University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the ExxonMobil Historical Collection, 1790-2004: Part 1

Descriptive Summary

Creator Exxon Mobil Corporation
Title: ExxonMobil Historical Collection
Dates: 1790-2004,
Dates: bulk 1880s-1990s
Abstract The ExxonMobil Historical Collection consists of records, subject files, photographs, artifacts and multimedia materials related to Exxon Mobil Corporation and its predecessors and subsidiaries including Standard Oil Company, Standard Oil Company of New York, Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), and Humble Oil Corporation.
Accession No. AR 2003-130; 2004-023; 2004-024; 2004-025; 2004-027; 2004-028; 2004-092; 2004-203; 2005-193; 2005-218; 2006-036; 2006-080; 2006-081; 2006-089; 2006-162; 2006-164; 2006-227; 2006-265; 2006-276; 2006-277; 2007-010; 2007-038; 2007-041; 2007-042; 2007-123; 2007-149; 2007-170; 2007-171; 2007-181; 2007-216; 2008-052; 2008-053; 2008-056; 2008-063; 2008-118; 2008-140; 2008-145; 2008-167; 2008-168; 2008-233; 2008-248; 2008-289; 2008-290; 2009-148; 2009-251; 2009-252; 2009-301; 2009-302; 2009-303; 2010-070; 2010-071; 2010-072; 2010-073; 2010-197; 2010-198; 2010-235; 2010-282; 2011-245; 2011-285; 2011-345; 2011-346; 2012-017; 2012-086; 2012-115; 2012-125; 2012-176; 2012-186; 2012-233; 2012-248; 2013-006; 2013-012; 2013-013; 2013-014; 2013-050; 2013-009; 2013-097; 2013-098; 2013-109; 2013-156; 2013-219; 2013-234; 2013-251; 2013-266; 2013-282; 2014-001; 2014-011; 2014-015; 2014-016; 2014-074; 2014-075; 2014-078; 2014-092; 2014-110; 2014-134; 2014-151; 2014-221; 2015-003; 2015-006; 2015-023; 2015-035; 2015-071; 2015-083; 2015-108; 2015-126; 2015-130; 2015-143; 2015-178; 2015-246; 2016-014; 2016-054; 2016-068; 2016-089
Extent 575.7 ft
Laguage Materials are written in English.
Repository The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History,The University of Texas at Austin

Historical Note

With the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1999, the newly formed Exxon Mobil Corporation brought together a shared history that dates back over 120 years to their origins as part of the Standard Oil family of companies.

John D. Rockefeller and partners formed the Standard Oil Company of Ohio in 1870, after having entered the oil business in 1863 with the founding of Andrews, Clark & Company and later Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler in 1867. Standard Oil quickly began partnering with or purchasing many other Northeastern companies responsible for refining, transporting and marketing petroleum products. In 1882, after determining the feasibility of setting up a joint-stock corporation, Rockefeller and partners formed the Standard Oil Trust to unify what then numbered about 40 companies. From then on, the Trust's nine trustees exercised broad management and control for each company, with daily operational decisions made at the individual company level. That same year, the Trust formed Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and Standard Oil Company of New York, which soon became two of the Trust's larger concerns.

By 1889, the Trust had amassed companies responsible for all aspects of the petroleum industry - exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing - creating a vertically integrated organization. Congress's passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, however, which aimed to ensure fair competition in interstate commerce and to eliminate monopolies, eventually led to the dissolution of the Trust in 1892.

Not to be outdone, the company rebounded by forming the Standard Oil Interests, consisting of about 20 holding companies. In 1899, taking advantage of a New Jersey law allowing a single corporation to own stock in other companies, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey became the holding company for the Standard Oil Interests.

A year earlier, however, the Ohio attorney general had begun legal proceedings to order all Ohio companies affiliated with Standard Oil to separate and begin operating independently. Other states soon followed, with charges that Standard Oil continued to violate anti-trust laws. In May 1911, after years of legal proceedings, the United States Supreme Court declared Standard Oil Company of New Jersey an "unreasonable" monopoly and ordered it to dissolve, resulting in 34 distinct and separate companies.

The re-organized Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and Standard Oil Company of New York emerged as two of the strongest companies. (The former would become Exxon; the latter Mobil.) Throughout the 20th century, both companies continued to grow and forge individual identities. This growth meant strengthening its industry alliances, merging with other companies, developing new technologies and diversifying its holdings.

