Johnson, from our archives. They brought Mrs. P— this First Aid Kit.

 

Johnson & Johnson acquired a company called Van Horn & Sawtell in 1917. That company made surgical products such as sutures, a surgical lubricant called K-Y (which was a Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies product for many decades) as well as other items. In 1919, Johnson & Johnson stated:

“The union of two such American firms – each proud of its reputation and the part it has played in promoting the quality and reliability of sterilized surgical dressings – will mean a great deal to thoughtful medical men, who realize the extent to which the successful practice of medicine and surgery depends today on the co-operation and good faith of the well-equipped manufacturer of medical and surgical supplies.” [RED CROSS® Notes, Series VII, Number Ten, Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1919, p. 248.]

Talcum powder in a milk glass jar, from our archives. A less well-known but incredibly beautiful product from Van Horn & Sawtell.

Talcum powder in a milk glass jar, from our archives. A less well-known but incredibly beautiful product from Van Horn & Sawtell.

This beautiful milk-glass container of Van Horn & Sawtell talcum powder, donated to our archives this year, is a rare example of some of the other products made by that company.

 

More coffee? Absolutely! Because I have a bottle of digestive tablets on the table.

More coffee? Absolutely! Because I have a bottle of digestive tablets on the table.

The rise of the half-tone printing process in the 1890s made photography a viable alternative to illustration in advertising, and Johnson & Johnson was quick to adopt that technological advance. Here’s an early ad for JOHNSON’S® Digestive Tablets using half-tone printing. It shows two women enjoying a rich, Victorian-era meal – including lobster, mince pie and pudding — without worrying about indigestion, because they have digestive tablets on the table between them. (Indigestion is not just a modern phenomenon – it was a huge issue in the late 1800s as well.) There are only two people at the table, but they are pouring four cups of coffee or tea. Perhaps they were expecting guests? From the look of the clothing, the ad most likely dates from the 1890s, the decade in which JOHNSON’S® Digestive Tablets were introduced.

Silent film star Fred Thompson demonstrates first aid techniques to Boy Scouts with the help of a Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit! From our archives.

Silent film star Fred Thompson demonstrates first aid techniques to Boy Scouts with the help of a Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit! From our archives.

Although it seems like celebrity spokespeople are a modern phenomenon, they actually date back many decades. Synol Soap, a Johnson & Johnson antiseptic soap, received celebrity endorsements by Broadway and Vaudeville stars during the 1910s. Here’s a photo of silent film cowboy star Fred Thompson demonstrating first aid techniques to a group of Boy Scouts in 1926 – using a Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit. Billed as “the World’s Greatest Western Star,” Thompson was a World War I veteran who began his Hollywood career by filling in for an actor who failed to show up for a shoot. By 1926, he was ranked the number two box office star in Hollywood.

From our archives: Silver King and Fred Thompson. Not just horsing around.

From our archives: Silver King and Fred Thompson. Not just horsing around.

Not only did Thompson demonstrate first aid, even his horse Silver King got into the act. Here’s a photo from our archives of Thompson using Silver King to demonstrate proper bandaging techniques.

215

Vincent Utz, a Remarkable Johnson & Johnson Employee Veteran

Margaret on November 11th, 2015 at 1:56PM

Vincent Utz, from our archives.

Vincent Utz, from our archives.

Organizations today are constantly searching for new and creative ways to help people to get to know them better. In 1949, General Robert Wood Johnson wrote that “business is people,” and he felt that the best way to get to know Johnson & Johnson was through its values and its people. In 1945, a remarkable employee exemplifying that philosophy joined Johnson & Johnson.  Irrepressible, creative and full of personality, he was hired to supervise employee activities. He managed a variety of initiatives to raise enthusiasm and foster team spirit during his career, and he launched two wildly creative projects that helped Johnson & Johnson tell its story to the public. A World War II veteran and a genuine war hero, Vincent Utz left an indelible mark on the company and on all who knew him.

Vinnie Utz (far left) supervises an employee music session for the Johnson & Johnson radio show he managed during the 1940s.  From our archives.

Vinnie Utz (far left) supervises an employee music session for the Johnson & Johnson radio show he managed during the 1940s. From our archives.

 

Originally from Connecticut, Vincent Utz, or Vinnie as he was known, came to New Brunswick to attend Rutgers University. He was captain and star fullback of the Rutgers football team in the early 1940s, leading the 1941 team to a winning season and – in testimony to his football talents – earning the nickname “The Wizard of Utz.” Vinnie Utz was inducted into the Rutgers Football Hall of Fame in 1991. Here’s his entry on the Scarlet Knights website:

“Utz captained the 1941 Rutgers squad and was an honorable mention All-American that season, when he led Rutgers in rushing and keyed a 7-2 season. One of the most colorful of Rutgers athletes, “The Wizard of Utz” was also a member of the 7-1-1 team in 1939. A decorated war hero, he remained a flamboyant follower of Rutgers football during his professional career at Johnson & Johnson.” [Scarletknights.com, entry for Vinnie Utz at this link]

 

Vincent Utz and a view of the Johnson & Johnson offices in New Brunswick when he began his career.  From our archives.

Vincent Utz and a view of the Johnson & Johnson offices in New Brunswick when he began his career. From our archives.

According to an article in the August 15, 1945 Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, Vinnie Utz came to Johnson & Johnson directly from the Army, where he served for 35 months as a paratrooper. (Johnson & Johnson has a long tradition of hiring and supporting veterans that goes back to the Spanish American War in 1898.) Utz was a member of the 506th Parachute Regiment Team of the legendary 101st Airborne Division – the group that was celebrated in Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers. Vinnie Utz also was written about – and quoted – in the book D-Day with the Screaming Eagles, by George Koskimaki and in No Victory in Valhalla by Ian Gardner. Corporal Utz parachuted into Normandy on the eve of D-Day, and he was part of the fierce fighting for 30 days as the U.S. Army made its way toward Cherbourg. He participated in a daring daytime parachute jump (far riskier than the ones done at night, since daylight meant the paratroopers were easily seen) which was followed by weeks of grueling combat as part of Operation Market Garden in Holland.

Vinnie Utz in uniform, WWII.  Photo courtesy of the Utz family and reproduced in The Pingry Review, Spring/Summer 1994.

Vinnie Utz in uniform, WWII. Photo courtesy of the Utz family and reproduced in The Pingry Review, Spring/Summer 1994.

After that, Utz fought in the Battle of the Bulge. On the second day of the battle, he was wounded in action at Bastogne; he woke up in a field hospital three days later, having lost his left arm. Vinnie Utz was awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and a Purple Heart during his service. He returned to the United States on board the Queen Mary, the celebrated ocean liner that had been converted to a troop ship during the war, and he spent his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Hospital. Shortly after that, he joined Johnson & Johnson.

