J. Walter Thompson Company. Howard Henderson papers, 1867-1978

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J. Walter Thompson Company
4.8 Linear Feet
circa 3,300 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Howard Henderson, a J. Walter Thompson Co. advertising executive, span the years 1867 to 1978, although the bulk of the material dates from 1954 to 1960. The collection documents the history of the J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT). In particular it illustrates changes in the company's advertising philosophy through 1960; JWT's marketing strategies (especially the use of new findings in the fields of psychology, sociology, and anthropology); historical company and client relationships; structural relations and internal policies; analyses of advertising media; the company's adaptation to the changed business situation during World War II; and the career of Henderson and his deep personal involvement with clients, colleagues, and contacts outside of advertising. The material consists of correspondence, office files, memoranda, notes, account histories, advertisements, reports, charts, scripts, clippings, and printed materials. Clients represented include Andrew Jergens, Chesebrough-Pond's (1930s and 1940s especially), Eastman Kodak International, General Cigar, U.S. Playing Card Company (1930s and 1940s especially), NATO, Union Central Life Insurance, Arbuckle, U.S. Brewers Foundation, and Standard Brands (Fleischmann Yeast).

The Correspondence Series contains an extensive collection of letters relating to both personal and business matters. Most of the correspondents have some connection to JWT, either as employees or as clients, and they include William Groom, Axel Hornos, Arno Johnson, Stanley Resor, Norman Strouse, James Webb Young, and John B. Watson. The correspondence discloses reservations about the expansion of consumer culture and advertising's role in it in the late 1950s; discusses advertising as a vehicle for public benefit;, and evaluates new market strategies.

The Clients Series contains material on accounts that Henderson worked on and illustrates the special interest he took in his clients' success. Especially well-documented clients include the Chesebrough-Pond's, U.S. Playing Card Company, General Cigar, and Union Central Life Insurance Company accounts. This series documents JWT's client relationships, the clients' products, specific campaigns, and JWT's methods of acquiring new clients.

The large Special Projects Series comprises files that Henderson created when he began working for JWT half-time and mostly out of his home. Because of the diverse nature of these files, the series is organized into eight subseries. The first of these is the J. Walter Thompson Company Study Subseries, which contains the research materials Henderson collected for a study and survey of JWT's history. Henderson originally designed his study to acquaint JWT employees with the roots of the company and to pinpoint the sources of its basic strengths; however, it evolved to include practical answers to specific conceptual and organizational issues. Other well-documented topics include JWT's use of case studies; N. W. Ayer and Son advertising agency; advertising strategies in the 1940s; development of the JWT Consumer Panel; concerns with house advertising; information on the New York Office, Detroit Office, and London Office; and London's Rowntree account. Also included in this subseries are cables and letters that discuss sending the London Office staff members' children to the US during the bombing in 1940. The Case History Project Subseries complements the J. Walter Thompson Company Study Subseries and includes copies of resulting case histories and some source materials for the histories. Accounts studied for this project include Pan American Airlines, Chesebrough-Ponds, Foundation for Commercial Banks, General Cigar Company, Standard Brands, U.S. Brewers Foundation, U.S. Playing Card Co., and various coffee and tea accounts. The case histories detail successful strategies that Stanley Resor and Henderson hoped would prove effective also for other accounts.

The Eastman Kodak International Advertising Subseries in the Special Projects Series consists of materials generated during Henderson's business trip to research improvements for the international Kodak campaign. Henderson also used this trip to investigate prospects for securing individual European Kodak accounts for JWT's international offices. The subseries includes business correspondence relating to the trip, personal correspondence with Eastman Kodak personnel, and an Eastman Kodak clippings file. A report on his trip to Europe documents company thinking on the need to coordinate and to unify Kodak advertising in all of Western Europe. The Copy Seminar Study Subseries contains materials Henderson generated while investigating the effectiveness of JWT's Copy Seminar. JWT's Copy Seminar was designed to teach staff members about copy writing. Briefly covered in the series is the existence of a Women's Copy Study Group designed specifically to promote copy writing talent among the company's women staff. The subseries includes Henderson's findings and recommendations along with memoranda relating to the purpose and process of the study. The Personnel Department Subseries provides insight into J. Walter Thompson's recruiting and hiring philosophy, especially as it regards gender. The material highlights J. Walter Thompson's early recognition of the importance of women's contributions to advertising. In general, the material collected in this series emphasizes the company's desire to attract the best talent from the country's colleges, shows the intense competition for the few openings each year at J. Walter Thompson, and documents contemporary recruiting policy.

