Consumers' Research, Inc.Alternative names
For details of the history of Consumers' Research, Inc. and an overview of its records, see the introduction to this finding aid .
From the guide to the Records of Consumers' Research, Inc., General Files, Series 28-45 (only)., 1903-1982, (Special Collections and University Archives. Rutgers University Libraries)
From the guide to the Records of Consumers' Research, Inc.: Administrative Files: Series 1-15, 1917-1983, (Rutgers University. Special Collections and University Archives)
For details of the history of Consumers' Research, Inc. and an overview of their records, see the introduction to this finding aid .
From the guide to the Records of Consumers' Research, Inc.: Technical Files: Series 46-72, 1914-1983, (Rutgers University. Special Collections and University Archives)
From the guide to the Records of Consumers' Research, Inc.: Technical Files: Series 73-111 (only), 1914-1983, (Rutgers University. Special Collections and University Archives)
For details of the history of Consumers' Research, Inc., and an overview of its records, see the introduction to this finding aid .
From the guide to the Records of Consumers' Research, Inc.: General Files: Series 16-27 (only), 1910-1980, (Rutgers University. Special Collections and University Archives)
Coinciding with the need to reform the 1906 law and the bestseller status of Arthur Kallet's and F.J. Schlink's 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs, a new food and drug bill was drafted by Rexford G. Tugwell for the Roosevelt Administration. Brought before the Senate Commerce Committee by Senator Royal S. Copeland, the bill was quickly revised and resubmitted several times between 1934 and 1937. During this time the bill was argued over by Congress, consumer groups, the Roosevelt Administration, advertisers, and manufacturers of food and beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and proprietary medicines. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act became law in 1938.
From the description of Government general files--Food and Drug Administration laws and legislation, 1907-1980. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122374179
Consumers' Research, Inc., was formed in 1929 as a result of the success of F. J. Schlink's and Stuart Chase's book, Your Money's Worth. Originally formed in New York City as the Consumers Club (1927), Consumers' Research, Inc., tested and rated consumer products and disseminated the results of those findings to subscribers. Consumers' Research moved to Washington, in Warren County, New Jersey in 1933. Under the direction of F.J. Schlink, Consumers' Research pioneered consumer testing in the United States. Authors of several "guinea pig" books that exposed the deceit of many manufacturers in the early 1930s, Consumers' Research staff contributed the bulk of their efforts to the publication of Consumers' Bulletin, Consumers' Research Bulletin, Consumers's Research Magazine, and an annual guide to consumer products. Early alliances with liberal groups and publications ended with a violent and unsuccessful strike by a faction of Consumers' Research employees in 1935. Because Consumers' Research Board members believed the strike was communist led, the political focus of Consumers' Research became stridently anti-communist. In 1936, the dismissed strikers and their supporters formed Consumers Union which publishes Consumer Reports.
Throughout the fifty years between 1930 and 1980, Consumers' Research consistently tested an rated a wide variety of products ranging from toasters to lawnmowers, automobiles to cameras. Consumers' Research tested products until 1982 in Washington, New Jersey. Consumers' Research Magazine was published in Washington D.C. beginning in 1981.
From the description of Technical files, 1914-1983 (bulk 1930-1981). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122510546
Consumers' Research, Inc., was formed in 1929 as a result of the success of F.J. Schlink's and Stuart Chase's book, Your Money's Worth. Originally formed in New York City as the Consumers Club (1927), Consumers' Research, Inc., tested and rated consumer products and disseminated the results of those findings to subscibers. Consumers' Research moved to Washington in Warren County, New Jersey, in 1933. Under the direction of F.J. Schlink, Consumers' Research pioneered consumer testing in the United States. Authors of several "guinea pig" books that exposed the deceit of many manufacturers in the early 1930s, Consumers' Research staff contributed the bulk of their efforts to the publication of Consumers' Bulletin, Consumers' Magazine, and an annual guide to consumer products. Early alliances with liberal groups and publications ended following a violent and unsuccessful strike by a faction of Consumers' Research employees in 1935. Because Consumers' Research Board members believed the strike was communist led, the political focus of Consumers' Research became stridently anti-communist. In 1936, the dismissed strikers and their supporters formed Consumers Union which publishes Consumer Reports.
Throughout the fifty years between 1930 and 1980, Consumers' Research consistently tested and rated a wide variety of products ranging from toasters to lawnmowers, automobiles to cameras. Consumers' Research tested products until 1982 in Washington, New Jersey. Consumers' Research Magazine was published in Washington D.C. beginning in 1981.
From the description of General files, 1910-1980 (bulk 1930-1980). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122477695
The records document the strike involving a faction of Consumers' Research workers that took place between September and December of 1935. After a summer of unsuccessful negotiation and after the dismissal of three employees and one Consumers' Research Board member, the Technical, Editorial, and Office Assistants Union went out on strike. CR maintained the strike was actually a conspiracy by communists to take over the organization. The strike gained immediate attention in national periodicals and newspapers because CR had been considered a liberal or uniquely radical organization and two of its board members, F.J. Schlink, and J.B. Matthews, had been recognized as advocates of radical economic solutions. As the negotiations went nowhere and the union continued to strike, frustrations were exasperated and positions were hardened. On October 15, 1935, strikers and their supporters stoned CR's buildings causing extensive damage. This resulted in the final riff between the union and CR.
As the strike continued, the union took its case to liberal organizations, CR subscribers, and the National Labor Relations Board. Roger Baldwin, founder and director of the American Civil Liberties Union, formed a committee to arbitrate the strike. Consumers' Research took its complaints to criminal court. CR lost the NLRB case but ignored the injunction to rehire the dismissed workers. With no other recourse, the union called off the strike and went to work forming Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports.
From the description of Labor general files--Consumers' Research strike records, 1933-1953. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122478050
Consumers' Research, Inc. was formed in 1929 as a result of the success of F.J. Schlink's and Stuart Chase's book, Your Money's Worth. Originally formed in New York City as the Consumers Club (1927), Consumers' Research, Inc. tested and rated consumer products and disseminated the results of those findings to subscribers. Consumers' Research moved to Washington, in Warren County, New Jersey in 1933. Under the direction of F.J. Schlink , Consumers' Research pioneered consumer testing in the United States. Authors of several "guinea pig" books that exposed the deceit of many manufacturers in the early 1930's, Consumers' Research staff contributed the bulk of their efforts to the publication of Consumers' Bulletin, Consumers' Research Bulletin, Consumers' Research Magazine, and an annual guide to consumer products. Early alliances with liberal groups and publications following a violent and unsuccessful strike by a faction of Consumers' Research employees in 1935. Because Consumers' Research Board members believed the strike was communist lead, the political focus of Consumers' Research became stridently anti-communist. In 1936, the dismissed strikers and their supporters formed Consumers Union which publishes Consumer Reports.
Throughout the fifty years between 1930 and 1980, Consumers' Research consistently tested and rated a wide variety of products ranging from toasters to lawnmowers, automobiles to cameras. Consumers' Research tested products until 1982 in Washington, New Jersey. Consumers' Research Magazine was published in Washington D. C. beginning in 1981.
From the description of Administrative files, 1917-1983. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122510531
Consumer testing and rating guides or magazines are taken for granted at the end of the 20th century. It is not unusual for a consumer to take a copy of Consumer Reports to a stereo or appliance store, or consult any number of special publications when he or she wants to purchase a camera or even set up a nursery for the expected arrival of an infant. Consumers have publications that rate drugs and medical care. The ingredients in foods are listed on packaging. They can consult independent sources on computers or kitchen appliances. Consumers do not have to rely on the word of a salesperson when purchasing a car. In short, American consumers have unparalleled access to product information. The popularity of these consumer publications is direct proof of the growth of the middle class in this century, but also speaks well of the pioneers who led the effort to get unbiased information about commercial products to consumers.
With a mixture of engineering standards, home economics, calls for improved food and drug laws, the cooperative movement, pre-presidential Herbert Hoover, the labor movement, a few fledgling consumer organizations, a good dose of leftist politics, and intellectual debate rising out of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backwards, Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class and many other books, the establishment of a formalized system of testing and rating products for ordinary American consumers was inevitable. Though they did not thrive until after World War II, Consumers' Research Bulletin and Consumer Reports participated in the ideological and political debates of the Depression and built up a sturdy base to carry them through the war.
Though Consumers' Research was the first national organization devoted to testing and rating products, it was not by any means the first consumer organization or the first organization to test products. The Federal Government (in the form of the Bureau of Standards, established 1901) had been testing products to enable various government agencies and their purchasing agents to make the best buys for their departments. The State of North Dakota had tested agricultural products for farmers. Dr. Harvey Wiley, of the Department of Agriculture, had led the fight for the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and continued to test food and drugs for quite some time after the bill was passed. Herbert Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce, led efforts to standardize products. The cooperative movement, led by the Cooperative League of the USA (established 1916) gave Americans alternative ways to buy goods and services. The American Home Economics Association (established 1908) and the National Consumers League (established 1899) also assisted in bringing consumer consciousness to the American public.
Frederick J. Schlink, born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1891, led the pioneering efforts to get unbiased product information to consumers. With experience at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., and at the American Standards Association in New York City, Schlink combined his interest in the production of standardized products, his disdain for the bogus claims of advertisers, and his experience in testing products, to establish the Consumers' Club in 1927 and Consumers' Research, Inc., in 1929. While Schlink started his efforts to rate products at a meeting of a men's club at a church in White Plains, N.Y., in 1926, the publication of the book Your Money's Worth, by Schlink and Stuart Chase, was the event that led to the founding of Consumers' Research. This book exposed the excesses of advertising and the hazards of shoddy products, and called for independent product testing. It immediately put advertisers and manufacturers on the defensive.
The efforts of Schlink not only contributed to the establishment of the first consumer testing and rating organization, but also contributed to the development of consumerism as a separately described concern or ideology. In turn (with and without Schlink) these efforts led directly to the consumer movement of the 1930s and laid the groundwork for the activism of consumers and consumer groups in the 1960s and for the rest of the century. And indeed, some of those consumer activists, many of whom were Schlink protégés, were responsible for the formation of Consumers Union, which still publishes Consumer Reports . The efforts of Schlink and his competitors have also determined the way Americans buy lawnmowers or paint or microwave ovens or cars or baby strollers or canned foods or clocks or coffee grinders or . . .
"Why do you buy one make of automobile rather than another?"
"Do you buy [a brand] because Babe Ruth or Red Grange or the Queen of Roumania endorses a product--with full length portrait and signed testimonial?"
These questions posed at the beginning of the bestselling book Your Money's Worth by F.R. Schlink and Stuart Chase represented a challenge to American consumers to begin questioning the claims of advertisers and private industry. (1) After decades of quiet frustration about the quality and safety of consumer goods and services, consumers were suddenly given the ammunition they needed to question the quality of the merchandise they purchased and their reliance on advertising. Schlink and Chase defined the "ultimate consumer" as the person who finally eats, wears, lives in, or uses up, the things industry and agriculture have made or grown. (2)
Stuart Chase and F.J. Schlink met in the mid-1920s while Chase worked on his book, The Tragedy of Waste . Schlink assisted Chase in gathering research materials. Soon, they published a two-part article, entitled "A Few Billion for Consumers," in the December 30, 1925, and the January 6, 1926, New Republic . About three months later, on March 23, 1926, Chase and Schlink were to speak on product standards to a men's group at a White Plains, New York, church. This was to be "a non-technical talk on some of the remarkable gains to be made in the purchases of every day life through standards of quality, performance and efficiency." (3) It is not clear if Chase attended the meeting, but Schlink was appointed to a committee of the men's club to formulate a method to judge "the relative value of commodities." The information when gathered was to be disseminated to club and church members as well as the general public. (4)
Meanwhile, the New Republic published a five-part series entitled "Consumers in Wonderland" in February and March, 1927. These articles, as well as the two earlier articles, were excerpts from the soon-to-be-published Your Money's Worth . The articles created a stir and were mentioned in three other issues between April and June. The first reviews of Your Money's Worth appeared in July of 1927 when it was a selection for the Book of the Month Club. Columbia professor Rexford Guy Tugwell noted in a review that products "from toothpaste and shaving soap to houses and clothes, all our modern paraphernalia, with certain honorable exceptions, be it said, will henceforth be regarded with deep suspicion." (5) Another review stated that the book was a "plea for scientific purchasing; it argues that everything is sold, almost everything is oversold, [and] the time has come for the consumer not to be sold something but to go out and buy it." (6) In the book, the authors state that one of them has "established an information service and rudimentary experiment station administered as a "Consumer Club." (7)
By the end of 1927, Schlink and Chase formed the Consumers' Club, an informal outgrowth of the White Plains group, because of the overwhelming response to Your Money's Worth and due to the encouragement of many intellectual acquaintances around New York City.
