Guide to the J. Walter Thompson Company. Treasurer's Office Records, 1928-1952
Treasurer's Office Records span the years from 1928-1952, although the bulk of the material dates from 1928 to the 1940s. The collection documents the financial operations of JWT offices around the world and to a lesser extent in the United States. The materials consist of correspondence, financial records, and legal documents relating to the activities of JWT's Treasurer's Office. Correspondents include Earle Clark (Treasurer, 1921-39), Donald C. Foote, (Assistant Treasurer in charge of accounting and budgeting in JWT's international operations, 1937-52), Luther O. Lemon (Assistant Treasurer and Comptroller, 1937-46; Treasurer, 1946-57), and Sam Meek (Vice President in charge of International Operations 1930-64); senior staff members in domestic and international offices; JWT's legal counsel; and representatives from numerous financial institutions. Multinational clients represented in the International Offices Series are the Eastman Kodak Company, the Kellogg Company, the Gillette Company, RCA, and Reader's Digest. International offices well-documented include those in Antwerp, Berlin, Bombay, Bucharest, London, and Mexico City. Records for many of JWT's offices are not included in the Treasurer's Office Records, which indicates that the files in their present form may be incomplete.
The Domestic Offices Series focuses particularly on the New York, Detroit, and San Francisco offices. In addition to documenting routine matters relating to budgets, billing, and salaries, the records include material relating to the regulation of testimonial advertising by the Federal Trade Commission in 1929-1930.
The International Offices Series documents the complex relationship between the New York office and the several foreign offices of the company, especially offices in Antwerp, Berlin, Bombay, Bucharest, London, and Mexico City. A primary focus of the series is the legal and financial difficulties JWT faced as it attempted to expand abroad during a time of rising nationalism in many of the countries in which the company had offices. The impact of World War II on JWT especially the Bombay and Paris offices is documented, as well as the impact of the 1947 partition of India on JWT operations in India. The files also document JWT's efforts in the 1930s to develop radio advertising in Mexico, Belgium, and England. The series is divided into the following subseries: JWT International Corporation, Antwerp Office, Berlin Office, Bombay Office, Bucharest Office, London Office, and Mexico City Office.
- Collection Number
- J. Walter Thompson Company. Treasurer's Office records
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- 4 Linear Feet, circa 3,000 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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The copyright interests in the J. Walter Thompson Company. Treasurer's Office Records 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.
Chiefly contains the correspondence of JWT Treasurer's Office staff (especially Earle Clark and Luther O. Lemon) with company personnel in other domestic offices, legal counsel, and banking representatives. The series also includes legal documents, memoranda, financial reports, and board meeting minutes. The contents are arranged in alphabetical order by subject, with the subjects falling into three broad categories: files relating to the JWT Advertising Corporation, files relating to JWT domestic offices other than the New York Office, and files relating to general financial matters.
The JWT Advertising Corporation was a subsidiary of the JWT Company established in 1931 at One Wall Street, New York City, New York, at least partly to facilitate the company's work for clients located in Manhattan's financial district. These files include corporate documents such as minutes, office leases, profit and loss sheets, billings, and tax returns.
Treasurer's Office files for offices outside New York relate chiefly to San Francisco and Detroit, with the bulk addressing routine questions relating to office expenditures, overhead charges, and billing procedures. These files also contain a memorandum from W. F. Howard to Norman H. Strouse (8-31-49, in “Detroit Office” folder) presenting a detailed case for the installation of air conditioning in the Detroit offices. Records for the payment of several thousands of dollars in club fees for Detroit's managerial staff can be found in the Detroit Office file in the years 1947-1948. Several letters discuss how to handle requests for charitable contributions (Luther O. Lemon to Thelma Hardy, 6-13-49, and Luther O. Lemon to Fred Fidler, 6-17-49, both in the San Francisco Office file; W. F. Howard to Henry C. Flower, 5-25-50, and Norman F. Strouse to Luther O. Lemon, 10-17-50, both in the Detroit Office file; see also “Subscriptions” and “Veterans Guidance in Advertising” ).
Files relating to general financial matters contain documents on a wide variety of topics of interest to the Treasurer's Office. Several folders, for example, are devoted to limiting particular kinds of corporate expenses, such as telegrams and telephone calls. One folder contains information on the New York Disability Benefits Law of 1949 and the company's efforts to comply with the new regulations, while another folder contains documents discussing the Federal Trade Commission's restrictions on the use of testimonials, or “personality advertising.” Yet another folder, titled “Unions,” contains a published report from the New York Department of Labor ( 1942) determining a minimum recommended salary for women employees, along with an itemized budget that supports the Department's recommendations.
