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RG4098.AM:  Carter White Lead Company (Omaha, Neb.)

Records:  1877-1938

Omaha, Douglas County, Neb.:  Manufacturer of white and red leads, etc.

Size:  2 boxes


The Omaha White Lead Works were established by W.A. Paxton, Levi Carter, C. Hartman, W.B. Royal, C.W. Mead, N. Shelton, D.O. Clarke, and S.E. Lock in August of 1878 with a capacity of 600 tons a year and capital of $60,000. The plant was built at 20th Street and the Union Pacific tracks. At the time of its establishment, it was the largest white lead works west of St. Louis.

In 1881 the capacity was increased to 1200 tons a year and the capital to $90,000. The low price of lead in 1885 forced the plant to shut down in that year. Until then the process of making white lead was known as the “Dutch process.” Sheets of lead were placed in vats where they underwent an extensive and time-consuming corroding process. Levi Carter, freighter and cattleman, experimented with a new process whereby the lead was reduced to atoms instead of being allowed to remain in large sheets. The corroding process then took a comparatively small amount of time.

Carter reorganized the company in 1886 under the name Carter White Lead Works. The capital was set at $150,000 but was increased to $500,000 in 1889. The capacity of the plant reached 4000 tons as Carter’s new atomizing process proved that better white lead could be produced at a smaller cost and in less time than by the old process.

On June 14, 1890, the lead works plant was destroyed by fire. Before year’s end, a new $200,000 plant had been constructed in East Omaha and within a couple of years the plant’s output reached 7000 tons. Under Carter’s management, the company became the largest corroder of white lead in the U.S., with factories in Omaha and Chicago. The Chicago plant was the largest single white lead factory in the world.

Levi Carter died on November 7, 1903. Five years after his death, the Carter White Lead Company still claimed to be the largest independent manufacturer of lead in the U.S., with a capital of $750,000, and a yearly capacity of 30,000 tons.

The Carter White Lead Company dissolved in 1936. All of its property was distributed to the National Lead Company, which was headquartered in New Jersey. The new owner continued to operate the Chicago plant as the Carter Brand of the National Lead Company.

Note:  For more information see Budka, Mark D., “The White Lead Industry in Omaha, Nebraska.” Nebraska History, vol. 73, no. 2, Summer 1992, pp. 91-97.


This collection consists of two boxes of manuscript material arranged in eight series: 1) Legal Documents, 1877-1936; 2) Minutes, 1905-1936; 3) Correspondence, 1898-1938; 4) Financial Statements, 1889-1907; 5) Stock Certificates, 1886-1936; 6) Payrolls, 1897-1901; 7) Plant Appraisals, 1907 and 1910; and 8) Miscellany.

This material relates to the business conducted by the Carter White Lead Company of Omaha, Nebraska, manufacturer of white and red leads, litharge, paint, and varnish. The Legal Documents, 1877-1936, of Series 1 include articles of incorporation and amended articles. Legal agreements within this series include contracts, leases, deeds, stock and patent assignments, and promissory notes.

Series 2 is comprised of the minutes of the Carter White Lead Company stockholders’ and board of directors’ meetings, 1905-1936. Entries pertain to stock ownership, financial status, officer elections, proxy assignments, salaries, dividends declared, plant alterations, and employee care in cases of lead poisoning. The Correspondence of Series 3 covers the years 1898-1908 and 1919-1938. Many of the letters of the early years relate to the efforts of various lead producers to form a combination that would control the pig lead market by contracting to manufacture the entire output of the American Smelting and Refining Company. Other letters provide information on sales, stock transfers, cost estimates, factory additions, new plants, lead market analyses, real estate sales, and liquidation proceedings.

Series 4 consists of Financial Statements of the Carter White Lead Company for the years 1889-1907. These monthly, annual, and comparative reports provide figures on sales, expenses, inventory, shipments, assets, and liabilities. Information on sales comes from various branch offices of the company and are sometimes broken down by state. The Stock Certificates, 1886-1936, of Series 5 show name of purchaser, number of shares bought, and date of purchase. Some of the actual certificates are missing, but lists of stock purchases provide the same information. One folder contains an undated list which notes whether outstanding stock has been transferred or cancelled.

Series 6 is comprised of Payrolls, 1897-1901 which show dates, employee names, occupation, hours or number of days worked, pay rate, and total amount paid. The Plant Appraisal records of Series 7 provide valuation information on the East Omaha Plant of the Carter White Lead Company. A 1907 report appraises building and plant equipment as a basis for insurance. A 1910 report goes into much greater detail, providing valuations of buildings, equipment, and all furnishings, including specification of all material. Both appraisals were prepared by Coats and Burchard Company, Public Appraisers and Engineers. The Miscellany of Series 8 includes information on the white lead manufacturing process, notes and figures, newspaper clippings, blueprints, plat maps, and brochures from other companies.


Series 1 – Legal Documents, 1877-1936

Box 1


  1. Articles of Incorporation and Amendments, 1877-1925

  2. Legal Agreements, 1882-1886

  3. Legal Agreements, 1890-1900

  4. Legal Agreements, 1919-1936

Series 2 – Minutes, 1905-1936

Box 1


  1. 1905-1907

  2. 1908-1909

  3. 1910-1911

  4. 1912-1913

  5. 1914-1917

  6. 1918-1922

  7. 1923-1927

  8. 1928-1936

Series 3 – Correspondence, 1898-1938

Box 1


  1. 1898-1899, Mar.

  2. 1899, Apr.-Dec.

  3. 1900-1902, Apr.

  4. 1902, May-Dec.

  5. 1903-1905, Feb.

  6. 1905, Mar.-1906, July

  7. 1906, Aug.-1907, Jan.

  8. 1907, Feb.-1908, Feb.

  9. 1919-1925

  10. 1926-1928

  11. 1929-1930

  12. 1933-1936

  13. 1937-1938 and undated

Series 4 – Financial Statements, 1889-1907

Box 2


  1. 1889-1896

  2. 1897-1898

  3. 1899

  4. 1900

  5. 1901-1902, May

  6. 1902, June-Dec.

  7. 1903

  8. 1904-1907 and undated

Series 5 – Stock Certificates, 1886-1936

Box 2


  1. 1886-1893, July

  2. 1893, July-1895, May

  3. 1895, June-1936


  1. Disposition of Stock, undated

Series 6 – Payrolls, 1897-1901

Box 2


  1. 1897, Oct.; 1900, Aug.-Oct.

  2. 1900, Nov.-1901, Jan.

  3. 1901, Feb.-Apr.

  4. 1901, May-July

Series 7 – Plant Appraisals, 1907 and 1910

Box 2


  1. Appraisal of building and plant equipment, 1907

  2. 1910 Appraisal; Introduction; Engine and Boiler Rooms

  3. Mill and Drying Building

  4. Corroding House

  5. Thresher House, Blow House, and Warehouse

  6. Keg Warehouse, Wash House, Outside properties and Summaries

Series 8 – Miscellany

Box 2


  1. Information on white lead manufacturing, notes and figures, blueprints, plat maps, clippings, and brochures

  2. Information on white lead manufacturing, notes and figures, blueprints, plat maps, clippings, and brochures



Carter White Lead Company (Omaha, Neb.)

Carter, Levi, 1830-1903

Douglas County (Neb.) — Businesses

Lead industry and trade

Omaha (Neb.) — Businesses


Revised 08-24-2007   TMM