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Special Collections: Guide to the H.C. Baxter & Brothers Records

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves

Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department

October 2004

Introduction and Summary Information

Collection Title: H.C. Baxter & Bro. Records.

Dates of the Collection: 1890-1979 (inclusive); 1940-1964 (bulk).

Provenance: Donated by the company through Rupert White.

Collection Number: MS 44.

Box Numbers: 1-3 (formerly Boxes 1655-1656).

Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of one archival record carton and two oversized document boxes of material (1.5 cubic feet).

Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Photographs have been housed in polypropylene sleeves and remain with the relevant documents.

Preferred Citation: H.C. Baxter & Bro. Records, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.

Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.


History

The collection contains records of H.C. Baxter & Bro. and its subsidiary, Snow Flake

Canning Company. Baxter was a canning and food processing operation with headquarters in Brunswick, Maine,

H.C. Baxter & Bro.was founded in 1887 by Hartley C. Baxter of Brunswick; his brothers James P. Baxter, Jr., and Rupert H. Baxter soon became partners in the business as well. Their father, James P. Baxter of Portland, Maine, was one of the pioneer vegetable canners in the United States, starting the firm Davis, Baxter Company in 1850. H.C. Baxter & Bro. was also a pioneer in canning corn and had several plants in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. In the 1920’s the firm was enlarged to include John L. Baxter, a son of H.C. Baxter, and Bruce H.M. White and F. Webster Browne, sons-in-law of the other two brothers.

In an effort to expand its business the company began to can peas, string beans and whole kernel corn in 1923, with this operation centered in Hartland, Maine. In the 1930’s it began to produce frozen vegetables for the Birds Eye Company and also became interested in potato processing. It was the first company in the East to produce dehydrated potatoes for use in World War II.

After the war, the company processed canned whole potatoes but also began to develop a process to produce quick-frozen french fried potatoes. In 1947, John L. Baxter, Jr., grandson of the company’s founder, directed the building in Corinna, Maine, of a plant solely to produce french fries for a fast-growing market. In 1954, the company also received a contract to produce instant mashed potatoes for the Borden Company.

The company also operated as a holding company for the Snow Flake Canning Company, with Baxter active in canning and dehydrating operations and Snow Flake in the manufacture and sale of frozen products. After 1955 all operations were carried out by Snow Flake. By the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the company felt that vegetable canning and freezing in New England could no longer compete with other areas of the country; its vegetable processing operations ceased and it became solely a potato processor. John Baxter, Jr. became president and general manager, the home office in Brunswick was closed, and all operations were centralized at the plant in Corinna, Maine. This plant burned in 1968.

In 1965 Snow Flake merged with Lamb-Weston, Inc., a food processor in Portland, Oregon. Lamb-Weston is now part of ConAgra Foods Specialty Potato Products and has no plants in Maine.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains records of H.C. Baxter & Bro. and its subsidiary, Snow Flake Canning Company. Many of the records are from either Bruce H.M. White, partner and comptroller of Baxter, or F. Webster Browne, partner and sales manager of Baxter and Snow Flake Canning.

The records were totally unarranged upon arrival at the Library so the processing archivist imposed an order, arranging them in four sections: administrative records, financial records, photographs and miscellaneous.

The administrative records, arranged alphabetically, include a letter book of incoming correspondence from the 1890’s as well as a small amount of correspondence from the 20th century. These records also include advertising samples, articles, pamphlets and newspaper clippings about the food processing business, and notebooks of both Bruce White and Webster Browne. Tax documents for the company, 1917-1950, are included.

The financial records consist of account books, 1890-1916, listing company assets, liabilities, and profit and losses; ledgers listing factory costs, 1925-1940, and packing costs, 1917-1924. Auditor’s reports for Snow Flake for the early 1960’s and payroll and financial information close out this section.

A small collection of photographs shows workers, plant buildings and operations at the sites in Corinna, Fryeburg, and Hartland, as well as unidentified places. Some photographs date from 1939-1941; the others, although undated, appear to be from the same general time period.


Box List

Box 1

Administrative records

Folder

1                      Correspondence, incoming, 1890’s [located physically in Box 2]

2                      Correspondence, 1939, 1954-1956, 1962

3                      Advertising samples for Baxter

4                      Articles re corn and peas

5                      Articles, reports re potatoes

6                      Biographical information about Rupert Baxter White

7                      Blank forms and letterhead

8                      Bruce White: documents re estate of James P. Baxter, Jr., 1942-1949

9                      Estate of James P. Baxter, 1978-1979

10                    Floor plans, Baxter offices, 1942

11                    Floor plans, machine drawings, Wapello, Iowa; Fryeburg(?) [located physically in oversized folder]

12                    Map: Location of H.C. Baxter & Bro. and Snowflake Canning Co. plant at Corinna, Me., 1951
                       [located physically in oversized folder]

13                    Newspaper clippings

14-15               Notebook: Bruce White’s corn book

16-17               Notebook of F. Webster Browne, Snow Flake sales, dept., 1953-1954

18                    Pamphlets, recipes

19                    Partners’ contracts and accounts, 1940’s

20                    Reference handbook on Baxter’s dehydrated white potatoes, undated

21                    Selling price calculator, Birds Eye Foods

22                    Statement by Snow Flake Canning Co. in support of application for loan guarantee to build potato
                        processing plant in Houlton, Me., 1967

23-25               Tax documents, 1917-1950 [located physically in Box 2]

26                    Tentative results of acquisitions and disposals

Financial records

Ledgers            Account books, 1890-1916 [located physically in Box 3]

27                    Auditor’s reports, Snow Flake, 1960

28                    Auditor’s reports, Snow Flake, 1961

29                    Auditor’s reports, Snow Flake, 1962

30                    Auditor’s reports, Snow Flake, 1963, 1965

Ledger             Packing costs, 1917-1924 [located physically in Box 3]

Ledger             Factory costs, 1925-1940

 

Box 1 cont.

Financial records cont.

Folder

31                    Financial, payroll information, 1940’s-1950’s

32                    Miscellaneous financial statements

33                    A cost accounting manual for frozen food packers, 1958

Photographs

34                    Photographs: Corinna, undated

35                    Photographs: Fryeburg, 1939-1941

36                    Photographs: Hartland, 1940, undated

37                    Pictures of Maine Canned Foods, Inc. factory for H.C. Baxter and Bro.

38                    Factory pictures

39                    Photographs: unidentified

40                    Negatives

Miscellaneous

41                    National Canners Assoc. membership plaque, 1964

42                    Controller (device)

43                    Articles of association, etc., Conway Farmers and Mechanics Assoc.

 

Box 2

Oversized material

Box 3

Ledgers

 

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at spc@umit.maine.edu or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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Special Collections Staff: spc@umit.maine.edu | Revised: 01/10/2014
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