The Trade and Technical Department Study Subseries of the Special Projects Series consists of material on finances, statistics, organization, and policies of the Department. The primary orientation of the materials is toward improving the effectiveness of the Department. The comparatively low percentage of advertising to the retail trade and ways to increase the company's profits in this area are also revealed in this subseries. The International Offices and Special Assignments for Sam Meek Subseries covers a variety of subjects, most of which are related to J. Walter Thompson's international operations during the time Sam Meek headed the International Division. Subjects include taxes on national and international advertising, the use of television advertising overseas, international visitors to the New York Office, international offices' policy letters, advertising for NATO, fund raising for Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies, information on a campaign for the Citizens' Committee to Keep N.Y.C. Clean, and JWT's research procedures and general policy letters. The New Business Presentations Subseries contains material on the company's administrative and departmental structure and provides insight into JWT's procedures for securing new accounts.

The Cincinnati Office Series documents the early activities of the JWT office as well as Henderson's transfer to the New York Office and his appointment as Vice President.

The Clippings Series relates to JWT, its employees and clients, and indicates how thoroughly Henderson involved himself with the life of the company.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1895 July 16
Born in Hingham, Mass.
Received AB from Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass.
Discharged at end of the war.
Served in the US Naval Reserve Force as Yeoman First Class.
Joined Charles Scribner and Sons as a bill collector
Joined the Charity Organization Society of New York City as a case worker.
1919 Sept. - 1920 June
Was a Graduate student at Harvard Divinity School
Taught English at Purdue University, Ind.
Joined Watson Advertising Agency in Chicago as a Copywriter
1921 October 31
Joined J. Walter Thompson Co. (JWT), Chicago office, as a member of the Research Department. Soon promoted to a position as copywriter.
1922 June 17
Married Sarah Whitman
1923 November
Transferred to J. Walter Thompson Co. Cincinnati office; worked in the Copy and New Business departments.
Served as a member of the City Charter Committee in Cincinnati; in 1935 elected Chairman of committee on Education.
Lectured on Marketing and Advertising in the Evening School, College of Commerce, at the University of Cincinnati
1928 January
Became manager of JWT Cincinnati Office
Was Director of the Hamilton County Good Government League, Cincinnati; Member of the Civic Club of Cincinnati; Trustee of Cincinnati Better Business Bureau.
1936 January 1
Elected Vice President and transferred to J. Walter Thompson Co., New York Office
Was Director of Bronxville, NY, Community Chest;
Served as Civilian Defense World War II zone warden
Elected to Bronxville Board of Education; president 1947-1949.
Was Director of Public Affairs Committee, a non--profit organization in New York City and publisher of Public Affairs Pamphlets.
1953, September
Began working part-time for JWT after a serious illness.
Worked as a consultant to the US Information Agency in Washington
Director of International Recreation Association
1961 January 31
Retired from the J. Walter Thompson Co.
1965 June 27
Wife Sarah died
1966 July 15
Married Leonore Turner
1977 August
Struck by a car while visiting in Hingham, Mass.; never fully recovered from this accident.
1981 October
Second wife Leonore died
1982 January 10
Died in Ridgewood, NJ
Acquisition information:
The Papers of Howard Henderson were transferred to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library from the J. Walter Thompson Company in 1987.
Processing information:

Processed by: Katherine Hufstetler, Sabine Engel, Donna Longo DiMichele

Completed July, 1996

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller

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

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


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Advertising -- Management
Advertising agencies -- New York
Advertising executives
J. Walter Thompson Company -- History
Eastman Kodak Company
John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
J. Walter Thompson Company
Henderson, Howard, 1895-


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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.

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Preferred citation:

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