J. Walter Thompson Company. Colin Dawkins papers, 1776-1986

Navigate the Collection

Using These Materials Teaser

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Access to portions of The Colin Dawkins Papers is restricted. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. All or portions of this collection may...
More about accessing and using these materials...


J. Walter Thompson Company
7.9 Linear Feet
circa 3,800 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Colin Dawkins, a former Vice President of the J. Walter Thompson (JWT) advertising agency, span the years 1776 to 1986 with the bulk of the papers being dated between 1920 and 1981. The collection consists of Dawkins's research files, gathered for a proposed book on the history of the advertising business as it paralleled and was influenced by the growth and international development of JWT. These files contain correspondence, printed materials (including JWT newsletters), articles, clippings, speeches, writings, advertisements, reports, oral interview transcripts and cassette tapes. Clients represented in this collection include primarily the Ford Motor Company but also Kraft, Chesebrough-Ponds, Pan American, and Lever Brothers, and JWT executives represented include James Walter Thompson, Stanley Resor, Howard Kohl, Sam Meek, Helen Lansdowne Resor, Edward G. Wilson, Shirley Woodell, James Webb Young, and Dan Seymour. Much of the collection duplicates material found elsewhere in the extensive J. Walter Thompson Company Archives and many items are photocopies; however, the collection does contain unique material specifically in the Oral Interview Series and items thoughout the collection which Colin Dawkins collected.

In October 1978, Dawkins began his advertising history project. During the next two years, he wrote to “JWT vets” requesting information about people and places, letters and memos, excerpts from speeches, artifacts, advertisements, pictures, and information on JWT offices.

The Officers and Staff Series contains information by and about key personalities who contributed to the development of the J. Walter Thompson Company. The JWT employees represent the majority of the company's departments: broadcast, research, creative, international, publicity and public relations, and the executive administration. Especially well-documented individuals include Gelston Hardy, Kennett Hinks, Howard Kohl, Sam Meek, John Monsarrat, Helen Lansdowne Resor, Stanley Resor, Dan Seymour, Norman H. Strouse, James Walter Thompson, Edward G. Wilson, Shirley Woodell, and James Webb Young.

The Clients Series consists of background information on a limited number of major and minor JWT clients, including Kraft, Pan American, Chesebrough-Ponds, Lever Brothers, and Ford Motor Company. Dawkins worked for many years on the Ford account, for which there is extensive information in this series. The Ford files document the 1957 “Around the World” campaign, international campaigns, background information on campaigns for Mustang and Maverick models, the history of JWT's relationship with Ford, presentations made to Ford, and Ford firsts in advertising.

The Alphabetical Files Series is the largest series in the collection. The majority of information focuses on JWT through short company histories, the establishment and growth of departments (such as Broadcast and Radio), and both domestic and international offices, especially New York and London. The Alphabetical Files Series also documents JWT's innovations in the advertising business in the use of market research, testimonials, and women's perspective in advertising. The series contains some information about other advertising agencies in particular Batten, Barton, Durstine, Osborn; Lord & Thomas; Foote, Cone & Belding; and N. W. Ayer. Other topics in this series include general advertising history and economic comparisons of advertising agencies. Dawkins's research notes and correspondence files he kept for his advertising history project are in this series also.

Dawkins travelled to visit key officers and staff members and recorded and transcribed their conversations. The cassettes and transcripts from these interviews are in the Oral Interview Series in both the Audio Subseries and the Transcripts Subseries. They provide personal insights into the history of the J. Walter Thompson Company.

After three years of researching, Dawkins set out to write a history of advertising focussing on the J. Walter Thompson Company. The resulting text, entitled “Ain't It Hell On A Windy Day” was not published. The manuscript copy is in the Writings Series and is CLOSED except to the members of the J. Walter Thompson Company.

The Advertisements Series is filed with the Oversize Material and contains the advertisements associated with specific Officers and Staff, Clients, and files in the Alphabetical Files. Also in this series are advertisements from Dawkins's Advertisement Portfolio.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1922, Sept. 8
Born on an Indian reservation near Tulsa, Oklahoma
Grew up in New York City, where he studied art and planned to be a portrait painter
1943, March - Sept.
Worked with WABC radio's wartime all-night record operation
1943, Sept. 10 - 1946, Mar. 8
In the Air Corps; advanced from private to corporal; worked in public relations and on corps newspapers
Began his 34 year career at the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT) as a mailroom messenger in the New York office. He shortly thereafter advanced to be a market research clerk.
1949, Jan.
Appointed Junior Copywriter, assistant to Larry D'Aloise at JWT
1949, Sept. - 1951, Feb.
Assigned to JWT-London's copy group; first American to join the London office after the WWII hiatus; worked on Pan American and Parker Pen accounts
1950, Dec.
Started JWT/BMRB (British Market Research Bureau) News, renamed Round the Square, the London office's house publication
ca. 1950
Married Patricia Horan, an American who worked in the London office's Art Department
Returned to New York Office
1952, April - 1953, Mar.
Worked in Montreal office on Barrett and Dominion Glass accounts
Rejoined New York office, writing on a variety of accounts including Ford international, Mosler Safe Co., Blue Cross, and J B. Williams
Worked on Ford account
1962-ca. 1978
Principal assignments consisted of Ford-Ford Division Magazine, Outdoor, Advance Projects and International
Named a Vice President
1972, Oct.
Sent to Paris office as Creative Director
Proposed writing a history of JWT which he worked on for several years as a part-time JWT employee
Retired from J. Walter Thompson Company
1986 November 27
Died in Pennsylvania
Acquisition information:
The Colin Dawkins Papers 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.
Processing information:

Processed by: Katherine Hufstetler, Janie Morris, Phoebe Evans, Charn Reid

Completed June, 1996

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Access to portions of The Colin Dawkins Papers is restricted.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.

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

Terms of access:

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.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], J. Walter Thompson Company. Colin Dawkins Papers, 1776-1986. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.