Both companies weathered the breakup well. Provisions of the 1911 dissolution agreement assigned marketing for New York state and New England to Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony) and allowed Socony to maintain its extensive overseas operations. Standard Oil (New Jersey) maintained marketing in the mid-Atlantic region and gained control of Standard Oil Company of Louisiana (Southern marketing), Carter Oil Company (production), Imperial Oil Company (Canadian operations) and Gilbert & Barker Manufacturing (service station equipment).

The companies' first major expansion was in the southwest. With oil discovered in Corsicana, Texas, as early as 1894, this was a logical region for exploration. Texas-based Magnolia Petroleum Company experienced rapid growth during the 1910s and quickly caught Socony's attention, resulting in substantial stock acquisitions. By 1925, Magnolia's stock was exchanged for Socony stock, and Socony's Texas properties were transferred to the newly incorporated Magnolia.

With Magnolia as a full-fledged subsidiary, Socony continued its growth by merging with Vacuum Oil Company of Rochester, New York, in 1931 to form the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, Inc. The Standard Oil Company of Ohio had acquired majority interest in Vacuum Oil in 1879, and it was yet another strong company to emerge from the 1911 breakup. Organized in 1866,Vacuum Oil produced the first petroleum-based lubricants for horse-drawn carriages and, later, for steam engines. Notably, Vacuum Oil introduced the Mobil brand, which Socony-Vacuum continued to use.

As the merger provided increased stability in the domestic market, Socony-Vacuum set its sights on its foreign resources and joined with Standard Oil (New Jersey) to form the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company, or Stanvac, in 1933. This 50/50 venture operated in nearly 50 countries, from Africa to the South Pacific, until the assets were divided in 1962.

Just as Socony expanded into the southwest, Standard Oil (New Jersey), too, sought to take advantage of new opportunities in the region and entered Texas soon after Socony, acquiring Humble Oil & Refining Company in 1919. Standard Oil continued to build its interest in Humble throughout the first half of the century. By 1958, Standard Oil owned nearly 98% of Humble. The next year Standard Oil and Humble consolidated their U.S. operations. By the end of 1960, Humble had absorbed Esso Standard (Standard's domestic operating company), Carter Oil Company, Enjay Chemical Company, Oklahoma Oil Company and other Standard Oil affiliates, resulting in a more streamlined and efficient company.

During World War II, major oil companies stepped up production and refining to support the war effort. Unfortunately, both companies experienced casualties as facilities and tankers were destroyed in the European and Pacific theaters. When the war ended, the companies looked toward rebuilding and again expanding their markets. In 1948, Standard Oil (New Jersey) and Socony-Vacuum collaborated again, joining with Texaco and the Standard Oil Company of California in the Arab-American Oil Company (Aramco) venture in Saudi Arabia, marking their first significant presence in the Middle East.

Socony-Vacuum reorganized in 1955 to become the Socony Mobil Oil Company, Inc. Further consolidation occurred in 1959, when Magnolia Petroleum Company, as well as General Petroleum Corporation (a California-based affiliate) and Mobil Producing Company (a Socony Mobil subsidiary) began operating as the Mobil Oil Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Socony Mobil. A decade later, with increased brand recognition for Mobil products, Socony Mobil opted to once again change its name, this time becoming simply the Mobil Oil Corporation.

In 1959, Standard Oil (New Jersey) discovered oil in Libya, setting off a decade of major discoveries in the Middle East. Standard Oil established itself as a global chemical producer in 1965, following the formation of Mobil Chemical Company in 1960.

The 1970s proved to be a period of great change for both companies. Standard Oil started the decade contemplating its corporate identity. Throughout Standard's partnership with Humble, they marketed products under various names, using Esso (the phonetic spelling of the abbreviation "S.O.") on the east coast, Humble in Texas and Ohio, and Enco (short for "Energy Company") in 19 other states. The existence of other "Standard Oils" around the country - California, Indiana, Ohio, to name a few - made it necessary to use these different brand names in different regions. Citing the need for uniformity among its products, Standard Oil (New Jersey) announced in 1972 that it would market its products under the brand name "Exxon;" Standard Oil Company of New Jersey would become Exxon Corporation; and Humble Oil & Refining Company would become Exxon Company, U.S.A., the domestic arm of the Corporation. Outside the U.S., products would still carry the Esso name.