Article in the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin announcing the hiring of Vinnie Utz.  From our archives.

Article in the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin announcing the hiring of Vinnie Utz. From our archives.

Vinnie Utz was hired as part of the Johnson & Johnson Personnel department as Supervisor of Employee Activities, and he quickly put his leadership skills and creativity to use. Here’s what the August 15, 1945 issue of The Bulletin, the Johnson & Johnson employee magazine, said:

“His athletic prowess and his training in business administration make Vin eminently suited to manage the athletic and club activities for the people at J&J. He is already making plans to get teams organized to start the fall bowling season and is anxious to discover what other activities you might be interested in.” [Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, August 15, 1945, from our archives.]

Members of the New Brunswick Industrial League champion 1946-1947 Johnson & Johnson women employees' basketball team, from our archives.

Members of the New Brunswick Industrial League champion 1946-1947 Johnson & Johnson women employees’ basketball team, from our archives.

In that era, employee clubs included a Glee Club that regularly performed across the state of New Jersey and on the radio. And the employee sports teams at Johnson & Johnson were not solely for the purpose of improving fitness: they represented company pride by competing in the New Brunswick Industrial Leagues against teams from other companies. It’s a testament to Vinnie Utz’s leadership that the Johnson & Johnson women employees’ basketball team was the league champion for the 1946-1947 season.

Vinnie Utz (left) checks transportation arrangements during the A Day in Modern Industry Program. From our archives.

Vinnie Utz (left) checks transportation arrangements during the A Day in Modern Industry Program. From our archives.

 

Two years after he came to Johnson & Johnson, an idea of Vinnie’s became a program that gained national recognition. The idea behind the program – called “A Day in Modern Industry” – was to show high school students the connection between school and future work, and to get them interested in a potential career at Johnson & Johnson. Participating high schools would send students to Johnson & Johnson for a day, during which they would shadow an employee.

High school students learn about careers in science at Johnson & Johnson during the "A Day in Modern Industry" program.  From our archives.

High school students learn about careers in science at Johnson & Johnson during the “A Day in Modern Industry” program. From our archives.

High school girls and boys shadowed scientists, lawyers, accountants, manufacturing employees, and one student got to be Chairman and CEO for a day by shadowing General Robert Wood Johnson!

National news clips from the 1940s highlighting the "A Day in Modern Industry" program.  From our archives.

National news clips from the 1940s highlighting the “A Day in Modern Industry” program. From our archives.

The program was a huge success, it gained national media attention and it was widely replicated. Johnson & Johnson wrote a how-to manual so that other companies could implement Vinnie Utz’s program.

J&J On the Air!  Article in the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin about the new radio show.  From our archives.

J&J On the Air! Article in the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin about the new radio show. From our archives.

Another of Vinnie’s responsibilities was a radio program called “Johnson & Johnson Journal” on WCTC, a public radio station in Central New Jersey. Produced by and starring Johnson & Johnson employees, the show had a running time of fifteen minutes and featured news and interviews with employees and with visitors to the company’s New Brunswick campus. With its philosophy of helping the public to get to know Johnson & Johnson through its employees, it was a reflection of General Robert Wood Johnson’s belief that the heart and soul of a company was not its buildings but its employees.   Interviewed by the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin about his new role, Vinnie stated “ ‘Our new radio program is designed to make community listeners as thoroughly acquainted with J&J and its employees as we all are now.’ ” [Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, September 1949, p. 6, “J&J On the Air!”]

Vinnie Utz (standing, second from left) meeting with colleagues about the Johnson & Johnson radio show.  From our archives.

Vinnie Utz (standing, second from left) meeting with colleagues about the Johnson & Johnson radio show. From our archives.

Vincent Utz remained a hero to the end. Tragically, he lost his life rescuing his father-in-law from a fire during the 1960s. His son Jeff Utz recalls: “He was a daredevil, a favorite of the neighborhood kids and our many cousins, and a man passionate about life. He was down to earth, but he had an intellectual side…” Vincent Utz exemplified the incredible value, skills and leadership that veterans bring to the workplace, and he epitomized the values in Our Credo, the guiding philosophy of Johnson & Johnson. The work he did decades ago paved the way for a growing variety of initiatives to spread ideas, build enthusiasm and find innovative ways to communicate at Johnson & Johnson today. In that respect, during his tenure at Johnson & Johnson, Vincent Utz helped set the stage for the future.

Thank you to the Utz family for sharing Vincent Utz’s story!

214

Some of Our Earliest Employees Share Their Stories

Margaret on November 6th, 2015 at 5:12PM

Johnson & Johnson employees in 1888, from our archives. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go back in time to hear their stories?

Johnson & Johnson employees in 1888, from our archives. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go back in time to hear their stories?

Readers who appreciate the long history of Johnson & Johnson might be tempted to wish they could go back in time to hear stories from our earliest employees. Although it seems like an impossible task, there actually is a way to do that: through a series of articles in the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, an employee newsmagazine that captured the recollections of men and women who joined Johnson & Johnson more than a century ago.

Two issues of the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, from our archives.

Two issues of the Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, from our archives.

The Bulletin began publishing in 1941, part of General Robert Wood Johnson’s efforts to maintain the family feeling of the company as Johnson & Johnson grew. During the 1940s, the staff of The Bulletin began interviewing long-tenured and retired employees whose memories extended back to the earliest days of the company. The articles published snippets of these interviews – and sometimes early photos! — as part of a “Remember When” series that painted a vivid picture of how much the company had changed during its 60-plus years in business. The Bulletin lets us meet some of these early employees and gives us a window into the Johnson & Johnson of long ago.

John G--- in 1899 at around age 30, and in 1949 when he told his story to The Bulletin. From our archives.

John G— in 1899 at around age 30, and in 1949 when he told his story to The Bulletin. From our archives.

Meet John G—, who began his Johnson & Johnson career in 1887, the year of the company’s incorporation, when Johnson & Johnson was still in its original four-story building. In 1949, upon celebrating his 80th birthday (and having been retired for many years), he sat down with a reporter from The Bulletin to talk about his early days at Johnson & Johnson.

Price list from 1910 belonging to William R---, the man who hired John G---. From our archives.

Price list from 1910 belonging to William R—, the man who hired John G—. From our archives.

When Johnson & Johnson was just a tiny new company, eighteen-year-old John G— went to see William R—, one of our original 14 employees who was the manufacturing superintendent in 1887. William hired John as an assistant foreman in the Cutting Department.

James Wood Johnson and some of the machinery he designed in our first building, from our archives.

James Wood Johnson and some of the machinery he designed in our first building, from our archives.

