Guide to the J. Walter Thompson Company. Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde Papers, 1944-1960
The J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT), founded in 1864, is one of the oldest and largest enduring advertising agencies in the United States. Vergil Reed was director of the U.S Bureau of the Census (1940s), Director of Research and an economist with J. Walter Thompson Company (1940s-1950s), as well as a professor of marketing and foreign trade at Michigan State, Columbia and Boston Universities. Lubertus Smilde was Reed's colleague and successor in the Market Research Department at JWT. The Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde Papers span the years 1944 to 1960 and include correspondence, memoranda, office files, client files, reports, speeches, and newspaper clippings, as well as some advertisements. The material forms the body of extant records for Reed's work as Director of Research for JWT; however, a substantial portion of the collection originated in the office of Reed's colleague and successor, Lubertus Smilde. Topics include analysis of population trends and their influence on various markets; views of the private enterprise system; how research findings might be applicable to JWT clients; and work on JWT's World Markets Series. Correspondents include Arno Johnson, Samuel Meek, and Norman Strouse.
- Collection Number
- J. Walter Thompson Company. Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde papers
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- 1.3 Linear Feet, 1000 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde Papers span the years 1944 to 1960 and include correspondence, memoranda, office files, client files, reports, speeches, and newspaper clippings, as well as some advertisements. The material forms the body of extant records for Reed's work as Director of Research for JWT; however, a substantial portion of the collection originated in the office of Reed's colleague and successor, Lubertus Smilde. Topics include analysis of population trends and their influence on various markets; views of the private enterprise system; how research findings might be applicable to JWT clients; and work on JWT's World Markets series. Correspondents include Arno Johnson, Samuel Meek, and Norman Strouse.
The papers depict Reed, as well as Smilde, as a trained economist leading JWT's Research Department. In a letter to Stanley Resor, written on October 11, 1945 by Paul H. Nystrom, a professor at Columbia University's School of Business, Reed's strength as an economist is mentioned (in the Correspondence Series). Nystrom suggests Reed's role at JWT, recommending to Resor that Reed continue the study of population trends and to apply their meaning to business. This is reflected in materials in the collection, which contains a numerous documents showing the analysis of population trends and the illustration of their influence to the various markets, especially those of the foreign nations. The information was compiled by Reed and later by Smilde and was distributed to the JWT personnel and clients. In a memorandum written by Reed on May 1, 1958 to Robert Berry, for example, Reed provides facts on population trends and his interpretations of them to be included in Norman Strouse's speech (in the New York Office folder in the JWT Office Series). The papers also include market analysis compiled by other JWT offices. For instance, the JWT Office Series contains a report prepared by the Tokyo Office on Japanese dairy product market. Many materials throughout the collection include reference to the World Markets Books, a series prepared and published by JWT. The papers, especially those in the folder titled World Markets Books (1958) in the Subject Files Series, indicate that Reed had an important role for the project. The Series did not see the completion at the time of Reed's retirement. In a letter written to Howard Kohl on April 16, 1958, Reed suggests Smilde to be his successor (in the Correspondence Series). Subsequently, the Smilde papers, dated mostly from 1960, frequently mentions the World Markets books.
The collection is organized into three series: The Correspondence Series contains letters and memos written by and to Reed as well as those written by and to Smilde. Reed's correspondence with a numerous JWT offices, both domestic and international, is included in the JWT Offices Series. The JWT Offices Series consists primarily of letters written by and to Reed in 1958. Those that date from the second half of the year, however, were written exclusively by Smilde, since Reed retired from JWT in June, 1958. The Subject Files Series contains materials from Reed's office in 1958 and those of Smilde's office in 1960.
The Correspondence Series contains congratulatory messages upon Reed's appointment to JWT and promotion to Vice President as well as letters relating to Reed's speeches and articles, and the 1951 edition of Population and Its Distribution, edited by Reed. The aforementioned letter written by Reed on May 28, 1953, for example, describes Reed's sources for a report entitled “Advertising Appropriations.” Letters of especial note, which reflect Reed's competence, include those written by Reed on December 17, 1946 and on May 28, 1953. In the former, Reed expresses his view on the private enterprise system in length. In the latter, Reed provides description of the trends in beer advertising appropriations and his proposals for Labatt beer. The series also contains letters and memos written by Smilde, who was involved with the study of international markets and collected information from a variety of publications in the world. In a memorandum dated on August 26, for example, Smilde provides Richard Brecker, the head of the New Business Department, with information on Janome Machine Company, one of the largest Japanese sewing machine manufacturing company. The information was based on a German newspaper clipping, a copy of which is attached to the memo. The Subject Files Series also contains Smilde's correspondence, particularly that with Samuel Meek.
