Harold Brayman papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

Harold Brayman (1900-1988), former director of the Public Relations Department of Du Pont Company, retired from that position March 31, 1965. He had headed that activity of the company for 21 years, establishing a concept of public relations which was widely emulated throughout the United States.

Harold Brayman was born on March 10, 1900, at Middleburgh, New York. He received his A.B. degree in 1920 from Cornell University, and was awarded an honorary LL.D. by Gettysburg College in 1965.

Brayman went to Du Pont in 1942 after a distinguished newspaper career of twenty years, fourteen of them spent as Washington correspondent for leading New York and other American dailies. He started his journalistic career as Albany legislative correspondent for various newspapers in New York City and state, and had served briefly in London as a foreign correspondent.

Harold Brayman first went to Washington in 1928 as correspondent of the New York Evening Post. When the Post was sold by the Cyrus H.K. Curtis estate in 1933, he remained with the Curtis organization as Washington correspondent of the Philadelphia Evening Ledger until 1940. From then until 1942, he was a correspondent for Jesse H. Jones' Houston Chronicle. Meanwhile he wrote his syndicated columns, "The Daily Mirror of Washington," 1937-1940, and "Washington Preview," 1940-1942.

As a specialist in reporting and analyzing political events, Brayman attended all national political conventions from 1928 through 1940. He crisscrossed the nation as a correspondent on the presidential campaign trains of Alfred E. Smith in 1928, President Roosevelt in 1932, Alfred M. Landon in 1936, and Wendell L. Wilkie in 1940.

While a correspondent in Washington, Brayman was president of the National Press Club in 1938 and president of the Gridiron Club in 1941, one of the very few Washington correspondents to have been elected president of both of these organizations .

Harold Brayman was appointed assistant director of the Public Relations Department of the Du Pont Company in April 1942, and two years later, upon the death of Ted Joslin, became director, a position he would hold until 1965.

Brayman authored several books, including Corporate Management in a World of Politics (McGraw-Hill, 1967), a book on the public, political, and governmental problems of business; Developing a Philosophy for Business Action (1969); A history of the Lincoln Club of Delaware (1970), with A.O.H. Grier; and The President Speaks off the record… (Dow Jones, 1976), a history of the Gridiron Club.

Brayman was a member of the Board of Visitors of the School of Public Communication, Boston University, from 1951 to 1972, and chairman 1961-1972. He was a member of the Public Relations Advisory Committee of the Manufacturing Chemists Association from 1951 to 1956, serving as chairman from 1951 to 1953; a member of the Sponsoring Committee of the annual Public Relations Seminar from 1952 to 1961; and a trustee of the Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education from 1956 to 1962.

He was a member for many years of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee on Taxation and of other Chamber committees. Brayman was editor of the Public Relations Journal, organ of the Public Relations Society of America, during 1956; and in 1963 was awarded the citation of the Society for "distinguished service in the advancement of public relations.” He was also named "Public Relations Professional of 1963" by the Public Relations News. In 1965 Brayman was given the "Golden Plate" award of the American Academy of Achievement, the first award of that organization in the field of public relations. He was vice president of the organization from 1966 to 1973.

Active in the affairs of Cornell University, Brayman was a member of the Cornell council, was its chairman from 1961 to 1963, and was also a member of the University's Centennial Celebration Committee . He also served as chairman of the Advisory Council of the Graduate School of Business and Public Administration from 1960 to 1965. Brayman was president of the Cornell Club of Delaware for 1955-1956.

Brayman was a member of the Board of Directors of the Continental American Life Insurance Company and the Greater Wilmington Development Council. He served as a trustee of the Wilmington Medical Center, was a trustee of Gettysburg College, and in 1968 served as the first Corporate Executive in Residence for the American University, Washington, D.C. He was president of the Lincoln Club of Delaware for 1965-1966, and was on the Board of the Wilmington Country Club from 1952 to 1964. He was a member of the Wilmington Club, the Greenville Country Club, the Du Pont Country Club, and Rotary Club of Wilmington; the University Club (N.Y.); and the Gridiron, National Press, and Overseas Writers Clubs in Washington, D.C.

