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Special Collections: Guide to the Diamond Match Company, Berst-Forster-Dixfield Division, Timber Unit Records

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves

Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department

February 2004

Introduction and Summary Information

Collection Title: Diamond Match Company, Berst-Forster-Dixfield Division, Timber Unit Records.
Dates of the Collection: 1938-1955 (inclusive); 1944-1952 (bulk).
Provenance: Unknown.
Collection Number: MS 50.
Box Numbers: 1-2 (formerly Boxes 1394-1395).
Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of one archival record carton and one document box of material (0.8 cubic feet).
Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Documents have been surface cleaned as needed and metal fasteners removed. Photographs have been housed in polypropylene sleeves and remain with the relevant documents.
Preferred Citation: Diamond Match Company, Berst-Forster-Dixfield Division, Timber Unit 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.


The collection contains records of the Timber Unit of the Diamond Match Company’s Berst-Forster-Dixfield Division. The Timber Unit, located in Oakland, Maine, was responsible for the purchase, transportation, and production of the lumber used to manufacture the company’s products in Maine. It contracted with various lumber camps in the state for its supplies.

The company had a long history in Oakland, beginning as the Forster Manufacturing Company in 1913. This company manufactured toothpicks and clothespins until 1916, when it was succeeded by the Berst-Forster-Dixfield Company, headquartered in New York City, which operated from 1923 to 1946. This company was succeeded by Diamond Match Company in 1947, which seems to have absorbed Berst-Forster sometime before that. Diamond Match had been formed in 1881 when twelve already-existing match companies agreed to consolidate into one. Diamond Match took over 85% of the market in the 1880’s and in 1910 patented the first non-poisonous match in the United States. In 1957 it merged with Gardner Board and Carton Company to form Diamond-Gardner; in 1959 it merged with United States Printing and Lithograph Company to become Diamond National Corporation and then became Diamond International in 1964. The company engaged in various activities including packaging, lumber production, pulp and paper, specialty printing, and matches and woodenware. It operated in several states and in addition to its mill in Oakland also had mills in Rumford, Phillips, and Dixfield, Maine.

During its operation in Oakland, the plant made a number of products, including ice cream sticks, swab sticks, lollypop holders, toothpicks and woodenware. In its peak years just before World War II, the mill at Oakland employed over 500 people and its activities also gave work to loggers and others who provided raw materials to the mill. The operation in Oakland closed in 1983.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains records of the manager of the Timber Unit and is primarily concerned with the activities and administration of that office. The collection had been re-foldered by Library staff at an earlier time; the folder headings used in that project have been retained.

The collection opens with files of correspondence, 1939-1955, much of it to and from Gordon M. Blakely, manager of the unit during most of this time. Office reference files form the next group of records; they primarily concern analyses of wage rates and job tasks.

The collection also includes production records maintained in the manager’s office, especially yard inventories, lumber production totals and job costs for various projects.

Timber Unit Records

Box 1


1                      Correspondence with R.W. Hoover, B-F-D Co., Phillips, Maine, 1939-1944

2                      General correspondence, 1944-1945

3                      Correspondence re employee wages and withholding, 1944-1949

4                      Correspondence, 1945-1947

5                      Correspondence with Maine Central Railroad, 1946-1949

6                      Phillips Plant correspondence, 1946-1952

7                      General correspondence, 1947

8                      Correspondence, reports, etc., re: density of wood, 1948

9                      Correspondence re bonded men, importing skilled woodsmen, 1948

10                    Correspondence re Cooperative Fair exhibit, 1948

11                    Correspondence with G.L. Vaughan, B-F-D Div., Rumford, 1948-1949

12                    General correspondence, 1949

13                    General correspondence, 1950

14                    Correspondence, plans re: pulpwood grab, 1950

15                    Pulpwood grab, voided plans, 1949

16                    Correspondence re pulpwood loading equipment, 1950-1951

17                    General correspondence, 1951

18                    Correspondence re proposed legislation, lobbying in Maine, 1951

19                    General correspondence, 1952

20                    Correspondence re importation of Canadian labor, 1955

21-22               Memos, 1938-1945

23                    Agreements with timber suppliers, 1945-1952

24                    Employee assignment of rights to inventions, 1938-1939

Office reference files

25                    Portable camps, cost estimates, 1942-1943

26                    Analysis of wage rates of employees, 1944

27                    Wage computation and analysis, 1947-1948

28-29               Bonded men, 1945-1947

30                    Dixfield scale test, 1948

31                    Analysis of job tasks and operations, undated

Timber Unit Records cont.


Box 1 cont.


32                    Inventories, 1944-1950

33                    Yard inventories, timber summaries, 1949-1952

34                    Yard inventories, 1950-1952

35                    Yard inventory, all mills, 1951

36                    Yard inventories and deliveries, 1951

37                    Comparison of yearly peak inventories, 1939-1948

38                    Use of wood, deliveries to yards, 1949

39                    Lumber production, 1950-1951

40                    Oakland yard, production, usage, etc., 1950-1952

41                    Reports re Timber Unit man-hours, 1944-1945

Box 2

1                      Timber Unit daily reports, 1950

2                      Timber Unit daily reports, 1951-1952

3                      Timber reports, 1951-1952

4                      Job costs, Ross and Maheu job, West Forks, Maine, 1947-1948

5                      Job costs, 1948-1949

6                      Job J47, Dead River Co., Alder Stream, 1950-1952

7                      Bills of lading, yard receipts, 1949-1950

8                      Miscellaneous invoices, 1942-1951

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 or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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