Coca-Cola collection, 1912-1990

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Coca-Cola Company.
Title: Coca-Cola collection, 1912-1990
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 620
Extent:6 linear ft. (13 boxes) and 3 oversized papers (OP)
Abstract:Collection of materials relating to the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company, including publications, articles, and clippings.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

The Coca-Cola Company maintains its own corporate archives, which is located at the company headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.


Gift, 1968, with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Coca-Cola collection, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Barbara J. Mann.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Coca-Cola or Coke as it is commonly called originated from the experimentations of John Styth Pemberton (1833-1888), an Atlanta pharmacist and wholesale druggist. Pemberton spent his time concocting new pharmaceutical flavors and in search of a soft drink recipe that could be dispensed from a drug store soda fountain. He incorporated these ventures into the Pemberton Chemical Company in January 1886.

In May 1886 Pemberton finally found the combinations he sought and took his new soft drink concoction “down the street” to Jacobs' Drug Store where Willis Venable operated the leading soda fountain in Atlanta. Pemberton showed Venable how to mix the new syrup with water to make Pemberton's as of yet unnamed soft drink. Legend has it that when Venable went to make the second glass he accidentally mixed carbonated water instead of tap water and both agreed that the taste was even better. Venable agreed to sell this new beverage on a trial basis.

Because the new beverage was selling it became necessary to give it a name. Each of the four partners in Pemberton Chemical Company submitted a name. Frank Robinson (1845-), the company bookkeeper, submitted the name Coca-Cola which was derived from the two principal ingredients, Coca leaf and Kola nut. He even went as far as to write out Coca-Cola in the elaborate Spencerian script of the day. Coca-Cola was the name chosen and Robinson's writing became the official trademark for many years to come.

Although Coca-Cola sold at Venable's soda fountain, expenditures still exceeded profits. Pemberton himself was in poor health and running short of funds. He sold two-thirds interest to George S. Lowndes, who in 1887 transferred his interest to Woolfolk Walker and his sister, Mrs. M. C. Dozier. Needing additional financial backing, Walker approached Joseph Jacobs and Asa Griggs Candler (1851-1929). This new group of investors set up Walker, Candler and Company in April 1888. During that same year, Candler acquired two-thirds of the new company which by this time had also acquired Pemberton's remaining one-third.

Walker, Candler and Company assigned all interests in Coca-Cola over to Asa Candler who became sole owner of formula, trademark, and all other rights in April 1891. The charter was granted 29 January 1892 and in February the incorporators meeting was held. Candler transferred all his rights, title, interest in the trademark and all material necessary for the manufacture and sale of Coca-Cola to the Coca-Cola Company, a Georgia corporation for five hundred shares of capital stock. The corporation consisted of mainly Candler relations.

The first branch factory was opened in Dallas, Texas, in March 1894 and by the next year additional factories were established in Chicago and Los Angeles. By December 1898 the Coca-Cola Company was in its very own building in Atlanta at 179 Edgewood Avenue.

In 1899 Benjamin F. Thomas (1861-1914) and Joseph B. Whitehead (1864-1906) approached Candler about the possibility of acquiring bottling rights to Coca-Cola. Candler at this time still thought of Coca-Cola as strictly a soda fountain drink and did not think bottling would be lucrative. He granted their request stipulating that all territories of the United States were open to them except for the state of Mississippi where Joseph Biedenharn (1866-?) was already bottling Coca-Cola.

Thomas opened the first plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in late 1899. Whitehead did not have the necessary capital so he approached John T. Lupton (1862-1933) to be his partner selling half of his interest in exchange for the required funds.

The investors decided on the territorial franchise plan in 1990 under which actual bottling plant ownership was to develop and agreed to split their vast domain. Thomas remained in Chattanooga and organized what later became The Coca-Cola Bottling Company (Thomas), Inc. which included the Middle Atlantic and Eastern states.

Whitehead came to Atlanta and established the Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company with original jurisdiction over the Southeast, Southwest, and Middle Western states. Lupton remained in Chattanooga but was an equal partner in Whitehead's company.

Candler severed his official ties with Coca-Cola in January 1916 citing as his reason the need to give his full attention to being mayor of Atlanta. He was discouraged about the future of the company and decided it was time to give it up.

The Coca-Cola Company, a Georgia corporation, was sold to The Coca-Cola Company, a Delaware corporation, 12 September 1919. The Delaware Corporation was a group of investors lead by Ernest Woodruff (1863-1944). The Candler family continued to have ties with Coca-Cola. Samuel C. Dobbs (1868-1950), nephew of Asa Candler, was elected President and Charles Howard Candler (1878-1957), son of Asa Candler, was elected Chairman of the Board and President in 1920.

In 1923 Robert Woodruff (1889-1985), eldest son of Ernest Woodruff, assumed the presidency. At this time the company was suffering financial setbacks caused by the post World War I inflation which had caused the price of sugar, one of the main ingredients to skyrocket and the sale of Coca-Cola syrup to decline dramatically.

