PPG Industries Records

What’s online?


A selection of 50 photographs from the PPG Industries Records have been digitized and placed online. These photographs were selected to reflect the collection’s documentation of the company’s place in the industries of glass, paint, and chemical production. The digitized photographs include depictions of glass, chemical, and paint manufacturing as well as images of product promotion, employees, product development, community engagement, production facilities, and PPG Place.

What’s in the entire collection?

The PPG Industries Records spans from 1794 to 2000 and contains company histories, administrative records, reports, production records, corporate press releases, advertisements, product catalogs, price lists, advertisements, internal newsletters, financial records, photographs, cassettes, a scrapbook, and news clippings relating to the company’s production of glass, paint, paint brushes, varnish, and chemicals over time.

About PPG Industries

In 1883, Captain John B. Ford and John Pitcairn founded the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG), a reincorporation of the New York City Plate Glass Company that the two men began in 1880. During this time, Captain Ford visited the Tarentum, Pennsylvania area and found it rich in the natural resources necessary to manufacture glass. Captain Ford also took note of the transportation capabilities and able labor force. With the investment of John Pitcairn, the company’s first factory was built in Creighton, Pa., in 1883. The company expanded rapidly during its early years, with Captain Ford overseeing the construction of a second plant in Tarentum that was completed in 1886. Captain Ford journeyed further up the Allegheny River and established another glass plant in an unsettled area forty miles above Pittsburgh on the east bank of the Allegheny River that became known as Ford City. PPG was the first American firm to successfully compete with European glassmakers who had dominated the American glass market. Among the company’s early challenges was the need to economically deliver its product to customers. To address this, the company began its warehouse distribution system under the direction of PPG’s acting sales manager William E. Clause. Incoming reports from the warehouse system found that PPG’s clients considered glass and paint to be companion products. As a result, Pitcairn and his associates decided that it would be advantageous to expand into the production of paints, varnishes, and brushes. The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company officially changed its name to PPG industries, Inc. in 1968, signifying the company’s continuing pursuit of a diverse business model. Beginning in the mid-2000s, PPG began positioning itself to sell off facets of its glass and chemical production holdings. In June 2016, PPG sold its European fiber glass business to Nippon Eclectic Glass. Between July and October 2016, PPG sold its flat glass operations to Vitro S.A.B. de C.V. for 750 million dollars. This sale marked a transition away from the company’s identity as a glass and chemical manufacturer to a global paint and coatings supplier.

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