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Tobacco Industry: Sources of Historical Research

Research the Companies

Jack Delano, photographer. Tobacco - saleswoman, Dorothy Leonard. ca.1915-1920. George Grantham Bain Collection Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Researching specific companies can be very important to understanding the industry. However, there have been so many companies that made tobacco related products that we can't address them all individually in this guide. This page is intended to provide a few resources for those looking at tobacco products and the companies that produced them. The following list includes a few firms, several of which have been significant drivers of the industry and many with intertwined histories.

  • Brown & Williamson: Established in 1894, some of the firm's brands were sold to Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco and later, remaining U.S. operations merged with R. J. Reynolds. Brands included American, Barclay, Belair, Capri, Carlton, GPC, Kool, Laredo, Life, Lucky Strike (export and non-USA markets only), Misty, North State, Pall Mall, Prime, Private Stock, Raleigh, Richland, Silva Thins, State Express, Summit, Tall, Tareyton (non-US markets), Vanguard, Viceroy, and Wings.
  • Lorillard Tobacco Company: Established in 1760 by Pierre Abraham Lorillard, it shares a history with the American Tobacco Company and Continental Tobacco. Brands include Newport, Maverick, Old Gold, Kent, True, Satin, and Max.
  • R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company: Established in 1875, it became RJR Nabisco but is now Reynolds American. In 2004, R.J. Reynolds merged with the U.S. operations of British American Tobacco (operating under the name of Brown & Williamson).
  • Philip Morris (Altria): Established in 1847, became known as Altria in 2003, and is related to Continental Tobacco. Brands include Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Benson & Hedges, Merit, Parliament, Alpine, Basic, Cambridge, Bucks, Dave's, Chesterfield, Collector's Choice, Commander, Lark, L&M, Players.
  • American Tobacco Company: Established in 1890 by J. B. Duke as a result of merger between a number of U.S. tobacco manufacturers including Allen and Ginter and Goodwin & Company. As a result of antitrust law, American Tobacco Company's assets were split off into American Tobacco Company and other firms like Lorillard.
  • J. Finzer and Brothers Company: Established in 1866 in Louisville, KY as Five Brothers Tobacco Works.
  • Allen & Ginter: Founded by John F. Allen and Lewis Ginter in Richmond, VA, it became part of American Tobacco Company in 1890.
  • Goodwin & Company: Established as E. Goodwin and Brother in New York before the Civil War it became part of American Tobacco Company in 1890.
  • J. C. Newman Cigar Company: Company was established in 1895 by Julius Caeser Newman and still in operation in Florida.
  • Waitt & Bond: Cigar manufacturer in business 1870 to 1969.
  • U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company: Established in 1822 as Mason Tour and latter Weyman & Bros, it is now part of Altria.
  • Imperial Brands plc: British company established in 1901 as Imperial Tobacco Group plc in Bristol.
  • British American Tobacco: This is a London based company established in 1902 and shares some history with Brown & Williamson. Brands include Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, and Rothmans

To search for books about individual companies, you can search the Library's Catalog on the companies name or use the Library of Congress Subject Heading for the company. You can also search for material published by the company by using the company as the author.

If you are looking to research the smaller business like local retailers and manufacturers, newspapers will be important. If you know the name, you can use that as your starting point but if not, you can search on words like tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, and the like. For example, one page in the Richmond paper The Times for March 10, 1891, reveals the name of a manufacture of straight cut cigarettes Allen & Ginter and a New York manufacturer Ginna & Co. that manufactured tins used for tobacco products, while a March 12, 1891 edition of the Gold Leaf in North Carolina listed a number of tobacco manufacturers.

Books & Periodicals

There are many books related to the history and development of tobacco as a product and many of them by necessity look at the companies. Most of those titles can be found in the General United States History and Tobacco in the States sections of this guide.

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are provided when available.

Internet Resources