J. Walter Thompson Company. John F. Devine papers, 1952-1974 and undated, bulk 1956-1970

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J. Walter Thompson Company
22.2 Linear Feet
13,875 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The J. Walter Thompson Company. John F. Devine Papers span the years from 1952 to 1974 but primarily contain files from 1956 to 1970 documenting Devine's activities first as administrator of the Radio/Television Department (1954 to 1960) and then as a corporate executive in the New York office (1960 to 1970). As a whole, the collection provides a glimpse into media advertising operations during the period of transition from radio to television as the dominant medium for product-sponsored advertising and programming. In particular, the papers reveal Devine as an adept financial manager on the corporate level. As Department administrator, Devine was responsible for the development of television programming for specific clients, including Eastman Kodak Company (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Screen Directors Playhouse, and The Ed Sullivan Show), Ford Motor Company (Ford Theatre, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Suspicion), Kraft Foods Company (Kraft Television Theatre), and Lever Brothers Company (The Lux Show Starring Rosemary Clooney and Lux Video Theatre), among others. Correspondence, memoranda, and reports indicate the rapid acceptance of television as the primary advertising medium and the concurrent development of specialized departments within JWT to serve the expanding needs of clients. The importance of market research to define product consumption patterns and to refine client advertising promotions is illustrated in research requests, correspondence, memoranda, and reports. The inception and growth of organized labor groups, including the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA), American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and Writers Guild of America (WGA), are also delineated in correspondence, memoranda, and reports. In addition to his employment at JWT, Devine was an advertising industry representative to negotiations between television networks and organized labor groups during the period from 1956 to 1960.

After Devine moved to corporate administration in 1961, he dealt with larger corporate issues rather than specific client matters. Administrative files from this period in the collection include documentation of corporate policy, financial charts and projections, client research projects, correspondence and reports from various JWT offices in the United States and Canada addressing a range of issues, such as policies regarding employment of minorities, fiscal accounting, management techniques, and development of new advertising services. There is no material in this collection reflecting Devine's early career in the JWT Legal Department or life after retirement in 1974.

The collection is arranged into three series: the Radio/Television Department Series, the Corporate Administration Series (Restricted), and the Personnel Series (Restricted). Large-format items from the Radio/Television Department Series and the Corporate Administration Series (Restricted) have been relocated to Oversize Materials.

The Radio/Television Department Series includes materials pertaining to department organization and administration; advertising campaigns and television programming sponsored by or produced for specific clients; development of television production facilities; advertising research; and the television networks. Clients with the largest amount of program-specific information include Eastman Kodak Company, Ford Motor Company, Kraft Foods Company, and Lever Brothers Company. Correspondence, memoranda, production reports, and reports relating to specific clients and programming are primarily concentrated in the Client Subseries of the Radio/Television Series, but references to some clients can be found in the Office Files Subseries of the Corporate Administration Series (Restricted).

The Corporate Administration Series (Restricted) contains those office files that generally address broader JWT corporate issues. Devine was particularly involved in efforts to reduce JWT cost expenditures and increase corporate profits, and there are numerous files relating to employee compensation, capital expenditures, financial analysis, and client research projects. The research requests include detailed information about the proposed research, its purpose, methodology, and cost and expense projections. Minority relations, both in employment of minorities by advertising agencies and participation of minorities in television programs and commercials, are also documented in both the Offices and Office Files subseries through a variety of corporate and governmental correspondence, charts, and reports. Devine's records from the Review Board meetings from 1953 to 1955 included in this series are generally not found in other JWT collections. Some of the clients included are Ballantine, National Broadcasting Company, and Radio Corporation of America.

The Personnel Series (Restricted) includes correspondence, memoranda, charts, tables, and notes relating to applicants and current and former JWT employees.

Related materials may be found in other collections within the J. Walter Thompson Archives, including the Sidney Ralph Bernstein Company History Files, the Colin Dawkins Papers, and the Review Board Records.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1916 Oct. 18
Born, New York, N.Y.
Graduated, Horace Mann School for Boys (Riverdale, N.Y.)
PhB (Bachelor of Philosophy), College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Mass.)
LLB, Columbia Law School (N.Y.); entered private practice (New York, N.Y.)
Joined U.S. Navy Reserve with rank of Ensign
Discharged from Navy Reserve at rank of Lieutenant
Joined J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT) legal department
Review Board Executive at JWT
Chairman, Committee for Radio and Television Administration, American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA)
Vice-President, JWT Radio and Television Department
Consultant to the Committee for Radio and Television Administration, AAAA
General Counsel, JWT
Trustee of JWT Profit-Sharing Trust
Director, National Better Business Bureaus
Vice-President of Administration, JWT
JWT Board of Directors and Executive Committee member
Executive Vice-President of Corporate Administration, JWT
Chairman of JWT-Affiliated Companies
Retired from JWT
Senior consultant to JWT
1983 Oct. 26
Died, Port Chester, N.Y.
Acquisition information:
The J. Walter Thompson Company. John F. Devine Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a transfer in 1987.
Processing information:

Re-processed by Barbara Heck

Encoded by Barbara Heck

Last updated August 3, 2005

Originally processed by Richard Collier, Kate Crassons, Lisa Stark

Processing of this collection was supported in part by gifts from the J. Walter Thompson Company Fund and the John and Kelly Hartman Foundation.

JWT Accessions 790807, 790809, 791026, 810422, 821110, 821202, 830203, 830516, 830803, and 831019 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

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


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The Corporate Administration Series and Personnel Series are restricted.

In addition, patrons must sign the Acknowledgement of Legal Responsibility and Privacy Rights form 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.

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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], J. Walter Thompson Company. John F. Devine Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.