The JWT Offices Series contains Reed's correspondence of 1958 with a numerous JWT offices, both domestic and international. Letters to the European offices frequently mentions a visit of Advance Survey Team. The team was, under Public Law 480, to study possibilities for promotion and sale of American feed grain and was scheduled to visit Belgium, England, Germany (West), Greece, Holland, and Italy. The New York Office was asked to send a letter of introduction to the JWT offices in those countries where the team was to visit (see for example a letter written by Reed on April 15, 1958 to Douglas Saunders at the London Office). The JWT Offices Series also contains Smilde's correspondence, which mostly dates from the second half of the year 1958. After Reed's retirement in June, 1958, Smilde was apparently the main correspondent for the Research Department, especially on the matters related to the World Markets books. The Correspondence Series also includes Smilde's 1960 letters discussing the matters related to the Series (see for example Smilde's memorandum to Howard Kohl on April 1, 1960).
The Subject Files Series contains materials related to the researches undertaken by Reed and his team. There is, for example, a folder titled “Interurbia,” a study of urban growth and decentralization in the Northeastern part of the U.S. conducted jointly by JWT and the School of Architecture and Design of Yale University. Other materials illustrate Reed's association with government agencies. For example, the series contains a folder consisting of papers documenting Reed's activities as a member of the Travel Advisory Committee, which was organized by Bureau of Foreign Commerce of the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1958. The series, however, scarcely provides information on Reed's other activities with government agencies. A note written by Reed on May 31, 1956, for example, verifies that Reed was a member of the U.S. Trade Mission to Japan (in the Correspondence Series), but the papers hardly illustrate Reed's activities in this capacity. The materials dated from 1960 in the Subject Files Series derived from Smilde's office, including, as mentioned above, Smilde's correspondence with Samuel Meek.
The Papers are incomplete in that the collection consists mostly of materials originating in only the years 1958 and 1960. A note dating January 14, 1958 indicates that Reed's files going back to 1955 had once existed (in the Correspondence Series). According to the note, the contents of the 1955 files were similar to those of the 1958 files, but the number of the 1955 files was much higher than that of the 1958 files as the former included numerous client files.
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How to Cite
[Identification of item], J. Walter Thompson Company. Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Consists of letters and memos written by and to Reed and Smilde. The majority of Reed's correspondence, all dated from 1944 to 1958, is congratulatory messages upon Reed's appointment to JWT and promotion to Vice President. Smilde's correspondence date from 1958 and 1960. Reed's and Smilde's correspondence with a numerous JWT offices are included in the JWT Offices Series. Smilde's correspondence with Samuel Meek is included in the Subject Files Series. Arranged chronologically.
Consists chiefly of Reed's correspondence dated mostly from 1958 with numerous JWT offices, both domestic and international. Reed retired from JWT in June, 1958, and the letters dated thereafter were written by Smilde. The materials illustrate Reed's activities as a researcher of international markets, including his involvement with the World Markets Books, a series prepared and published by JWT. Arranged alphabetically.
Consists of office files containing correspondence, reports, client files, and some advertisement. The majority of materials dates from the year 1958, originating in Reed's office. The papers dating from 1960 onward derived from Smilde's office. The papers illustrate Reed's as well as Smilde's career as an economist leading the Research Department of JWT. Arranged chronologically by year, and alphabetically thereunder.
Vergil D. Reed biographical timeline
|1896 Dec. 20||
Born Daniel Webster Vergil Reed, Deleware County, Ind. Later transposed and shortened name to Vergil D. Reed
U.S. Army. Served in France during WWI. Commissioned in 1918 as Second Lieutenant, Field Artillery
Bachelor of Science, Commerce and Finance, Indiana University
Various positions, W.R. Grace, New York, N.Y.
