FRED G. CLARK PAPERS,
Fred George Clark was born in Cleveland, Ohio on November 2, 1890. His parents had immigrated to Ohio from Canada in 1882. Clark’s father, Frederick G. Clark, had established an oil refining and marketing company in Cleveland. By the age of 13 both of Clark’s parents had died. He attended school in Asheville, North Carolina before returning to Cleveland and completing his schooling at the University School in 1909. He then enrolled at Kenyon College and although he was active in student life, he left without graduating in 1913.
That same year Clark went to work as an oil tester for his late father’s firm, the Fred G. Clark Company. Clark rose quickly within the company, becoming office manager in 1914, salesman in 1916, and vice-president in 1920. He served in the Army during World War I as a Captain assigned to purchase lubricating oil for the Army.
In 1924 he became president of the Fred G. Clark Company, and two years later also became president of the Conewango Refining Company in Pennsylvania. Clark continued working in the oil industry until 1932 when he established the insurance firm of Clark, Curtin and Norton in New York. Clark initially served as president and remained associated with it until 1965.
Clark developed an interest in Prohibition and established The Crusaders, an organization in Cleveland dedicated to repealing the 18th Amendment. After the repeal of prohibition in 1933, The Crusaders remained active in politics by attacking various New Deal policies throughout the 1930s. Their views were spread through Clark’s radio program The Voice of the Crusaders which broadcast until 1937.
In 1939 Clark established the American Economic Foundation and was the general chairman until a month before his death in 1973. During the campaign to end prohibition Clark became convinced that many Americans suffered from economic illiteracy, and he created the AEF in order to simplify economics for the masses. Clark was a staunch advocate of the free market and one early AEF activity was a campaign among labor representatives in northeast Ohio, in which he sought to emphasize the shared interests of labor and management in fostering industrial production.
To reach a wider audience, Clark and his associates turned to the print and broadcast media. Clark moderated a radio program on the NBC Blue Network, Wake Up, America!, which ran from 1940-1946. The format consisted of a panel of experts who debated various economic and political issues of the day, and was usually comprised of academics, journalists, politicians, and business leaders. Included among the guests were such names as Max Lerner, Ruth Alexander, George Sokolsky, Arthur Garfield Hays, Henry Hazlitt, Norman Thomas, Senator Robert A. Taft, and former President Herbert Hoover.
Hoover in particular, who shared Clark’s economic views, developed a close friendship with Clark, and invited him to be a frequent guest at the annual “encampments” of the Bohemian Club in Northern California (held at a location known as “Bohemian Grove”). Yet even those panelists who disagreed with Clark’s views often respected his program and his organization. Socialist Norman Thomas stated years later that although he was “in ideological disagreement with a great many things that the Foundation says,” he thought that it was “doing an educational work from its own point of view and an educational work of value.”
In addition to his radio work, Clark also collaborated on several books with Richard Stanton Rimanoczy, the educational director of the foundation. These titles included How We Live (1944), Money (1947), and How to Be Popular, Though Conservative (1948). Clark also wrote editorial columns and articles for many magazines and newspapers, and the Foundation also produced and distributed motion pictures as well as sponsored a “Hall of Enterprise” at the World’s Fair in New York in 1964-1965.
In addition to his activities as chairman of the Foundation, Clark also pursued photography as a hobby, practicing his craft frequently at the annual Bohemian Club meetings. Herbert Hoover referred to Clark as “not only my good friend but my best photographer.” Many examples of Clark’s photography are included in this collection of papers.
Fred Clark died at his home in New York City on January 7, 1973.
He was credited with the repeal of Prohibition through his organization, “The Crusaders.” 1929-33.
He was moderator for the radio program, “Wake Up America,” (1941-47) on current issue debates.
1939, He was chairman for 30 years of the American Economic Foundation which worked to foster economic literacy among citizens. His work was in descriptive economics, simplifying the jargon used by economists. The AEF promoted the teaching of economics in the schools.
He was author of several books in collaboration with Richard S. Rimanoczy.
He was an excellent photographer, called by Herbert Hoover his, “favorite photographer.”
The collection is divided into three series and contains correspondence, manuscripts, publications, and photographs.
AMERICAN ECONOMIC FOUNDATION: Contains primarily general business correspondence about this organization, from 1939-1978, yet also includes files on The Crusaders dating from 1930-1937. Also contains correspondence to and from Clark’s widow, Diana Grafmueller, who remained active in the Foundation in the years after his death. In addition to general correspondence, files and scripts related to Wake Up, America! as well as plans for the Hall of Enterprise can be found in this series.
NAME AND SUBJECT FILES: Correspondence. Significant correspondents include Herbert Hoover, Herbert Hoover, Jr., Allan Hoover, Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, Thomas Dewey, DeWitt Wallace, and A. C. Wedemeyer. Arranged alphabetically by name.
PERSONAL FILES: Contains books, manuscripts of his speeches, clippings, and photographs. Also included are his photographs, primarily of activities at the annual encampments at Bohemian Grove, but also of participants in his broadcasts of Wake Up, America!
AMERICAN ECONOMIC FOUNDATION
2 Educational concerns, 1949-1953, 1963-1968 (2 folders)
?3 Miscellaneous, 1938-1975 and undated (2 folders)
4 The Crusaders
5 Hall of Free Enterprise at the World’s Fair
6 Information Kit, 1964
7 Orientation Film, 1977-1978
20 Comments on the work of the American Economic Foundation
NAME AND SUBJECT FILES
8 D miscellaneous, 1939-55
9 Miscellaneous, 1955-71
10 New Zealand Trip, 1949
11 Biographical data
12 Wolfe, Charles, 1973-80
13 Money, 1948
14 1964-1970 and undated
15 Political, 1961-1967 (4 folders)
18 Bohemian Grove photograph albums (2 vols.)
19 Bohemian Grove photograph albums (2 vols.)