Guide to the J. Walter Thompson Company. William James Carlton Diaries and Biography, 1862-1877

Collection Overview

The diaries of William James Carlton span the years 1862 to 1877; the biography dates to about 1964. There are transcripts of the diaries and a draft manuscript of a biography, A Portrait of William James Carlton, 1838-1902, by Frankie McKee Robins. The transcripts are slightly annotated. For the years from 1862 to November 1864 the diaries chronicle William James Carlton's participation in the United States Civil War. From 1864 to 1877, the diaries primarily describe family events and church-related activities. A December 1873 entry indicates that no diaries were kept for the years 1865 to 1872. The bulk of the biography describes the years from 1861 to 1862.

The diaries begin during approximately the fifth month of William Carlton's enlistment in the 48th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry. His entries describe drills, recreation and holiday celebrations, sermons addressed to the troops, illness, and funerals. He briefly describes incidents and comradely associations among various regiments, including the 3rd Rhode Island [Heavy?] Artillery. Most of the descriptions of battles are from an observer's point of view but there are some sketchy descriptions of those in which he participated. Ships carrying troops, supplies, and mail are frequently named. During the period in which the 48th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry was in the areas of Hilton Head and Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, and Fort Pulaski, Georgia, William Carlton visited the local area. He describes trips to Jones, Bird, and Tybee islands in Georgia. While on Daufuskie Island, the Stoddard plantation on Calibogue Sound was occupied by his regiment.

Entries from 1862 to 1864 reveal William Carlton's personal interests and activities. They include frequent discourse about specific books, magazines, and newspapers he read, with comments on authors and texts and comparisons of different titles. Correspondence between family and friends is regularly noted, including "sub rosas" to a brother. There are observations about African Americans, some of whom were escaped slaves, others were servants or in another sort of service to the Union, and a Black regiment, which Mr. Carlton refers to as the South Carolina Volunteers.

The diaries for 1873 to 1877 primarily discuss family activities and illness, the children's social development, and birthdays and holiday celebrations in Elizabeth, N.J., and nearby areas of New York. The Carltons were members of St. Paul's, probably a Methodist Episcopal church, in Elizabeth. Church-related activities were central in family life and included attendance at Sunday School and services. The diaries have notes about various preachers and the titles of sermons they gave. William Carlton was a trustee of the church. He was also on the board of the YMCA (probably the Young Men's Christian Association) and served as its Treasurer in 1873. His advertising business is mentioned only cursorily in the Diaries. In the entry for December 5, 1864, he wrote, "Commenced to canvas for advertisements this morning for several papers." Most other business-related entries merely note that he went to the office. In 1873 Mr. Carlton was the chair of the Committee on Credentials for the Advertising Agents Convention held at the Astor House. In 1877 he discussed the purchase of the Lady's Book with Mr. [Louis Antoine] Godey. There are a few mentions of Mr. Carlton's employee, "Thompson" [James Walter Thompson], including social occasions he shared with Mr. Carlton. James Walter Thompson bought the William J. Carlton agency from Mr. Carlton in 1878 and renamed it the J. Walter Thompson Company.

The biography briefly describes William James Carlton's early years, including his family and education. The bulk of the Biography describes William Carlton's military service and the 48th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry. The biography Appendix includes information from secondary sources, such as biographical sketches of members of the 48th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry and other military officers; excerpts from reports and published sources about the 48th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry; and other aspects of the Civil War. The biography Outline includes scattered, brief references to the William J. Carlton's advertising business but is predominantly descriptive of family life.

Descriptive Summary

J. Walter Thompson Company. William James Carlton Diaries and Biography 1862-1877
J. Walter Thompson Company.
0.6 Linear Feet, about 375 Items
Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Administrative Information

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Collection is open for research.

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Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in the J. Walter Thompson Company Archives have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Consists of typed transcripts of diaries. The first dates on the folder represent the time periods covered by the diary entries, the date in parentheses is the approximate date of the transcript. Arranged chronologically by the dates of the diary entries.

1862, January 1-1877, July 23 (ca.1960s)
(8 folders)
Box 1

Consists of a typed draft of the manuscript, A Portrait of William James Carlton, 1838-1902, by Frankie McKee Robins. Arranged in page sequence.

Table of Contents; pages 1-92
Box 2
Pages 93-189
Box 2
Appendix, pages 1-35; Outline, pages 1-15
Box 2

Historical Note

1838, Sept. 14Born, Asheulot, New Hampshire
1861, Aug. 1Enlisted in the 48th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry; mustered in as Sergeant, Company D, on August 21
1861, Oct. 22Regiment arrived at Fort Monroe aboard the Empire City
1862, Jan. 1Battle at Port Royal Ferry, South Carolina
1862, Jan. 27Regiment arrived on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
1862, Feb. 5Commissioned as Second Lieutenant, Company H
1862, May 25Garrisoned in Fort Pulaski, Georgia
1862, Oct. 22Expedition to Coosawhatchie, Georgia, aboard the Planter
1863, Sept. 29Commissioned as Captain, Company D
1864, Nov. 13Mustered out of military service; returned to his home in Elizabeth, New Jersey
1864Formed business partnership with Edmund A. Smith
1864, Dec. 5Carlton and Smith advertising brokers began to buy and sell space in religious journals
1865, Oct. 25Married Helen M. Newcomb
1866Assumed sole control of Carlton and Smith and renamed it William J. Carlton
1868James Walter Thompson joined firm of William J. Carlton
1878Firm of William J. Carlton sold to James Walter Thompson who renamed it J. Walter Thompson

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], J. Walter Thompson Company. William James Carlton Diaries and Biography, 1862-1877. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.


The diaries and biography of William James Carlton were transferred to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library from the J. Walter Thompson Company in 1987.

Processing Information

Processed by: Donna Longo DiMichele

Completed December 21, 1992

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.

Processing of this collection was supported in part by gifts from the J. Walter Thompson Company Fund and the John and Kelly Hartman Foundation.