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Sworn statement of co-founder of Consumers Union, Colson Warne, 18 April 1953
Colston Warne's affidavit to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1953.  Consumer Reports Archives, Colston Warne Papers.

Below is a list of personal papers and departmental, divisional, and unit records from the founding of the organization.  Collections include members of the Board of Directors, Directors and Assistants to the Director, Legal Counsels, and Treasurers, and the departments of Film, Education, and Public Information.  The list is a sampling of collections in this category and does not represent the full extent of collections available in the Consumer Reports Archives. 

Personal Papers


  • Arthur Kallet Papers:  Engineer, leading consumer advocate, and co-founder of Consumers Union. The Consumer Reports Arthur Kallet papers include clippings, tear sheets, correspondence, pamphlets, meeting minutes, book chapter manuscripts, reports, and other printed materials that document Kallet's career in consumer advocacy groups including Consumers' Research and Consumers Union.
  • Colston Warne Papers:  Economist and consumer advocate who served as the first President of Consumers Union from its formation in 1936 until his retirement in 1980. The Consumer Reports Colston E. Warne papers include correspondence, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, manuscripts and texts of articles and speeches, reports, and other printed materials. 
  • Frances Warne Papers:  Author, consumer advocate, instructor of home economics and consumer education, and co-founder of Consumers Union.  The Frances Warne papers include clippings correspondence book manuscripts, course notes and other printed material.  A bulk of the collection pertains to "Wise Buymanship," a home economics and consumer education manual produced for the YMCA. 


  • A.J. Isserman Papers:  Labor lawyer, counsel of the ACLU during the 1930s, and one of the original members of the Board of Directors of Consumers Union.  The collection includes correspondence, clippings, court briefs and depositions, photographs, and other material relating to his work in civil rights and labor law.  Topics include labor union activities, civil liberties, communist influence investigations into Un-American activities, deportation and disbarment of lawyers.
  • Paul Kern Papers: Legal Counsel and member of the Board of Directors of Consumers Union in the 1940s-1950s.  Collection includes clippings correspondence, legal documents, pamphlets and other printed material documenting primarily Kern's work as legal counsel.  Topics include copyright infringement and fair use of Consumers Union intellectual property, censorship by the Post Office of Consumers Union publications on contraception and sexual health; and labor relations and union negotiations among many others.
  • Persia Campbell Papers:  Economist, author, consumer interests advisor, and a member of the Consumers Union Board of Directors.  Collection includes clippings, conference proceedings, correspondence and memoranda, legislative materials, speeches, and print material.  Topics include consumer credit, the environment, fraud and misrepresentation, health care, poverty, and price and economic stability during the Depression and World War II.  A number of organizations and institutions are also represented in the collection.
  • Robert L. Smith Papers:  Consumer advocate who served as Assistant Director of Consumers Union from 1963-1971.  The collection largely spans his tenure as Director, along with files inherited from his predecessors.  Includes correspondence, meeting minutes, grant applications and other records; materials relating to state and regional consumer organizations, records of educational and social outreach programs, and other printed materials.
  • Warren Braren Papers: Consumer advocate and broadcasting executive who served as Associate Director at Consumers Union from 1971-1980.  Collection includes budget reports; correspondence and memoranda; direct marketing materials; grant applications and related materials; mailing lists; statistics; and other printed material that document Braren's career at Consumers Union. Topics include advertising to children; broadcasting; cable/pay television and deregulation; fundraising; and telephone service providers.
  • Rhoda Karpatkin Papers: Lawyer and consumer advocate who served as Director of Consumers Union from 1974 until her retirement in 2001.  Topics include the Bhopal gas disaster; communism and the anti-communist movement during the Cold War; consumer protection; drug export controls; economic and human rights; environmental justice and policy protections; history of Consumers Union; sustainable consumption; tobacco use and passive health hazards; and transnationalism and international businesses 
  • Edward Reich Papers:  Educator and consumer advocate who served as Board Member (1943-1973), Vice President (1958-1961) and Treasurer (1961- 1973) of Consumers Union.  Collection consists of correspondence bibliographies, reports and teaching guides relating to his service with the New York City Board of Education's consumer education program.


  • Board of Directors Records: Records include correspondence, meeting minutes, clippings, financial and status reports, pamphlets and other printed materials. Topics include general operations, Board memberships and resignations; budgets and financial performance, building maintenance and facility site planning; Consumers Union mission and philosophy; litigation; personnel and pension policies; publication and subscription status; research and technical activities.