John G— was taught how to operate the machinery in his department by none other than company founder James Wood Johnson, who had designed the machines. John’s story also highlights one of the most interesting of our original 1886 employees, Mathilda D—-, who was John’s boss in the plant. Mathilda was the forelady of the Plaster Finishing Department but, as John G— related, the company was so small in those days that everyone had multiple roles and pitched in wherever they were needed.  John G— retired from Johnson & Johnson in 1930 as supervisor of the company’s printing division, having worked for the company for 43 years.

Katherine How---, and the Aseptic Department where she worked.  From our archives.

Katherine How—, and the Aseptic Department where she worked. From our archives.

Katherine How—- (Not to be confused with Katharine Hannan, our first woman employee to serve in the military during World War I) joined Johnson & Johnson in 1905 in the Aseptic Department, our sterile surgical dressings and sterile sutures manufacturing area, and she remembered when the entire Johnson & Johnson operation was contained in just three buildings.

What Johnson & Johnson looked like when Katherine How--- joined the company in 1905. From our archives.

What Johnson & Johnson looked like when Katherine How— joined the company in 1905. From our archives.

(The three buildings mentioned by Katherine in 1905 were not our original three buildings; these were directly on the canal and the Raritan River, where Route 18 runs today.) Katherine recalled that when each new building was completed, Johnson & Johnson held a dance for employees to celebrate the company’s growth.  She would certainly have been present at the 1908 dance and celebration to commemorate the opening of the large new addition to the Cotton Mill.

Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson, from our archives. Could this be the famous checked suit that Katherine referred to?

Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson, from our archives. Could this be the famous checked suit that Katherine referred to?

Company founder Robert Wood Johnson was a frequent presence in the company’s Cotton Mill, which was where the Aseptic Department was located. Katherine How— “quite vividly recalled the checked suit he wore on occasion.” [Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, February, 1949, p. 5, February 1949]  Katherine was an early department supervisor, and she recalled that R.W. Johnson himself instituted supervisory classes to train employees for management in the earliest days of the company, and they were open to both men and women: she was one of the first to enroll in them.

Another Katherine who worked at Johnson & Johnson.  Katherine M---, from our archives.

Another Katherine who worked at Johnson & Johnson. Katherine M—, from our archives.

Katherine M— joined Johnson & Johnson in 1895, working in the Plaster Finishing Department, where she remained for her entire 50 year career. She, too, reported in to department supervisor Mathilda D—.  Since so few eyewitness descriptions of our founders have survived, it is especially interesting to read Katherine M—‘s recollections of what they were like:

“The elder R.W. she remembers as having been a good-natured, friendly man, always open to suggestions from the employees. J.W., his brother, was a dignified man, almost stately in stature.” [Johnson & Johnson Bulletin, February, 1949, “Down Memory Lane, p. 5.]

She also knew General Robert Wood Johnson. Their first meeting was in 1898, when he was just five years old, and he asked her for some tin spools to play with while he visited his father at Johnson & Johnson. When she retired, the little boy who asked her for the spools was Chairman and CEO of the company.

The Johnson & Johnson Cotton Mill at night, from our archives.

The Johnson & Johnson Cotton Mill at night, from our archives.

During World War I, Johnson & Johnson worked around the clock to keep up with the demand for dressings to treat wounded soldiers.  Many of our early employees (who had family, friends and co-workers in the trenches) took extra work home after their work day, assembling battle dressings in order to do their part to help.

Johnson & Johnson employees circa 1890.  From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson employees circa 1890. From our archives.

Although so much has changed at Johnson & Johnson since those first generations of employees, some things have remained the same. If those men and women could visit the Johnson & Johnson of today, they would be amazed at the technological changes and scientific advances — and the differences in what we wear to work.  But they would recognize in their modern colleagues the same creativity, dedication and hard work, and the emphasis on excellence in the service of patients, consumers and communities.

213

The Laurel Club Meets President Theodore Roosevelt!

Margaret on October 8th, 2015 at 5:52PM

Meeting the President of the United States is a rare honor. In 2014, a Johnson & Johnson employee had lunch with President Barack Obama as part of the company’s participation in the White House Summit on Working Families. More than a century before that meeting, five working women at Johnson & Johnson met another president, Theodore Roosevelt, as delegates for a Washington, D.C. meeting of employee women’s clubs in 1908.

Headquarters of the Laurel Club at Johnson & Johnson, from our archives.

Headquarters of the Laurel Club at Johnson & Johnson, from our archives.

In 1908, The Laurel Club was just a year old. Chartered in 1907, it had been organized by women employees at Johnson & Johnson with the help of Jean H—-, the general secretary of the National League of Women Workers, who helped women organize similar clubs across the country. At Johnson & Johnson, The Laurel Club provided opportunities for social interaction and education. But with its opportunities for women to hold officer positions in the club, and with its volunteer work in the community, The Laurel Club also gave women employees a place to develop leadership skills. Laurel Club members included Edith von K —, the company’s first woman scientist, members of our first women employees basketball team and women department supervisors.

The Laurel Club living room in 1907, from our archives. No doubt this was the scene of many a discussion about the 1908 trip!

The Laurel Club living room in 1907, from our archives. No doubt this was the scene of many a discussion about the 1908 trip!

 

Five Laurel Club members were chosen as delegates to go to Washington. They were Laurel Club president Nellie R—, Edith von K—, Edith W—, Mary L— and Bessie L—. There must have been a palpable level of excitement both at the Laurel Club headquarters on our New Brunswick campus, and at Johnson & Johnson. For Edith von K —, the trip to meet the President was part of an exciting and eventful two years that included completing her degree in chemistry and moving halfway across the U.S. to work as the first woman scientist at Johnson & Johnson. Now she was on her way to Washington, D.C. with four of her fellow Laurel Club colleagues for a reception at the White House.

Bessie L---, one of the Laurel Club members who met President Roosevelt. Bessie was also a member of the club’s basketball team. From our archives.

Bessie L—, one of the Laurel Club members who met President Roosevelt. Bessie was also a member of the club’s basketball team. From our archives.

 

The five Laurel Club delegates were set to start on their trip on the morning of Thursday, April 30th, 1908. Delegates from the New Brunswick Girls’ Club also made the trip representing their organization. No doubt they took the train – which figured so prominently in Johnson & Johnson history and which was, in 1908, located as conveniently close to our New Brunswick campus as it is today. Friday and Saturday were the dates of the convention. The Wednesday, April 29, 1908 edition of The New Brunswick Home News reported that the Johnson & Johnson delegation’s first stop was Philadelphia, where a representative from the company’s Philadelphia sales office was standing by to show them the city’s sights.

New Brunswick Home News article, April 29, 1908, “Local Girls to Call on Teddy.”   Image Courtesy of the New Brunswick Free Public Library.

New Brunswick Home News article, April 29, 1908, “Local Girls to Call on Teddy.” Image Courtesy of the New Brunswick Free Public Library.

