J. Walter Thompson Company. Samuel W. (Samuel Williams) Meek papers, 1917-1980 and undated, bulk 1945-1962

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J. Walter Thompson Company
3.5 Linear Feet
About 800 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Samuel W. Meek Papers span the years from 1917-1980, although the bulk of the material dates from 1945-1962 and a few items are undated. Samuel Meek served as Vice President in Charge of International Operations of the J. Walter Thompson Company from 1930 to 1964. Working out of the New York office as the head of the International Department, Meek established offices around the world, provided continuing support and advice to the heads of these international offices, made policy decisions related to international operations, and served as a consultant to a number of U.S. government and private agencies concerned with international relations and commerce. The Series arrangement created by the J. Walter Thompson archivist reflects Meek's activities and has been retained. Several categories of material are included: correspondence, market surveys and research reports, letters, official documents (such as the records of Meek's military service), and the transcripts of talks.

The International Offices Series, 1942-1964 and n.d. is comprised primarily of correspondence between Samuel Meek and the heads of J. Walter Thompson's international offices. The majority of the items relate to the offices in Vienna, Toronto, Paris, London, Rome and Tokyo. The work of the offices in Denmark, Argentia, the Caribbean, Greece, Holland, Mexico and Pakistan are less extensively documented. Market surveys and research reports are also included. In addition to Samuel Meek, correspondents include Robert M. Campbell, Wilfrid Sanders, Justin de Blank, Kevin Farrell, Virgil D. Reed, Denys M. Scott, James H. Page, and Harry A. Lee. Major clients represented include UniLever, Kodak, Nestles, Shell Oil, Cheesbrough-Pond's, Rowntree, Olivetti, Oneida, Nabisco, Schick, Campbell Soup, American Chicle Co., General Foods, Honeywell Co., and Sanyo-Scott.

The International Department Series, 1930-1962 and undated is comprised of documents related to J. Walter Thompson's role as an international advertising agency. Included are a 1957 personnel directory, letters outlining interational operations policy, and the transcript of a 1961 interview with Stanley Resor related to the international aspects of the company.

The International Marketing Series, 1954-1962 and undated, includes correspondence with and reports from a number of councils and agencies such as the Business Council for International Understanding, the U.S. Information Agency, and the U.S. State Department. Correspondence related to the planning of a Series of trade fairs, 1954-1961, is also included. This material documents the role that the J. Walter Thompson Company and other multinational businesses played in foreign relations in the era of the Marshall Plan.

The International Correspondents Series, 1945-1962, includes correspondence and informal reports on advertising conditions in various European and Middle Eastern countries. Several of the items in this small collection seem to be preliminary evaluations designed to help Samuel Meek decide whether conditions were appropriate to the opening of a branch office in a particular locale. The correspondents seem to be acquaintances of Meek or simply knowledgeable individuals rather than J. Walter Thompson employees.

The Personal Series, 1917-1979 and undated is primarily concerned with Samuel Meek's personal life: records of his military service, financial details of his retirement, his coat of arms, and other issues. A few items of correspondence with James Webb Young and information about Stanley B. Resor's death and the establishment of the Stanley and Helen Resor Fund for Economic Research at Yale University are included.

The Miscellaneous Series includes several essays about advertising and a few other items.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1895 September 22
Born, Nashville, Tennessee
Graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy
Commissioned as 2nd lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps August 27
Received A.B. from Yale University, New Haven, Conn.;
Promoted to 1st lieutenant and then temporary captain, U.S.Marine Corps
Decorated with the Silver Star, the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster; France's Croix de Guerre with Palm; the Victory Medal with Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Defensive Sector clasps and three bronze stars; and the French Fourragere for valiant service.
Discharged April 3.
Joined the Charles W. Hoyt Co.
1921 October 14
Married Priscilla Mitchel
Served on the board of Time Magazine
Joined J. Walter Thompson as manager of the London office
J. Walter Thompson Co. opened offices in Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Poland, and Uruguay
Returned to New York office, elected Vice President and Director of International Operations
Served as a Special Consultant to the Secretary of the Navy for Air and member of the Navy Civilian Advisory Committee. Made several trips to the Pacific area and visited the Carribean and South America for the Navy.
Awarded a Presidential Citation by President Truman and a Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Invited to join a Civilian Advisory Committee to work with the Navy on its postwar program. Upon the recommendation of the Army, Navy, and Marines, awarded the Medal for Merit for his service to the U.S. Navy.
Awarded the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award for outstanding services to the U.S. during World War II.
Promoted to Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of J. Walter Thompson Co.
One of five purchasers of The Greenwich Times, Greenwich, Conn.
Helped to found The Episcopalian
Operated Walker and Company, a book publisher
1964 January 28
Retired from the J. Walter Thompson Co.
President and Director of the Rome Daily American in Italy
1981 August 15
Died in a Greenwich, Connecticut hospital of complications following a heart attack
Acquisition information:
The papers of Samuel Williams Meek were transferred to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library from the J. Walter Thompson Company in 1987.
Processing information:

Processed by: Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Staff

Completed 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


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Collection is open for research.

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.

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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. Samuel W. (Samuel Williams) Meek Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.