The Consumers' Club Commodity List, (8) published on October 27, 1927, consisted of 21 pages plus a few pages of introduction. In the foreward, Schlink explained the List was a first step toward giving the small consumer the same type of access to information on product quality tests that the Federal Government and other large agencies had. The early intention of the Club was to revise the List or send out a supplement once a year. Schlink, always worried about potential libel suits, stated that the List was "purely a series of suggestions" intended for members and their immediate families. The List consisted of two columns subdivided by various products. The "A" column was for recommended products and commodities while the "B" column was for products and commodities the compilers did not recommend. No direct testing of products took place for this first issue. Several sources were used and in some cases the reports of correspondents were used. These sources included government agencies such as the U.S. Bureau of Standards, the American Medical Association, 1001 Tests by Dr. Harvey Wiley (1916), Education of the Consumer by Henry Harap (1924) (9) and Your Money's Worth . Schlink also included notes on the cost of products, if an item was exceptionally good, and where to obtain wholesale prescription drugs. Products or commodities investigated include disinfectants, ink, textiles, silver polish, soap (Ivory recommended, Lifebouy not recommended), paint, syrup, breakfast foods (yes to Shredded Wheat, no to Cream of Wheat), bottled beverages (recommended Hires Root Beer, did not recommend Coca Cola--"if drunk too freely, or by children, may do harm"), refrigerators, toasters, radios, cameras (yes to German-made cameras, no to expensive Kodak cameras), and typewriters (yes to Underwood, no to Remington).
By January 1928, offers for membership in the Consumers' Club began to appear. (10) Schlink noted that the Club would develop a "laboratory devoted without commercial restraint of any kind to setting up a genuine science of consumption and so far as necessary, debunking the more extravagant of the claims of the high pressure workers in the field of advertising and salesmanship." (11) Though they did not incorporate the "Consumers' Club," Schlink and Chase were able to get several academics and scientists to sign on as part of a sponsoring committee. These included the professor Wesley Mitchell, the lawyer Morris Ernst, and Schlink's boss at the American Standards Association, Paul G. Agnew. (12)
In March 1928, the second issue or, rather, the first revision was sent out to subscribers. Taking into account many letters from engineers, technicians, and home economists, the List was expanded to include several more products including mouthwash and automobiles. The second list deemed the new Ford car a "remarkable development" and a second-hand Chevrolet a good buy. (13)
In the second-to-last chapter of Your Money's Worth, Schlink and Chase called for the establishment of a Consumers Foundation. This Foundation would need to be funded by "a multi-millionaire of an inquiring turn of mind" to create a laboratory and information bureau "sufficiently large to make a real impression upon buyer's consciousness." (14) Such a Foundation "would go a long way towards deflating poetry in the advertising columns." Acting on this idea, Schlink drafted a "Memorandum For the Establishment of The Consumers Foundation" by late summer, 1927. Schlink, in his proposal, called for the establishment of "a strictly impartial, scientific, non-profit making, goods-investigating body to be financed by private subscription and various other services." Pretty much along the lines of the suggestion in the book, Schlink called for two cooperating bodies: a clearinghouse to gather, file, and digest test material on consumer goods, and a laboratory "to carry on actual testing work, to fill in the gaps in fields now tested by other agencies, and to invade new fields." He suggested a budget of around $80,000 for the first year and $75,000 for the second year. Schlink also suggested affiliating with cooperatives, labor unions, buyers clubs, The Consumer League, liberal churches, University Buyers' Association, the League for Industrial Democracy and other groups. This 1927 report was signed by Schlink and Chase, but the drafts were in Schlink's handwriting. Included in the proposal were pages of the Commodity List that later showed up in the second issue of the List. (15)
To fund the "Consumer Foundation," Schlink and Chase turned to the Elmhirst Foundation. The fund's benefactor was the heiress, Dorothy Payne Whitney (1887-1968), who had inherited $15,000,000 dollars from the estate of her father, William C. Whitney, Secretary of the Navy under President Grover Cleveland. She was first married in 1911 to Willard Straight (d. 1918) and married her second husband, Leonard Knight Elmhirst (1893-1974), in 1925. (16) Mrs. Elmhirst, when she was Mrs. Straight, had helped fund the establishment of The New Republic with Herbert Croly. Though Mrs. Elmhirst wasn't interested in funding Schlink's expensive "Consumer Foundation," she did provide the Consumers' Club with $10,000 for clerical and publishing expenses over the next two years.
A report submitted to Mrs. Elmhirst in June 1929 stated that there were 1972 members in the Club. This was up from 542 members in early Fall 1928. The report stated that several thousand membership offers had been mailed to home economists, public school principals, social workers, New Republic readers, and members the Consumers' Co-operative Services Inc., but the main source of membership continued to be readers of Your Money's Worth and friends of other members. The report noted that reaction to the service from members was encouraging, although members seemed to be "more interested in the idea of the club than in using the service personally . . ." (17)
The report also noted the Club's publications. Schlink had produced two technical reports, dealing with "Sunlight--Real and Artificial" and "Cosmetics," and a newsletter dated April 1929. This newsletter starts out by "announcing the possibility that we may go out of existence on June 30." The newsletter also addresses the "low-down" on the Club's recommendations, a list of information services, and information on domestic heating, gasoline, kerosene stoves and fabrics. The newsletter listed the staff of the Club as Schlink, Copeland and Chase.
In September 1929 another revision of the list appeared. This time it was called Scientific Buying and appeared in a pocket-size edition that was much more professionally printed than the first two editions.
On December 9, 1929, the Consumers' Club Board met to consider changing the name of the Club. In addition the Board discussed whether the Club should advertise in magazines and newspapers, whether local clubs should be encouraged to form, how often a bulletin should be published and how to go about increasing laboratory work. (18) Within the next few weeks the Consumers' Club incorporated as Consumers' Research, Inc.
Between 1930 and 1935, Consumers' Research's membership, publications and personnel increased dramatically. By 1935 there were over 50,000 subscribers. Three separate periodicals were published. The Handbook of Buying evolved from the original Commodity List and was published annually or semi-annually. The Confidential Bulletin Service was published bi-monthly and included all of CR's product testing (in-house and consulting laboratories). The General Bulletin (non-confidential) was published bi-monthly beginning in 1932 and contained articles on political and consumer oriented issues. Consumers' Research hired between 70 and 100 employees.
Doing some of its own testing, but relying mostly on other laboratories or experts in specific fields, Consumers' Research went to work exposing the deceit of advertisers, the incompetence of manufacturers and the flaws in capitalism. Early issues of the Confidential Bulletin Service included a study of vacuum cleaners, automobiles, alarm clocks, men's underwear, and a condemnation of the advertisers of Lucky Strike cigarettes who stressed that the product was "toasted" when every cigarette brand was to some extent toasted. During this period, CR also reprinted for separate distribution articles and speeches on the education of the consumer, the consumer and food, heating and ventilation, fur coats, cameras, gardening, and health issues and many other political and consumer issues.
Because of Schlink's concern that CR was vulnerable to lawsuits, a decision was made during the 1930 Board meeting to create a legal reserve fund to cover any possible libel charges brought by manufacturers against CR. (19) This was in addition to the confidentiality clauses in a subscriber's membership agreement first set up by CR lawyer Dorothy Kenyon. The confidentiality provisions in the membership application sought to limit CR's liability by claiming that CR's publications were solely for the private use of members and therefore were not so public that they could be deemed libelous. Schlink and M.C. Phillips (his wife and CR editor) tried to make sure anyone who seemed less than an "ultimate consumer" had no access to CR's publications. Therefore advertisers, manufacturers and even librarians were excluded from the subscription lists if they applied for membership under the letterhead of their institution or business, or they listed their profession as one not covered by the membership agreement. When the Library of Congress wrote asking if they could show the magazine to patrons, CR responded that the Library had to keep it behind the reference desk and require users to sign a disclaimer waving their right to sue. There is a New Yorker cartoon from the early 1930s with a man in bed trying to conceal his confidential Bulletin from his suddenly suspicious wife. (20) The membership restrictions were lifted after the 1935 strike, although the confidentiality clause for the annual Bulletin remained in effect into the early 1950s.
Consumers' Research began as a liberal/left-leaning organization with directors from magazines, academia, religious groups and the legal profession. Between 1930 and 1935, these Directors included Stuart Chase: Eduard Lindemann of the New School; George Soule of the New Republic ; Arthur Kellogg, editor of Social Work ; Bernard Reis, an accountant; Bradford Young and Benson Landis, ministers; Donald McConnell, an economist; and Arthur Kallet, Schlink's former co-worker at the American Standards Association and co-author of 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs . Also on the Board of Directors were employees or former employees. These included Schlink, M.C. Phillips, Mathilde Hader, Edith Ayres (Copeland), E.J. Lever (a labor activist and promoter of cooperative buying), J.B. Matthews, Dewey Palmer and Eleanor Loeb.
During the early years, Consumers' Research was located at 47 Charles Street in New York City. When funding came through from the Elmhirst Foundation, offices were set up at 340 West 23rd Street in New York, and later (1932) at 24 West 25th Street. Schlink repeatedly complained about the need to complete his work versus the need to talk to people interested in testing or in the consumer movement. It became apparent to him that a move to a more rural area would give Consumers' Research more laboratory space and better financial viability. A laboratory in the country could become a sort of consumer campus. Schlink had E.J. Lever investigate a bankrupt private school in Morristown, N.J., an artists' colony in Woodstock, N.Y., large estates in Croton and Pawling, N.Y., and land elsewhere. Finally they settled on the Florey Piano Factory in Washington, N.J., a rural town near the Delaware Water Gap and Pennsylvania border in Warren County. (21) Colston E. Warne, in his lectures, said it was the greatest mistake Schlink ever made. (22)
In December 1932 the CR Board of Directors met twice to consider the move from the city. Some at the meetings were interested in the Croton, N.Y., site because it was near New York City. Bernard Reis, CR's treasurer, said that the proper place for CR was outside the City and that lower salaries would be appropriate. J.B. Matthews, CR board member, "expressed a preference for suicide rather than living in a small town." A committee of staff members expressed the concern that a move to the country would create hardships, but said that Schlink's labor policy at the time was "on the whole fair." (23)
Schlink stated many years later that "the borough of Washington charmed many of us from the beginning with its well-painted houses, neat lawns and flowers. We felt that it was a typical U.S. town more representative of the kind of consumer we desired to serve than New York City residents. . . . It was quite a struggle for some of our typical New Yorkers to settle in a small town in a rural area and we had quite a time getting our staff reconstituted, for in time, the city fellers finally, with considerable upheaval, parted company with us." (24) In May 1933 CR opened for business in Washington, N.J. Within a year they moved to a larger location outside Washington in Bowerstown and stayed until 1983.
While the main concern of CR was to test, rate and compare products, the period between 1930 and 1935 was an era ripe with political and social causes. CR's political activities increased greatly when the Roosevelt Administration's New Deal legislation was passed. Publishing several books and lobbying in Washington, D.C., CR became well-known in business, political, governmental and advertising circles.
The onset of the Depression brought about several more books on consumer issues, many of which were lumped together under the term "Guinea Pig books." This term referred to the title of Schlink and Kallet's bestseller 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs and to the theory that American consumers were being used as "guinea pigs" by corporations that put profits before customer safety. These books, mostly from Consumers' Research, generated an enormous amount of debate and publicity for CR and the movement. 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs--Dangers in Everyday Food, Drugs and Cosmetics (25) by Kallet and Schlink was published in 1932. It was to become the most popular consumer book of its time by selling an estimated 250,000 copies and far surpassing Your Money's Worth 's 100,000 copies. With its reliance on scientific data and product horror stories, the book brought many more subscribers to CR and certainly was one of the reasons behind the series of proposed revisions to the 1906 Food and Drug Act. Skin Deep by M.C. Phillips (26) was the "guinea pig" book on cosmetics. It was the third largest consumer book seller. J.B. Matthews contributed two books partially related to consumer issues and partially related to his wildly fluctuating political ideals. These books were Partners in Plunder (27) and Guinea Pigs No More . (28) Schlink wrote another book on foods entitled Eat, Drink and Be Wary, (29) while Schlink and Phillips collaborated on Discovering Consumers, a pamphlet on the consumer movement and a proposed Federal Department of the Consumer. (30) Arthur Kallet published another book entitled Counterfeit . (31) Other so-called guinea pig books from non-CR sources included Our Master's Voice: Advertising by James Rorty (32) and The Joy of Ignorance (33) by T. Swann Harding. (34)
When the National Recovery Act (NRA) was passed as part of Roosevelt's New Deal, a consumer counsel section (Consumer Advisory Board) was created to see to the needs of consumers. Schlink and CR saw the Counsel as pitifully inadequate. Schlink wrote articles and spoke on the radio against the NRA. Once he attended a meeting of the Consumer Advisory Board that was attended by General Hugh Johnson. The meeting became rowdy and someone suggested Schlink be named to act for consumers on the CAB, but Schlink had left the meeting and did not become involved in the Consumer Advisory Board's realignment. (35) An anti-NRA broadcast that Schlink produced was initially censored by CBS radio, but later aired in its entirety. (36)
Rexford Tugwell, who was a member of Roosevelt's "brain trust," proposed a Food and Drug Act revision in 1933. Some said this action was a direct result of Roosevelt's reading 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs (although Schlink did not believe this--stating that Tugwell had known about such issues since the early days of the Consumer Club). CR closely followed the progress of the food and drug revision for nearly five years. It soon became apparent that Tugwell's bill would be watered down. The bill was re-named for Senator Royal S. Copeland and wasn't passed until 1937. Arthur Kallet, in his role as CR secretary and board member, and as co-author of 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs, went to the Congressional hearings as Consumers' Research's lobbyist. At the hearings Kallet and sometimes Schlink, who joined him, expressed their radical (or non-compromising) views on what food and drug controls were needed. Kallet's language was strident and forceful (even though Schlink and Kallet assumed their ideas would be ignored) and he came close to being ejected from the hearings. (37)
Business and the advertising industry ridiculed the early consumer movement and Consumers' Research, both directly and through parody. From the reaction to CR's perceived campaigns against advertising and business came Frank Dalton O'Sullivan's diatribe The Poison Pen of Jersey . (38) Another anti-CR and anti-consumer movement book was Guinea Pigs and Bugbears by G.L. Eskew. (39) The advertising publications Printers Ink and Tide often took CR to task. Mainstream periodicals such as Time and Fortune occasionally were critical of the state of the consumer testing movement. Time magazine refused to accept CR's advertisements even after Schlink encouraged CR subscribers to bombard Time with letters. Time claimed that it was in agreement with the basic ideas behind the consumer movement, but it wouldn't accept advertisements because CR had veered away from mainstream discourse. Schlink claimed, and CR's experience showed, most mainstream publications were afraid to accept ads from CR for fear of offending other advertisers. The more serious articles about Consumers' Research and the consumer movement appeared in various advertising, business or trade journals. These articles, usually, treated Schlink and company either as dangerous people who did not know what they were talking about, or dismissed the movement with derision and contempt.
One parody of Schlink's work appeared in a 1935 issue of Variety under the title "Improbable Broadcasts No. 3--Consumers Research Quarter Hour." The article, written as a script, depicts Schlink as delirious when an announcer orders a hamburger. "Hamburger! Do you know what that'll do to your esophagus?" Later, the script has Schlink saying "Onions cause regurgitation." (40)
In 1933 the Board consisted of a majority of non-CR employees, but within a year that balance shifted. The move to Washington, New Jersey, made anyone off-site a nuisance at meetings or absent from meetings. In one defining battle, CR treasurer Bernard Reis, after spending significant time on CR's budget, was met with opposition by those who claimed his cost-cutting recommendations were not appropriate for a non-profit organization. He further suggested that some employees have their salaries reduced. This outraged employees and board members both. Upon reading the minutes from a Board meeting in April 1933, Reis was himself outraged to find some of his remarks were not clearly stated. At a May 10, 1933, meeting Reis claimed the previous meeting's minutes had been falsified. Reis said: "I feel that there is being made an attempt to distort the finances of CR and to hide the facts, and I feel that Miss (M.C.) Phillips' feeling is that the organization should be the personal one of Mr. Schlink's and no one else." He also noted "I think that . . . CR allows maliciousness to disguise facts," and "They are running it [CR] for their own glory. They want to do whatever they please." Also, "I think things have come to a point where Mr. Schlink, Miss Phillips, and Miss [executive secretary, Eleanor] Loeb are going to run the organization any way they see fit." Reis resigned after this meeting. (41)
By November 1934, when Dewey Palmer replaced Benson Landis, and M.C. Phillips replaced Arthur Kallet, the Board membership consisted of only one non-employee, Bradford Young. Kallet, traveling out west, was quietly demoted to CR Secretary after having served on the Board since 1930. (42)
Yet even with this move to employee Board membership, CR, as late as May 1935, seemed determined to move ahead with its progressive activities by proposing a whole series of services beyond the scope of testing products. Proposals included a type of consumer legal association, the formation of a Consumers Party and the continued endorsement of a cabinet level Department of the Consumer. (43)
In September 1935 Consumers' Research was fractured by a strike that led to the creation of Consumers Union and caused a sudden rightward shift in CR's political stance. This shift greatly surprised CR's allies on the left, caused discord in the consumer movement and gratified its enemies in the business and advertising world. Labor strife seemed a direct contradiction to CR's original political ideals. Liberal groups wanted desperately to see the strike resolved amicably.
The Consumers' Research recently-formed employees union requested a meeting with CR's Board of Directors on Friday August 23. Concerns about pay, job security and hard-handed tactics of CR's management were among the reasons a union was formed. Given the circumstances of the era and the activist nature of CR's board and employees, it does not seem unusual that a union was formed. On that same Friday, Schlink fired three employees including the union president. Schlink claimed two of the workers had been fired because their six-month contract had ended and the third had been fired because of incompetence. On August 25, Walter Trumbull, a union organizer from Pennsylvania, wrote Arthur Kallet, CR secretary, and Oscar Cox, a lawyer, soon to be nominated to the CR board, to see if they could assist in getting recognition for the union. Trumbull's letter noted the trouble in getting CR to hear the union's demands. Trumbull's letter said that the union regarded the Board's lack of interest in meeting them with "grave uneasiness." This letter was seen by CR board members as constituting blackmail--apparently in the sense that any publicity about labor troubles would blemish CR's name. However, in a letter to the union, Matthews continued to delay meeting the union.
At a luncheon on August 26th with Oscar Cox, Edie Masters, Frank Palmer and William Mangold, Kallet mentioned Trumbull's letter. All agreed that a strike might cripple CR. Cox gave the Board's point of view.
At a Special Board Meeting on August 28th (consisting of Schlink, J.B. Matthews, M.C. Phillips and Dewey Palmer) the union's demands were discussed. Dewey Palmer disagreed that Trumbull's letter constituted blackmail. Palmer was fired. Arthur Kallet was also fired as CR secretary because he had shared the letter with outsiders.
Following the meeting a statement signed by Schlink, Phillips, Matthews and Palmer's replacement, Clark Willever, a local insurance dealer, declared that "members of the union engaged in blackmail in the form of disseminating totally and indisputably false and misleading statements concerning the attitudes, actions and intentions of the Board." The memo ended by stating that "among the worst enemies of trade unionism are those who employ gangster and blackmail tactics."
CR's leaders, Schlink and Phillips (leftists), and Matthews (a socialist surfing near the edge of Communism), felt compelled to resist any attempts to answer employees' complaints because they claimed that the strike was actually an orchestrated attempt by Communists to capture the organization. As proof that the union was orchestrating a Communist-led takeover of CR, it was pointed out that, just as he was fired, Dewey Palmer said that the developments "did not represent any attempt at capture of CR by a Communist or other left-wing group." They also noted Walter Trumbull's past associations. Yet even if they were sincere in their belief that the union was Communist-led, the impression remains that Schlink, Phillips and Matthews wanted complete control of their organization and had no interest in sharing power with anyone.
On September 4th over 40 CR employees went out on strike. The union called for the reinstatement of the fired workers and Dewey Palmer, protection against discharge based on personal whim, removal of M.C. Phillips and J.B. Matthews from the board, and a minimum salary of $15 per week. Schlink and the board would not budge. Schlink hired guards and replacement workers. On September 10th, a bus carrying non-striking workers was stopped and stoned on its way to CR. J.B. Matthews, Jr., was beaten. The next night a crowd of 200 strike supporters gathered around CR's buildings. On September 12th over 1000 people attended a meeting at Town Hall in New York City. Speakers included Heywood Broun, Frank Palmer, Dewey Palmer, Abraham Isserman and Arthur Kallet. Several board members' and non-strikers' houses and cars were stoned.
On October 15, after a strike supporter was hit by a stone, a crowd of strikers and strike supporters (local area union members) began to stone CR's buildings. Over 100 window panes were broken and five cars were overturned, while CR employees, constables and Schlink were trapped in the building until nearly midnight. They occasionally fired guns above the heads of the strikers. Finally, those trapped were rescued by local farmers who had been deputized. After the riot, CR sought arrest warrants for 64 people involved in the ruckus and turned down an offer by the Department of Labor to mediate the strike.
As a result of the stone riot, several CR strikers, including Dewey Palmer, were sent to the Warren County jail. Refusing to make bail, they staged a mock trial and food strike to dramatize their dismay at being "railroaded." (44) Unable to take such dramatics, the sheriff released the strikers on their own recognizance.
About this time a "citizen's committee" made up of several prominent liberals and clergymen led by ACLU head Roger Baldwin, the editor James Waterman Wise and Reinhold Niebuhr began attempts at arbitration. When the Niebuhr and Baldwin report was issued in November, it maintained that the "responsibility rest[ed] chiefly upon the management for aggravating a situation which in the early days it could have cured by accepting some form of meditation or arbitration."
The union brought their complaints of unfair bargaining before the National Labor Relations Board. On December 16 the NLRB hearing was held, presided over by Charles A. Wood. CR attacked the Union for its alleged relationship with the Communist Party and attacked the constitutionality of the laws establishing the NLRB. The union argued that CR refused to acknowledge the union's right to bargain. The NLRB hearings were tense. An attorney for the NLRB came close to "fisticuffs" with CR attorney Edward Garfield over Communist accusations. One female striker told of J.B. Matthews' "long-winded speeches" during early arbitration attempts. Matthews lunged from his table and started to interrupt, but finally stormed out of the hearing. Ultimately, the NLRB found for the union. Its report declared that the CR employees had been fired because of their Union activities and were to be reinstated. CR lost its appeal, but nevertheless ignored the NLRB's ruling. On January 13, 1936, the strike was called off.
Within a few days reports noted the formation of a "National Consumers Union" to be headed by Arthur Kallet and Dewey Palmer.
On the surface the 1935 strike was full of irony. It was ironic that a former bastion of liberalism and cutting-edge consumer idealism could turn so aggressively against its employees who were educated, skilled, and very idealistic. CR had a reputation as a mecca for young technicians with progressive ideals. But management and labor relations were never close to ideal. Even when CR was located in New York City, many employees complained bitterly about Schlink. Within a year, most of the New York employees who had moved with CR to Washington, N.J., returned to the City. Though Schlink understood the need for and possibilities of a consumer movement, he was unable to find a way to share power in a movement that could only properly function by taking full advantage of the intellectual firepower available. Schlink, Phillips and Matthews wanted control of their own shop and for this control they traded in any chance of finding the best minds to expand the movement. (45) What they did settle for, though, was complete control over a smaller organization.
Schlink, essentially the founder of the consumer testing movement, was considered a technically competent engineer, an expert on standards, and a pioneer in product testing, but his political twists, his incapacity to differentiate between the labor movement and Communists, his inability to find a way to share power with competent assistants, led to a rather dramatic fall from influence. Wanting complete control of the organization he created, Schlink saw organized campaigns where relative randomness existed, malignant Communism where social consciousness existed. The new Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports, enlisted initial support from many CR subscribers who felt betrayed by CR's labor stance, and was able to produce a more attractive magazine, and through direct mail built up a subscriber base that easily overtook CR's circulation.
Consumers' Research's main task was to test products. Despite its political flip-flops and despite the later domination of the field by CU, CR continued to test and rate products. Engineering had always been Schlink's main focus. CR's early testing was sent to laboratories or consultants such as the Electrical Testing Laboratory, Frontier Labs, Foster D. Snell Labs, and many others. After moving to Washington, N.J. in 1933, CR had the space to conduct its own testing of products. Over the next 50 years CR produced hundreds of small machines or gadgets to test how a product held up to stress, the reliability of a product, and the truth of advertised claims. CR designed machinery, devices and other gadgets to test razor blade sharpness, mattress-life, the durability of socks and other clothing, the fading of fabrics, the reliability of pens or pencils, the viscosity of motor oils, and the strength of iron or lamp cords. Other CR devices were designed to measure a product's wear and tear through tensile tests, shearing tests, abrasion tests, fading tests, hardness tests, compression tests, bending tests, impact tests and other tests. There were tests to measure the quality of linoleum, the cleanliness of dishwasher-washed dishes, and impact resistance in glassware. There were also tests to measure the safety and quality of electric blankets, tests to gauge the quality of steam irons, pressure tests on saucepans, tests on toothbrushes, tests to measure the strength of clothing fabric, tests to measure the durability of lawn mower blades, and tests to note bleeding in fabrics, shrinkage in shirts, and wear in phonograph records. CR also had a physical and chemical laboratory to test the chemical properties of or ingredients in products, and electrical equipment to test household motors, stereos, televisions, radios and many large appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers. Basically, by simulating the extended use of a product and determining the chemical properties of a product, CR was able to come up with recommendations for its subscribers. (46)
By assisting in the creation of its competition (CU), CR was doomed in its infancy to relative obscurity, though given its budgetary constraints and technical abilities, it produced an adequate magazine. After the strike CR became a small organization run by a close-knit group of people who wanted little outside influence. The next 50 years, in comparison with the first seven, were relatively quiet (with the exception of CR's red-baiting). Though Schlink and Phillips never shied away from expressing their opinions on any subject, CR's political views were now expressed in the new publication Consumers Digest (1937-1942), in the "Off the Editor's Chest" column in the Bulletin (1930s-1970s) and in letters to government officials (Congress, the FBI, or the Pentagon), subscribers, and others. Despite claims that CR did not concern itself with social or political issues, CR constantly collected data on suspected fellow travelers, labor groups and leftist organizations. (47)
The Board of Directors of Consumers Union was comprised of many former CR staffers and also former allies of Schlink in the consumer and labor communities. Colston Warne, CU President, had been an early sponsor of CR. A.J. Isserman had defended the CR strikers. John Heasty, James Gilman, Kallet, Dewey H. Palmer, Frank Palmer, Robert Brady and other CU board members all had associations with Schlink and CR. Schlink saw Consumers Union board members as a "transmission belt" for the ideals of the Communist Party. To Schlink, Arthur Kallet's dismissal as CU director in 1957 was not a disagreement with CU's board, but a Communist Party purge. Separate letters in 1942 and 1980 from Schlink describe CU's President, Colston E. Warne, in much the same terms. (48)
Consumers' Research was the main agitator in the effort to suppress Consumers Union. Almost every red-baiting commentary ever written about Consumers Union bears Consumers' Research's fingerprints. Consumers' Research was the "research" behind the consumer report J.B. Matthews wrote for the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1939. The report repeated much of the evidence CR had collected over the years about CU director Arthur Kallet. It also detailed past activities of labor organizer Walter Trumbull and CR employee Susan Jenkins, both of whom had little or nothing to do with Consumers Union. Both Don Wharton, author of a 1937 article on Arthur Kallet in Scribner's (49) and Larston D. Farrar, who wrote a 1952 article in the Freeman entitled "Consumers Union: A Red Front," received help from CR. (50) CR also published and distributed two posters or broadsides entitled "The Company They Keep" and "Let's Look at the Record." (51) About 1960, an editor of the magazine Ex-Camera revised his pamphlet "The Scandal of Consumers Union" with material supplied by Schlink. CR also assisted several local American Legion posts in their effort to ban Consumer Reports from newsstands and schools. Most anti-CU government reports or testimony generated from J.B. Matthews or others had their origin in CR's files. The endless information CR gathered about CU did not increase because it was new, but because the same information was repeated over and over in different publications or testimony. CR collected data on or targeted several people related in one way or another to CU, including Dexter Masters, Madeline Ross, Harold Aaron, Henry Grundfest, labor leader Ben Gold, writer Malcolm Cowley, Congressman Vito Marcantonio, Michael Quill, Paul Kern, Abraham Isserman, Goodwin Watson, Heywood Broun, Mildred Edie Brady and Robert Brady.
In 1953, after years of intensive lobbying by Colston E. Warne and others, CU was removed from HUAC's list of subversive organizations. Though CU remained on other lists, it was the only organization to be removed from HUAC's list. (52)
On the eve of World War II, the Consumers' Research Board of Directors, despite its vow to stick to the business of the "ultimate consumer," voted to "continue its presence at governmental and consumer meetings to counteract left-wing activities in the interest of national defense and unity of consumer relationships to defense problems." (53) It was at this time that CR was presented with another labor problem: several employees, most notably Alice B. Evans (administrative assistant and loyal employee during the strike), had filed for unemployment benefits. Schlink, considering CR an educational organization, fought any attempt to pay unemployment claims. The case ultimately reached the New Jersey Supreme Court, which found, as lower courts had, that CR was bound to unemployment laws like any other organization. (54) During World War II, much of CR's and CU's testing was undercut by rationing and by the postponement of new models of cars, tires and appliances. CR focused its attention on the bureaucratic methodology of the Office of Price Administration and lobbied for the expulsion of alleged Communists from government service.
In the mid-1940s CR staff members returned to writing books when Schlink's and Phillips' Meat Three Times A Day and More Than Skin Deep, Phillips' sequel on cosmetics, were published. (55) These books did not generate any notable response. After the war, Consumer' Research Bulletin subscription rates reached over 100,000 and with newsstand sales stayed around that number for most of the next three decades.
In the early 1950s the Federal Trade Commission ignored tests that noted the ineffectiveness of an automobile battery additive named AD-X2. Because of political pressure, the head of the Federal Bureau of Standards was fired (though later rehired). CR joined the fray with editorials against the product and its manufacturer, Pioneer, Inc., which promptly brought a lawsuit against CR. The suit was later dismissed. (56)
Issues of importance to the Board in the 1950s were CR's buildings and grounds, subscription promotions, audits, newsstand sales, price increases, and plans for testing products. (57) Throughout the 1950s, CR's Board of Directors remained fairly stable, including Schlink, Phillips, Reginald Joyce, Clark Willever and Ethel W. Brownell. Staff members also stayed at CR for long periods.
The Consumers' Research Bulletin was renamed Consumers Bulletin in 1957. This change did not go unnoticed at Consumers Union, as CR's new masthead had a distinct similarity to that of Consumer Reports . Colston E. Warne, president of CU, protested. Schlink responded that he did not see any similarities, and that CR had been around longer than CU. (58) Also in 1957 Consumers' Research board defined a new policy enabling CR to borrow products for testing from manufacturers as long they were chosen at random. (59)
In 1964, Consumers' Research contracted with Davis Publishing to test various products, including cameras. One result of this was a Photography Buyers' Guide published by the Davis division, Science and Mechanics. This contract gave CR access to more products to test, but left CR vulnerable to criticism that they were no longer independent of private industry. Indeed, Consumers Union jumped on CR in an editorial entitled: "CU Notes With Misgivings--Sad Tale of a Consumer Pioneer." The CU editorial questioned CR's claim that "the organization does not have and does not seek support from business or industry." CR replied to its subscribers that there was nothing wrong with the contract and observed that they had notified their subscribers of the contract. (60)
The late 1960s and early 1970s were difficult for CR. In 1969 Schlink appealed to subscribers to donate money to cover a deficit in the organization's finances. Many subscribers complied and sent along their opinions. One wrote: "I hope you will not have to discontinue, as I value the Bulletin, but can't you combine with Consumer Reports, which covers practically the same ground?" From another: "Your sad and alarming Club Bul. #102 may be proof that CR may have served its purpose. Is Consumers Union still alive?" A third wrote: "Please, Please continue your good work. We do all our major buying with the assistance of the Bulletin --and have for years." And yet another wrote: " I realize that feelings in the 30s were very bitter. But is this really relevant to your problem now? If both organizations (CU & CR) are truly devoted to giving accurate information about consumer products to consumers, as I believe, wouldn't a merger be the best way to accomplish this?" The budget shortfall was corrected and CR continued to publish. (61)
At about this time Schlink was singled out by President Nixon in a speech to Congress on consumer issues. (62) Schlink was honored as a distinguished alumnus by the University of Illinois, made a life fellow by the Franklin Institute and made a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. (63)
In 1970 Ruth I. Matthews, J.B's third wife and widow, was elected to the board of directors. Clark Willever, the director who had come on just as the strike started, also retired. Also about this time a lawsuit brought by AAMCO was dismissed before trial. (64) Erma Hinek, longtime CR employee, managing editor and board member died, and was replaced by another longtime employee, Angelita Winkler. (65) In 1973 the Consumers Bulletin was renamed Consumers' Research Magazine . Finally, after several years of declining subscriptions, Publishers Clearinghouse was allowed to offer Consumers' Research Magazine at a reduced rate in conjunction with its sweepstakes promotion. For years Schlink had rejected any association with Publishers Clearing-house because he believed that an organization with a sweepstakes indulged in a form of gambling. He relented, however, in view of the emergence of a lottery and other types of gambling in New Jersey. Within a year CR's subscription rates doubled to nearly 150,000 (not including newsstand sales) and CR raised the yearly subscription rate to $9.00. (66)
At one point in 1970, Schlink received a letter from Walker Sandbach, Director of Consumers Union, discussing a recent meeting with Stuart Chase. Sandbach asked Schlink for a meeting to discuss the early days of the consumer movement. A draft response drawn up indicated a willingness to meet, but the letter was never sent. One copy of Sandbach's letter ended up in a file entitled: "Offers to Run CR/Recent Passes at CR (1970-1974)." (67)
Because of increasing budget problems, Schlink's age and competition from other testing organizations in the early 1980s, CR was sold to conservative radio commentator M. Stanton Evans. Evans moved most of the operations to Washington, D.C. Some technical testing was continued at Washington, New Jersey, until 1983, when CR engineer Reginald Joyce was informed that his services would no longer be needed after 50 years. The magazine no longer tests products, although it continues to include the "Consumers' Observation Post" section and the movie ratings. Many articles are reprints of government reports. Consumers' Research Magazine averaged 12,855 subscribers for its monthly issues in 1994. (68)
For biographies of Stuart Chase, Angelita Winkler Hinek, Reginald Joyce, Arthur Kallet, J.B. Matthews, Dewey Palmer, M.C. Phillips, and F.J. Schlink, see Biographies .
(1) Stuart Chase and F.J. Schlink, Your Money's Worth (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1927), 1, 24.
(2) Your Money's Worth , 5.
(3) White Plains Community Church Calendar for March 1926. Consumers' Research Records, Box 23/15.
(4) See Kenneth Allen to F.J. Schlink, March 24, 1926. CR Box 23/15.
(5) "Contemporary Buncombe," New York Review of Literature , July 9, 1927. CR box 63.
(6) "Iconoclasm, More Buying, Less Selling," Tide , July 1927. CR box 63.
(7) Your Money's Worth , 254.
(8) Consumers' Club Commodity List , October 27, 1927. White Plains, NY.
(9) Henry Harap, The Education of the Consumer, A Study in Curriculum Material (New York: Macmillan Co., 1924).
(10) A notice in the January 15, 1928, edition of Survey , a social work periodical, offered membership in the Consumers' Club.
(11) F.J. Schlink to Charles F. Brush, April 13, 1929. CR box 18/16.
(13) Consumers' Club Commodity List , March 1928, second edition. CR box 65/2.
(14) Your Money's Worth , 245.
(15) "Memorandum For the Establishment of The Consumers Foundation," 1927. CR box 18/13.
(16) "Mrs. Elmhirst Ends Citizenship in U.S.," New York Times , 3/26/35. CR box 18/10.
(17) "Report of Experimental Period, Oct. 1928-June 1929." CR box 18/11.
(18) Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1929. CR box 41.
(19) Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1930. CR box 41.
(20) New Yorker , Jan. 9, 1937. CR box 84/4.
(21) Board of Directors meeting minutes, December 5 and 14, 1932. CR box 41.
(22) Colston Warne and Richard L.D. Morse, eds., The Consumer Movement-Lectures by Colston E. Warne (Manhattan, Kansas: Family Economics Trust Press, 1993), 49.
(23) Board of Director Meeting Minutes, December 5 and 14, 1932. CR box 41.
(24) CR's 40th Anniversary Talk by F.J. Schlink. History of CR, 1967-1979. CR box 23/10.
(25) Arthur Kallet and F.J. Schlink, 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs--Dangers in Everyday Food, Drugs and Cosmetics (New York: Vanguard Press, 1932).
(26) M.C. Phillips, Skin Deep--The Truth About Beauty Aids--Safe and Harmful (New York: Vanguard Press, 1934).
(27) J.B. Matthews, and R.E. Shallcross, Partners in Plunder (New York: Covcci Freide, 1935).
(28) J.B. Matthews, Guinea Pigs No More (New York: Covcci Freide, 1936).
(29) F.J. Schlink, Eat, Drink and Be Wary (New York: Covcci Freide, 1935).
(30) M.C. Phillips, and F.J. Schlink, Discovering Consumers (John Day Pamphlet # 43). (New York: The John Day Company, 1934).
(31) Arthur Kallet, Counterfeit (New York: Vanguard Press, 1935).
(32) James Rorty, Our Master's Voice: Advertising (New York: John Day), 1934.
(33) T. Swann Harding, The Joys of Ignorance , (New York: William Godwin, Inc., 1932).
(34) Eugene R. Beem: "The Beginnings of the Consumer Movement" in New Consumerism: Selected Readings edited by William T. Kelley (Columbus, Ohio: Grid Inc., 1973).
(35) See CR box 372 and elsewhere.
(36) See CR box 537-Radio and TV suppression and elsewhere.
(37) Government-FDA Legislation Series. CR boxes 349-165.
(38) Frank Dalton O'Sullivan, The Poison Pen of Jersey , The O'Sullivan Publishing House, Chicago, 1936. Upon O'Sullivan's death in the late 1930s, his estate offered ownership of the book to CR. See Administrative Files, CR box 21.
(39) G.L. Eskew, Guinea Pigs and Bugbears , (Chicago: Research Press, 1938).
(40) "Improbable Broadcasts . . .", Variety , January 15, 1935.
(41) Board of Directors meeting minutes, April 7 and May 10, 1933. Box 41. Reis became treasurer of Consumers Union for 25 years and left that position under strained conditions in the early 1960s.
(42) Board of Directors meeting minutes, Nov. 22, 1934. CR box 41.
(43) Board of Directors meeting minutes, May 2, 1935. CR box 41.
(44) Newark News , Oct. 23, 1935. Among newspaper clippings in strike files. CR boxes 422-423.
(45) See General Files boxes 418-426 for information on the Consumers' Research strike. Also see personnel records in the CR Administrative files and Board of Directors meeting minutes (boxes 41-43). Also see personnel files in Consumers Union file (boxes 195-210).
(46) See Technical Files especially Laboratory Notebooks (CR boxes 780-784) and Testing Agencies and Consultants (CR boxes 873-879).
(47) See "Introduction to Consumers' Research," p. 9. CR box 71/4
(48) Warne File in CU series. CR box 199.
(49) See Arthur Kallet's files in the CU series. CR boxes 196-197. Reference to Wharton's work on the Kallet article is also in the Publicity file, CR box 85.
(50) Consumers Union Series. CR box 201.
(51) See files on "communist connections" and the "Red Rope" files. Consumers Union series-General Files, CR boxes 200-201.
(52) Consumers Union series, CR boxes 195-210.
(53) Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1941. CR box 41.
(54) See Administrative Files-Legal Matters, CR boxes 30-31.
(55) F.J. Schlink and M.C. Phillips', Meat Three Times A Day , (New York: Richard R. Smith, 1946), and M.C. Phillips, More Than Skin Deep , (New York: Richard R. Smith, 1948).
(56) Technical File series on AD-X2 in boxes 836-841. Controversy mentioned elsewhere in collection.
(57) Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1950s. CR box 41.
(58) Publications and Production series in CR box 75. Also see Consumers Union file.
(59) Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1957. CR box 41.
(60) Consumers Union series. CR box 195.
(61) CR History file. CR box 23.
(62) Text of Nixon's Consumer speech, New York Times , October 31, 1969.
(63) See F.J. Schlink's personnel file. CR boxes 44-45.
(64) See Automobile Engines and Parts series in Technical Files, CR boxes 612-613. See also Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1968-1971. CR box 41.
(65) Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1970. Administrative Files, CR box 41.
(66) Board of Directors meeting minutes, 1973-1974. CR box 41.
(67) Walker Sandbach file Consumers Union series, CR box 199. "Offer to Run..." file in Office Management series in CR box 35.
(68) Consumers' Research Magazine , November 1994.
Consumers' Research pioneered consumer testing in the U.S. and the world. CR employed or had interactions with people such as Stuart Chase, who coined the term "New Deal," and J.B. Matthews, who popularized the term "Fellow Traveler." The use of the word "consumer" (as it applies to product testing) was popularized by Schlink's use of it in CR's name.
Stuart Chase was born on March 8, 1888, in Somersworth, N.H., graduated from Harvard in 1910 and began his career as a certified public accountant. Between 1917 and 1922 he worked for the Federal Trade Commission investigating meat packers. In 1922 he joined the Labor Bureau, Inc., and became a partner in charge of auditing and accounting until he left the organization in 1939. Chase met F.J. Schlink in the mid-1920s while working on The Tragedy of Waste (1925). He and Schlink collaborated on Your Money's Worth, which when published in 1927 became an immediate bestseller. Chase assisted Schlink in the founding of the Consumers' Club and later, Consumers' Research. His interest in the consumers movement and contacts in intellectual circles in New York, helped get Consumers' Research moving. He was the organization's first treasurer, and then first president. Much of the correspondence with the Elmhirst Foundation (CR's first benefactor) was signed by Chase. His ties with Consumers' Research were pretty much severed after 1931. During the 1930s he wrote several books dealing with economic issues and the impact of machines on man. These books included Men and Machines, 1929; Prosperity: Fact or Fiction, 1929; Mexico: A Study of Two Americas, 1931; A New Deal, 1932; The Economy of Abundance, 1934, Government in Business, 1935; Rich Land, Poor Land, 1936; The Tyranny of Words, 1938; The New Western Front, 1939. Chase, a member of Roosevelt's Brain Trust, coined the phrase "new deal." He was a consultant to the Securities & Exchange Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority and other organizations.
Between 1940 and 1970, Chase was the author of another 25 or so books. In the 1960s he supported President Johnson's Great Society programs. In 1961 he was a part of a delegation of business and intellectual leaders who toured the Soviet Union. He had also visited the Soviet Union just after he co-authored Your Money's Worth . Chase wrote a short piece for Consumer Reports (May 1961) 25th anniversary issue. He stated that "In a sense consumer testing was an inevitable response to the confusion of consumers beset by an ever more clamorous mass media. It was natural for intelligent buyers to wonder what ingredients produced 'soapier soap' and 'coffee-er coffee.' So if Chase and Schlink had not started it, somebody else would soon have come along. The times demanded it; it was a function of the technological imperative." Chase received honorary doctorates from American University, Emerson College and the University of New Haven. He died in November 1985 at his home in Redding, Connecticut, at the age of 97. (1)
Angelita Winkler Hinek
Angelita Von Munchhausen Winkler Hinek was born in Austria in 1923. She was associated with Consumers' Research between 1949 and 1977 in various capacities including managing editor after 1971. She authored The Real Munchhausen published in 1961 by Deven Adair. (2)
Reginald Joyce was born in Cheshire England in 1906. Taking degrees from Crewe Technical College and Manchester College of Technology, Joyce migrated to the United States about 1929. He worked at various engineering firms as a draftsman until joining Consumers' Research in 1932. His first work at Consumers' Research consisted of classifying and cataloging technical files and then conducting simple testing. Joyce was elected to the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1935. On the 2nd of January 1936, Joyce was elected to the CR's Board of Directors and also was elected Secretary of the Board to succeed Arthur Kallet. During the 1935 strike, Joyce's vacation was cancelled. By 1936 Joyce's working title was "engineer and assistant to the technical director." In the late 1940s Joyce was president of the Washington, N.J. township school board. On June 27, 1983, Joyce was fired after 51 years at CR because the new management decided to close the New Jersey office. (3)
Arthur Kallet was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1902. He received a B.S. degree from M.I.T. in 1924. From 1924 to 1927 he worked for the New York Edison Company. In 1927 he joined the American Standards Association where he edited "Industrial Standardization" and replaced F.J. Schlink as Assistant to the Director, Paul E. Agnew. He also did publicity for the New York Regional Plan Association between 1929 and 1932. Kallet became involved in Consumers' Research early in the organization's history. He first became a member of the Consumers' Research board in 1930 and served on until 1934. Between 1932 and 1935 he was the organization's secretary. In 1933 Schlink and Kallet published 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs . The book, about the dangers in everyday food, drugs and cosmetics, was a bestseller for two years and sold more than 250,000 copies. The book supposedly influenced President Roosevelt enough that he suggested Rexford G. Tugwell, a member of his 'brain trust,' develop a new Food and Drug bill. The Tugwell bill was immediately watered down, but not before Kallet espoused his headline-making views before the Senate hearing into the bill. The watered down bill, later called the Copeland Food, Drug & Cosmetics Bill, was passed in 1937. In 1935 Kallet published Counterfeit: Not Your Money But What It Buys, a book about scientific data in advertising.
