Skip to main content

Jacob I. Fass papers

Identifier: Mss 0090

Scope and Contents

The Jacob I. Fass collection dates from 1906 to 1964 and documents the life of Jacob I. Fass. The collection comprises mainly correspondence between Fass and his friends and family, addressing a variety of topics such as politics, World War II, music, photography, and philosophy. It also includes “secret” notes taken by Fass during his tenure at National Oil Products Co. and smuggled out of the facility, as well as a small number of photographs.


  • 1906 - 1964

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are available for research at the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center. Advance appointments are required for the use of archival materials.

Conditions Governing Use

All materials available in this collection (unless otherwise noted) are the property of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center and Seton Hall University, which reserves the right to limit access to or reproduction of these materials. Reproduction of materials or content is subject to United States copyright restrictions and may be subject to federal or state privacy regulations. Permission to publish exact reproductions must be obtained from the Director of the Archives and Special Collections Center.

Biographical / Historical

Jacob I. Fass was born in Poland in 1903. He immigrated to the United States in 1920 at the age of 17 and eventually settled in Brooklyn, NY. During WWII he worked as a chemical engineer at NOPCO (National Oil Products Co.) in New Jersey, working on diverse projects providing materials for the military during the war. He eventually left NOPCO to begin his own company, Spruce Chemical Co.

Fass was heavily invested in his career as a chemical scientist, to the point that his desire to safeguard his work led to a degree of secrecy and even paranoia. The collection contains a number of “secret” notes that Fass kept while working at NOPCO from 1942 to 1944. The notes were written on small pieces of note paper and folded into 1-inch squares in order to smuggle them out of the laboratory facility. They contain detailed information on his experiments, formulas, and findings, as well as company politics and sometimes entire conversations between employees.

Fass was also interested in politics, and he corresponded with many family members and friends who were politically active in organizations such as the Communist Party of America. Fass himself was labeled a “Trotskyist” and may have been a member of the Young Communists.

He was deeply immersed in his hobbies, which included music, photography, and the study of philosophy. Many of his correspondents were other aficionados with whom he traded tips on equipment, technique, and the best sources for materials and supplies.


1 Linear Feet


This collection documents the life of Jacob I. Fass, a chemical engineer who worked at National Oil Products Co. (NOPCO) during WWII and later went on to start his own chemical company. Much of the material in the collection dates from the volatile years of 1942 to 1945 and includes correspondence with his diverse group of friends and family, secret notes taken during his work at NOPCO, and a small number of photographs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was purchased by the Archives and Special Collections Center in December 2014.

Jacob I. Fass papers, 1906-1964
Brianna LoSardo
26 February 2016
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the The Monsignor Field Archives & Special Collection Center Repository

Archives, Walsh Library
400 South Orange Ave
South Orange NJ 07079 US