Snapshots from the Factory Floor: Republic Stamping & Enameling 1943-1952 opens in the Keller Gallery of the McKinley Presidential Library on June 23 with a free opening reception from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, catered by Behulers.
The exhibition is based on a collection of more than 1000 photographs taken by Republic Stamping & Enameling employee Charles Doyne Reese. Snapshots from the Factory Floor captures a slice of life in a mid-20th century factory, when Canton a national leader in this kind of manufacturing. The exhibition explores the process of creating enamelware, as well as the social side of Republic Stamping & Enameling, including company sponsored social activities like bowling leagues, Christmas parties, and company picnics. A complete reproduction of the entire photo album is available for visitors to flip through in the exhibition.
In October 2020, Tim Botos wrote an article in The Repository about an interesting mid-20th century photo album of Republic Stamping & Enameling employees that had somehow found its way to a collector in Brooklyn, New York. The collector had consigned the album to an auction, but it failed to sell for the minimum bid of $1200.
Although the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum does not have a budget for acquisitions, the staff scrambled to find a donor who would purchase the album. Kathleen Fernandez generously offered to purchase it through her Fernandez Hillibish History Fund at the Stark Community Foundation, but it was too late. The album had already been sold to someone else.
A few months later, Executive Director Kim Kenney received an email from Michael Sponhour. He had purchased the album with the intent to donate it to the Museum. But first, he indexed all 281 names that appeared in the captions, and did some preliminary research on Republic Stamping & Enameling.
“When we were trying to purchase the photo album, I knew I wanted to create a Keller Gallery exhibition with the photos,” Kim Kenney said. “We are so grateful to Michael for preserving this rare and important piece of local history, and for allowing it to come back home.”
AT A GLANCE
Exhibition: Snapshots from the Factory Floor: Republic Stamping & Enameling 1943-1952
Host Organization: McKinley Presidential Library & Museum
Runs: June 23 – September 3, 2022
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: 800 McKinley Monument Dr NW, Canton OH 44708
Admission: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 for children 3-18
Contact: 330-455-7043 • www.McKinleyMuseum.org