Robertson Corporation records

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk P2007.08

Level of description



Robertson Corporation records


  • 1874-2009 (Creation)


23.00 Linear Feet, 40.00 boxes

Post-Fire Oversize Boxes:
Box 26 (10.5x13), 509S: 19/13/4
27 (10x13), (16.5x20.5); 509S: 19/6/4
Box 29 (16.5x20.5); 509S: 20/29/5

Name of creator


Administrative history

The Robertson Corporation is a family-owned company specializing in grain, feed, and flour milling. The Robertson Corporation was founded in 1881 in Brownstown, Indiana, by the Robertson family, and over the first few decades of its existence, the Corporation specialized in flour production, including wheat flour and refined white flour, using steel-roller mills. In 1900, the Corporation was the first to sell wheat bran as feed, and they continued to develop new flours and feeds into the 1930s. This included inventing self-rising flour in 1931. In 1938, the Corporation developed “glue-extender” flour, the forerunner to Glu-X, which is commonly used today in the plywood furniture industry. The Robertson Corporation expanded to new mills across Indiana throughout the 1940s, and in 1948, the balanced dog food product “Triple-R” was invented. Glu-X was patented by the Corporation in 1957, as was Triple-R in 1966. The Corporation partnered with Kansas State University in 1971 on a research project regarding new cereal starches. In 1980, the Corporation first donated antique mill equipment to the Smithsonian Institute, and this partnership has continued in the years since. Since its founding, the Corporation has continued to be owned and managed by the Robertson family.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Correspondence Series is comprised of two boxes that extend over an 81-year period, starting in 1913 and ending in 2004 and arranged in alphabetical order. Majority of correspondence relate to the purchase of milling equipment such as elevators, dryers, flour packers, and sifters; the purchase of the Lemon Mill in Bedford, Indiana and the Ginger Feed and Elevator Company, Jeffersonville, Indiana; the sale of the company’s products such as corn meal, dog food, flour, livestock feed, and Glu-X; and the sale of the Seymour Mill. Correspondence between Phil Robertson and G. Terry Sharer, discusses historical milling machinery the Robertson Corporation donated to the Smithsonian in 1979. In 1980, Phil Robertson attended a reception hosted by the Smithsonian on the acceptance of the historical machinery. Equipment donated to the Smithsonian Institute.
The Financial Records are house in six boxes. Five boxes, 1928-2004, are filed in alphabetical order. They include annual meetings with statements of profit and loss, account ledgers, accountant's compilation report, auditors compilation report, balance sheets, cash flow statements, capital investments, estate transfers, financial statements, income tax basis, income tax returns, purchase orders from companies such as Advance Fabricators, Bearings Incorporation, Creason Corrugating, and Insects Limited, and sales and production figures. One box consists of the 1959 Ewing Mill appraisal, a Peoples bankbook, cash books, check stubs, financial ledgers, a payroll ledger from 1916 to 1917, production ledgers, sales slips, and a 1916 shipment register.
Minutes are stored in four boxes. (1960-1997, 2007-2009) are stored in two boxes and give insight on the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals of the Robertson Corporation. Each set of minutes contain travel plans, the price of crops on the market and a general overview of the company. There are two boxes of formal minutes in minute books (1960-2009).
The Subject Series (1874, 1881-2004) is the largest of all of the series. It is housed in nine boxes and contains insurance policies, newspaper clippings and class notes from when Joe E. Robertson attended Kansas State University in the 1940s. Listed alphabetically, the series covers the purchase and sale of mill property and equipment, contracts, events, feed and grain, flour standards, general milling information, history of the companies and employees, inventories, newspaper clippings, patent information, research, and one of the later important pieces of the corporation’s history: how the company eventually turned to Glu-X as a main product. Aerial view of the Ewing Mill in Brownstown, IN.
The Photographs Series (1900-2000) consists of four boxes of photographs and one box of glass negatives. It includes aerial views of the corporation, views of the mills, the after effects of a large snowfall, exhibits, and fires. Some of the photographs date back to 1900. This series is a picture book of change and innovation with photos ranging from horse and buggy to early automobiles, then on to large loading trucks. An interesting set of photos shows construction of the Ewing Blending Plant. With the photos in order, one can see each step of the construction from beginning to end. Not all photographs are business-related as there are family photos of each family member inside and outside the office. Notable family photos include a photo of Phil Robertson at the Smithsonian and photos of the Robertson's as boys and men.
Oversize Materials are stored in three boxes and includes newspaper clippings, Robertson Corporation abstract, loan application, mortgage, feed lists, equipment blue prints and printed material. Ewing, Indiana. Printed Material is the second largest series in the collection and is comprised of eight boxes. The largest section in this series is Articles that includes items from Milling and Baking, The Northwestern Miller, and Random Lengths. Brochures and pamphlets dot the landscape of printed material and include research findings from respected institutions or from attended research symposiums. Many of the magazine articles deal with World War II or the Russian grain embargo. There is also a collection of books pertaining to the history of milling and includes a copy of <emph render='italic'>The Robertson Corporation 1880-2000 </emph>written by R. R. Phil Robertson. Family member Richard S. "Dick" Robertson wrote <emph render='italic'>Recollections of My Life in Brownstown, Indiana</emph>, included in the collection. These recollections are snap shots of Dick's life in Brownstown. The Artifacts Series is stored in one box and includes flour slicks, commemorative coins, packaging bags for Glu-X and Triple-R dog food, and promotional items.
The Artifacts are stored within the department's Artifact Collection. Box 40 in this inventory lists the artifacts.

System of arrangement

The Robertson Corporation Records (1874, 1880-2009) are housed in 40 boxes and organized in to eight Series: 1) Correspondence; 2) Financial Records; 3) Minutes; 4) Subject; 5) Photographs; 6) Oversized Materials; 7) Printed Material; 8) Artifacts.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

No access restriction: All materials are open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher asssumes full rseponsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

It received accession number P2007.08.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Phil and Joe Robertson
Acqusition Method: Donation
Acqusition Date: 20070101

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

The Records document the 120-year milling history of the Robertson Corporation.


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Specialized notes

  • Citation: Preferred Citation: [Item title], [item date], Robertson Corporation records,  Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Paul Harris
Processing Info: The collection was processed by Paul Harris, Student Processor, in 2010.
Archon migration by Edward Nagurny, graduate research assistant, September 2015.
Publication Date: 2015-09-01

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Accession area