The subseries are arranged in alphabetical order by the cities in which JWT's international offices were located--with the exception of the first subseries, JWT International Corporation, which contains documents relating to the founding of the subsidiary that comprised all foreign operations.
The principal correspondents in Antwerp were Edward E. Pratt, L.R. Deke Coleman, J. H. Cerny, and Rene -P. Jeanneret. The Antwerp file also contains correspondence between Donald Foote and managers of offices in Paris, Amsterdam, and the Hague. Several issues addressed in the correspondence indicate the challenges JWT faced in their overseas operations. For example, an exchange between Donald Foote and J. H. Cerny discusses the financial issues involved in expanding into radio advertising in Antwerp ( 12-5-34, 1-4-35). Also, Jeanneret commented to Foote ( 6-25-35) about the objections Catholic papers raised against advertisements--particularly one that depicted women models wearing pants and exposing navel and thighs. During World War II, Jeanneret and Coleman reported to Sam Meek on conditions in occupied France ( 7-19-40 and 9-10-40).
Fritz Solm served as head of Berlin operations, and the Berlin office files record the communications among Solm (in Berlin), L. R. Coleman and Henry C. Flower (in Paris), Paul Leverkuehn (Berlin legal counsel), Donald Foote (in New York) and F. C. Wallace (representative of Guaranty Trust Company in New York). In 1934 Solm agreed to purchase control of the Berlin office, and the bulk of the material concerns that agreement. Delays in the payment process prompted L.R. “Deke” Coleman to make some colorful and disparaging remarks about his dealings with Germans (in letters to Foote, 11-7-38 and 11-24-38). The same letters contain vague references to blackmail in Solm's dealings with German tax authorities, and to Solm's fears that unspecified activities in the New York office could land him in prison.
The correspondence chiefly concerns JWT's sale of its Bucharest office to local manager, Hratchia Paniguian. JWT's insistence upon payment in United States dollars complicated the transaction because it entailed the violation of Romanian law concerning currency exchange. Also, one of Paniguian's employees, Andre B. Kalman, was forced to leave Romania because of growing anti-Jewish sentiment, and JWT helped to arrange his safe passage (L.R. Coleman's letter to Foote 1-4-38, and the file titled “International Travel,” 1940-1941).
These files record the opening of the Mexico City office in 1943 under the management of John Kuneau. After three consecutive years of financial losses, he was replaced by Donaldson Thorburn. Kuneau's letters to New York include frequent discussions of international clients such as Gillette, Kellogg's, RCA, and Reader's Digest. Two letters to Foote ( 1-29-44 and 5-10-45) provide profiles of the members of the Mexico City staff, along with comments about economic conditions, client accounts, and advertising strategies (with special attention to radio programs and contests). A letter from Don E. Widlundth to Donaldson Thorburn ( 5-2-46) discusses an experimental run of six one-minute Reader's Digest films. A small glimpse into JWT's corporate culture may be gained from a handwritten letter by a Mrs. Bill Taylor to Sam Meek ( 11-22-47), detailing the hardships her family faced when her husband unexpectedly lost his job in Mexico City. Her outcry prompted JWT to send the family four hundred dollars as compensation for some of their expenses.
- Advertising agencies
- Advertising agencies -- Belgium
- Advertising agencies -- United States
- Advertising agencies -- India
- Advertising agencies -- Germany
- Advertising agencies -- Great Britain
- Advertising agencies -- Romania
- Advertising agencies -- Mexico
- Clark, Earle
- Eastman Kodak Company
- Foote, Donald C.
- Gillette Company
- International business enterprises -- Finance
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- J. Walter Thompson Company
- John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
- Kellogg Company
- Lemon, Luther O.
- Meek, Samuel W. (Samuel Williams), 1895-
- Reader's Digest Association
- RCA Corporation
J. Walter Thompson Company. Treasurer's Office Records were transferred to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library from the J. Walter Thompson Company in 1987. Processing of this collection was supported in part by gifts from the J. Walter Thompson Company Fund and the John and Kelly Hartman Foundation.
Processed by: Dave Daily
Completed December 1994
Encoded by Katherine Rose