The Kendall Company is a twentieth-century American industrial success story. In 1903, Henry P. Kendall, at the age of 25, took over management of the Lewis Batting Company, a small, failing, family-owned cotton bleachery in Walpole, Massachusetts. Over the next decade, he grew and transformed that plant into a successful producer of absorbent cotton and gauze, primarily for medical use. He then began acquiring new plants in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and the Carolinas. The Lewis Manufacturing Company was renamed in 1924 and incorporated in 1928 as the Kendall Company. It acquired the surgical dressings firm of Bauer and Black in 1928 and the Bike Web Company in 1929, expanded holdings in the South, and added plants in Mexico in 1947 and Canada in 1950; in the 1960s it had 18 operating plants.
The Kendall Company became one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of textile products for domestic, industrial, and medical use. Its Curity line of diapers, bandages, infant wear, and hospital supplies gained nationwide use and name recognition. As leader of a major company, Henry P. Kendall played a major role in coordination of the textile industry during and after both World Wars. He was known for his embrace of the concepts of scientific management, for his improvements to worker health and safety and to the mill villages near his plants, and for his humane and collaborative management practices. Mr. Kendall retained an influential role in the company until shortly before his death in 1959.In 1972, the Kendall Company was acquired by Colgate Palmolive, which continued to carry a number of its products and brand names such as Curad, Curity and Polyken; in 1988 a separate holding company, Kendall International, with several subsidiaries, was created.
The Kendall Company history archive contains materials about the Kendall textile company from the 1920s through the 1970s, including:
- Historical accounts of the development and activities of the Kendall Company
- Biographical accounts of Henry P. Kendall focusing on his creation and leadership of the Kendall Company
- Advertisements of various Kendall products
- Internal and public company newsletters, brochures and other publications, including descriptions and illustrations of products and the organizational structure of the company
- Documentation of the company’s role in World War II military production
- Press coverage and articles related to the company
- Photographs and memorabilia
- Programs of meetings of Kendall Old Timers’ Clubs
- Annual reports 1955-1971
- Board of Directors reports and meeting minutes 1960-1972
- Curity first aid kits from the 1940s