Summary Information
Title: Otto’s Suburban Dairy Photographs,
Collection Number: MSP#473
Creator: Otto’s Suburban Dairy
Collection Dates: 1928-1968
Extent: .5 linear feet (1 box)
Otto’s Suburban Dairy was founded in 1926 in Emsworth, PA, by Richard Otto and served the greater Pittsburgh area for fifty years. The Otto’s Suburban Dairy Photographs include images of buildings, employees, machinery, and vehicles. The images in this collection have been digitized and are accessible online at


The material in this collection is in English.


Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
Senator John Heinz History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Date Published:

April 2010

The guide to this collection was written by Sarah Zimmerman.

Encoded by Matt Strauss on April 28, 2010, from an existing finding aid.


Otto’s Suburban Dairy was founded in 1926 by Richard (Dick) A. Otto and his four sons: Frank, Walter, Richard, and Luther. When Richard was eleven years old, he and his father, Benjamin, created the Harmony Creamery Company in Pittsburgh which continued to function as an independent company for many years. When he was 17, Richard opened the Economy Creamery in McKees Rocks, Pa. On February 22, 1924, Benjamin F. Otto died, leaving R.O. at the head of the family business.

In 1926, R.O. and his sons started Otto’s Suburban Dairy as a small milk distribution business on Camp Horne Road in Emsworth, PA, to serve the northern boroughs of Pittsburgh. On the first day of operation, 35 gallons of milk were handled. By the fall of 1932, the plant was processing 2,200 gallons daily and serving 7,000 homes. An ice cream department was opened in May 1931, which made use of the cream split from the whole milk used to make butter cream. On opening day, all 125 gallons of ice cream sold out.

Frank Otto graduated from the Dairy Husbandry Department at Penn State College and took over as the president of Otto Suburban Dairy in 1932. During his tenure, a retail and lunch department operated and approximately 600 gallons of buttermilk were sold per year. Otto’s Suburban Dairy allowed their customers to open monthly charge accounts and their driver salesmen received ten percent commissions and a one dollar bonus for bringing in new customers.

Even during the Great Depression, the company experienced growth. The Dairy Produce wrote in 1932, “High quality supported by excellent service and buttermilk effectively merchandized as a trade builder have established the Otto Suburban Dairy securely in the environs of Pittsburgh and in some sections of the city itself.” A country plant was later opened in Adamsville to gather the milk and transport it to the main plant for processing. Another plant was also opened in Zelienople.

Many Pittsburghers recognize the Otto name, not only from having had Otto’s delivered to their homes until the 1970s, but also from the Otto Milk building in Pittsburgh's Strip District neighborhood (Otto Milk was another dairy company run by the members of the Otto family). Otto’s Suburban Dairy was eventually purchased by the SealTest Label in the mid-1970s.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The photographs of the Otto’s Suburban Dairy are housed in one box and arranged into thirty folders by subject. The first five folders hold photographs of various Otto’s Suburban Dairy plant and building locations around Western Pennsylvania. Folders 9-12 hold photographs of Otto’s employees at work. Folders 13-17 hold photographs of Otto’s Suburban Dairy machinery. The Otto’s management made a point to document machinery before it was replaced with newer technology, and the company was occasionally in the milk industry news for its technological advances. Folders 18-22 show various rooms within the dairy plants used specifically for different processes in the dairy industry, including the ice cream freezing room, which was opened in May 1931. Folders 26-28 hold images of vehicles used in Otto’s transportation of the dairy products, including three images of an Otto’s truck involved in a crash which resulted in the death of the deliveryman. Folder 29 holds unidentified images, including some of the interiors of dairy plants, the loading of milk tanks, and other miscellaneous images of Otto’s employees.

The images in this collection have been digitized and are accessible online at

Controlled Access Terms
Corporate Names
  • Otto's Suburban Dairy (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Dairy industry and trade--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • Dairy workers--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • MIlk--Transportation--Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh.
  • MIlk Tanks.
Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No Restrictions.

Aquisition Information:

Gift of Reed Otto, former owner of Otto's Suburban Dairy, in 2003 and 2009.

Acc. 2003.0277 and Acc. 2009.0178

Preferred Citation:

Otto’s Suburban Dairy Photographs, 1928-1968, MSP#473, Library and Archives Division, Senator John Heinz History Center

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Sarah Zimmerman in February 13, 2008. Finding aid revised by Lucy Jones in March, 2010.


Property rights reside with the Senator John Heinz History Center. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Library and Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center.

Separated Material:
Otto’s Suburban Dairy Records, MSS#473

Otto’s Suburban Dairy Oversize Records, MSO#473.

Otto’s Suburban Dairy Oversize Photographs, MSR#473.

An assortment of milk bottles 51 milk bottles and an assortment of items related to Otto's Suburban Dairy have been transferred to the museum collection.

Contents List

Box 1
Folder 1 Buildings – Adamsville Plant (Interior & Exterior), 7 images 1948
Folder 2 Buildings – Conneautville Plant (Interior & Exterior), 4 images 1948
Folder 3 Buildings – Lunch Room 1932, 1952, ca.1954
Folder 4 Buildings – Main Plant, Camp Horne Road (Exterior), 2 images 1932, undated
Folder 5 Buildings – Zelienople Plant (Interior & Exterior), 5 images 1948, undated
Folder 6 Dairy Herd, 1 image 1948
Folder 7 Dairy Products, 3 images 1950
Folder 8 Dinners / Banquets, 2 images 1947, undated
Folder 9 Employees – Bob Bishoff &“Pop” Uffelman, 7 images 1950-1955
Folder 10 Employees – Paul McCorgan Working, 2 images 1954
Folder 11 Employees – Ed Ritter Working, 1 image 1932
Folder 12 Employees – Bob Uffelman Working, 1 image 1954
Folder 13 Equipment – Bottle Filler, 3 images 1932, undated
Folder 14 Equipment – Bottle Washer, 2 images 1932, 1952
Folder 15 Equipment – Can Washer, 1 image 1948
Folder 16 Equipment – Holding Tanks, 2 images 1948, ca. 1950
Folder 17 Equipment – Milk Cooler & Ammonia Cooler, 2 images 1948, undated
Folder 18 Ice Cream Freezing Room, 2 images 1932, ca. 1949
Folder 19 Milk Pasteurizing Room, 3 images 1932, 1937, ca. 1948
Folder 20 Milk Room, 2 images 1954-1955
Folder 21 Milk Storage Room, 1 image 1954
Folder 22 Receiving Room, 1 image 1948
Folder 23 Richard A Otto, 1 image undated
Folder 24 Route Salesmen’s Room, 1 image 1955
Folder 25 Trade Show, 1 image 1938
Folder 26 Vehicles – Delivery Trucks, 5 images 1952, 1955, undated
Folder 27 Vehicles – Fatal Accident, 3 images ca. 1947
Folder 28 Vehicles – Milk Tankers, 7 images 1928-1938
Folder 29 Unidentified, 11 images 1948-1968
Folder 30 University of Pittsburgh Stadium (Aerial), Pitt-Fordham game, 1 image 1938