American glass manufacturing is one of the nation's first industries dating back to the early 1600's. However, it took almost 150 years for the industry to become established because England prohibited all manufacturing in the Colonies. In 1739, against English policy, Caspar Wistar founded Wistarburgh Glass Manufactory in Alloway, New Jersey. Wistar specifically chose southern New Jersey because of the abundance of sand, water, wood, soda ash, and silica-natural resources that are ideal for glass manufacturing.
Since Wistarburgh, many of the nation's foremost glass factories have been located in southern New Jersey including Stanger Glass Works founded in 1779 in the village once known as Glasstown. Later renamed as Glassboro, the town remained a center for American glass manufacturing for 148 years.
Between 1800 and 1900, there were hundreds of glass factories established to meet the ever-growing consumer demands. In 1881, in Millville, New Jersey, the pharmacist Dr. Theodore Corson Wheaton established a glass factory to specifically manufacture pharmaceutical glassware. Known as T.C. Wheaton Company, the highly successful, family-run factory continued to expand for over 100 years. It was a great asset to the Millville economy employing generations of families throughout the 20th-century.
In the 1960's, Dr. Wheaton's grandson Frank H. Wheaton, Jr. began to collect glass made in southern New Jersey to preserve his family's legacy and the region's glass-making heritage. It is this collection that became the foundation for the Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Village. Today, the Museum houses over 12,000 objects both historic and contemporary from Wistarburgh's utilitarian glassware to modern sculptural art and, is considered to be the most comprehensive collection of American glass in the world.