Ball Corporation records
Scope and Contents
This collection includes annual and quarterly reports, news releases, Ball Line newsletters, and other related publications ranging from 1957 to 1993 from the Ball Corporation in Muncie, Indiana.
- Creation: 1957-1993
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections.
Ball Corporation began in 1880 when two young brothers, Edmund and Frank Ball, sought to establish a successful business after several failed ventures in carpet cleaning, manufacturing fish kits, egg crates and other undertakings. The brothers borrowed $200 from a preacher-uncle and opened a shop in a loft in Buffalo, New York. They began manufacturing wood-jacketed cans for shipping paints, varnishes and oil. It was a small operation, consisting of the brothers, a tinsmith and two boys as part-time assistants. After a fire destroyed this first location, the brothers took the insurance settlement and moved to larger quarters. They were joined by their three other brothers, Lucius, Will and George, which prompted them to change the firm's name from the Wood Jacket Can Company to Ball Brothers. The firm also added glass containers for kerosene lamps to their product line.
When a small group of Belgian glass blowers moved to Buffalo, in 1885, the brothers were persuaded to build their own glass furnace. In 1885, John Mason’s patent for a screw-type jar used in home canning had expired, and the brothers decided to manufacture the Mason style jars themselves.
Unfortunately, a fire destroyed their factory for the second time. After the brothers took their small insurance settlement, they began investigating other locations for their factory. Hearing that land was cheap and plentiful in the Midwest, Frank Ball, the company’s president, visited several sites, including Muncie where the discovery of natural gas wells promised a seemingly inexhaustible supply of gas. He was not necessarily impressed with the town itself, but in his Memoirs, he stated that “the men were all courteous, kind, and businesslike.” The local businessmen offered the Balls $5000 and seven acres of land on which to build their factory and the offer was accepted.
Construction of the new plant began in 1887 and the first glass jars were produced 1888. The now famous Ball Mason jar soon became the plant’s major product. The local business was the first to put their copyrighted name on a product.
In 1912, Ball Brothers purchased a zinc mill in LaHarpe, Kansas and after World War I began the manufacture of zinc battery cans for use in portable radios, flashlights, battery driven toys, and machinery and equipment using storage batteries for power.
In 1935, the company built a rubber plant in Muncie and purchased three paper mills and a corrugated box plant. The paper mills were eventually sold, but the corrugated box products were used for packing merchandise to be shipped elsewhere, until 1961, when plans were announced to close out the Muncie based glass container operation.
With roots in glass food packaging, Ball Brothers Company Incorporated, which became Ball Corporation in 1969, expanded its market to include metal beverage containers in the late 1960s and high-barrier plastics food packages in the late 1970s.
After 92 years as a family-owned business, Ball went public on July 13, 1972, and its stock was traded over the counter. On December 17, 1973, the stock was admitted for trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BLL and began trading at $26 per share. On April 22, 1976, Ball Corporation dedicated its international corporate headquarters at 345 South High St., on the site of the old Muncie Central High School Building.
In February 1998 Ball Corporation announced that it would move its headquarters from Muncie to Broomfield, Colorado. Alltrista and Ball-Foster continued to produce the items traditionally made by Ball Corporation and remained in Muncie.
1.3 Cubic Feet (5 boxes)
Language of Materials
This collection was received by Archives and Special Collections as a donation from the Ball Corporation on 1979/10/25, 1979/12/01, and 1980/03/25.
No further additions are expected.
Existence and Location of Originals
Ball Corporation records are housed at the Minnetrista Cultural Center Archives in Muncie, Indiana.
Collection processed 1982/01/15 by David Tambo. Finding aid created 1982/01/15 by David Tambo. Finding aid revised 2009/10/28 by Maren L. Read. EAD finding aid completed 2013/01/03 by Bethany Fiechter.
- Ball Corporation records
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
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Part of the Stoeckel Archives of Local History Repository
Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA