On the internet you can find loads of information and sometimes you are looking for a certain kind of information and then you stumble onto something else which attracts your attention. I was looking for more information about American D-Ration and K-Ration boxes and found some nice Photos, which were made during the war by the Sutherland Paper Company at Kalamazoo.


The Paper Industry

Kalamazoo has held many titles over the years including The Celery City, The Mall City, and The Bedding Plant Capitol of the World. It could be argued, however, that the most significant moniker in the history of Kalamazoo was ‘The Paper City.’ The paper industry in Kalamazoo began in 1867, and flourished throughout the first half of the twentieth century. It has been steadily declining ever since, but for more than one hundred years, paper was king in Kalamazoo.


The process of making paper is a complicated one requiring pulp from some sort of vegetable material, machinery, skill, knowledge, and lots and lots of water. The Kalamazoo River Valley was naturally endowed with plenty of water and timber, but the machinery and skill had to be imported. Fortunately for the future of papermaking in the area, men like B. F. Lyon, Noah Bryant, and Samuel Gibson, who came from various papermaking backgrounds, made turn-of- the-century Kalamazoo into a training ground for their craft. Old methods were refined and new procedures implemented in a progressive bid to make the Kalamazoo Valley a center of papermaking worldwide.

Paper Industry Growth

The first company to set up a mill along the Kalamazoo River was the aptly named Kalamazoo Paper Company in 1867. Their early successes prompted numerous other entrepreneurs to do likewise. Among many others, the Bryant Paper Company came to Kalamazoo in 1895 and the King Paper Company arrived in 1901. Outlying villages along the river were quick to adopt the successful business model of their urban counterparts, and by 1902 mills were operating in Plainwell, Otsego, Three Rivers, Watervliet, Vicksburg, and White Pigeon. There was even an entire town built around the paper industry. In 1909 Jacob Kindleberger established the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company just north of the city of Kalamazoo. The community that grew up around his mill was made up almost entirely of paper workers and their families, and in 1930 Parchment officially became a village.

These early mills were able to thrive because of a combination of factors. A constant stream of immigrants into the Kalamazoo area provided a labor pool that grew with the industry. The proximity and ease of access to nearby markets, particularly Chicago, provided by the railroads, gave Kalamazoo paper an outlet to the rest of the nation and the world. Finally, the importance of the Kalamazoo River cannot be understated. Its ability to provide water for the process of papermaking and to wash away the byproducts of the mills was of crucial importance to the budding industry.


The Sutherland Paper Company was founded as the Kalamazoo Sanitary Carton Company on April 3, 1917 by Louis W. and Rederick W. Sutherland. On June 19, 1918 the name was changed to the Sutherland Paper Company. The company produced food containers, paper plates, cups and utensils. Here on the Advert from 1937 you can see some of the products made by the Sutherland Paper Company.

Sutherland Paper Company in WW2

During the second World War the Sutherland Paper Company made all kinds of carton boxes from waste paper, as you can see on the following Photos, from K-Ration boxes, shell cases to Dried Eggs boxes. (Always nice to know, what kind of packaging I should look for so it can be reproduced…)


Display boards “Your Waste Paper Goes to War” “Ration K” and “Shell Cases” feature types of packaging made from recycled waste paper, includes field ration boxes, cartons for dried eggs, and shell containers.


Paper carton display includes Velvet Tobacco, Kroger’s Beans, Trend Shortening, Dry Soup Concentrate, Granger Fine Tobacco, Harmony Pipe Tobacco, Cream White Shortening, Daily Grind Coffee, U.S. Army Field Ration K, Breeder’s Brand Dog Food, ABC Dehydrated Dog Food, Pet Brand Dog Food, Dawn Fresh Mushroom Soup, Eggs, and Aeroquip Hose Lines.

coastguard drinking milk

Member of U.S. Coast Guard in uniform and cap, drinking from paper cup with handle manufactured by Sutherland Paper Company.

gis drinking milk

Two soldiers in uniform and caps, seated, drinking Lockshore brand milk from half-pint paper milk containers manufactured by Sutherland Paper Company.

Not Available in the Shop?

Custom Orders

If you want something that is not available in the webshop, or if you have original piece of paperwork that you would like to have reproduced, or you want some paper props made for your next movie production, please get in touch me. Then I can see if I can make it for you.