Manager, Research and Service Department, Bissell & Land, Inc. advertising agency, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Master's, Marketing, Columbia University School of Business
Associate Professor, Marketing and Foreign Trade, Boston University
Planned Marketing (Ronald Press)
Vice President and Director of Research, Wells Advertising Agency, Boston, Mass.
Contributing Editor, American Business Practices (Ronald Press)
Doctorate, Marketing, Columbia University School of Business
Assistant Director, Bureau of the Census
Principles of Economic Geography (Boston University Book Store)
Acting Director, Bureau of the Census
Contributing Editor, Economic Problems of War (Wiley)
President, American Marketing Association
Chief of General Statistics Staff, War Production Board
Associate Director of Research, JWT New York
Consultant, House Special Committee on Postwar Economic Policy and Planning
Marketing Handbook (Ronald Press)
President, Traffic Audit Bureau
President, Marketing Research Council
Vice President, JWT
The U.S.A. Market for Overseas Goods (with Samuel W. Meek; J. Walter Thompson Company. Revised in 1955)
Editor, Population and Its Distribution (McGraw-Hill)
Retired with the rank of Major, Field Artillery, Officer Reserve Corps, U.S. Army
Member, U.S. Trade Mission to Japan
Latin American Markets (McGraw-Hill)
Consultant, Office of International Trade Fairs, Dept. of Commerce
Western European Markets (McGraw-Hill)
Vice President and Economist, JWT
Retired from JWT
Professor of Marketing, Graduate School of Business Administration, Michigan State University
Consultant, Escola de Administracao de Empresas de Sao Paulo, Brazil; USAID program between Michigan State University and the Fundacao Getalio Vargas
Professor of Marketing, Graduate School of Marketing, Columbia University
The Teaching of Advertising at the Graduate Level (with John Crawford; Columbia Graduate School of Business)
Visiting Professor, University of Buenos Aires
Retired as Professor Emeritus, Columbia University
Died, Washington, D.C.
In addition, Reed held memberships in several trade and government advising organizations: Advertising Club of New York; American Marketing Association; American Statistical Association (Life Member); Census Advisory Committee; Marketing Research Council; National Distribution Council of the Secretary of Commerce; Population Association of America; Traffic Audit Bureau; and the Travel Advisory Council of the Secretary of Commerce. Reed won numerous awards, including: Marketing Hall of Fame, Boston Conference on Distribution; Distinguished Alumni Service Award, Indiana University; Honorary Member, Alpha Delta Sigma (Vergil D. Reed Chapter), Indiana University; and Trustee, Riverside Church of New York, N.Y.
Lubertus Smilde biographical note: Known among JWT colleagues as “Lou.” Born circa 1906 in Brussels, of Dutch parents. Smilde joined the Market Research Department of JWT's Antwerp Office in 1929 following his graduation from the Rotterdam School of Economics. In 1937, Smilde joined the Netherlands Department of Commerce, but soon became involved with the Dutch resistance movement during the German occupation of Holland during WW II. During the war, Smilde was captured twice by German forces, and escaped both times. Following the war he rejoined the Netherlands Department of Commerce and served as Director of Trade Promotion in New York from 1946 to 1952. Smilde returned to JWT in the New York Office in 1954, and worked on the World Markets series of studies. In 1958, Vergil Reed recommended Smilde succeed him as Director of Research. Smilde died in 1964 a few months after retiring from JWT.
Other collections within the JWT Archives contain materials related to the Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde Papers. These include Writings and Speeches, which contain a number of Reed's papers and speeches as well as those by Smilde; the Edward G. Wilson Papers; and the Shirley F. Woodell Papers. The Biographical Information files contain folders for both Reed and Smilde.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- J. Walter Thompson Company. New York Office
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- Johnson, Arno H. (Arno Hallock), 1901-
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
- Meek, Samuel W. (Samuel Williams), 1895-
- Reed, Vergil D. (Vergil Daniel), b. 1896
- Strouse, Norman H.
- Smilde, Lubertus
The Vergil D. Reed and Lubertus Smilde Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a transfer in 1987.
Processed by Richard Collier, March 2009
Processing was supported in part by gifts from the J. Walter Thompson Company Fund and the John and Kelly Hartman Foundation.
Encoded by Richard Collier, March 2009
Accession 791102 is described in this finding aid.