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UD Special Collections > Exhibitions > Little Known Histories of Newark, 1758-2008


(Curtis smokestack demolition)
Curtis Paper Mill's landmark smokestack,
November 2007.
Photograph by Sally W. Donatello.

The Demolition of the former Curtis Paper Mill is an inescapable sign of changing times for Newark. The city purchased the site in 1999, two years after the halt of nearly two hundred years of continuous operation beside the White Clay Creek. After preservationists evaluated the structural integrity and historic significance of the building, only the identifying smokestack remains. Local photographer Sally W. Donatello (and surely many others) captured striking images related to the loss of this Newark landmark. An oversize dandy roll, part of the machinery used to manufacture paper, was retrieved from the mill in 1997 by local historian Bob Barnes and donated to the Library, which has rich holdings related to all aspects of the history of papermaking.

Little Joe Curtis, the Curtis icon, was adopted from a traditional wood engraving, which shows a vatman dipping his wire screen mold into wet pulp vats. "Little Joe," the layboy, moves the finished sheets to the drying area, as depicted in the line art printed for a specimen kit of "Delmarva Text" paper and also on an interior wall of the mill shown in one of Donatello's photographs. The quality of Curtis paper was world-renowned and highly regarded by stationers, printers, artists, and graphic designers. Newarkers take pride in the fact that Curtis paper was used for the documents signed by General Douglas MacArthur and the Japanese at the surrender ceremony marking the end of World War II on September 2, 1945.

(Little Joe)
Demolition of Curtis Paper Mill,
November 2007.
Photograph by Sally W. Donatello.

Three photographs of the demolition of Curtis Paper Mill, November 2007 / by Sally W. Donatello.
Gift of the photographer

Delmarva [a portfolio of printed commemoratives lithographed on Delmarva Text, and tipped-on to Delmarva Cover]. Newark, Del. : Curtis Paper Company, [197?].

Dandy roll with Curtis wire watermark, last used in 1997.
Gift of Robert C. Barnes

Curtis design kit. Newark, Del. : Curtis Paper Company, [1980?].
Gift of Kennard Wiggins

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