AUSTIN, Texas—ExxonMobil Corporation is donating its historical archives to the Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin and will provide the university with a $300,000 grant to catalog and preserve the collection.
When Exxon and Mobil merged in 1999, the companies brought with them a shared yet separate history that spans more than 120 years. ExxonMobil’s archive collection includes historical artifacts and documents dating back to Exxon and Mobil’s earliest predecessor companies from the 1870s through the creation and operation of Standard Oil Company, the corporate forefather of Exxon, Mobil and other major oil companies.
Through the careful collection and preservation of its historical archives, ExxonMobil has amassed a valuable historical collection that includes early and unpublished documents, correspondence signed by John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, and his partners, including Henry Flagler and H.C. Folger. Other noteworthy items include a letter from Wilbur Wright and original photographs of Charles Lindbergh’s first solo flight across the Atlantic. The Wright Brothers and Lindbergh used “Mobiloil” in their airplanes. The archives contain one of the most comprehensive broadcast advertising collections on record, 1.5 million original photos and an equally extensive collection of posters, graphics and publications. Artifacts including historical signs and gas pumps are also part of the collection.
“The history of ExxonMobil is more than just a corporate timeline,” said Rex W. Tillerson, senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation. “Our historical archives contain a business, cultural and social history that covers more than a century. As these archives reflect the important role that energy has played in the history of our nation and world, we felt the collection needed to be appropriately preserved and managed by an organization that could share this history with interested scholars and researchers. The Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin was a natural choice because of the center’s impeccable reputation.”
The University of Texas at Austin was selected as the sole recipient of ExxonMobil’s historical archives because it is one of the country’s leading research and history institutions, Tillerson said. In addition, ExxonMobil and The University of Texas at Austin have shared a long-term partnership in the pursuit of excellence in higher education through various initiatives.
“We are grateful to ExxonMobil for entrusting the university with this extremely significant collection,” said Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of the university. “This archive solidifies the reputation of the Center for American History as one of the nation’s premier locations for research into U.S. history. ExxonMobil’s generous decision to place its documentary heritage at the university and at the center insures that a significant body of historical information will be preserved and available for teaching and research on a wide variety of subjects.”
Dr. Don Carleton, director of the center, said the center already houses the papers of a number of pioneers of the American oil industry, including Ross Sterling, one of the founders of Humble Oil, a predecessor to Exxon.
“This enormous collection of original material bears witness to such profoundly important historical developments as the creation of the modern industrial corporation, the birth and growth of the energy industry, the pioneering of aviation and the automobile, and the development of the marketing and advertising industry,” Carleton said.