Ohio History Journal

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The Rubber Industry in Ohio

The Rubber Industry in Ohio




Many of us think of the rubber industry in terms of tire sizes and

a system of retail distribution centers. It is this. But for the past half

century or longer it has also been one of the moving factors in the

life not only of the United States but of the entire world.

Also, when many of us think of rubber, we think in terms of a

few large companies and a few well-known products which they

manufacture. But the rubber industry alone is composed not only of

five or six big companies but of dozens of smaller companies too,

producing thousands of products we use every day of our lives.

Thus the rubber industry, like any other, large or small, is related

to life around it. It is composed of finances, tests and measurements

of research, and the development of products. It makes a relatively

substantial contribution to the gross national product of the country.

It gives employment to thousands of persons in growing the rubber

or producing it synthetically and in the manufacture of products

made of rubber, in addition to a great many other products made

of other materials. It is one of the basic industries of the country.

Obviously any subject as large and complex as the rubber industry

is not susceptible of a definitive paper that can be read in thirty

minutes. It is my purpose merely to explore, with detail readily

available to any student of the industry, certain aspects of the subject.

Perhaps the best jumping off place for the subject would be to

recall that rubber is one of the few basic materials upon which

the world has become highly dependent. It is used in ships, mines,

and factories for a variety of purposes. We ride on it, walk on it,

and sleep on it. We see it everywhere, and much more of it is

* William D. Overman is head of the department of library and archives at the

Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Akron.

His article was originally in the form of a paper given at a session on "Manufactur-

ing in Ohio," during the seventy-second annual meeting of the Ohio Historical

Society at Columbus, April 27, 1957.