When employees went out on strike against Consumers' Research in late summer, 1935, Kallet sided with the union. His job as secretary of the Consumers' Research Board of Directors and friendship with F.J. Schlink ended. Having contributed to many leftist magazines and supported the striking workers, Kallet became the subject of Consumers' Research's red-baiting attacks. What must have irked Schlink and Consumers' Research was that Kallet took Schlink's idea of product testing and made it successful in another setting. He helped form Consumers' Union, publishers of Consumer Reports . Kallet became the first director of Consumers Union in 1936 and served until 1957. Surviving the infancy of the publication, World War II, and constant red-baiting, Kallet managed to create a better looking magazine than Schlink's Consumer Bulletin and used effective subscription campaigns to make CU the premier consumer testing magazine in the country.
Kallet left Consumers Union in 1957 after arguing with CU Board President Colston E. Warne over the direction of the organization. The debate centered around whether simply to test products or to involve the organization in consumer causes related to the public interest. Schlink, in a letter (August 23, 1957) to a CR subscriber notes that the departure of Kallet "may be some manifestation of the current difficulties in the [Communist] Party which is reported to be fissioning into some five or six fragments".
In 1957, Kallet formed The Medical Letter with Dr. Harold Aaron, which evaluated drugs and therapeutics for physicians. Kallet also founded Buyers Laboratory in 1961, which tested office equipment and machinery for schools and other institutions. Schlink tracked Buyer's Lab for several years. In a letter dated November 16, 1961, Schlink wrote about Buyer's Lab and Kallet: "Membership is a mere trifle at $100 per year . . . There has long been a need for the type of service described and possibly it can be successfully marketed. However, it is a come-down for Kallet, since there does not seem to be anything for the rights of labor or their brave struggle against the wicked manufacturers of carbon paper . . . ."
Kallet died on Feb. 25, 1972. (4)
The great-great grandson of a Revolutionary War Colonel, J.B. Matthews was a political chameleon, a self-described Jekyll and Hyde. He loved fighting a cause until the cause became popular. He was an advocate for civil rights, a member of the American League Against War and Fascism with Earl Browder, and Executive Director of Senator Joseph McCarthy's Senate Permanent Investigation Sub-committee. He was a Methodist missionary in Java and later noted in the American Mercury that Protestant clergymen constituted the largest single group of Communist sympathizers in the nation. He was born in the Bible belt, became a well-known radical--speaking before thousands--and then as a result of CR's strike, he turned away from the left; actually, he turned on the left and became one of the nation's premier red-baiters. He went from being listed on the letterhead of several leftist organizations, to searching out leftist letterheads and branding everyone listed there a Communist.
Born in June 28, 1894, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky where Robert Penn Warren's mother was his second or third grade teacher, Matthews attended Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky. In 1915 he went to Java (Indonesia) where for six years he was treasurer for a mission. After studying at the Java Preachers Training School, he was admitted to the Methodist Malaysian Conference in 1916. While serving in Java, he married Grace Doswell Ison with whom he had four children. They returned to the U.S. in 1921, where Matthews received the degrees of Bachelor of Divinity and a Master of Arts from Drew University, and Master of Sacred Theology from Union Theological Seminary. After receiving these degrees and preaching for two years in Bound Brook, N.J., he taught Hebrew and religious history at Scarritt College in Nashville. After four years, his sermons opposing segregation and child labor got him fired. While supporting the La Follette presidential bid of 1924, Matthews espoused a sort of liberation theology favoring interracialism and pacificism. (5) After his dismissal from Scarritt he taught Hebrew at the African-American colleges, Fisk and Howard. (6) In 1929, Matthews joined the Socialist Party in New York and was hired by the Fellowship of Reconciliation as executive secretary. The Fellowship, devoted to racial and religious tolerance, fired him in 1933 after he told a crowd of 15,000 at Madison Square Garden that he favored a dictatorship of the proletariat to help stop Hitler. During a speaking tour for the League for Industrial Democracy, he claimed "Fascism is nothing but Capitalism gone nudist." (7) Matthews addressed countless meetings of leftist organizations. In his autobiography Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler, he listed over 50 organizations he had joined, lectured, or been involved with.
Possibly the endless internecine battles of the Depression, to figure out who was what kind of leftist, socialist or communist, caused Matthews to tire of Marx just as he had tired of mission work. (8) In search of a new line of work or movement, Matthews joined Consumers' Research full-time in 1933. He assisted with some product testing, wrote articles and lectured. Discussing CR's possible move to a rural area, Matthews "expressed preference for suicide rather than living in a small town." (9) Yet, in 1933 he moved to the small town of Washington, N.J., and became CR's Vice President, and even more importantly, became a big influence on F.J. Schlink's political thought.
In 1935 his book Partners in Plunder was published. (10) A diatribe against the "business dictatorship in the U.S.," the book was ridiculed by General Hugh Johnson in a review. His co-author Ruth E. Shallcross became his wife after his divorce from his first wife. This second marriage produced a son, but ended quickly. Matthews later noted that Partners in Plunder was a "stinking, nasty book. That's the trouble about writing books. Sometimes you want to repudiate what you've written. God forgive me for writing that." (11) In August of 1935, Matthews announced his candidacy for the New Jersey State Assembly. (12) The campaign lasted only a few weeks because of CR's looming labor problems. In 1936 he published Guinea Pigs No More . (13)
Matthews, one of the three members of Consumers' Research management to lead the opposition to the 1935 strike, was strident in his opposition to the union's demands. During the strike, CR employed Grace Matthews and J.B. Matthews, Jr. The younger Matthews' chores included microfilming records. One day on his way to work, Matthews Jr. was dragged from a bus carrying non-strikers and beaten up.
The 1944 New Yorker article on Matthews states that the strike's outcome in favor of management was his proudest accomplishment. With this "accomplishment" Matthews was exiled from the leftist lecture circuit. He blamed leftists. He felt that he was the victim of character assassination. Another article states that Matthews emerged from the strike and the banishment that followed as embittered and "regarded himself as the victim of a Communist plot." (14)
Why did Matthews not only reject the left, but turn on his former allies? Why did it take him so long to embrace the right-wing? Possibly it was his tendency to embrace unpopular causes with a vengeance. Matthews claimed moving to the country caused him to reevaluate some of his economic philosophies. The CR strike was a large influence. The fact that the CR strikers wanted Matthews and his influence on Schlink banished from CR may have had something to do with it. In 1953, Matthews, discussing why it took him so long to change his political views, stated: "the only reason I can think of is stupidity. I can't understand why I was so long enmeshed in those things." (15)
In 1938 after publishing his autobiography, Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler, Matthews found another career. Using his knowledge of leftist movements, Matthews first testified before, and then joined, the House Committee on Un-American Activities headed by Rep. Martin Dies. He became the committee's chief investigator. Described as Dies' "idea man," Matthews collected data on anything and everything vaguely red. During this period he received information on suspected reds from M.C. Phillips and F.J. Schlink. He was credited with ghostwritting Dies' book The Trojan Horse in America . He claimed the young actress Shirley Temple may have been duped by Communists. In his book The Committee, Walter Goodman wrote that "The Dies Committee prized Matthews for his delusions, for his simplifications, and most especially, for his supply of names." (16)
After taking on many of his former colleagues in New York radical circles, Matthews turned on consumers. On a Sunday in December 1939, Dies and Matthews got together in an empty committee room and released a report written by Matthews that claimed most consumer and cooperative organizations were not only Communist fronts but anti-advertising. (17) The main exception was Consumers' Research. The main target was Consumers Union. Goodman states that Matthews was inspired or "fired by a need to be fervent about something," (18) and goes on to say that "despite all of his experience, Matthews had no perspective on the times that produced the fronts and small insights into the motives that drew people to them." (19)
After he was shunned by the left-leaning lecture circuit, Matthews was embraced by crowds in need of right-wing or anti-Communist lectures. His 1945 lecture publicity states that he was the man who put the phrase "fellow traveler" in the "American" language. In contrast, his 1934 lecture publicity states that he visited the Soviet Union four times. (20)
Matthews left the House Committee in 1945 and worked for John A. Clements Associates and as a consultant to Hearst publications on the communist threat. He married his third wife, Ruth A. Matthews, an ultra-conservative, in 1949.
In 1953, Matthews was hired by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy to serve as executive director of the Senate Permanent Investigations Sub-committee. McCarthy described Matthews as a "star spangled American." (21) Within a few weeks, Matthews was fired because of an article he wrote in the American Mercury which stated that Protestant clergymen were the largest single group of Communist sympathizers in the nation. The discovery of the article by the media led to such an uproar that Vice President Nixon, and then President Eisenhower, became involved in efforts to get him off the committee.
After being fired from McCarthy's Committee, Matthews wrote for several right-wing periodicals and lectured. He was on the masthead of the National Review and the American Opinion, the periodical of the John Birch Society. J.B. Matthews, Jr., the eldest son of Matthews' and Grace Matthews, and former Consumers' Research strike replacement worker, had moved to Springfield, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., in the late 1950s. He worked for the Federal Aviation Agency as an engineer. On April 11, 1959, J.B. Matthews, Jr., clubbed his three teenage children to death with a baseball bat and then proceeded to kill himself by slitting his throat with a knife. (22) The elder Matthews died on July 16, 1966, of Parkinson's disease. (23)
Dewey Palmer was born on May 24, 1889 in Stamford, Nebraska. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 1922 and earned a Master's Degree in Physics from Iowa State University. On his way to Columbia University to pursue a doctorate in physics about 1931, Dewey Palmer stopped off at Consumers' Research and joined the technical staff. Soon he was a member of the Board of Directors and technical supervisor. When the CR staff went out on strike in 1935, Palmer sided with the strikers and was fired from the Board. In 1936 he was one of the founding members of Consumers Union. He worked there until 1939. Next Palmer went to work for the Hospital Bureau of Standards and Supplies. In 1955 he moved to Clay-Adams, Inc., as director of product development. In 1961, he became director of medical engineering of Becton, Dickinson & Co. in Rutherford, N.J. After his retirement he worked as a consultant in designing equipment relating to cancer detection. He was co-author with L.E. Crook of Millions on Wheels . He died in 1971. (24)
M.C. Phillips was born in Clifton or Upper Montclair, N.J., in 1903. She attended Wellesley College. She joined Consumers' Research in 1932 and was a member of the Board of Directors of CR between 1934 and 1980. She married F.J. Schlink in 1932. Along with J.B. Matthews, Phillips was a major influence on Schlink and ultimately on the ideology of CR. Her book on the cosmetic industry, Skin Deep, was a bestseller in 1934. Other publications include Discovering Consumers, Meat Three Times a Day, (with F.J. Schlink), and More Than Skin Deep . She was editor of CR's Consumer Digest between 1937 and 1941, and was editor of Consumer Bulletin and Consumers' Research Magazine . She developed the Observation Post section in CR's magazines. She was also involved in voluntary standards. She died in 1981. (25)
F.J. Schlink has been called the Ralph Nader of his day (26) and his book (co-written with Stuart Chase) Your Money's Worth was called the consumer's Uncle Tom's Cabin . (27) These descriptions, made 50 years apart, represent some of the opinions of a true consumer pioneer, caught up in too much contradictory dogma and ideology, and nearly forgotten in the history of the consumer movement. While Your Money's Worth, and later 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs (co-written with Arthur Kallet), galvanized consumers and helped create the consumer movement (thus the comparison to Stowe's novel), the Nader remark, made because Schlink was one of the more important early consumer activists, implies that Schlink's exile from national prominence after 1935 created a vacuum in the consumer movement that was not filled until Nader gained prominence. It should be noted that Schlink had no stomach for Nader, although he did collect several thousand news clippings relating to Nader.