 

Once the Johnson & Johnson delegates arrived in Washington, D.C., Friday’s itinerary included a tour of the capitol’s landmarks by rubberneck auto. A rubberneck auto was a small double-decker touring vehicle (basically, a small double decker tour bus), and you can see a photo of one of them from 1911 at this link. After their sightseeing tour, the Laurel Club members had time to change clothing and get ready for the White House reception, which was at 8:00 pm that night.

President Roosevelt greeted the delegation members in the East Room of the White House. Here are some excerpts from his speech that evening:

“Ladies, it is a very real pleasure to greet you here today. I often meet delegations here in the East Room of the White House; all of them I am very glad to see; and I can say with entire truth that there is none that comes here which I could be more pleased to see than this.”

“I think it is highly typical of our people that we should be able to gather together in organizations for social and intellectual betterment; and interested though I am in such organizations of men, I am even more interested when they are managed by and controlled in the interests of women, and particularly working women…”

President Roosevelt ended his talk by wishing them good luck and success in the future.

Theodore Roosevelt, Speech to members of the National League of Women Workers, White House, May 1, 1908, full text at this link.

 

Theodore Roosevelt, public domain engraving by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, at this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ROOSEVELT,_Theodore-President_%28BEP_engraved_portrait%29.jpg

Theodore Roosevelt, public domain engraving by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, at this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ROOSEVELT,_Theodore-President_%28BEP_engraved_portrait%29.jpg

 

With outspoken women in his own family — including his daughter Alice and his niece Eleanor (who would become a leader in her own right as First Lady several decades later) — President Roosevelt could not fail to be interested in and inspired by this roomful of women delegates. It’s unlikely that attendees were able to exchange much more than a handshake and greetings with the President. But if they could, the Laurel Club members were exactly the type of take-charge individuals who would have won Roosevelt’s highest approval. They included a woman with a degree in chemistry earning her living as a scientist long before science careers for women were common, some of them supervised departments, they volunteered in the community, and they exercised at work. (Roosevelt had overcome childhood ill-health in part with a program of regular exercise, and he continued to pursue fitness in adulthood, so employees exercising at work would no doubt have met with his most enthusiastic expression of support.)

Exercise facilities in the Laurel Club building at Johnson & Johnson, early 1900s. From our archives.

Exercise facilities in the Laurel Club building at Johnson & Johnson, early 1900s. From our archives.

 

Saturday morning was the convention meeting. Unfortunately, neither the Chicago Tribune, which covered the White House reception, nor the New Brunswick newspapers reported on what was discussed there. Saturday afternoon was reserved for more sightseeing, and stops included a tour of the White House and its grounds, tours of the Treasury building, the Navy building and the Washington Monument, with a visit to Mt. Vernon – the historic home of George Washington – scheduled for late in the day. After that, no doubt exhausted and exhilarated by the whirlwind schedule, the Laurel Club delegates headed back to New Brunswick. Back at work on Monday, there would have been tremendous interest from their fellow club members and their wider circle of colleagues about the trip.

Theodore Roosevelt campaigning in New Brunswick, NJ, 1912. DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, Doris A. & Lawrence H. Budner Collection on Theodore Roosevelt. Photo used by permission.

Theodore Roosevelt campaigning in New Brunswick, NJ, 1912. DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, Doris A. & Lawrence H. Budner Collection on Theodore Roosevelt. Photo used by permission.

 

Four years later, in May of 1912, Theodore Roosevelt came to New Brunswick to give a speech about women’s suffrage as part of his presidential campaign. Having a former President and larger than life figure like Roosevelt (he’s one of the four U.S. Presidents whose face is carved on Mount Rushmore) come to New Brunswick was a huge event, and there is no doubt that many Johnson & Johnson employees – including Laurel Club members – would have been part of the crowd that heard him speak.

Interested readers who want to imagine what it was like for the Laurel Club delegates to listen to the President’s remarks at that 1908 White House visit can hear Theodore Roosevelt’s voice in a rare audio recording of one of his speeches at this link.

In the meantime, the five women from the Laurel Club join the very few Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies employees to have met a President.

 

212

Dr. Paul Janssen

Margaret on September 11th, 2015 at 6:34PM

Dr. Paul Janssen

Dr. Paul Janssen

September 12 marks the birthday of one of the most remarkable people in Johnson & Johnson history, and one of the giants in the history of pharmaceutical medicines: Dr. Paul Janssen. During his lifetime, he was the world’s most prolific discoverer of new medicines, and he helped change the course of drug development in the 20th century.

Early products from Gedeon Richter.

Early products from Gedeon Richter.

Dr. Paul, as he was known, was born on September 12, 1926 in Turnhout, in northern Belgium. His father, Dr. Constant Janssen, was a physician and family doctor who began to import and distribute products from Gedeon Richter, a Hungarian pharmaceutical company named after its founder.  By 1938, the business had grown to such an extent that the senior Dr. Janssen gave up his medical practice and devoted himself entirely to the business. His son Paul was eager to follow in his father’s footsteps, but instead of continuing in his father’s business, he decided to take the unprecedented step of developing an independent research lab of his own. It soon became apparent that young Paul Janssen was a distinctive and original thinker. In 1989, looking back on his decision, Dr. Janssen recalled:

“ ‘I had this idea of starting a research laboratory which in those days was a funny idea. Everybody thought it was silly, and I was only 26. They assumed I really didn’t know what I was talking about.’ ” [Breakthrough, The Discovery of Modern Medicines at Janssen, by Harry Schwartz, The Skyline Publishing Group, New Jersey, 1989, p. 22]

But the future Dr. Paul Janssen knew exactly what he was talking about. While still a medical student, Janssen had an insight that would fuel the innovation behind his research lab: he became convinced that the discipline of chemistry would be of increasingly vital importance in medicine. Many medicines at the time were combinations of existing compounds. Paul Janssen realized that the future of pharmaceutical medicine would be in developing original, new compounds, and he decided that he would do exactly that. As a medical student, Janssen understood that there had to be a connection between a substance’s chemical structure and its pharmacological action. That undertanding would provide the groundwork for research at the company he went on to found: synthesizing chemical structures to find the connections between their pharmacological structure and their activity. [Breakthrough, The Discovery of Modern Medicines at Janssen, by Harry Schwartz, The Skyline Publishing Group, New Jersey, 198, p. 14]

Dr. Paul Janssen as a young man.  From our archives.

Dr. Paul Janssen as a young man. From our archives.

In 1948, when he was just 21, Paul Janssen took a leave from medical school to spend six months in the United States to continue his studies at Cornell Medical School, Harvard, the California Institute of Technology, and more. He also visited companies to see pharmacological research in action. In 1953, after finishing his education and passing all of his exams with highest honors, Dr. Paul Janssen decided it was time to begin his research laboratory. He set up a small research lab on a shoestring budget on the third floor of his father’s company in Turnhout. Janssen’s earliest employees were a diverse group of scientists and researchers from across Europe – men and women. For Dr. Paul, the most important qualities he looked for in his colleagues were common sense, a desire to work, inquisitiveness, and an open mind for innovation.

