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Author to talk April 16 about new book that chronicles Toledo’s glass history

Barbara Floyd will discuss her book, The Glass City: Toledo and the Industry That Built It, Thursday, April 16, at 4 p.m. in Carlson Library’s Ward M. Canaday Center of Special Collections at The University of Toledo.

Floyd, director of the Canaday Center and university archivist, spent one year piecing together the history of the business that led to Toledo’s nickname.

In The Glass City, she follows the first fledgling company that fired up furnaces in 1888 to the triumphant reign of three powerhouses — Owens-Illinois Inc., Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. and Owens Corning Corp. — that made the town the world leader in glass production, to when that supremacy started to shatter.

“I came away from this project with a new-found appreciation for how unique Toledo was in its industrial history — the way the city produced some of the most important developments and technological innovations in industrial history,” Floyd said. “Toledo companies invented the automatic bottle machine, Fiberglas, insulated glass, safety glass for automobiles, structural glass that made skyscrapers possible, glass-composite products and many others.

“In addition, the people who developed new techniques for industrial glass also helped to create the studio glass movement that produced beautiful works of art made of glass.”

The Canaday Center houses records of Libbey-Owens-Ford, Owens-Illinois and Owens Corning, the producers of window glass, bottles and Fiberglas, respectively.

“These collections represent the most important documentation of industrial glass in the country,” she said.

For the 262-page work published by the University of Michigan Press, Floyd also conducted research at the Toledo Museum of Art, the West Virginia Museum of American Glass, the Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University, and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas.

“Toledo glass has changed the world. And most significantly, the industry made the city what it is today,” the UT alumna said. “While the glass industry may play a smaller role in Toledo now, the history between the city and the industry should not be forgotten.”

Her free, public talk is part of University Libraries’ celebration of National Library Week and is co-sponsored by the UT History Department.

She will sign copies of her book, which will be for sale for $30 during a reception after the event.

For more information, contact Floyd at 419.530.2170 or


is UT's Media Relations Specialist. Contact her at 419.530.2077 or
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