More asbestine paint samples in the archives

paint samples
More asbestine paint samples and price listings were just found in the C. S. Bliss and Company Business Records and Family Papers, 1887-1897. My poor students. What a way to end the term! Since this type of item has been found before in Bliss papers,  I made yet another call to CMU's Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety.  Jeff is coming today to collect the samples and related materials. The paint samples are in good shape, so it is highly unlikely that any asbestos-related contamination has occurred in class or in the archives. I was not taught about asbestos in the collections in library school. Clearly, my occupation involves learning something new every day.

Asbestos-based products were used  once, before someone figured out they could cause lethal health issues, to insulate pipes and in composition with roofing tiles and paints to prevent or limit fires to buildings. This paint was supposed to be weatherproof as well as fireproof. I'm sure the asbestine paint, in its time, was a big seller for lumbermen, like Mr. Bliss who wanted to keep his buildings and equipment safe from fire. The last sample we found in the papers said the paint samples were "unburnable". Someone had tried to burn them, resulting in charring. Whoever it was in 1898 who charred them was probably exposed to some asbestos fumes at the time, but the slight charring was sufficient to seal the product samples. Another student found an asbestos roofing tile sample. I just wonder what will we find in the C.S. Bliss papers in the future? 

1898 letter from S. P. Conkling, Detroit, trying to sell Mr.  Bliss his asbestine paint

My Archives Administration (HST 583) class this term (consisting of 19 students) have almost completed processing nineteen .5 cubic foot boxes. Each processes a box and completes a box and folder listing, scope and processing notes for their final project. A few boxes have expanded in size with processing and one decreased dramatically. I believe there will be about 20 boxes remaining, approximately 10 cubic feet processed. Every term my students process more of Bliss. This is my third class to process Bliss papers. At the rate we are going, it will be at least 5-10 more years before we are done, depending on the varying class size. The last two classes processed a total of 39 boxes and 4 folders, almost 17 cubic feet. There remains about 33 cubic feet of papers and small volumes and 240 mostly Ov. volumes (which have been inventoried) to completely process. To see the catalog record for processed Bliss papers click here

If you have questions about my class or Bliss, contact me at

price lists


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