John Thompson Dorrance

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John Thompson Dorrance
Born(1873-11-11)November 11, 1873
DiedSeptember 21, 1930(1930-09-21) (aged 56)
Resting placeWest Laurel Hill Cemetery
Bala Cynwyd, Pa., US
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (BS)
Göttingen University (PhD)
OccupationChemist, businessman
President & owner: Campbell Soup Company
Net worthUSD $115 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/786th of US GNP)[1]
Spouse(s)Ethel Mallinckrot
ChildrenElinore (1907–1976)[2]
Ethel (1909–1953)[3]
Charlotte (1911–1977)[4]
Margaret (1915–1953)
John Jr. (1919–1989)
Parent(s)John and Elvira (née Thompson) Dorrance
RelativesJohn Dorrance III (grandson)
Mary Alice Dorrance Malone (granddaughter)

John Thompson Dorrance (November 11, 1873 – September 21, 1930) was an American chemist who discovered a method to create condensed soup, and served as president of the Campbell Soup Company from 1914 to 1930.

Early life[edit]

Born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, he earned a bachelor of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity,[citation needed] and a doctor of philosophy from the University of Göttingen in Germany.


A nephew of the general manager of the Joseph Campbell Preserve Company, he went to work there in 1897 and invented condensed soup.[5][6]

Dorrance went on to become the president of Campbell Soup Company from 1914 to 1930, eventually buying out the Campbell family. He turned the business into one of America's longest-lasting, brands. He was succeeded by his brother, Arthur Dorrance.

Personal life[edit]

In 1906 he married Ethel Mallinckrot, with whom he had five children.


Dorrance died on September 21, 1930 of heart disease at his home in Cinnaminson Township, New Jersey.[7] He was buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. His estate in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania is now the home of Cabrini University.

Following Dorrance's death, there was significant litigation over his domicile for purposes of estate and inheritance tax. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that he was domiciled in Pennsylvania, and the Supreme Court of New Jersey held that he was domiciled in New Jersey, and his estate was required to pay estate tax to both states. The estate sought relief in the United States Supreme Court, but the request for review was denied.[8]


In 2012, Dorrance was elected into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Klepper, Michael; Gunther, Michael (1996), The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present, Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, p. xiii, ISBN 978-0-8065-1800-8, OCLC 33818143
  2. ^ "Elinor Dorrance 1907–1976 – Ancestry". Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  3. ^ "Ethel Mallinckrodt Dorrance 1909–1953 – Ancestry". Retrieved August 20, 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  4. ^
  5. ^ "History of the Campbell Soup Company". Archived from the original on July 16, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2010. In 1897, a major milestone occurred when Arthur Dorrance, the general manager of the company, reluctantly hired his 24-year-old nephew to join the company. Dr. John T. Dorrance, a chemist who had trained in Europe, was so determined to join Campbell that he agreed to pay for laboratory equipment out of his own pocket and accept a token salary of just $7.50 per week. In 1897, Dr John T Torrance discovered a method to create condensed soup.
  6. ^ Cutter, William Richard (editor) (1919). American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 5. American Historical Company. pp. 71–75.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Staff. "Dr. Dorrance Dead; Food Firm's Head; Founder of the Campbell Company and Originator of Canned Soup Industry. Rejected Offers From Three Universities and a College to Join Their Faculties. Worked in Paris Restaurants. Director in Many Corporations", The New York Times, September 22, 1930. Retrieved June 18, 2012. "Dr. John T. Dorrance, president and founder of the Campbell Soup Company and originator of the canned soup industry, died of heart disease today at his home, Pomona Farm, at Cinnaminson, NJ, in his fifty-seventh year."
  8. ^ See in re Dorrance's Estate, 309 Pa. 151, 163 A. 303 (1932), cert. denied, 288 U.S. 617 (1933); see also, In re Estate of Dorrance, 115 N.J. Eq. 268, 170 A. 601 (1934).
  9. ^ "The Star-Ledger".

External links[edit]