Harold Brayman married Martha Witherspoon Wood on January 25, 1930, and they had two sons, Harold Halliday and Walter Witherspoon. Brayman died in Wilmington on January 3, 1988.

Sources

Biographical note adapted from a press release in the collection.

List of Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates, 1920-1940

1920 Democrat: James Cox and Franklin Roosevelt
Republican: Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge (winner)
1924 Democrat: John Davis and Charles Bryan
Republican: Calvin Coolidge and Charles Dawes (winner)
1928 Democrat: Alfred Smith and Joseph Robinson
Republican: Herbert Hoover and Charles Curtis (winner)
1932 Democrat: Franklin Roosevelt and John Garner (winner)
Republican: Herbert Hoover and Charles Curtis
1936 Democrat: Franklin Roosevelt and John Garner (winner)
Republican: Alfred Landon and Frank Knox
1940 Democrat: Franklin Roosevelt and Henry Wallace (winner)
Republican: Wendell Wilkie and Charles McNary

Scope and Contents

The papers of Harold Brayman (1900-1988) span the dates 1900-1991, with the bulk dates 1928-1978, and document the successful dual career of one man in the fields of journalism and public relations. The collection includes correspondence, memoranda, press releases, speeches, newspaper clippings and articles, manuscripts for publications, photographs, and memorabilia.

The material in the collection is arranged into three series to parallel Brayman's career and personal activities: Series I. Journalism Career, Series II. Public Relations Career, and Series III. Personal. Brayman was a very active man, and the arrangement within each series documents his personal networks of professional relationships, his organizational skills in shaping the agenda of groups to which he belonged, and his educational contributions through writing, speaking, and teaching.

Series I, Journalism Career, vividly presents Brayman's role in the circle of newspapermen covering news of the Nation's capital. The correspondence and clippings document his connections and output. The club files reflect Brayman's steadfast friendships, his buoyant personality as a leader, and his dedication to journalism. In addition, the subject content of his columns and features, the satire of the Gridiron skits, and his book The President Speaks... all document historical and political events worthy of press in the United states from the 1920s to 1942.

Brayman had a short two-year apprenticeship at Du Pont before assuming the position of director of the department of public relations in 1944. Brayman's career in public relations paralleled the growth of the developing field: the National Conference on Public Relations was only established in 1942. Brayman's transition from journalism to public relations also paralleled the careers of other newspapermen who were hired to reshape and promote corporate images. For example, Phelps Adams, a close friend and colleague of Harold Brayman, also moved from reporting for the New York Sun to become director of public relations at U.S. Steel.

Brayman assumed a leadership role in his career in public relations as he had in journalism. He was especially instrumental in expanding the role of corporate public relations from maintaining press relations to developing a broader public understanding and support for large industry.

This development was important to the history of the Du Pont Company as it struggled with its wartime reputation. The 1934 charge of the Special Committee Investigating the Munitions Industry (the Nye Committee) -- to examine the structure and activities of the munitions industry -- reflected the public's distrust of industries which had profited from World War I. During World War II, Du Pont was careful to disassociate itself from public disillusionment with "merchants of death." The company developed new products and began a successful ad campaign of "Better things for better living through chemistry." Public relations for many American industries in the 1940s and '50s developed out of such needs for promotion of company policy.

Series II, Public Relations Career, includes a small subseries of Du Pont files, while the other subseries strongly document the growth of the public relations field and the corporate message put forth by Brayman on behalf of Du Pont. Brayman was a regular participant and frequent organizer of the Public Relations Seminar, an annual professional conference. As was not uncommon for Brayman, he took on the project of writing the history of the organization. The series of public relations files include correspondence and literature of the field, some of it authored by Brayman.

Series III, Personal, relates to other personal activities of Harold Brayman. The subseries on Cornell documents the many contributions he made to his alma mater. The correspondence files, arranged by subject, suggest the wide range of his contacts and interests. The special correspondence includes selected letters from prominent individuals or dear friends, collected over a lifetime of acquaintances ranging from H.L. Mencken to Mary Martin. Other miscellaneous subseries in Series III include biographical and family files, as well as other writing projects.