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Commercial Solvents Corporation Records

Identifier: 2005-026-001

Scope and Content

The Commercial Solvents Corporation Records contains the corporation’s institutional records. This collection primarily deals with the production of nitroparaffins and nitroparaffin derivatives, an area in which Commercial Solvents Corporation was preeminent. The collection is arranged into the following three series:

  1. CSC Topical Files
  2. Personal Files (Richard S. Egly and Emory E. Toops, Jr.)
  3. Plant Plans and Processes


  • Creation: 1924-1985
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1938-1981


Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials.

Copyright Information

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the Commercial Solvents Corporation Records. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

The Commercial Solvents Corporation was an American chemical and biotechnology company created in 1919. As early as 1917, the corporation began work in Terre Haute, Indiana. Terre Haute was selected as the home of CSC research because location at this plant made possible the convenient translation of new processes from laboratory and pilot-plant to full-scale production. CSC earned distinction as the pioneer producer of acetone and butanol by fermentation processes developed and patented by Dr. Chaim Weizmann. It developed the conversion of corn and other grains into ethanol by fermentation. They later produced riboflavin by microbial action.

In 1935, Purdue University, through its Purdue Research Corporation, licensed Commercial Solvents Corporation of Terre Haute, Indiana to make use of patents of Dr. Henry B. Haas dealing with the production of nitroparaffins from propane via commercial nitration. Haas and several of his assistants soon left Purdue to join CSC and CSC began constructing its first nitroparaffin pilot plant at Terre Haute in 1936-1937. Study of the results obtained were favorable and a development plant was constructed in Peoria, Illinois in 1940-1941. The war years put an end to active research and development as nitroparaffins were deemed to be of little military value. Adiabatic nitration experiments carried out at the Peoria plant during the years 1946-1948 revealed new commercial possibilities for nitroparaffins and CSC converted the wartime Dixie Ordinance Works at Sterlington, Louisiana into a plant for large-scale production of nitroparaffins and nitroparaffin derivatives. This plant, originally built in 1952-1953 was greatly expanded and modernized in 1974-1975.

As CSC grew it acquired two other manufacturers of explosives and explosives by-products, U.S. Powder and Trojan Powder Company, and it was itself acquired by International Mineral and Chemical Corporation (IMC) in 1975 after being merged with Sobin Chemicals, Incorporated to form the IMC Chemical Group. Over the years, the products of CSC have included specialty and commodity chemicals for industry, agricultural chemicals, animal health and nutrition products, industrial explosives, and carbon blacks. CSC remained an independent company until 1975 when it merged with the International Minerals and Chemical Corporation (IMC) and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of IMC.

Eventually, IMC bought Pitman-Moore, Incorporated, another company involved in animal products, and the Terre Haute plant changed its name to Pitman-Moore in 1987. Schering Plough bought out Pitman-Moore in 1998 and the plant's name was changed to Schering Plough Animal Health. The Terre Haute plant was permanently shut down on January 28, 2000.


Commercial Solvents Corporation Records, Science History Institute Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Commercial Solvents Corporation Collection, Vigo County Public Library, Terre Haute, Indiana.


23.5 Linear Feet (17 boxes.)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, patents, publications, notes, production plans, proposals, memos, reports, and data belonging to the Commercial Solvents Corporation (CSC), as well as the personal files of Richard S. Egly, CSC’s Associate Scientific Director, and Emory E. Toops, Jr., a physical chemist in CSC’s Technical Development Department. The collection deals with the production of nitroparaffins and nitroparaffin derivatives, an area in which Commercial Solvents Corporation was preeminent.

Acquisition Information

The Commercial Solvents Corporation Records were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by the Egly family in 2005.

Related Materials

The Photographs from the Commercial Solvents Corporation Records are preserved at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Commercial Solvents Corporation Collection is preserved at the Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Processing Information

The Commercial Solvents Corporation Records were processed by Andrew Mangravite in 2016 and encoded into EAD by Samantha Brigher in 2021.

Commercial Solvents Corporation Records
In Progress
Finding aid created by Andrew Mangravite and encoded into EAD by Samantha Brigher.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised by Samantha Brigher.

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19106 United States
215.873.5265 (Fax)