George Holland and The E.M.B.A. News
The International Paper Company created the Employee Mutual Benefit Association (EMBA) at the Hudson River Mill’s in the 1920’s as part of a company-wide employee welfare program. For years the EMBA primarily organized sporting opportunities and social events for its members, but in 1942 it created the EMBA News, a monthly newspaper intended to communicate hometown news to Corinth men serving in the military during World War II. It was a publishing idea that was subsequently copied by other International Paper Company mills throughout the Northeast.
George Holland served as editor and photographer of the Hudson River Mill’s EMBA News from its beginning in 1942 to his retirement from International Paper in 1975. During his thirty-three years of service as the Mill’s public relations officer, Holland published approximately 400 monthly issues of the EMBA News and took nearly 16,000 photographs.
Holland’s surviving photographs provide a remarkable visual record of life and work in Corinth in the period 1955-1975. Much of Holland’s photography documents paper workers, production scenes, mill visitors, expansion projects, worker retirements, and industrial accidents at the Hudson River Mill, yet he took just as many photographs of Corinth and its citizens. Mill and community photographs were published together in the EMBA News each month, a fact that reflected the close relationship that existed between Corinth and International Paper at the time.
By the 1950’s the EMBA News had become an important source of local news. Company, employee and community activities of all kinds were covered in its pages. The News also featured numerous articles on technical issues about paper production, new product development, and International Paper’s corporate expansion efforts. By 1960, the EMBA News consistently reported on community events and employee achievements, while it also increasingly served International Paper’s greater public relations objectives.
The EMBA News and the photographs that filled its pages provide insight both to the expansion of EMBA activities after World War II and to International Paper’s growing influence in Corinth’s civic life. Photographs that appeared in the EMBA News in the period 1942-1976 are particularly revealing of the relationship that developed between International Paper and Corinth in this period. The Company exerted a strong influence within the community through its economic presence, active benevolence, and its engaging public relations activities.
Corinth’s social landscape that George Holland photographed is the subject of this exhibition. As both editor and photographer for the News, Holland seemed to attend and document nearly all of Corinth’s social and recreational events. That the several mill managers under whom Holland worked permitted him to feature so much of the community’s social events in the EMBA News provides compelling evidence of International Paper’s determination to be fully engaged in the life of the community.
Holland regularly published images of school events and activities, religious and civic organizations, local restaurants and businesses, community events and celebrations, automobile accidents, and recreational activities. Holland’s technical skills are evident in his photographs, although his composition and lighting methods reveal the absence of an aesthetic pretense or an awareness of prevailing documentary styles. His purpose and presentation were simple, honest and direct. By ritually photographing the routines of social life in Corinth, George Holland left a unique portrait of a small American industrial community in the mid-20th century.
George Holland was born in Corinth in 1910 and graduated from Corinth High School in 1928. He began working at the Hudson River Mill in 1930 and was employed by International Paper for 45 years. He lived his entire life in Corinth.