Local history buff pens resolution to bring the Parker archives home

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Saturday, February 20, 2010
— Al Lembrich, a Janesville history buff, wants to bring at least some of the Parker Pen archives back to the city where the company began more than a century ago.

Lembrich is beginning a campaign to let the foreign company that owns the archives know Janesville would welcome any portion of the collection.

The Parker Pen Co. was founded in 1888 by George S. Parker, a Shullsburg native. The company employed hundreds of residents over the years, and its executives became community leaders.

In 1986, the company was sold to investors in the United Kingdom. Newell Rubbermaid bought it in 2001. Newell Rubbermaid plans to close the Parker plant in New Haven, East Sussex, where the archives are stored, and move production to France.

The fate of the archives is unclear.

Lembrich said he heard the New Haven Historical Society has told Rubbermaid it wants to keep the archives in England.

“Gee whiz, if they never hear anything from Janesville, they’d think we’re not interested,” Lembrich remembers thinking.

“I wanted it to be known to them that we are interested in getting even a portion of it returned to Janesville. We are the birthplace of Parker Pen, and by right we should have some of it here.”

Lembrich submitted a resolution to the Janesville City Council that will be considered Monday. The resolution requests that portions of the archives be returned to Janesville to be displayed by the Rock County Historical Society.

The historical society already has a small collection of pens on display in the Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center.

Lembrich wrote the company himself, and he asked the historical society to write a letter, as well.

Lembrich, a retired Janesville police officer, has a love for Janesville history and a collection of historic items himself. His wife is a former Parker Pen employee.

If the council passes the resolution, Lembrich will send a copy to Newell Rubbermaid. He also will contact Forward Janesville and ask it to write a letter.

He is considering starting some sort of public letter-writing campaign.

“It may never come to anything, but nothing ventured is nothing gained,” he said. “I just want to let them know we are here.

“We are the birthplace of Parker Pen.”

Last updated: 12:51 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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