Conversations about Pyrex

Have you ever thought about how your Pyrex measuring cup was designed? Or maybe you have a copy of Cooking with Cornelius and want to know more about the man behind the cookbook. Maybe you’ve seen Pyrex dishes in movies and wondered how product placement works. Well, you can find answers to all of these questions in The Rakow Research Library’s oral history collection.

Al Donnelly talks about the Corning Promise.

The story of glass is multifaceted, molded by all sorts of people including artists, scholars, scientists, and factory workers. The Rakow Library collection holds many pieces of this story, we’re always working to find, collect, and preserve more. One of the ways we do so is to record oral histories with people who contributed to glass history. We also collect oral histories and interviews other groups have recorded. Our shelves hold the voices of Frederick Carder, Harvey Littleton, Arthur Houghton Jr., Lino Tagliapietra, Dr. Donald Stookey, David Whitehouse, and Sylvia Vigiletti, to name a few.

This past year, we focused on collecting stories related to Pyrex. 2015 marks the 100th year since Pyrex was introduced by Corning Glass Works (now Corning Inc.). At the Library, we will be celebrating with an exhibition: America’s Favorite Dish: Celebrating a Century of Pyrex (on display June 6, 2015 – March 17, 2016). To prepare for the exhibition and document the story of Pyrex, we wanted to speak with locals who helped design, produce, and market one of America’s most iconic brands. We were fortunate enough to talk to several people who worked in different parts of Corning Glass Works, including Dennis Younge, David Stafford, Al Donnelly, Herb Dann, and Neal (Cornelius) O’Donnell. Each of these men had an impact on Pyrex and, in turn, on glass history. Their stories are now available in the Library’s stacks, as well as on our YouTube channel.

The Library will be conducting oral history interviews at GlassFest 2015 on Friday, May 22. If you would like to share your story with us, please contact us at [email protected] or 607.438.5300.

Learn more about the Rakow Library’s oral history collection.

The Rakow Research Library is open to the public 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. We encourage everyone to explore our collections in person or online. If you have questions or need help with your research, use our Ask a Librarian service.

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