Departmental Records

The list below is a sampling of professional papers and records representing the work of Departments, Divisions, Units, and Offices within Consumer Reports and the Consumer Reports Archives.  

Personal Papers

  • Edward M. Brecher Papers: Journalist and free-lance science writer who served as Associate Editor of Consumer Reports publications in the 1940s-1950s. The Edward M. Brecher papers include clippings, correspondence, drafts of articles, research notes and other printed materials relating to some of Brecher's writing projects including articles co-written with Ruth Brecher. Topics represented include consumer education and protection, nursing home care, health and legal aspects of smoking, and urban transportation systems.
  • Irving Michelson Papers: Chemist who directed the Special Projects and Public Service Projects departments during the 1950s-1960s. The Irving Michelson papers include clippings, correspondence, reprints of articles, research data, questionnaires, reports and other printed materials. Topics include air pollution, cigarette testing, economics, nuclear radiation and fallout, packaging standards, and seat belt design and testing. Much of the research discussed in the papers was conducted in Connecticut. 
  • Morris Kaplan Papers: Chemist who served as Technical Director of Consumers Union from 1946 until his death in 1971. The Morris Kaplan papers include correspondence, articles, laboratory and research reports, speeches and other printed materials. Topics include automotive safety, cigarettes, food safety, government regulations, motor oil, quality control, safety standards, testing methods and textile labeling. 
  • Monte Florman Papers: Engineer who spent most of his professional career with Consumers Union and served as Technical Director during the 1970s. The Monte Florman papers include correspondence, memos, meeting minutes, publications, research reports and other materials. Topics addressed include automotive safety, lawn mower standards, microwave ovens, nitrates and nitrites, radiation and office safety.
  • George Arthur Papers: Executive Design Director for the organization. The George Arthur papers include correspondence, design manuals, graphic design examples, organizational proposals and reports and other printed materials 

Departmental Records

  • Consumer Reports Books Records: Consumer Reports Books is responsible for publishing buyers' guides and other subject-based books relating to consumer education and public interest issues. The Consumer Reports Books records include catalogs of offerings; correspondence relating to various publications; requests for reprints; drafts of book projects and other printed materials. 
  • Editorial Department Records: The Editorial Department is responsible for the production of the organization's serial publications and promotional literature. The Editorial Department records include biographical information, corporate anniversary planning documents, correspondence, publication drafts, research and investigative materials, texts of speeches and testimonies, and other printed materials.
  • Educational Services Division Records: The Educational Services Division was primarily responsible for producing consumer education materials especially for children and young adults. The Educational Services Division records include: Board reports; classroom teaching plans; correspondence and memoranda; governmental and non-governmental agency reports and publications; and other printed materials. The collection also includes materials relating to some of the Division directors (Charlotte Braecher, David Schoenfeld, James Mendenhall) as well as Consumer Union's National Educational Advisory Committee which oversaw the Division's activities. 
  • Film and Broadcast Records: The Film Division and Television Department produced educational films and television programming on a range of topics relating to consumer advice and protection, including household appliances, personal finance, food, health, and safety hazards. Collection includes clippings, contracts, correspondence, press releases, reports, scripts and other printed materials.
  • Marketing and Circulation Records: Marketing and Circulation records include budget reports, clippings, correspondence, mailings, planning and research reports and other printed materials that document Consumers Union's efforts to promote its publications primarily through direct-to-consumer advertising, subscription, and subscription renewal campaigns. 
  • Office of Public Information Records: The Office of Public Information was established for public and media relations functions. Collection includes clippings, correspondence, memoranda, newsletters, pamphlets, photographs, press releases, reports, reprints of articles and other printed materials relating to the Office's public relations and media activities. Topics and events covered in the materials include: consumer credit and financial management; Consumers Union history and anniversaries; the consumer and cooperative movements; food packaging and safety; household appliances; medical and health care; product safety; and sport utility vehicle rollover tests.
  • Staff Information Services Records: Staff Information Services was a joint activity between the Consumers Union Library and the Survey Research Division to centralize information resources for Consumers Union staff. The Staff Information Services records include: brochures; color photographs; correspondence; database records; informational indexes; newsletters; policy statements; product reviews; reader survey questionnaires and data; statistics and other printed materials that document the functions and activities of the organizational unit. The collection also includes a sampling of historical materials relating to the consumer movement.