Dr. Paul Janssen in the lab in 1953.  From our archives.

Dr. Paul Janssen in the lab in 1953. From our archives.

Beginning in 1953, the tiny research lab began synthesizing compounds. It grew into Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., synthesizing and developing a steady stream of compounds, many of which became crucially important medicines. Over the course of the company’s history, Dr. Janssen and the Janssen scientists have discovered more than 80 medicines, many of them significant and pioneering. Today, eight medicines from Janssen are on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

In 1961, Janssen Pharmaceutica was acquired by Johnson & Johnson, bringing to the company Janssen’s strong capabilities in the growing field of pharmaceutical medicines. For Dr. Paul Janssen, the global reach of Johnson & Johnson would enable him and his colleagues to help more patients. For both organizations, which shared the same values, it was the perfect fit.

In 1985, Dr. Paul Janssen helped establish the first Johnson & Johnson operating company – and the first Western health care company — in China, Xian-Janssen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Dr. Janssen is also known for his role in helping preserve the legendary Xian Warriors, a World Heritage treasure. By the early 1990s these priceless terracotta statues from the tomb of China’s first emperor were being endangered by fungi that threatened to destroy them. Dr. Janssen led the efforts to help preserve these archaeological treasures with antifungal medicines from Janssen Pharmaceutica, helping set up a lab on-site to aid in the preservation. Today, the company continues to work with museums to help in their ongoing preservation.

Dr. Paul Janssen.  From our archives.

Dr. Paul Janssen. From our archives.

Active and engaged until the end, Dr. Paul Janssen passed away in 2003 at the age of 77 while attending a scientific conference in Rome, Italy. The tiny little research lab he started in the 1950s had grown to be one of the most innovative and respected pharmaceutical organizations in the world, saving and improving the lives of countless numbers of patients.

Dr. Paul By the Numbers

Dr. Paul Janssen was the holder of more than 100 patents.  He received 22 honorary doctorates worldwide, and was an honorary member of over 30 scientific institutes and organizations. He authored or co-authored more than 850 scientific publications and held more than 500 scientific presentations all over the world.  A genius with a prodigious memory, he remained humble and down to earth, stating  “ ‘I am not a genius but merely a man who has had a lot of luck in his life.’ “ [Dr. Paul, published by Janssen Pharmaceutica, English text published 1993, p. 42]

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Dr. Paul

1.  Dr. Paul Janssen had the astounding and remarkable ability to visualize, design and rotate in his head the structures and molecules for the compounds he was developing. (Legendary inventor Nikola Tesla had the same ability when developing his mechanical inventions.)

2.  He played the piano and was a good singer.

3.  He could quote verses from Homer in Ancient Greek.

4.  He was an avid chess player. At the beginning of his 1948 student trip to the U.S., Dr. Paul played chess so well that he won enough money at the Manhattan Chess Club to cover the entirety of his travel expenses.

5.  Like Fred Kilmer, Dr. Janssen was interested in history and liked to read about it.

Dr. Paul Janssen and his colleagues in the lab.  From our archives.

Dr. Paul Janssen and his colleagues in the lab. From our archives.

Dr. Paul Janssen is known throughout Johnson & Johnson for two quotes: “What’s new?” (Which he asked daily of research scientists in the Janssen labs), and his most famous quote,“The patients are waiting.” Here are a few more quotes from Dr. Janssen:

“The human mind is like a parachute. It works best when it is open.” [Dr. Paul, published by Janssen Pharmaceutica, English text published 1993, p. 42]

“Many people are capable of doing much more than they believe.” [Dr. Paul, published by Janssen Pharmaceutica, English text published 1993, p. 44]

“Research workers must stimulate one another intellectually. Research must be their hobby. What is nicer than being able to earn your living by practicing your hobby?” [Dr. Paul, published by Janssen Pharmaceutica, English text published 1993, p. 46]

Dr. Paul Janssen at work.  From our archives.

Dr. Paul Janssen at work. From our archives.

Over the course of his long career, doing what he loved best, Dr. Paul Janssen and the organization he created changed the course of the development of pharmaceutical medicines and saved lives throughout the world. When Dr. Janssen created his research lab in the 1950s, he did it largely on his own. Today, remembering Dr. Paul’s legacy, the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centers around the world help scientists engaged in early stage innovation to realize their dreams – and enable the next generation of innovators to continue on the path of saving and improving lives set by Dr. Paul Janssen more than 60 years ago.

211

Five Cool Facts from Johnson & Johnson History

Margaret on August 20th, 2015 at 6:27PM

Johnson & Johnson Gauze Mill employees keeping cool during the summer with giant fans. From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson Gauze Mill employees keeping cool during the summer with giant fans. From our archives.

August brings heat and humidity to just about everyone, and it’s a time when many people head to the beach, or to air conditioning, or on vacation — or all three combined! So to help everyone stay cool in the late summer heat, here are five cool facts from Johnson & Johnson history:

Illustration of the first Johnson & Johnson building from 1886, where M. S. Denman worked. From our archives.

Illustration of the first Johnson & Johnson building from 1886, where M. S. Denman worked. From our archives.

1.  One of our original 1886 employees sent a fossil to the Smithsonian! In 1904, M.S. Denman sent a fossil of a prehistoric fish to the Smithsonian. Ms. Denman was one of our original fourteen employees in 1886, and one of our original eight women employees. She and her colleagues were chosen by founder James Wood Johnson for their willingness to join a tiny new company focused on the innovation of making the first mass produced sterile surgical dressings and sterile sutures in the United States. By 1908, she had risen to be a department supervisor: she ran the Plaster Finishing Department. M. S. Denman’s submission of a fossil shows her intellectual curiosity and her scientific turn of mind, something that no doubt made her a valuable member of the Johnson & Johnson team. She got a mention in the Smithsonian’s annual report for the year of 1904 for her donation.

 

Some of the sterile surgical products from Johnson & Johnson that would have been used on the Solace hospital ship.  From our archives.

Some of the sterile surgical products from Johnson & Johnson that would have been used on the Solace hospital ship. From our archives.

2.  Johnson & Johnson products were used on the first hospital ship, the Solace, a Navy ambulance ship during the Spanish-American War in 1898. According to this site, the crew of the Solace (which included a surgeon, three assistant surgeons, and eight trained nurses) performed the first antiseptic surgery at sea, which was made possible, in large part, by the sterile surgical products from Johnson & Johnson. Today, Johnson & Johnson is a longtime partner of Mercy Ships, which operates a fleet of hospital ships that provide specialty surgeries in state-of-the-art operating rooms to people in developing nations – a very tangible example of caring for the world, one person at a time.