A big challenge to the oil industry came in 1973 with the Arab oil embargo, with countries disrupting production, causing oil supplies to diminish and prices to soar. This event forced Exxon and Mobil to increase exploration and production in other parts of the world, including the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Africa and Asia. As a result of the energy crisis, Mobil began seriously diversifying its holdings, acquiring Marcor, the parent company of retailer Montgomery Ward and Container Corporation of America, producer of paperboard packaging. Later, in 1976, Mobil Corporation formed as a holding company for Marcor and Mobil Oil Corporation, which included the company's oil and gas operations and Mobil Chemical Company.

The 1980s and 1990s marked a period of relative prosperity for Exxon and Mobil, with increased oil supplies and reduced prices. This period also saw the introduction of new marketing techniques, such as Exxon's Tiger Market convenience stores and Mobil's Speedpass technology. By 1999, Exxon and Mobil were poised to merge and become the world's largest energy corporation.

Scope and Contents

Foundation and governance documents, legal agreements, correspondence and memoranda, publications, financial reports, press releases, speeches, news clippings, histories, advertising and graphics material, posters, ledgers and record books, drawings and blueprints, photographs, moving images, sound recordings, and artifacts and memorabilia document the activities and functions of four major corporate entities - Standard Oil Company, Mobil Corporation, Exxon Corporation and Exxon Mobil Corporation - and their predecessors and subsidiaries (1790-2004, bulk 1880s-1990s).

The ExxonMobil Historical Collection is an artificial collection amassed primarily from the records of various corporate divisions and subsidiaries; corporate archivists collected additional material from retirees and collectors. The bulk of the collection documents the Mobil Corporation and was assembled as a function of its corporate archives prior to the 1999 merger. Though Mobil established a dedicated archival program only as recently as 1995, Mobil maintained an "historical file" collection in its public affairs department in the early 1950s as a way of maintaining this material. The merger in 1999 resulted in both corporations combining their historical resources.

The collection originally served the corporation as a resource to fulfill business needs. As a result, it is an incomplete record. The collection succeeds, however, in providing insight into the early activities of the Standard Oil Company and charting the growth of Exxon and Mobil's core business activities, namely the exploration, production, refining and marketing of petroleum products, and the industry's development and societal impact throughout the 20th century. In addition, the collection contains diverse material that can support research on related topics such as advertising and brand identity, management and corporate culture, the environment, architecture, graphic design, and philanthropy.


Organization of the Collection

The collection is organized in four subgroups: Standard Oil Company, Mobil Corporation, Exxon Corporation and Exxon Mobil Corporation. Due to size, the finding aid has been divided into several separate pages.

Part 1 [this page]: Collection overview and Standard Oil Company material
Part 2: Mobil Corporation: Series I. Subject Files: Affiliates through Histories
Part 3: Mobil Corporation: Series I. Subject Files: Lindbergh, Charles A. through Research and Development
Part 4: Mobil Corporation: Series II. Publications and Series III. Office of the Corporate Secretary Records
Part 5: Mobil Corporation: Series IV. Photographs and Series V. Moving Images
Part 6: Exxon Corporation: Series I. Subject Files
Part 7 : Exxon Corporation: Series II. Publications and Series III. History of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) Research Files
Part 8: Exxon Corporation: Series IV. Photographs and Series V. Moving Images


Access Restrictions

Publication restrictions apply. The Exxon Mobil Corporation retains copyright to the collection. Please contact the Center's ExxonMobil Archivist for further information.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

ExxonMobil Historical Collection, The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Detailed Description of the Collection



