File Folder History

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Manila and Green Hanging Folder History

Manila file folders and green hanging file folders originally came from the Philippines through the Manila hemp - the yellowish-brown fiber from a species of plantain found only in the Philippines which is called abaca. Manila hemp moniker started in the 1800s and was also discovered to be a good raw material in making paper products. This raw material is exported to Europe, the US, Japan, and China and processed to become specialty papers.

History of the product

  • Manila folders and envelopes originally came from the Philippines.
  • Manila is the capital of the Philippines.
  • The material used to make the Manila folders and envelopes was the Manila hemp.
  • Manila hemp is the yellowish-brown fiber from a species of plantain found only in the Philippines which is called abaca.
  • The fiber is also used to make ropes, mats, and hats.
  • These fibers were originally used as ropes for sailing ships which popularized the Philippines as the main exporter in the international market in the early 1700s to 1900s.
  • Manila hemp moniker started in the 1800s and was also discovered to be a good raw material in making paper products.

How the products become how they are today

  • The paper manufacturing from Manila hemp started in the 1800s, however, according to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority, the manufacturing of the specialty papers which include folder and envelopes from abaca pulp is done in Europe, the US, Japan, and China.
  • Abaca pulp is exported to these regions where the processing facilities used in manufacturing specialty papers are located.
  • Nowadays, abaca pulp is no longer used to make some of the manila folders, however, the yellowish-brown color that is now classic to manila folders is reminiscent of the original material and namesake of the product".

How the products have changed over time

  • In the 1800s when Manila folders were first produced commercially, they were as heavy as cardboard.
  • Today's Manila folders and envelopes are no longer plantain-based.
  • To be reminded of the original color of the plantain fiber, Manila folders and envelopes are now made of heavy tan paper.
  • The abaca pulp is now being replaced with Kraft material that uses wood pulp.

Companies in the Philippines that manufacture brown folders:

Motivations of the people still using these products

  • Papers and documents can be grouped accordingly. It is the "basic yet very important role of the folder".
  • One can easily find what they need since they are organized in a folder.
  • Papers can be transported without being folded or crumpled.
  • Despite the digital change nowadays, folders are still very important in keeping records.
Sources
Sources

Quotes
  • "If you’ve ever wondered if the “Manila” in “manila envelope” and “folder” is associated with the Philippine capital, the answer is yes. Manila folders were originally made of the yellowish-brown fiber from a species of plantain found only in the Philippines. The stout fiber was also woven into cordage called “Manila rope” and fashioned into “Manila hats” and “matting.”"
  • "Manila folders were as heavy as cardboard when they were first commercially produced in the 1800s. No longer plantain-based, today’s manila folders and envelopes are made of heavy tan paper, designed to evoke the original color of the versatile plantain fiber."
Quotes
  • "The main element that makes up this durable style of envelope is the Manila hemp. The Manila hemp is derived from a species of banana originally from the Philippines, whose fibers are tough. The hemp is then used during the paper making process, similar to how Kraft paper uses wood pulp. So the mystery is solved, the manila envelope gets its name from the hemp in which it is made from."
  • "At first the manila envelope was not an envelope at all, but a folder. Creators of this paper would produce thick card stock and fold it in two, creating a folder. These were used to transport important documents to ensure they would not get damaged. Eventually the folders were sealed at the two ends creating an envelope perfect for housing documents."
Quotes
  • "Manila folders were originally made from the fiber of the abaca plant grown in the Philippines. The abaca plant, Musa textilis, is also known as Manila hemp, or simply Manila. It is not related to the hemp plant but is instead a close relative of the banana. Abaca is native to the Philippines, whose capital city, Manila, has thus become associated with the folder."
  • "Originally, the abaca fiber used to make manila folders was grown in the Philippines. First sold in the 1800s, early manila folders made of abaca had a much stiffer consistency, resembling cardboard. While abaca is no longer used to make manila folders, the yellowish-brown color that is now classic to manila folders is reminiscent of the original material and namesake of the product."
Quotes
  • "Manila folders or envelopes are called as such because of the strong paper quality that came from the Philippine abaca plant or “Manila Hemp.” These fibers were originally used as ropes for sailing ships. This made the Philippines known in the international scene in the early 1700s to 1900s thru the exporting of this valuable material. That’s why it was discovered that it could also be used to create thicker and more durable types of paper."
Quotes
  • "We are Tri-Star Paper Products, Inc. a manufacturer and converter of paper products for corporate and wholesale customers in the Philippines. Since our inception in the 1970s, we have continuously been expanding our market by selling to printing and packaging companies"
Quotes
  • "Established in 1980, VECO Paper Corporation today is one of the leading converter of paper products in the Philippines. "
Quotes
  • "Abaca pulp are usually exported to Europe, the US, Japan and China, where processing facilities capable of manufacturing specialty papers are located. There has been no specialty paper-manufacturing facility in the Philippines to date."