 

1893 Columbian Exposition Award to Johnson & Johnson, published in The Druggists Circular and Chemical Gazette, from our archives.

1893 Columbian Exposition Award to Johnson & Johnson, published in The Druggists Circular and Chemical Gazette, from our archives.

3.  The legendary 1893 Chicago World’s Fair has been the subject of countless books and multiple websites. Also known as the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the fair was a hotbed of innovation that saw the debut of the Ferris Wheel, the zipper, the moving walkway, an early dishwasher, and the awe-inspiring illumination of its buildings and grounds by electricity. Not only were innovations from Thomas Alva Edison and Nikola Tesla on display at the fair, so were innovations from Johnson & Johnson! The company was an exhibitor at the 1893 World’s Fair, just 17 years after an earlier world’s fair, the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, inspired Robert Wood Johnson to help make surgery sterile.  Johnson & Johnson was awarded highest honors at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and earned a special diploma for the health care innovations it exhibited: sterile surgical dressings, sterile sutures and medicated plasters.

Fred Kilmer – scientist, innovator, New Jersey Microscopical Society member!

Fred Kilmer – scientist, innovator, New Jersey Microscopical Society member!

4.  Fred Kilmer was a member of a wide variety of professional and scientific associations, including one that boasted one of the best names in scientific society history: The New Jersey Microscopical Society. Founded in the late 1800s (some of them still exist today!), microscopical societies were focused on the scientific uses of the microscope, and the topics discussed ranged from biology to medicine, to geology – basically, any scientific discipline that would use a microscope. Membership in the New Jersey society included many of the leading scientists in the state. Fred Kilmer was elected a member on January 21, 1884, at Geological Hall, Rutgers College – right across the street from where he would later work at Johnson & Johnson.

 

5.  Presentation software has become such an essential tool of the modern workplace that it might surprise readers to learn that over 100 years ago people also used presentation technology at work. What did they use? Lantern slides! Lantern slides were glass slides mounted in a frame. They were used with a projector (called a magic lantern) to project images — usually photographs, illustrations or text — onto a wall or a screen. Fred Kilmer used lantern slides when he gave talks to retail pharmacists and other groups about all of the innovation happening at Johnson & Johnson.

One of the commissioned paintings by Gladys Rockmore Davis used in the classic Johnson & Johnson ad campaign.  Property of Johnson & Johnson.

One of the commissioned paintings by Gladys Rockmore Davis used in the classic Johnson & Johnson ad campaign. Property of Johnson & Johnson.

Once considered one of the premiere contemporary fine artists in America, she is largely unknown today, although her works remain in the collections of museums that include New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art. She was a career woman and a pioneering working mother during the 1940s. But she’s perhaps best remembered today for her series of paintings that appeared in Johnson & Johnson ads during the 1940s and 1950s. Here’s a look at Gladys Rockmore Davis, the artist behind the classic Johnson & Johnson ads, and the development of that iconic campaign.

One of the ads from the Gladys Rockmore Davis ad campaign, from our archives.

One of the ads from the Gladys Rockmore Davis ad campaign, from our archives.

On March 21, 1949, LIFE Magazine carried the first in a series of full-page, full-color ads for Johnson & Johnson wound care products. The focal point of the ads were beautiful paintings of children, with the line “Mommy always says you’re safe when you use Johnson & Johnson.” The response from the public was immediate. They wanted to know who did the paintings in the ads, and where could they get reprints?

American Artists Group Monograph Series, with Gladys Rockmore Davis self-portrait on the cover. From our archives, donated by the Marvin family.

American Artists Group Monograph Series, with Gladys Rockmore Davis self-portrait on the cover. From our archives, donated by the Marvin family.

 

Gladys Rockmore Davis was born in New York City in 1901. She and her family moved to Canada and then back to the United States, settling in San Francisco and later in Chicago. From early childhood, Rockmore Davis felt compelled to draw. She reflected: “It was my good fortune in early childhood that instead of merely playing with dolls, I had also an irresistible impulse to draw them. As I grew older, but still a child, my interest in drawing became so consuming that my early memories hold at the exclusion of all else, the great urge to become an artist.” [Gladys Rockmore Davis, American Artists Group Monograph Number 10, by Gladys Rockmore Davis, published by the American Artists Group, Inc., New York, 1945, p. 1]

After graduating from the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago in 1920, Rockmore Davis found work as an advertising and fashion artist. But spending time in Europe, studying with the famous Art Students League in New York and with painter George Grosz, spurred Gladys Rockmore Davis to switch gears from commercial advertising to fine art. Her primary areas of interest were in capturing light and creating moods with paint and pastels. Children were a frequent subject of Davis’ work; she used her own children as models for many of her pieces — including some of the paintings in the Johnson & Johnson ads.

Gladys Rockmore Davis was part of an art world power couple, having married the illustrator Floyd MacMillan Davis in 1920. Davis’s illustrations appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, among other national magazines, along with his peers like Norman Rockwell. But with the decline of the era of advertising illustration, magazines turned to photography instead, and Gladys Rockmore Davis turned from fine art back to commercial art to support her family.

Davis took a break from her painting in the 1940s to undertake the sometimes dangerous assignment as a European war correspondent with her husband. The July 16, 1945 edition of LIFE Magazine featured their reporting and their artwork. Rockmore Davis’s illustrations were done in her very recognizable style, but showed a very different and somber subject matter.

Johnson & Johnson brochure from April, 1949, discussing the Gladys Rockmore Davis ad campaign.  From our archives.

Johnson & Johnson brochure from April, 1949, discussing the Gladys Rockmore Davis ad campaign. From our archives.

In the late 1940s, just as Gladys Rockmore Davis was turning back to illustration, Johnson & Johnson was putting together an ad campaign for its line of wound care products. The ads would have large, colorful “human interest” illustrations to give meaning to the “Mommy always says you’re safe…” theme of the ad campaign. The illustrations would tell the story of a situation that would be helped by our wound care products, and the ads would have the famous Johnson & Johnson “The most trusted name…” slogan at the bottom.

The five product lines that were advertised in the Gladys Rockmore Davis ads. From our archives.

The five product lines that were advertised in the Gladys Rockmore Davis ads. From our archives.

 

Some of the top commercial illustrators in the United States were asked to interpret the campaign theme, and the results were – as you might expect – excellent. But something was missing: “…it was felt that none of the original artists succeeded in capturing the complete warmth and tenderness conveyed by the campaign theme…” [“The Story Behind the Greatest Advertising Campaign in the History of Surgical Dressings,” typewritten history of the Gladys Rockmore Davis ad campaign, Johnson & Johnson archives.] So in continuing its search for the perfect artist to illustrate the campaign, Johnson & Johnson turned from commercial art and began looking at the field of fine art.   The company commissioned Gladys Rockmore Davis and told her to interpret the theme of the campaign in her own way. The result was a distinctive series of twelve paintings.

