Paris Cleveland Gardner papers, 1834-1976 5.4 Linear Feet — 3,156 Items
The papers of Paris Cleveland Gardner span the years 1834 to 1976, though they fall chiefly in the period 1920 to 1951. They consist of correspondence, legal papers, case files, printed matter, and clippings.
Included are some papers relating to Gardner's personal life and affairs in Cleveland County, N.C., and in Oklahoma. Of particular interest is correspondence relating to local, state, and national Democratic Party politics and elections in North Carolina in the 1920s and 1930s. Correspondents of note in this group include Richard Fountain, O. Max Gardner, and Robert R. Reynolds. Also present are some case files relating to Gardner's private legal practice, including the 1917 case of Leroy Cowthen, a member of the International Workers of the World (I.W.W.) who was being harassed; the investigation of the Humphreys family claims to the title of a profitable oil field near Beaumont, Tex.; and a file on the Shelby (N.C.) Building and Loan Association. Also included in a file of miscellaneous material is some genealogical material on the Harman family.
By far the bulk of the papers are represented by the Federal Trade Commission files. As an attorney-examiner with the F.T.C. between 1941 and 1962, Gardner worked with cases involving alleged deceptive advertising practices in the print media and radio. The individual files contain factual summaries of evidence in each case as well as occasional recommendations for action.
While the files here probably do not represent a complete record of Gardner's work with the F.T.C., they do provide ample illustration of the methods and practices of the government as it attempted to regulate false and misleading advertising.
Most of the cases represented in these files went through the office of Gardner's superior, D. B. Gatling, who was Chief of the Division of Radio and Periodical Advertising. The F.T.C. files in the so-called "Packets" and Alphabetical Files contain documentation regarding routine complaints about mostly small proprietary companies, though there are exceptions - most notably, the series of files on the American Tobacco Company, relating principally to misuse and distortions of testimonials from tobacco buyers and smokers in advertising. For the most part, the cases in these files rarely went beyond the preliminary stages of investigation. The "Secondary Review Files" are generally more substantive, representing cases on which some sort of action was taken. Also included are some of Gardner's personnel files from the F.T.C. While the reason for their inclusion with the case files is not altogether clear, the original order and contents of these files has been maintained nevertheless.