1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Solvay Process Company Records

 Alkali manufacturers, Syracuse, N.Y.

 Records, 1881-1937. Bulk, 1892-1920.

 Size: 1 linear foot

 Catalog number: MSS 483 sg 43

 Processed by: Steve Dalpe and Rick Stattler, September 1998

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Two Belgian brothers, Ernest and Alfred Solvay, perfected a new procedure for producing soda ash in 1861. They licensed their patent for this procedure in several countries. The American patents were held by the Solvay Process Company, incorporated in New York in 1881. The company's first plant was near Syracuse, New York, near a limestone quarry that provided the essential raw materials. Other plants were built in Hutchinson, Kansas; Detroit; and Milwaukee. From the beginning, four men were most closely involved in the affairs of Solvay Process. Rowland Hazard II (1829-1898) of Peace Dale, R.I. was the first president and provided much of the initial capital. William B. Cogswell (1834- ), an engineer, first conceived the idea of bringing the Solvay system to America, and later served as vice-president. Rowland Hazard's son Frederick R. Hazard (1858-1917) was an original officer of the company, and succeeded his father as president in 1898. Frederick's brother Rowland G. Hazard II (1855-1918) was the long-time vice-president after Cogswell. The company retained close contact with the Solvay family, and also with Brunner, Mond & Co., the British patent holders of the process. The Solvay Process Company actually served as the exclusive American sales agent for Brunner, Mond & Co., and maintained price agreements on products manufactured by both companies. An 1898 disagreement between the two firms was settled in arbitration by Ernest Solvay.

            The manufacture of soda ash proved extremely profitable, as it was sold for a wide variety of industrial uses. Solvay eventually expanded into the production of other alkali products, including caustic soda, salts, calcium chloride and baking soda. A second plant was opened in Detroit, Michigan in 1897.

            Several related companies branched off from Solvay Process over the years. The Semet-Solvay Company was founded in 1895, and operated a string of coke ovens across the country that produced ammonia and tar by-products. A syndicate was formed in 1903 that became the By-Products Coke Corporation in 1906, with Rowland G. Hazard II as president and his brother Frederick as treasurer. The Solvay Securities Company was formed in 1918 as a holding company for Solvay Process stock. It was dissolved in 1921, with its assets distributed to its stockholders. The Solvay Process Company was absorbed in 1921 by the Allied Chemical & Dye Corporation.


1881-1902: Commemoration of the Twenty-first Anniversary of the Founding of the Solvay Process Co. (Syracuse, N.Y., 1902)

Solvay Alkali: Its Various Forms and Uses (Syracuse, N.Y.: Solvay Process Co., 1916)

Return to top

Scope and content:

            This collection does not constitute the complete archives of the Solvay Process Company. It consists only of scattered correspondence and other records relating to the company, maintained by its Hazard family officers. There are very few minutes, account books, sales or production records in this collection. There is some incidental technical information in the correspondence, and a great deal about the corporate relations between the shareholders, the Hazard family, the Solvay family and Brunner, Mond & Co. Charles E. Hughes (1862-1948), a New York City lawyer and later a U.S. Supreme Court justice, provided legal advice to Solvay, and a 25-page letter from him dated 2/5/1900 can be found in the correspondence files.

            Twelve boxes of Nathaniel T. Bacon's files relating to the company can be found at Rhode Island College's Adams Library. In addition, the archives of Allied Chemical & Dye can be found at the Solvay Public Library; these archives contain material relating to Solvay Process as well.

Return to top


            These papers were donated by the Hazard family as part of the Hazard Family Papers in 1985. They had been deposited in 1975.

Return to top

Processing note:

            This collection is part of the Hazard Family Papers, which were processed with support from the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, the Beinecke Foundation, and the extended Hazard Family.

Return to top


Series 1: Correspondence

The bulk of this correspondence comes from the office files of Vice-President Rowland G. Hazard II.

Box 1, folder 1. 1884-1889

Box 1, folder 2. 1890

Box 1, folder 3. 1893-1899

Box 1, folder 4. 1899-1906 (re codes for secret telegraph communications)

Box 1, folder 5. 1900

Box 1, folder 6. 1901-1909

Box 1, folder 7. 1910-1911

Box 1, folder 8. 1912-1913

Box 1, folder 9. 1914-1918

Box 1, folder 10. 1924-1925 (mostly re dissolution of Solvay Securities Co.)

Series 2: Miscellaneous

Box 1, folder 11. Accounts, miscellaneous, 1887-1909

Box 1, folder 12. Advertisements, 1882-1897

Box 1, folder 13. Agreements, with Wing & Evans as agents, 1883-1894

Box 1, folder 14. Agreements, miscellaneous, 1881-1912

Box 1, folder 15. Balance sheets, 1913-1917

Box 1, folder 16. Brunner, Mond & Co. correspondence and accounts, 1896-1897

Box 1, folder 17. Brunner, Mond & Co. correspondence and accounts, 1898

Box 1, folder 18. By-Products Coke Corporation circulars, 1903-1921

Box 1, folder 19. Calendar, 1910

Box 1, folder 20. Code book for telegraph communications, undated

Box 1, folder 21. Detroit plant - Brady's Island map and release agreement, 1899

Box 1, folder 22. Draft of incorporation and by-laws, undated

Box 1, folder 23. Estimated balances, 1914-1918

Box 1, folder 24. Genessee Valley Salt Company prospectus, undated

Box 1, folder 25. Kentucky Solvay Coke Company financial statements, 1914-1920

Box 1, folder 26. List of records shipped to Allied Chemical & Dye, 1926; with 1937 letter

Box 1, folder 27. Map - blueprint of plant in Tully, N.Y., undated

Box 1, folder 28. Memorandum on manufacturing of alumina, 1912

Box 1, folder 29. Minutes, 1911, of meeting with Solvays in Brussels

Box 1, folder 30. Minutes, 1913, of executive and technical committee

Box 1, folder 31. Patent for bicarbonate production, undated

Box 1, folder 32. Pension participation books, 1888-1908. Lists individual employees.

Box 1, folder 33. Poem re the Solvay Co., undated, untitled

Box 1, folder 34. Printed - "The 25th Anniversary of the Commencement of the Winnington Alkali Works", 1898

Box 1, folder 35. Printed - "1881-1902, The Commemoration of the 21st Anniversary..."

Box 1, folder 36. Printed - Various histories, 1884-1937

Box 1, folder 37. Production statistics, 1892

Oversized box 7, folder 5. Sketch of processing apparatus, undated.

Box 1, folder 38. Semet-Solvay Co. - Agreements, 1901

Box 1, folder 39. Semet-Solvay Co. - Correspondence and memoranda, 1899-1900

Box 1, folder 40. Semet-Solvay Co. - Ensley Tar Plant, Alabama, 1899-1900

Box 1, folder 41. Semet-Solvay Co. - Financial statements, 1913-1920

Box 1, folder 42. "Soda article" (text of untitled historical article on soda industry, 1899)

Box 1, folder 43. Stock certificate notes, drafts and samples circa 1881

Return to top


Alkali industry and trade - New York - Syracuse

Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation

Brunner, Mond & Co.

Cogswell, William B. (1834- )

Hazard, Frederick R. (1858-1917)

Hazard, Rowland II (1829-1898)

Hazard, Rowland G. II (1855-1918)

Hughes, Charles E. (1862-1948)

New York - Commerce

Semet-Solvay Company

Soda industry - New York - Syracuse

End of finding aid - return to top