One of the set of 12 Gladys Rockmore Davis paintings used in the Johnson & Johnson ad campaign.  Property of Johnson & Johnson.

One of the set of 12 Gladys Rockmore Davis paintings used in the Johnson & Johnson ad campaign. Property of Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson did some market research, surveying women (who were the primary purchasers of products to care for their families). They preferred the Gladys Rockmore Davis fine art illustrations two to one over the more conventional work of the illustrators.

Another of the Gladys Rockmore Davis paintings used in our ad campaign.  Property of Johnson & Johnson.

Another of the Gladys Rockmore Davis paintings used in our ad campaign. Property of Johnson & Johnson.

 

The beautiful paintings in the ads immediately connected with the public. (Davis did commissioned works for other companies’ ad campaigns as well, but her Johnson & Johnson ads have remained the most popular of her advertising work.) It was one of the first times the work of a major fine artist was used in advertising, and another example of the innovative thinking behind the Johnson & Johnson ad campaigns. The ads appeared in the publications with the greatest reach: LIFE Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post.

 The focus of the paintings is caring. Each painting shows a pair of children, with one child using our first aid and wound care products to care for and comfort the other child. The caring, rather than the products, took center stage in the artwork: the children using them are the focus, and the products facilitate the care that’s taking place in each scene. If the paintings seem very personal, they were: Davis used her young son and daughter as models for some of the paintings.

One of the reprints of the Gladys Rockmore Davis ad artwork, from our archives.

One of the reprints of the Gladys Rockmore Davis ad artwork, from our archives.

The Gladys Rockmore Davis ads proved to be immensely popular (the foremost marketing research firm of the era declared that the ads with her illustrations were twice as effective as ads without them) and, having received many thousands of requests, Johnson & Johnson made them available to the public as prints. The ads and reprints graced the walls of homes, pharmacies, hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics. Decades later, many of the original paintings hang on the walls at Johnson & Johnson, a vivid reminder of a classic American artist and the company’s history of innovation in advertising.

Gladys Rockmore Davis ad and original painting.  From our archives.

Gladys Rockmore Davis ad and original painting. From our archives.

By the way, the boy with the dark hair in the wound care ad above (Davis’s son was the model for this painting) grew up to be an acclaimed artist himself, who is best known for his portraits of jazz musicians in Preservation Hall, New Orleans.

 

Two Spanish language ads from Johnson & Johnson, 1901 and 1910.  From our archives.

Two Spanish language ads from Johnson & Johnson, 1901 and 1910. From our archives.

We think of multi-language advertising as a modern phenomenon, but in fact at some companies it goes back decades – sometimes more than a century.   More than 100 years ago, Johnson & Johnson had an in-house Spanish-language advertising department that produced ads, correspondence and other materials for Latin America, the Spanish-speaking retail pharmacists who sold our products in the United States, and for Spanish speaking physicians. The earliest of these items date back to the late 1800s, shortly after we were founded.

Top half of an undated very early sterile surgical dressings and absorbent cotton Spanish-language ad, from our archives.

Top half of an undated very early sterile surgical dressings and absorbent cotton Spanish-language ad, from our archives.

This very early undated ad for sterile surgical dressings and absorbent cotton shows some of our earliest packaging, from the first years that Johnson & Johnson was in business.   The Antiseptic Gauze tin with the rare “double-J” logo places the ad in the first few years that Johnson & Johnson was in business –circa 1886 to 1889.

Spanish language edition of Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment, 1891, our groundbreaking sterile surgery manual for physicians.  From our archives.

Spanish language edition of Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment, 1891, our groundbreaking sterile surgery manual for physicians. From our archives.

One of the first Johnson & Johnson publications to be translated into Spanish was the company’s groundbreaking sterile surgery manual, Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment, published by Johnson & Johnson in 1888. The Spanish-language copy of Modern Methods in our archives dates from 1891. A decade or so later, we published a Spanish-language edition of The RED CROSS® Messenger, our publication for the retail pharmacists who sold our products.

File copy of a letter from Fred Kilmer to the editor of American Druggist Magazine, 1898, from our archives.

File copy of a letter from Fred Kilmer to the editor of American Druggist Magazine, 1898, from our archives.

The Spanish language advertising that Johnson & Johnson was doing began to gain attention. In September of 1898, Caswell Mayo, the editor of American Druggist Magazine, wrote to Johnson & Johnson, inquiring about the company’s Spanish-language materials and seeking advice. Scientific Director Fred Kilmer wrote back to him to recommend a printer in Jersey City who could do Spanish-language composition. Kilmer mentioned that Johnson & Johnson did its own printing for its Spanish-language materials in its own composing room – which would have been part of the Company’s Advertising or Printing department. Kilmer wrote:

“…much of our Spanish printed [sic] is done in our composing room with no difficulty. Our translations are done in our New York office, by Mr. O’Neill who has charge of this department…” [Letter from F.B. Kilmer to Mr. Caswell Mayo, Sept. 30, 1898, Johnson & Johnson archives.]

The letter mentioned that the New York office could recommend a physician who could do the translations.

The Johnson & Johnson sales office in Mexico, 1908, from our archives.

The Johnson & Johnson sales office in Mexico, 1908, from our archives.

By 1916 – with the steady robust growth of the company’s business, and in an era of large-scale immigration to the United States — the Johnson & Johnson Spanish Language Department had grown extensively. It was located on the second floor of the Johnson & Johnson offices in New Brunswick. “The Spanish sales department, which handles the South American trade, is especially extensive.” [RED CROSS Messenger, Vol. VIII, March 1916, Nos. 9 & 10, p. 490, “Four Floors of Brains and Energy.”] The department was close to the company’s mailroom, which made it extremely convenient to send out correspondence and product samples.

Johnson & Johnson Spanish Language Advertising Department form, from our archives.

Johnson & Johnson Spanish Language Advertising Department form, from our archives.

Believe it or not, Johnson & Johnson kept track of its Latin American sales – and all of its sales – in 1916 with a “computing machine,” or mechanical bookkeeping machine. It was the same type of machine used to tabulate the United States census, and it used punch cards. That forerunner of the computer wasn’t the only cool bit of technology in the Johnson & Johnson office in 1916 – the company also used early automatic typewriters that could type standardized, repetitive text by themselves — a visiting pharmacist likened them to player pianos! [RED CROSS Messenger, Vol. VIII, March 1916, Nos. 9 & 10, p. 490, “Four Floors of Brains and Energy.”] Johnson & Johnson was an early adopter of a variety of technologies. Aside from improving business capability and efficiency, it is also likely that then-company president James Wood Johnson, an engineer, found these innovations to be incredibly cool.

First Aid Accident Case ad in Spanish, 1901, from our Archives.

First Aid Accident Case ad in Spanish, 1901, from our Archives.