Series I. Founding and governance documents, 1872-1905
This series contains charters, legal opinions, agreements and other documents detailing the formation and growth of the Standard Oil Company and the Standard Oil Trust. Of particular interest are certified copies of the Standard Oil Company charter of 1870, Standard Oil solicitor S. C. T. Dodd's legal opinions on the feasibility of creating the Trust (1881) and an abstract of the Trust agreement.
2W30 Certified copies of Charter (1870), 1884, 1891
Increase of Capital Stock, 1872, 1875
Trust Agreement, 1879, undated
S. C. T. Dodd opinions and abstract, 1881, undated
Regulation, 1881
Series II. Acquisitions and agreements, 1869-1908
This series includes agreements, bills of sale and other material documenting the Standard Oil Company's, the Standard Oil Trust's and their affiliates' acquisition of refineries, land, stock and property from companies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and other states. Also included are Standard Oil and its subsidiaries' agreements forming exclusive relationships with pipeline and refining companies.
2W30 1869, Dec. 1871 - March 1972
March - December 1872
Empire Refining Company Limited, 1891-1901
Tide Water Pipe Company, 1896-1905
Series III. Operations, 1872-1910
This series contains statistics, inventories, ledgers, correspondence and product information documenting various aspects of the company's operations, notably its refineries and pipelines. Of particular interest is the "Eleventh Census of the United States Statistics of Manufactures" (1890) that includes production, labor and tax data for the company. Lists and abstracts of industry competitors are also included. In addition, the General Cipher code manual (1905) illustrates the lengths Standard Oil representatives were required to go to protect proprietary information. Letters from Standard Oil's Far East agent, William H. Libby, offers insight into the Japanese petroleum market.
2W29 General, 1872-1907
2.207/J24 General Cipher Code manual, 1905
2S341 Wm. H. Libby correspondence, 1879
2W33B Charles Pratt & Co. Cooperage Shop payroll ledgers
March 4, 1876 - Aug. 10, 1877
Aug. 10 - Oct. 19, 1877
Blissville Cooperage payroll ledger, 1898
2.207/J29 Production ledger, 1909-1910
2W36B Case oil trademark packaging album, undated
Financial Records of Standard Oil and Subsidiaries
4k751e Standard Oil Trust, Balance Sheet and Investments, 1881
4K751d Standard Oil [Trust] Interests, Investments, 1892
4K751b Standard Oil Company (Ohio), Balance Sheet and Investments, 1882
4K751c Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), Investments, 1902
Standard Oil Company of New York, Construction: Additions and Losses to Construction
4K750a 1885
4K750b 1886
4K739a 1887
4K739b 1888
4K750c 1889
4K751a 1890
4K739c 1891
Balance Sheets
4K755C California Natural Gas Company, 1911-1915
Clarksburg Light and Heat Co., 1905-1906, 1908-1917
The Ohio Oil Company,
December 31, 1890, 1891
Standard Oil Company (California), 1906-1911
Standard Oil Company, Iowa, 1911
4K756A Standard Oil Company, Kansas, 1893, 1905
Standard Oil Company, Kentucky, General, 1890-1903
4K756B Standard Oil Company, Kentucky, General, 1904-1911
Standard Oil Company, Kentucky, Cincinnati, 1892-1895
Standard Oil Company, Kentucky, Louisville, 1892-1895
Thompson & Bedford Company Limited
2.207/K23b Articles of Incorporation, Minutes, balance sheets and investments, 1880-1892
2.207/L9A Standard Oil Company Payroll Ledgers, 1882
2S340 Series IV. Rockefeller letters, 1909
This series consists of nine letters that John D. Rockefeller wrote to Standard Oil president Henry C. Folger, Jr. Most of the letters are brief and refer to previous communications, though of note is a longer letter of May 3 that reflects part of Rockefeller's business philosophy as he expressed hopes for permanent success by giving the public the best quality goods at the most reasonable prices. He wrote that he would rather make a lower profit on his investment than have competitors take their customers.
2W32 - 2W33 Series V. 26 Broadway, 1790-1890
The Standard Oil Company's headquarters were at 26 Broadway in New York City. This series traces the ownership of the primary and adjacent properties (1790-1890). It is comprised of deeds, titles, wills, agreements, legal opinions, land surveys, a tax history search, and utility bills connected with 26 Broadway. An 1884 abstract of the title outlines the history of the Broadway property.
Series VI. Petroleum Refiners Association, 1872-1873
This series includes articles of association, correspondence, minutes, resolutions and ledger sheets for the Petroleum Refiners' Association, headed by John D. Rockefeller. These materials document the organization's efforts to unite refiners by forming districts in Cleveland, the Oil Regions [Pennsylvania], Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York, and to stabilize the market for refined products through alliances with the Petroleum Producers' Union. Of interest are crude oil allotments for each district from August 1872 to April 1873. Also included is some brief correspondence between John D. Rockefeller and Captain William Hasson, president of the Producers' Union.
2W29 Minutes and resolutions, 1872-1873
Producers' contract and correspondence, 1872
Allotments and payments, 1872-1873
Series VII. Histories, 1908-1911
This series is comprised of two versions of the unpublished History of Standard Oil (1908 and circa 1911) by W. F. Taylor, an extensive history of the organization, and a brief homage to the company by Elbert Hubbard.
2S334 History of the Standard Oil Company
Original, July 1908
Photocopy, July 1908
2.207/J60 Original, July 1908
2S341 Post-1911 version [photocopy]
The Standard Oil Company, 1910