The original Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association ledger from 1899 through 1934 has been digitized by Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections is available online.

Inside the front cover is written “Property of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, Sect. Treas.  Roy C. Brundage, Dept. of Forestry & Conservation, Purdue.” Also is recorded “Original Record Book, Orig. dues P. 30.” Roy was concurrently Forest Products Marketing Specialist (Associate Professor of Forestry), Purdue University, Nov. 1930 – July 1971 and Secretary/Treasurer of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, 1935 – 1968.  At some point, Roy had deposited the ledger in the Purdue University Archives.

Late 19th Century lumber industry 

At the close of the 1800's, the hardwood lumber industry was undergoing tremendous change.  Secondary manufacturing facilities with requirements for large quantities of lumber were developing in the major cities.  Developments in transportation made it possible to ship lumber long distances and later bring logs from distant locations to the sawmills.  Local buyers and sellers were no longer able to meet directly and negotiate a sale.  
Each manufacturing center such as Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, New York, etc. had its own set of grading rules and inspectors. Once the lumber was shipped, the producer was at the mercy of the distant buyer. In addition, third parties, known as jobbers or wholesalers entered the picture. They served as facilitators between buyers and sellers but removed the personal relationships that had previously existed.  What was needed was a uniform set of national hardwood lumber grading rules.

Hardwood Grading Rules Issues

In March of 1898, the articles of agreement for the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) were ratified and two days were spent developing a common set of grading rules.  As with numerous prior association attempts to develop a system, regional prejudices still prevailed. Many lumber producers, including those in Indiana, thought the NHLA rules favored the yards and simply ignored them.  On Feb. 9, of 1899 and the following day Samuel Burkholder, of Crawfordsville, IN urged the formation of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association (IHLA).  A set of bylaws was adopted and officers were elected and installed one month later.  
Even though the Indiana Association was one of the last ones formed it was probably one if not the most influential one. In spite of the IHLA bylaws stating that the NHLA rules would govern, producers ignored them and used their own systems until the economy changed and a buyers’ market developed in 1901. Buyers began to apply the NHLA rules and lumber producers complained that they could not long tolerate the loss of revenue.  The IHLA association proposed significant changes at the 1901 NHLA meeting in Chicago.  The IHLA group was “pretty roughly treated” and little was accomplished.  At a full membership meeting of IHLA in Oct. 1901 the issue was again discussed.  The IHLA executive board again met prior to the NHLA St. Louis meeting on May 31, 1902.  The Indiana delegation put forward the remainder of the oak rules which were adopted.  
The IHLA hosted the NHLA annual meeting for 1903 in Indianapolis. The ledger records the donation from IHLA members of $925 for entertainment and accommodations. By the time of the IHLA annual meeting in 1903 the contentious issue of the grading rules was laid to rest and the IHLA went on to support state forestry efforts and to be politically active on those issues affecting its membership. 

Wood Companies with Indiana Roots

On page 30 to 43 of the ledger are names of 95 companies associated for at least part of the period from 1899 through 1908.  Pages 2 through 27 is a membership list for the years 1909 through 1914 while pages 124 through 247 account for the years of 1915 through 1929.  If you or your company have hardwood lumber roots in Indiana you are likely to find them here.  There are a handful of Indiana companies listed that are still key players in this industry. The original dues were $2.00 and increased to $3.00.   The ledger also contains the original 1899 constitution and bylaws (p52 to 56), minutes, details on the proposed and existing oak grading rules at the time, and financial information of the association.  On pages 89 to 89i are copies of the “History “of the IHLA published by the Hardwood Record on Nov. 29 and Dec. 13, 1902 which detail the grading rules issue at the time and is well worth reading.
Purdue University Archives
The Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections is to be credited for storing and digitizing the original IHLA ledger.  In addition, it houses information from the Jasper Wood Products Co., 1936 – 1980; Robert E. Hollowell, Jr., 1940s – 1990s (Pierson Hollowell Co.) and the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University.  
If you have original documents relating to the history of the hardwood industry in the state, and are interested in donating them to the Archives, please contact the University Archivist, Sammie Morris, at [email protected].  More information about what types of materials the Archives collects can be found on their website:
Additional Information:
Entrepreneurs in Hardwood: A Study in Small Business Strategies by Daniel Lee Clark, 1987, White Arts, Inc. Indianapolis, IN, 208 pp details the different attempts at establishing a national accepted set of hardwood lumber grading rules.  Many of the companies listed as early members of the IHLA are profiled in this book.  The book also profiles the hardwood lumber industry of Indiana.
The Fine Hardwood Veneer Industry in the United States: 1838 – 1990 by John C. Callahan 1990, National Woodlands Publishing Company, Lake Ann, Michigan, 367 pp. explores the history of the veneer industry and profiles the many companies involved in it.
Both publications are out of print but an internet search will yield some available copies.

Daniel Cassens (right, at 2016 Day of Wood in Vincennes University)  is Professor of Wood Products at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Reach him at [email protected] or 765.412.6844. 


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