WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY  |   DEPARTMENT OF CHEMICAL AND PAPER ENGINEERING

Brief History on the Establishment of the Paper Technology Department and the Paper Technology Foundation INC.

The paper industry began in Kalamazoo in 1867. The Kalamazoo River Valley provided all of the necessary resources to establish the paper industry in 1867; ample water and timber was readily available. Talented men with names like Lyon, Bryant and Gibson combined the ample resources and immigrant labor force available in the Kalamazoo Valley into a thriving industry serving the markets in the greater Midwest and in particular, Chicago; a world leader in printing at the time.

A report by the W.E. Upjohn Institute written in 1958 cites the importance of the paper industry in Kalamazoo County. "Yet so deeply is the paper industry imbedded in the Kalamazoo area that in 1954 approximately 32 percent of the combined sales of all the manufacturing, distributive, and service industries and 24 percent of total personal incomes in Kalamazoo County came directly or indirectly through its activities. Through its effectiveness in the use of the natural and human resources of the area, together with its extensive use of national and world markets the paper industry touches the lives of almost all of us." It is with that backdrop that the industry leadership supported a school for Paper Technology at Western Michigan University in 1948.

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