Johnson & Johnson pioneered the first commercial First Aid Kits in 1888 and, by 1901, we were advertising the general (non-railroad-specific) First Aid Accident Case in Spanish.   Shortly after that, the company began producing a series of colorful ads and collectable souvenir cards for the Latin American market. The cards had beautifully detailed illustrations of children on the front, and advertising for our products on the back.

Collectable souvenir card, front and back. From our archives.

Collectable souvenir card, front and back. From our archives.

By the early 1900s, if we advertised a product, we also advertised it in Spanish. Sterile surgical dressings? Yes. JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder? Without a doubt! Kidney Plasters, with our famous Feels Good on the Back ad? Of course. JOHNSON’S® Shaving Cream Soap? Absolutely!

Top of a page of Johnson & Johnson Spanish language letterhead, 1902. From our archives.

We had company letterhead in Spanish, as well as product order forms. And a Happy New Year card from Johnson & Johnson that was sent to the company’s Spanish-speaking customers in appreciation of their business. And speaking of sales…

A Spanish-speaking pharmacy in New York City, early 1900s, from our archives.

A Spanish-speaking pharmacy in New York City, early 1900s, from our archives.

As early as 1908, Johnson & Johnson had a number of employees of Hispanic heritage in the company’s sales force. Since we had strong sales in Latin America and we had Spanish-speaking retail customers in the United States, it made sense to have members of our sales force reflect that: the 1908 listings of Travelers, as salesmen were called in that era, included Manuel Royo, Luis Ortiz, Alberto Ditz Guerra and J. Jimenez. A 1917 listing of the sales force included Louis Ortiz, Andres Del Valle, Joaquin Garcia, Ernesto G. Ealo, P.M. Rodriguez, and C. G. De Quevedo. During the 1910s, Johnson & Johnson advertised in the United States in around 15 languages in order to reach its new customers – the more than 15 million immigrants who had come to the U.S. between 1900 and 1915. It was an early recognition that the company needed to meet its customers where they were and to communicate with them in a way that would reach them. Our early Spanish Language Department was part of that effort – a very early example of the ways in which Johnson & Johnson fulfilled its responsibilities to the medical profession, to the people who use our products, and to our retail partners.

JOHNSON’S® Shaving Cream Soap ad, early 1900s.  From our archives.

JOHNSON’S® Shaving Cream Soap ad, early 1900s. From our archives.

 

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages ad, 1928, from our archives.

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages ad, 1928, from our archives.

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were featured on the CBS Sunday Morning annual design show, Sunday Morning by Design, on May 31st. An iconic consumer product and a design classic, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages are instantly recognizable as a symbol of caring for 94 years.

You can watch the show on the CBS website at this link.  

The show focused on design and the role it plays in so many aspects of our lives – from places, to comedy, to everyday items, to health care. One of the themes of the show was how design can change the world.

1921 ad for BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, from our archives. A design that changed the world.

1921 ad for BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, from our archives. A design that changed the world.

 

In the BAND-AID® Brand segment, Sarita T. Finnie, Senior Director, Compromised Skin GFO in our consumer operating company, took CBS This Morning on-air correspondent Susan Spencer through the history of the BAND-AID® brand, starting with the product’s invention by cotton buyer Earle Dickson in 1920 to help his wife and its introduction in 1921, to its inclusion in The New York Times list of greatest all-time innovations in 2013, to today.  Sarita explained the staying power of BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, the first pre-made commercial dressing for small wounds: “A good design will solve a problem, but a great design is intuitive and simple and timeless,” she explained.

Earle Dickson, inventor of the BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandage. From our archives.

Earle Dickson, inventor of the BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandage. From our archives.

 

In fact, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages are such a great design (and a great innovation) that it seems unthinkable that there was ever a time without them. Before Johnson & Johnson put them on the market in 1921, people tried a variety of makeshift and not very successful ways to protect small cuts and scrapes, such as tying strips of fabric or gauze around their fingers.

Original patent for BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, from our archives -- as featured on CBS Sunday Morning!

Original patent for BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, from our archives — as featured on CBS Sunday Morning!

The product was such a new concept when it launched that Johnson & Johnson had to show people how to use it. Since then, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages helped sponsor a groundbreaking 1950s television show, they have gone to the Moon with the Apollo 11 astronauts and into World War II with soldiers, they’ve had a song written for them by Barry Manilow (“I am Stuck on BAND-AID® Brand…”), and they’ve been decorated with beloved cartoon characters and by leading designers. Through that evolution, the brand has continued to innovate, using more advanced designs and materials as technology and science have progressed over the decades since their invention. The product is such a design icon that it’s featured in the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art. (Their website lists Earle Dickson as the artist!)

Some of the items from our archives used in the CBS Sunday Morning piece.

Some of the items from our archives used in the CBS Sunday Morning piece.

We sent a range of historical BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandage tins, ads and images (including the original patent for the product, which was shown on-air!) from the Johnson & Johnson archives to CBS This Morning for the story.

Some of the classic tins from the 1940s and 1950s in our archives that were part of the production of the segment on BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages.

Some of the classic tins from the 1940s and 1950s in our archives that were part of the production of the segment on BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages.

The tins each reflect their particular decade in a number of ways, from the forward-looking new possibilities of the 1920s square tin, to the intricately designed 1930s tin, to the clean, simple lines of the 1940s and 1950s, to the Pop Art Sheer Strips tin of the 1960s, to the neon colors of the 1980s. These tins – as iconic as the product they held – were like honorary members of the family in the medicine cabinets of generations of households, and their design was so valuable that they were repurposed in sewing boxes, workshops and toy chests to hold a variety of items that people wanted to protect and keep safe.

LIFE Magazine ad for BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, 1943, from our archives.

LIFE Magazine ad for BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, 1943, from our archives.

The historical ads were matched to the tins we sent, and included some of the earliest BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages ads that demonstrated how to use the newly-introduced product. They included 1940s ads that showed the ways in which the product was there to protect not only families but soldiers.

Saturday Evening Post ad, 1960, from our archives.

Saturday Evening Post ad, 1960, from our archives.

The 1960 Saturday Evening Post ad for the new BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages in extra large size proclaimed “Need this many?  Try this,” an example of design as part of the product’s innovation throughout its history.

 

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages 1930s tin, from our archives, one of the items featured in the CBS Sunday Morning segment.

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages 1930s tin, from our archives, one of the items featured in the CBS Sunday Morning segment.

BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages continue to evolve and innovate since their invention in 1920, with new ways to heal and protect wounds, with new designs and even with an app (the Muppets MAGIC VISIONTM mobile app). But the same basic idea that motivated Earle Dickson – designing an easy to use, effective premade dressing to help people – remains the same today.

Again, the segment is at this link on the CBS website.

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