Born in Peoria, Illinois, Frederick John Schlink was the son of Valentine L. and Margaret Brutcher Schlink. He graduated from Peoria High School and from the University of Illinois with a B.S. degree in 1912. In 1917, he received a Mechanical Engineering degree from the same school. Between 1913 and 1919, Schlink worked at the Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., where he wrote several monographs on measurement and other technical subjects, and where he rose to the position of assistant to the director. In 1919, he was awarded the Edward Longstreet Medal of the Franklin Institute. During 1919 and 1920, he worked in Akron Ohio for the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. as head of the instrument department. Between 1920 and 1922, Schlink worked for Western Electric Co. (later Bell Telephone Laboratories).
Between 1922 and 1931, Schlink worked as assistant to Paul E. Agnew at the American Engineering Standards Committee, which changed its name to the American Standards Association in the late 1920s. At the ASA, Schlink worked on several projects, including standards for Czechoslovakia, specifications and standards in government, purchase methods of the navy and army, and methods for testing products. During his tenure at the ASES/ASA Schlink served as an independent consultant to several organizations on standards. These organizations included Macy's, the Federation for Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies, the State of Pennsylvania, and finally, the Consumers' Club which evolved into Consumers' Research, Inc. During his professional career prior to Consumers' Research's formation, Schlink wrote for several technical journals, purchasing publications, Women's Wear Daily, and other publications on standardization issues and mechanical measurement. Some of Schlink's earliest writings included "Efficiency in the Arrangement of the Desk (1917)," and "New Ways of Using Index Cards (1919)." Many of these early writings were monographs written for the Bureau of Standards. Some are collected in the Consumers' Research records at Rutgers and others are available in the F.J. Schlink collection at the University of Wyoming.
During the mid-1920s he worked with Stuart Chase on articles that evolved into the best-selling book Your Money's Worth . After the book was published, Schlink received large amounts of mail asking for critical and competent information on consumer products. In response to the book and this overwhelming mail, Schlink assisted in the formation of a Consumers' Club. Out of a meeting at a church in White Plains, N.Y., in 1927 came the Consumers' Club Commodity List. Soon the Club's membership grew. By the end of 1929, the Club evolved into Consumers' Research, Inc., with Schlink as Technical Director.
In 1932, Schlink co-authored (with Arthur Kallet) the best-selling book 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs . The book sold over 250,000 copies. In 1935, Schlink published Eat, Drink and Be Wary . Schlink served as adjunct professor of Consumer Economics at the University of Tennessee. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. In 1969, Schlink and Your Money's Worth were mentioned by President Nixon in his consumer address to Congress.
During the first five years of Consumers' Research, membership grew to over 50,000 with close to 60 people employed in various technical, administrative and editorial jobs. Schlink, then, headed an organization with quite a series of natural growing pains and many consequent problems. With funding from the Elmhirst Foundation, the organization was able to hire an administrative assistant. As the organization's membership grew, more employees were hired. Schlink's Board of Directors and his employees consisted of technical people (Dewey Palmer, Arthur Kallet), writers (Alexander Crosby, George Soule), and even some agitators (J.B. Matthews). When the organization moved to rural Washington, New Jersey, in 1933, several, if not most, of the formerly urbanite employees quit.
Schlink's ambitions and demands converged to create employee problems even before the 1935 strike and the move to New Jersey. Schlink, described as "lean freckled [and] didactic," (28) was depicted by a resigning employee as idolizing efficiency while "at the same time [having] the highest reputation for disorganization" and accused of "wasting thousands in the constant training of new employment." (29) In another 1933 resignation letter, early Schlink assistant, Eleanor Loeb, noted that Schlink's "innately sanguine temperament" resulted in an "unwillingness to countenance honesty of opinion" that "seriously interfered with the natural growth of Consumers' Research." (30) Schlink's political views were generally leftist or more progressive and these views corresponded with Consumers' Research's early editorial stance. One note states that Schlink intended to vote for Norman Thomas, the socialist candidate in 1928. (31) Schlink was also a speaker for the League of Industrial Democracy. The early meetings of the White Plains groups discussed co-operative purchasing. CBS radio tried to censor his criticism of the NRA in a 1934 address. In the early 1930s Consumers' Research was painted red by advertising and industrial concerns who wanted to sell their products independent of any outside testing organization. Schlink was particularly critical of the Roosevelt Administration's handling of consumption issues, the National Recovery Administration's Consumer Advisory Board and the attempt by Congress to reform the Food and Drug Administration.
With the influence of J.B. Matthews and M.C. Phillips (Schlink's wife), Schlink was against any movement that did not take into account the needs of the consumer. So at times he was anti-Roosevelt, anti-advertising, anti-industry, anti-fascist, and anti-Hearst. After the 1935 strike he became anti-communist. The strike, which involved very few long-time employees,caused Matthews, Phillips, and Schlink to reevaluate their political stances and become anti-labor, anti-NLRB, anti-Communist, anti-leftist, anti-liberal (although not so anti-Hearst or anti-industry as before). How this political reevaluation came about is worthy of debate. Schlink claimed it was a simple matter of one group (Communists) trying to take over the organization. For the next 40 years, CR made sure anyone who asked received flimsy or circumstantial documentation that the strikers and the people behind the strike were working for the Communist Party. But also to be considered in this ideological flip-flop is Schlink's shock at having his workers turn against him, and the violence of the strike itself, when the strikers stoned CR's headquarters and attacked non-striking workers on a bus. A year after the strike, Schlink was described as "to the right of [Presidential candidate Alf] Landon." (32) Schlink died on January 15, 1995. (33)
(1) Sources include Stuart Chase personnel file, CR box 42. Also see the early Consumers' Club correspondence in the CR History section in box 23 and finance series in box 18. Also New York Times , obituary November 17, 1985; Who Was Who in America (1986); and Contemporary Authors .
(2) See personnel file, CR box 42.
(3) Personnel file in CR box 43. Joyce was interviewed by Kathleen G. Donohue in 1988 for her University of Virginia thesis and dissertation: "Challenging Caveat Emptor: F.J. Schlink and the Ideology of Consumerism" (1989) and "Conceptualizing the Good Society," (1993).
(4) Arthur Kallet's presence is scattered throughout this collection. There are separate personnel files in CR boxes 43, 196 and 197. See also the CR Strike file, the Food and Drug Administrative Legislation series, Consumers Union series and the files on 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs . Obituary in New York Times , Feb. 26, 1972.
(5) J.B. Matthews, Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler , (New York: Mount Vernon Publishers, 1938), 57.
(6) Matthews referred to himself as Dr. Matthews. He had no doctorate. The sequences of events, university degrees and associations deserve more thorough investigation. One source claims Matthews got a degree from Columbia, another says he did not. In other words, Matthews, on occasion, may have padded his resume.
(7) Matthew Josephson and Russell Maloney, "Profiles--The Testimony of a Sinner," New Yorker , April 22, 1944.
(8) New Yorker article, April 22, 1944.
(9) Board of Directors meeting minutes, Dec. 1932. CR box 41.
(10) J.B. Matthews and R.E. Shallcross, Partners in Plunder--The Cost of Business Dictatorship , (Washington, N.J.: Consumers Research Inc., 1935).
(11) Washington Evening Star , (D.C.), July 9, 1953.
(12) Washington Star , (N.J.), July 19, 1935.
(13) J.B. Matthews, Guinea Pigs No More . (Washington, N.J.: Consumers' Research, Inc., 1936.)
(14) Paul Hutchinson, "The J.B. Matthews Story," Christian Century , July 29, 1953.
(15) Washington Evening Star , (D.C.), July 9, 1953.
(16) Walter Goodman. The Committee . (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 1968), 32-45.
(17) Politics--Anti-Communism and Other Movements series, CR boxes 504-505.
(18) Goodman, 35.
(19) Goodman, 40.
(20) Politics--Anti-Communism and Other Movement series, CR boxes 504-505. Also see Matthews' personnel file CR box 43.
(21) "J.B. Matthews, Leftist Turned Conservative, Dies," New York Times , July 17, 1966.
(22) "Father Kills His 3 Children and Slays Self With Butcher Knife," Washington Post and Times Herald , April 12, 1959.
(23) Matthews' papers are at Duke University--although most of these papers concern the period after he worked at CR. Longer descriptions of Matthews include the 1944 New Yorker article, and the 1953 Christian Century article, the 1953 Washington Evening Star , (D.C.) article. Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler is an interesting source. Goodman's The Committee and the University of Virginia thesis and dissertation by Kathleen G. Donohue also have discussions of Matthews. The CR collection has Matthews materials throughout. The Politics file (boxes 502-505) has much material on Matthews, including the McCarthy controversy and memos from Schlink and Phillips. Matthews' personnel file is in CR box 43. The Publicity series in the Administrative Files has speeches by Matthews (box 88) and speaking bureau materials (box 87). Also note the Strike file (boxes 418-426), including the NLRB hearing transcripts. Matthews did some testing of products--see the Technical Files laboratory reports (box 782) and any of the specific test files.
(24) "Dewey Palmer, Physicist, Dies; A Founder of Consumers Union," New York Times , May 17, 1971. "Dewey Palmer of Oradell, 72; A Consumers Union Founder," The Record , May 17, 1971. Material on Palmer can also be found in CR's Personnel records (Box 44) and in the CU series (boxes 195-210). CR records have many references to him in the technical, administrative and general files. An oral history was conducted with Palmer prior to his death and is at the Consumers Union archives.
(25) "In Memoriam," Consumers' Research Magazine (June 1981). See personnel file (box 44) and manuscripts of books in Publications series.
(26) Warne and Morse, The Consumer Movement , 22.
(27) Sybil (Shainwald) Schwartz, "The Genesis and Growth of the First Consumer Testing Organization." Thesis. Columbia University, 1971. Page 36.
(28) Time , September 26, 1938.
(29) Margaret Ann Bailey to Schlink, May 31, 1933. Eleanor Loeb Personnel Files, CR box 43.
(30) Eleanor Loeb to F.J. Schlink, August 14, 1933. Loeb Personnel File, CR box 43.
(31) Schlink Personnel Files, CR box 45.
(32) "Schlink Found Slinking In Our Letters By Tide ," Drug World Oct 9, 1936.
(33) The CR collection is in some respects the F.J. Schlink collection. His imprint is everywhere. Note the Personnel files (boxes 44-45), Schlink's writings and speeches (boxes 90-94), the publications--books series (boxes 58-64) and the CR History files (box 23). Also note Schwartz's thesis, "The Genesis and Growth of the First Consumer Testing Organization"; Kathleen G. Donohue's thesis and dissertation ("Conceptualizing the Good Society" and "Challenging Caveat Emptor: F.J. Schlink and the Ideology of Consumerism"); and Warne's lectures. A small collection of Schlink materials (mostly publications) is at the University of Wyoming. Schlink's obituary appeared in the January 16, 1995 edition of the (Newark) Star-Ledger .
Stuart Chase born.
Frederick J. Schlink born in Peoria, Illinois, to Valentine L. Schlink and Margaret Brutcher Schlink.
J.B. Matthews born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
Dewey Palmer born.
Arthur Kallet born.
M.C. Phillips born in Upper Montclair or Clifton, N.J.
F.J. Schlink receives B.S. from University of Illinois.
1913- 1919: F.J. Schlink at the National Bureau of Standards.
Schlink receives Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Illinois.
1919- 1920: F. J. Schlink physicist for Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in Akron, Ohio.
1920- 1922: F. J. Schlink mechanical engineer-physicist at Western Electric Co., New York.
1922- 1931: F. J. Schlink is Assistant Secretary of the American Standards Association.
1925- 1926: Stuart Chase and F. J. Schlink publish a two-part article called "A Few Billion for Consumers," in the December 30, 1925, and the January 6, 1926, New Republic.
