Lane Archives visit! Wah, wah, waaaaah

Hi all!

It’s been a while – been working on the website…check it out…

I was finally able to travel to Richmond, VA to visit the Virginia Historical Society Museum.  The VHS houses the entirety of the Lane Company archives.  To prepare for the visit I used a book that catalogs all of the documents to locate the ones that I felt would be helpful.  My primary goal was to link Pilliod (of Ohio) and Peterson Brothers (of Chicago) box manufactures to the early days of the Girl Graduation Plan.  As I discussed previously, my hypothesis is that these two companies made our boxes before the miniature department was established in the Lane factory.

I planned on viewing about 40 different boxes, folders and ledgers.  I arrived when they opened at 10:00 and did about 5 hours of intense research of hundreds of pages of documents, brochures, accounting records, internal communications, audit records, dealer communications, etc.  And…NO, I didn’t find what I was looking for!  My hope was what was described as “Accounting Ledgers” would lead me to documentation of payments to Pilliod or Peterson Brothers.  However, the ledgers, which were about 10 inches thick, only had reference to payments for “miniatures” but no reference to who was paid – just amounts, dates and check numbers.  I also found that an inventory of “miniatures” was stared in 1925.

I was able to view all of the notes used by Helen Hughes Lane when she wrote the history of the first 50 years of the Lane company.  I didn’t find any notes related to either of the box manufactures there either.

For anyone else, except for me, it just doesn’t matter who made the first boxes from 1925 to 1930.  Further, there is virtually no information about Peterson Brothers on the internet and hardly any about Pilliod either.  Finding any record that almost 100 years ago they made boxes for Lane may be impossible.   I was hopeful the archives would help and it is possible in the thousand and thousands of pages of documents in the archives there is a mention of Pilliod or Peterson Brothers but it may be a needle in the haystack kind of endeavour.  Beleive me, not finding anything was not for lack of effort.  Although I looked at hundreds of documents, only a few would have contained information about these two box manufactures and I studied those items very carefully.

I did read letters from dealers lamenting the lack of success in the early years of the Girl Graduate Plan.  Lane believed in the Plan and supported the dealers with ideas for many years before it really took off.

I am reviewing my notes from the visit now.  If I come across anything interesting to share, I’ll post it here.  I was frantically writing notes (only in pencil, no pens allowed) while doing my research so I’m not sure what else may come of those…stay tuned…

Back soon…


4 thoughts on “Lane Archives visit! Wah, wah, waaaaah

  1. Chad, came across your article on facebook…my family worked at Lane lot’s of years, starting with my dad back in the 30’s…my mom worked in the miniature department and her job was to spray the little miniature’s..I retired from the Personnel Dept. there several years before they closed Lane and we sold them for 50 cents each…lot’s of people would come in and buy an entire large box of them..probably about 15 or 20 in a box and they would want to go thru the box and pick out the best looking ones..of course, we let them look all they wanted to and pick out the ones they wanted..we sold lots of them over the years…your article is very interesting..Gwen Goggin


    • Gwen,
      Very cool to hear from you! Great story about the boxes being sold from the factory. I visited Altavista last year and met a bunch of great people including Louella Lanier, Jodie Davis, Bill Martin, and Larry Brumett – all that worked at Lane also. Does any of your family still live in the area? Have you visited my website? Thanks for checking in!


  2. So very happy to have run across this blog. My husband is from Altavista, so naturally the Lane company and its products are of great interest to us. I am sure everyone in this small town is overjoyed to know you have this blog up and running! I’m wondering why we are just now learning about you? Everyone who ever received one of those little chests upon high school graduation should be really interested in this!! Not to mention all of us who have the older ones handed down from our elders!! Thank you again!!!


    • Your question is what I have been asking myself for years now…why isn’t anyone talking about these boxes? I am literally the only one I know of (so far) that is a serious “collector.” Sad thing is, the girls that got them as gifts are getting older and older and the stories they have to tell are getting lost with time. Thanks for checking in! Don’t miss my website…


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