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The History of Manila Envelopes and Folders

Updated: Sep 6, 2023



More than knowing the purposes and uses of certain office supplies, we can only appreciate how important these items are if we know how they’re made and the story behind their creation. A piece of odd-colored paper or a folder maybe just another basic item. But, once you know how it was originated and where it came from, you’ll realize that there’s much more to it than just being a simple everyday stationery store object that we use. Such an amazing and mysterious item manila envelope is.


How the need for folders or envelopes emerged?

Before technology was invented, processes became digital, and offices learned to use computers, the business world used tons and tons of papers. Papers are useful for making notes and keeping records of the meetings, rules and regulations, transactions, and a lot more. For small to medium-sized companies back in the day, papers were easily managed. But for large enterprises and companies, it was hard to keep track and retrieve all previous records without organizing papers in groups.

You can easily find what you need when all your papers are well-sorted accordingly. This was the very basic yet very important reason why the need for folders or envelopes emerged.


The story of manila envelopes or folders

But what’s exactly the difference when we say, Manila Folder?

Aside from keeping important papers and things organized, people would never mind using folders that can last a lifetime. Especially when it comes to protecting public records and other legal documents, the manila file folder and envelope have withstood the test of time.

If you’ve ever wondered what if the “Manila” in “manila envelope” and “folder” is somehow associated with the Philippine capital, then kudos to your intelligence, the answer is yes. Manila folders were originally crafted out of the yellowish-brown fiber from a type of plantain called abaca plant or “Manila Hemp” found only in the Philippines. The stout fiber was also nicely woven into cordage called “Manila rope” and fashioned SEO “matting” and “Manila hats.”

This plant and manila fibers made the Philippines known in the international market in the early 1700s to 1900s through the exporting of this valued material. Later because of its durability, it was discovered that they could also be used to create thicker and more hard-wearing types of paper. So, manila envelopes, initially, were as heavy as cardboard when they were first commercially manufactured in the 1800s. No longer plantain-based, the manila folders and envelopes we use today are made of heavy tan paper, designed to evoke the natural color of the versatile plantain fiber.


Uses and advantages of Manila Folders

Generally used as a file holder, the manila file folder is designed to hold ‘too many’ documents in place. It is formed by folding a wide sheet of stiff card in half. Another item of manila that we love is the Manila Envelope, which is designed for carrying papers without making them wrinkly or crumpled. These are also made from the same plant fibers in brown, unbleached color.

Aside from sturdiness and knowing the uses of the Manila envelopes and folder, we come to realize that it has made a significant impact in changing the way people carry business stuff. Because even if we’re more on the digital side nowadays, papers are still the most trustworthy form of keeping records. This is the very foremost reason why the Manila Envelopes and Folders will never run out of style.

Now that we know how and why the Manila Folder and Envelop came about, we gain a better understanding of the value of this very basic office item. We hope that this post somehow changed your perspective on the way you look at the most ordinary things in life. And hope that you were able to apprehend the essence and importance of a mere folder and envelope.

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