On March 23 Chase and Schlink speak at the Men's Discussion Club on "More and better goods through standards" at the White Plains Community Church at Maple and Longview Avenues in White Plains, New York. Schlink appointed to committee to form commodity club.
First Report of Committee on Certification of Consumers' Goods, April 4.
Five-part series entitled "Consumers in Wonderland" appears in New Republic , Feb. 2-March 2. Three other issues (April-June) contain material on the articles.
Stuart Chase's and F.J. Schlink's Your Money's Worth is published in July.
Consumers' Club Commodity List published October 27.
1927- 1928: 565 members.
1928- 1929: Consumers' Club bulletins first published.
Consumers' Research incorporated in New York.
CR publication Scientific Buying is sent out to subscribers.
1929- 1930: Board of Directors: Stuart Chase, Edith A. Ayres, Morris Ernst, Mathilde C. Hader, Arthur Kellogg, Eduard C. Lindeman, F.J. Schlink, and George Soule.
1930- 1932: Consumers' Research Confidential Bulletin Service published. Eleanor S. Loeb listed as Assistant Editor.
1930- 1935: Consumers Research Handbook of Buying published.
1931- 1932: Board of Directors F.J. Schlink, E.J. Lever, Bernard Reis, Arthur Kallet, Donald McConnell, George Soule, Bradford Young, and Stuart Chase.
1931- 1935: Consumers Research General Bulletin published. M.C. Phillips, editor.
Dewey Palmer joins Consumers' Research.
Schlink marries M.C. Phillips.
R. Joyce employed by Consumers' Research.
1932- 1935: Technical Experts and Editors for various publications include: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, R. Joyce, D. McKown, Eleanor S. Loeb, Alice B. Evans, Claire Loeb, Virginia Allison, R. Joyce, Dewey H. Palmer, R.A. Wandling, J.B. Matthews, and E.W. Cheney.
J.B. Matthews begins full-time work at Consumers' Research.
Schlink anti-NRA speech censored by CBS radio and then aired after protests.
Consumers' Research relocated to Washington, New Jersey.
Arthur Kallet and Schlink's 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs published.
1933- 1934: Board of Directors: F.J. Schlink, Benson Y. Landis, J.B. Matthews, Bradford Young, Arthur Kallet, and George Soule.
M.C. Phillips' and Schlink's pamphlet Discovering Consumers published. Call for establishment of Department of the Consumer.
M.C. Phillips' Skin Deep published.
J.B. Matthews appears on CR masthead.
1934- 1935: Consumers Research Confidential Bulletin published.
William Consodine Consumers' Research counsel.
J.B. Matthews' and R.E. Shallcross' Partners in Plunder published.
1935- 1957: Consumers' Research Bulletin published.
J.B. Matthews enters and then quits race for New Jersey State Assembly.
Schlink publishes Eat, Drink and Be Wary.
Consumers' Research staff strikes. Dewey Palmer fired from CR Board. Arthur Kallet fired as CR Secretary. Strike fails.
Board of Directors: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, J.B. Matthews, and Dewey Palmer (replaced by Clark Willever).
Circulation: January--49,000. October--58,000. December--55,000.
Consumers Union formed.
J.B. Matthews' Guinea Pigs No More published.
Frank Dalton O'Sullivan's The Poison Pen of New Jersey (anti-CR book) published.
1936- 1938: Technical Experts and Editors: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, J.B. Matthews, R. Joyce, E.W. Cheney, and E.G. Watts Jr.
1936- 1973: Consumers Bulletin Annual published.
Consumers Digest begins publishing. F.J. Schlink, J.B. Matthews and M.C. Phillips on masthead (1937-1938). M.C. Phillips, editor and E. Albright, circulation director (1938-1941).
J.B. Matthews leaves Consumers' Research for the Martin Dies led House Un-American Activities Committee as Director of Research.
J.B. Matthews' Odyssey of a Fellow Traveler published.
1938- 1942: Technical Experts and Editors: F.J. Schlink, R. Joyce, E.W. Cheney, and Thomas W. Roberts.
Dies and Matthews release report on Communists in the consumer movement.
Schlink talks at Seton Hall College on Communist threat.
Circulation of CR publications: Between 50,000 and 59,000.
Consumers' Digest ceases publication.
Technical Experts and Editors: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, A.R. Greenleaf, E.W. Cheney, and Thomas W. Roberts.
1942- 1945: William Consodine at Pentagon. Schlink sends him information on alleged subversives.
Circulation of CR publications: Between 30,000 and 38,000.
Profile of J.B. Matthews appears in April 22 New Yorker.
Technical Experts and Editors at CR: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, R. Joyce, A. R. Greenleaf, and Charles Berier.
Schlink's and Phillip's Meat Three Times A Day published.
Phillips' More Than Skin Deep published.
Technical Experts and Editors at CR: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, R. Joyce, A. R. Greenleaf, Dwight C. Aten, Erma A. Hinek.
J.B. Matthews forced to resign from Senator Joseph McCarthy's committee after less than a month because of article on "reds and the Protestant clergy."
Pioneer Inc., maker of AD-X2, sues CR and later drops suit.
Consumers Union removed from House Un-American Activities Committee's list of subversive organizations.
Technical Experts and Editors at CR: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, R. Joyce, A. R. Greenleaf, Dwight C. Aten, and Erma A. Hinek.
Arthur Kallet leaves Consumers Union.
1957- 1973: Consumers Bulletin published.
Technical Experts and Editors at CR: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, R. Joyce, A. R. Greenleaf, Dwight C. Aten, Erma A. Hinek, Donald M. Berk, and C.D. Cornish.
Circulation of CR publications: approx. 100,000.
Technical Experts and Editors at CR: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, R. Joyce, Dwight C. Aten, Erma A. Hinek, Donald M. Berk, Angelita M. Winkler, William Lockfield, Edith B. Armbrecht.
J.B. Matthew dies.
Average press run: 113,000.
Schlink and Chase mentioned in President Nixon's consumer address to Congress.
Technical Experts and Editors at CR: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, R. Joyce, Dwight C. Aten, Erma A. Hinek (managing editor) Donald M. Berk, Angelita M. Winkler.
Dewey Palmer dies.
Consumers' Research Magazine published.
1973- 1980: Consumers' Research Magazine Handbook of Buying ussue published.
Technical Experts and Editors at CR: F.J. Schlink, M.C. Phillips, R. Joyce, Dwight C. Aten, Angelita M. Winkler Hinek (managing editor), Robert J. Haney, Clyde R. Kerrick, and W. Jay Szinyei.
Average press run of CR publications: 204,000.
M.C. Phillips dies.
Consumers' Research sold to M. Stanton Evans. Moves most functions to Washington, D.C.
Average press run: 52,000.
Consumers' Research completely shuts down testing operations in Washington, New Jersey. R. Joyce fired.
Rutgers University Libraries' Special Collections acquires CR archives.
Stuart Chase dies.
F.J. Schlink is 100 years old.
Consumers' Research Magazine continues to be published out of Washington, D.C. without testing. Circulation averages 12,855.
F.J. Schlink dies on January 15.
From the guide to the Records of Consumers' Research, Inc., 1910-1983, bulk 1928-1980, (Rutgers University. Special Collections and University Archives)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Union of Soviet Socialist Republics|
|Union of Soviet Socialist Republics|
|Union of Soviet Socialist Republics|
|Trinidad and Tobago|
|Office equipment and supplies|
|Sound--equipment and supplies|
|Single-lens reflex cameras|
|Serials subscription agencies|
|Electric apparatus and appliances|
|Electric current rectifiers|
|Fishing--Equipment and supplies|
|Communications and traffic|
|Musical instruments--Equipment and supplies|
|American Bantam automobile|
|Coloring matter in food|
|New Deal, 1933-1939|
|Quacks and quackery|
|General Motors automobile|
|Flammable fabrics--Law and legislation|
|Varnish and varnishing|
|Antique and classic cars|
|Blender (culinary equipment)|
|Frazer Nash automobile|
|Collective labor agreements|
|Fire prevention--equipment and supplies|
|Nash metropolitan automobile|
|Furnaces--Conversion to natural gas|
|Electronic apparatus and appliances|
|Universities and colleges|
|Consumer affairs departments|
|Gardening--Equipment and supplies|
|Mixers (Kitchen appliances)|
|Absorption of sound|
|Bolts and nuts|
|Brooms and brushes|
|Radio--Receivers and reception|
|Labels--Law and legislation|
|Television--Transmitters and transmission|
|food adulteration and inspection|
|Consumer protection--History--20th century|
|Writing--Materials and instruments|
|Hair--Care and hygiene|
|Consumer protection--Law and legislation|
|Gas as fuel|
|Home economics--Equipment and supplies|
|Automobiles--Transmission devices, automatic|
|Food law and legislation|
|Electric eye cameras|
|Cosmetics--History and criticism|
|Weights and measures|
|Television--Ultrahigh frequency apparatus and supplies|
|Skin--Care and hygiene|
|Ambiguity in advertising|
|Electric circuit breakers|
|Labor law and legislation|
|Furnaces--Conversion to coal|
|Child restraint systems in automobiles|
|Cold weather clothing|
|Locks and keys|
|Magnetic recorders and recording|
|Sleighs and sledges|
|Candles and light|
|Oils and fats, Edible|
|Sweeping and dusting|
|Quadrophonic sound systems|
|Television--Receivers and reception|
|Dyes and dyeing|
|Poloroid land cameras|
|Radio frequency modulation|
|Education Social aspects|
|War, cost of|
|Heating--Equipment and supplies|
|Airbag restraint systems|
|Sound--Recording and reproducing|
|Plumbing--Equipment and supplies|
|Power lawn mowers|
|Military art and science|
|Dwellings--Heating and ventilation|
|Color television--Equipment and supplies|
|World War, 1939-1945--Social aspects|
|Scissors and shears|
|Scientific apparatus and instruments|
|Ultraviolet radiation--Physiological effect|
|Skis and skiing--Equipment and supplies|
|Clocks and watches|
|World War, 1939-1945|
|Lubrication and lubricants--Additives|
|World War, 1939-1945--Economic aspects|
|Mail order selling|
|Motor vehicles--Pollution control devices|
|Automobile industry and trade--Law and legislation|
|Household appliances, electric|
|Strikes and lockouts|
|House painting--Equipment and supplies|
|Clothing and dress|
|Commercial products--Standards and specifications|
|Automobile industry and trade|
|Stereophonic sound systems|
|Undertakers and undertaking|
|World War, 1939-1945--Planning|
|High-fidelity sound systems|
|Tires--Retreading and recapping|
|Stereophonic sound sytems|
|Boats and boating|
|Testing--Equipment and supplies|
|Convection oven cooking|
|Petroleum as fuel|
|World War, 1939-1945--Finance|
|Scales (weighing instruments)|
|Buildings--Repair and reconstruction|
|Funeral rites and ceremonies|
|Electric apparatus and appliances--Maintenance and repair|
|Temperature measuring instruments|
|Automobiles--Equipment and supplies|
|Hunting--Equipment and supplies|
|Correspondence schools and courses|
|World War, 1939-1945--Manpower|
|Automobiles--Design and construction|
|Refrigeration and refrigerating machinery|
|Camping--Equipment and supplies|
|Automobiles--Maintenance and repair|
|Drugs--Law and legislation|
|Consumer protection--United States|
|Radio--Equipment and supplies|
|Clothing and dress--Care|
|Motion picture cameras|
|Dwellings--Maintenance and repair|
|Lawns--Equipment and supplies|
|Photography--Apparatus and supplies|
|American Motors automobile|
|Heating--Law and legislation|
|Gasoline--Law and legislation|
|Cleaning--Equipment and supplies|
|Electric apparatus and supplies|
|Building--Equipment and supplies|
|Television--Equipment and supplies|
|Clothing and dress measurement|