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Collection Number: 04744

Collection Title: Isaac E. Emerson Papers, 1894-1947

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 95 items)
Abstract Isaac Edward Emerson was born in Chatham County, N.C., in 1859. His family moved to Chapel Hill in 1868. Emerson was graduated from the University of North Carolina as a chemist in 1879. He worked out and patented the formula for Bromo-Seltzer, a headache remedy, upon which Emerson's immense wealth was based. Emerson organized the Emerson Drug Company; built the Emerson Hotel; was president of the Citro Chemical Works of America, Maywood N.J.; chair of the American Bromine Company; and controlling owner of the Maryland Glass Corporation. During the Spanish-American War, he led his own naval force, earning the rank of captain. His daughter was Margaret Emerson McKim Vanderbilt Baker Amory, the Vanderbilt being Alfred G. Vanderbilt, who went down with the Lusitania in 1915. Margaret's daughter Gloria Baker was one of the nation's most popular and richest women when she made her 1938 society debut. Business, yachting, and other materials relating chiefly to Isaac Edward Emerson, his family, and his business interests, especially Bromo- Seltzer. Business papers, 1894-1919 and undated, relate chiefly to the Emerson Drug Company and include statements in 1896 and 1901 about cases in which people wanting to buy Bromo-Seltzer were given generaic substitutes instead. Materials 1918-1919 relate to the American Bromine Company and Citro Chemical Works of America. Among the undated materials is a speech Emerson gave about why he chose to build the Emerson Hotel. Yachting papers are largely letters, legal documents, and other items relating to the purchase and outfitting of Emerson's yachts. Other materials include an Emerson family tree and pictures of Isaac Edward Emerson. There is also a scrapbook with clippings and a few photographs and other items, 1929-1947 and undated, chiefly relating to Isaac Edward Emerson's career; Emerson family members, especially Gloria Baker; and Bromo-Seltzer and other products.
Creator Emerson, Isaac E. (Isaac Edward), 1859-1931.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Isaac E. Emerson papers #4744, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from John H. Emerson of Cary, N.C., in February 1995 (Acc. 95032).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Isaac Edward Emerson was born in Chatham County, N.C., in 1859. His family moved to Chapel Hill in 1868. Emerson was graduated from the University of North Carolina as a chemist in 1879. He came to Baltimore in 1880, and opened a small drug store. As a young chemist, he worked out and patented the formula for Bromo-Seltzer, a headache remedy, upon which Emerson's immense wealth was based. Bromo-Seltzer's great popularity was due, in part, to Emerson's early recognition of the importance of advertising to sales. Emerson undertook world-wide advertising campaigns for Bromo-Seltzer, Emerson's Ginger-Mint Julep drink, and other products. These efforts included newspaper, magazine, and store ads, as well as more adventurous strategies like sponsoring the "Effervescent Hour," a program that aired on numerous radio stations in the 1930s.

Emerson organized the Emerson Drug Company, built the Emerson Hotel, and had large hotel and realty holdings in Narragansett, R.I., where he maintained a summer home. He was president of the Citro Chemical Works of America, Maywood, N.J.; chair of the American Bromine Company; and controlling owner of the Maryland Glass Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of the blue glass ware in which Bromo-Seltzer and other medications were packaged. He also sat on the boards of directors of many banking institutions. For many years, the flashing light atop his Emerson Tower was a guide to airplanes flying around Baltimore.

An avid yachtsman, Emerson formed the Maryland Naval Reserve in 1894. During the Spanish-American War, he led his own naval force. After the war, he received the rank of captain.

Emerson and his second wife Anne Preston McCormack Emerson were known as a lavish entertainers, maintaining two yachts for parties and around-the-world tours. His daughter was Margaret Emerson McKim Vanderbilt Baker Amory, the Vanderbilt being Alfred G. Vanderbilt, who went down with the Lusitania in 1915. Margaret's daughter Gloria Baker was one of the nation's most popular and richest women when she made her 1938 society debut in a $50,000 dress. Gloria, who one newspaper cited as having "more suitors than her mother had husbands," married first tin heir Henry J. Topping, Jr., then Brigadier General Edward H. Alexander.

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Business, yachting, and other materials relating chiefly to Isaac Edward Emerson, his family, and his business interests, especially Bromo- Seltzer. Business papers, 1894-1919 and undated, relate chiefly to the Emerson Drug Company and include statements in 1896 and 1901 about cases in which people wanting to buy Bromo-Seltzer were given generaic substitutes instead. Materials 1918-1919 relate to the American Bromine Company and Citro Chemical Works of America. Among the undated materials is a speech Emerson gave about why he chose to build the Emerson Hotel. Yachting papers are largely letters, legal documents, and other items relating to the purchase and outfitting of Emerson's yachts. Other materials include an Emerson family tree and pictures of Isaac Edward Emerson. There is also a scrapbook with clippings and a few photographs and other items, 1929-1947 and undated, chiefly relating to Isaac Edward Emerson's career; Emerson family members, especially Gloria Baker; and Bromo-Seltzer and other products.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Business Papers, 1894-1919 and undated.

About 70 items.

Arrangement: roughly chronological.

Materials 1894-1915 relate chiefly to the Emerson Drug Company and include insurance policies, leases, items relating to company stock, and statements in 1896 and 1901 about a cases in which people wanting to buy Bromo-Seltzer were given generic substitutes instead. Materials 1918-1919 relate to the American Bromine Company and Citro Chemical Works of America. Among the undated materials is a speech Emerson gave about why he chose to build the Emerson Hotel.

Folder 1

1894-1898 #04744, Series: "1. Business Papers, 1894-1919 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1899 #04744, Series: "1. Business Papers, 1894-1919 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1900-1902 #04744, Series: "1. Business Papers, 1894-1919 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

1903 #04744, Series: "1. Business Papers, 1894-1919 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

1904-1919 #04744, Series: "1. Business Papers, 1894-1919 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

Undated #04744, Series: "1. Business Papers, 1894-1919 and undated." Folder 6

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Yachting Papers, 1901-1913.

About 20 items.

Arrangement: roughly chronological.

Letters, legal documents, and other items relating to the purchase and outfitting of Isaac Edward Emerson's yachts.

Folder 7-8

Folder 7

Folder 8

Yachting papers, 1901-1913 #04744, Series: "2. Yachting Papers, 1901-1913." Folder 7-8

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Materials, 1929-1947 and undated.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, March 1995

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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