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Collection Guides: L. Michael McCartney Collection

Finding aid for the L. Michael McCartney Collection

L. Michael McCartney Collection

Westfield State University Archives

Collection Guide

L. Michael McCartney Collection,


Historical Sketch

This collection was assembled for a movie concept that was considered in 1993. Dr. Robert Brown, History and Dr. L. Michael McCartney, Criminal Justice conducted research that resulted in a video that was created in 1994. This video is included in the collection. The movie was never made.

Lewis Benajah Allyn graduated from the Westfield Normal School in 1898. He also took courses in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and the Lawrence School at Harvard.

He was a Professor of “kitchen chemistry” at Westfield State Normal School from September, 1903 until June 30, 1915. He championed the Pure Food movement in the United States. The Pure Food movement was one in which lists of foods that were found by Mr. Allyn to contain no harmful ingredients. These lists were published in popular magazines of the time.

There are several theories about how Mr. Allyn got involved in this movement. One of the theories concerns some red lollipops that caused mouth sores on a group of children in Westfield. After testing, it was found that the lollipops contained harmful ingredients that caused the sores. Another story concerns a party that Mr. Allyn gave to his Chemistry students. At the party some of the students became ill. After testing some of the foods that were served, Mr. Allyn concluded that it was the ingredients in the food that caused the student’s illness.

Allyn left the Normal School amid controversy concerning his Pure Foods work. This work left many food manufacturers angry with him. He was called before the American Chemical Society and reprimanded, although his membership was not taken away.

McClure’s Magazine sponsored a laboratory in Westfield that was in the building that is now the Westfield Gas and Electric Company. Mr. Allyn’s lab was on the third floor.

Lewis B. Allyn was murdered in his home in Westfield at 69 Western Avenue on May 7, 1940. The person who committed this murder was never found.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains a copy of The Westfield Pure Foods Book. This book was compiled by the Westfield Board of Health in 1915. Also found in the collection is a copy of the article by Dr. L. Michael McCartney titled “Who could have killed the “Little Gray Man”?” found in Yankee Magazine in May of 1982 as well as correspondence, articles and photocopies of articles, reports, copies of articles from the Chicago Grocer from 1917, obituaries about Lewis B. Allyn and his wife Mrs. Lewis B. Allyn, McClure’s Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Collier’s and Ladies World as well as pages from these publications and others. The video that featured Dr. Brown and Dr. McCartney is included in this collection. The bulk of the collection is contained in two archival boxes.

Access Restrictions

The materials in this collection are open for research and study. However, access to this collection must comply with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. code). Photocopying of this material is governed under this law and one of the specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.” Westfield State University reserves the right to reject a copying order, if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve a violation of copyright law.

Related Collections

Alumni Collection, 1847 – Present; Westfield State University Photograph Collection, 1856 – Present; Tekoa.


Allyn, Lewis B. ; Westfield State Normal School ; Westfield State University – History ; Food adulteration and inspection.

k.canary, October 2015




577 Western Ave, Westfield, MA 01086

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