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Special Collections

Kaufman Footwear fonds

Kaufman Footwear.
Kaufman Footwear fonds. - 1907-1998.

8.5 m of textual records and other material.  - 166 architectural drawings. - 1337 photographs. - 667 negatives. - 136 slides. - 22 audiocassettes. - 3 videocassettes.


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Kaufman Footwear was founded as Kaufman Rubber Co. in Berlin, Ontario (now Kitchener) in 1907 by Jacob Ratz Kaufman. The plant opened in 1908 with 350 employees and produced rubber footwear for both domestic and foreign markets.

After Jacob Kaufman’s death in 1920, his son, A.R. Kaufman, became president of the company until 1964, when he retired to become Chairman of the Board. During this time the company’s product line expanded to include rubber clothing for industry, such as fishermen, miners and policemen.

The company eventually began to manufacture footwear not necessarily made from rubber, the most popular being “Foamtread” slippers, which were introduced in 1953. In 1954 Kaufman became “a pioneer in the slush-molding of waterproof footwear from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) under the name Showertogs.” (“Wm. H. Kaufman, Inc”, leaflet.), and also began manufacturing leather workboots. The Sorel line of winter sport/work boots, introduced in 1959, became its most successful product line.

In 1964 the Kaufman Rubber Co. changed its name to Kaufman Footwear Ltd., then to Kaufman Footwear Inc. in 1973 when William H. Kaufman became Chairman of the Board in his father A.R. Kaufman’s place.

In 1961 Kaufman purchased L.H. Packard & Co. of Montreal, and in 1966 purchased Prospect Shoes Ltd. of Sherbrooke, Québec, only two of several companies in Canada and the United States owned and operated by Kaufman.

After A.R. Kaufman’s death in 1979 Kaufman Footwear became Kaufman Footwear, division of William H. Kaufman Inc. Irvin Weber became president of the footwear division in 1986, followed by John Loucks in 1991.

In 1997 Tom Kaufman, son of William H. Kaufman, was named president. In 2000 Kaufman Footwear declared bankruptcy.

The Kaufman Rubber Co. plant at the corner of Victoria and King. St. in Kitchener, Ont. was designated in 1996 by the Kitchener LACAC as architecturally and historically significant. The industrial complex was designed by Albert Kahn, “foremost industrial architect” of the early 20th century.(Industrial Artifacts Project, “A history of the Kaufmans and their rubber company,” 2001.)

Fonds consists of material relating to the history, operation and products of the Kaufman Rubber Company, later Kaufman Footwear.

Includes catalogues of products, documentation of formulae, compounds, in-house "written standard practice" manuals illustrating industrial processes. Includes corespondence, clippings, ephemera, memoranda, photographs, publications, reports, and sound recordings.

Fonds is arranged in twenty-three series:
1. Administration
2. Administration : advertising and sales
3. Administration : labour relations
4. Administration : personnel
5. Administration : Splashguards
6. Administration : subsidiary plants
7. Centenary Committee: historical documents
8. Centenary Committee : topical files
9. Centenary Committee : working files
10. Operations : Factory, laboratory
11. Operations : Vice-President, Manufacturing : Irvin E. Weber
12. Operations : Vice-president, manufacturing : Brent I. Weber
13. Products : advertisements
14. Products : catalogues
15. Products : catalogues other companies
16. Products : catalogues : : retailers
17. Products : catalogues :Splashguards
18. Ephemera
19.1 Photographs : Album
19.2 Photographs : A.R. Kaufman
19.3 Photographs : Employees
19.4 Photographs : Employees : Social and Sports
19.5 Photographs : Employees working
19.6 Photographs : Events
19.7 Photographs : Facilities
19.8 Photographs : Processes
19.9 Photographs : Products
20. Publications
21. Sound Recordings
22. Video Recordings
23. Architectural drawings

Title from content of the fonds.

Donated in 2001 by the City of Kitchener through the Industrial Artifacts Project.

Some restrictions may apply.

Finding aid available: file level.

There has been one accrual to the fonds (see Kaufman Footwear fonds : accrual 2005).

Call number: GA148

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Last Updated: March 10, 2011