This began a long association between Woodruff and Coca-Cola During his tenure at Coca-Cola as President (1923-1939 and 1945 1946), Chairman of the Board of Directors (1939-1942 and 1952 1955), Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors (1939-1954), Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Board of Directors (1955-1985), Emeritus Chairman of the Board of Directors (1981-1985) and Director Emeritus (1984-1985). Woodruff, known as “The Boss,” greatly increased the power and prestige of Coca-Cola. He oversaw Coca-Cola's change to a multi-package, multi-product corporation and is credited with the development and implementation of Coca-Cola as an international product. This was done through the establishment of a wholly-owned subsidiary, The Coca-Cola Export Corporation, 13 March 1930, which was set up to handle sales and promotions of Coca-Cola in all countries except the United States, Canada, and Cuba. Woodruff foresaw that a bottled drink could go anywhere but soda fountains were limited.

During Coca-Cola's long history many changes of taken place from the original soda fountain dispensed drink. New soft drinks were developed including Sprite (1961), TAB (1963), Fresca (1966). Even the time-honored formula was reformulated and a new Coke was put on the market in 1985. Public outcry against this new taste was great and the company returned the old formula under the name Coca-Cola Classic and continued the new product as Coke.

Coca-Cola has merged with other companies and formed new divisions within the parent company. The Coca-Cola Foods Division (1967) assumed responsibility for conduct of all company operations formerly performed by the Minute Maid Company and Duncan Foods Company which had previously merged with Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola USA (1968) became the division responsible for all activities relating to its carbonated beverages in the United States. Institutional Foodservice Division (1969) was created to handle sales to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, colleges, factories, government and military installations, and other places where beverages are sold for on-premise consumption.

Coca-Cola has even diversified into areas other than soft drinks. The Foods Division was restructured in 1981 into the Foods and Wine Group and includes fruit juices, coffee, teas, wines, champagnes and plastic straws and cutlery. In January 1982 Coca-Cola purchased Columbia Pictures.

Coca-Cola continued to find ways of improving the packaging and sales of their products including the first mechanically refrigerated cooler (1930), coin-control vending machines (1932), automatic fountain dispenser (1937), different bottle sizes (1955), Coca-Cola in the tin can (1955), pre-mix units for selling by the cup (1955) and the list of improvements continues.

Advertising played and continues to play a big role in the sale of Coca-Cola. Woodruff called for more emphasis to be placed on the bottled drink. He and Archie Lee of the D'Arcy Advertising Agency, which had the Coca-Cola account from 1906-1956, believed that the job of advertising was to make the product an inherent part of people's lives, a means of contributing to their pleasure, popularity and friendliness. This was achieved through different formats including the use of slogans such as “the pause that refreshes” and the use of radio broadcasts designed for relaxed listening and wholesome enjoyment. When television became a popular medium, Coca-Cola sponsored holiday specials. The print medium was another form of advertising continually changing with the times.

Coca-Cola continues to change with the times. A special can with a spout activated by a plunger-type lever is being used to take Coca-Cola into outer space.

Scope and Content Note

The Coca-Cola collection consists of mainly printed material in the form of company publications, articles, and clippings dating from 1912-1990. This material is arranged in 10 series (13 boxes, 3 OP) each of which is organized by subject or chronologically.

Series 1, General Information and History of Coca-Cola, deals with some of the company's history, locations, financial records, and individuals associated with the company. Series 2, Advertising and Public Relations, discusses some of its history and various campaigns and also includes research papers on this topic done by Emory University students. Fountain Sales, Series 3, includes some of its history and operations. Bottles and Bottling, Series 4, deals with biographical information on its founders, history, operations and photographs of some of the actual plants. Series 5, Products and Divisions, contains information on other soft drinks manufactured by Coca-Cola and some of the company's non-soft drink counterparts.

Coca-Cola International, Series 6, discusses the international aspect of Coca-Cola and includes some articles on different countries. Subject Files about Coca-Cola include information on Coca-Cola anniversaries and the centennial celebration, a bibliography of sources, a recipe for Coca-Cola cake, clippings about various philanthropies funded partially by Coca-Cola, a clipping printed in Hebrew from an Israeli newspaper which discusses the question of kosher in regard to the reformulation of Coke, clippings on the Tokugawa Collection No Robes and Masks, and printed materials about “The World of Coca-Cola,” the museum in Underground Atlanta. Coca-Cola Art and Collectibles, Series 8 contains printed material dealing with the wide variety of Coca-Cola memorabilia. Series 9, Disputes and Negativism, includes various clippings of different groups who were not happy with actions taken by Coca-Cola or the product itself. Series 10, Collected Printed Material and Photographic Material, contains printed material related to Coca-Cola but not fitting into the above series.

Arrangement Note

Organized into ten series: (1) General information and history of Coca-Cola, (2) Advertising and public relations, (3) Fountain sales, (4) Bottles and bottling, (5) Products and divisions, (6) Coca-Cola International, (7) Subject files about Coca-Cola, (8) Coca-Cola art and collectibles, (9) Disputes and negativism, and (10) Collected printed material and photographic material.

Description of Series