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Newton Bishop Drury Oral History Interview, Part II

Oral History Interview with
Newton Bishop Drury

Director, National Park Service, 1940-51.

Berkeley, California
University of California
University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office

1972 by The Regents of the University of California

Part II

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Newton Bishop Drury Parts]

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview donated to the Harry S. Truman Library. The reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word, although some editing was done.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement between the Regents of the University of California and Newton B. Drury, dated October 18, 1972. The manuscript is thereby made available for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley.

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.The legal agreement with Newton B. Drury requires that he be notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond.

Opened 1972
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Newton Bishop Drury Parts]


Oral History Interview with
Newton Bishop Drury


Berkeley, California
University of California
University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office

1972 by The Regents of the University of California

Part II





Formation of the Drury Advertising Company

FRY: After the war you and Aubrey decided to organize the advertising agency, is that right?

DRURY: Yes; that was in 1919 when I was teaching oral English at the University and Aubrey was associate editor with the Journal of Electricity. For a short while he was also editor for the Extension Division, University of California.

But fairly early in the year 1919, we decided to form a public relations and advertising agency in San Francisco which continued until Aubrey's death in 1959. At my age now, I think that I probably won't carry it on, and my offspring are all gainfully employed in other fields, so that much as I regret it, I imagine we'll dissolve the Drury Company as a corporation. But it did have a very interesting career and it was through it that both Aubrey and I were put in touch with some very worthwhile movements.

Before I talk about the Save-the-Redwoods League, I might mention an early campaign of the 1920's that the Drury Company handled for several years to help get the metric system of weights and measures adopted in the United States.

FRY: So it would be standardized throughout the world?

DRURY: Yes; that was a very interesting campaign. It was chiefly Aubrey's concern and we can go into it more


fully later on when I am describing Aubrey's contributions to the activities of the agency. A great many educational accounts were handled by the company too, mostly by Aubrey.

FRY: Helping schools advertise?

DRURY: Yes, to advertise and explain their programs. In fact, for several years, we acted as the public relations agency for the University of California. We've always had a very close touch with them, either on a professional basis or as alumni.

FRY: I wonder what prompted you and Aubrey to form an advertising agency instead of going into something else? You obviously had very broad talents and it must have been hard to narrow this down.

DRURY: Well, both of us had done newspaper work. It seemed to us that that was a field in which we could use whatever talents we might have, and we had opportunities to represent worthwhile causes.

Then following that for several years, ten or fifteen years, a good 50 per cent of the Drury Company organization as it developed was in the more commercial field--industrial and manufacturing advertising, advertising for services like insurance and real estate, and that kind of thing. You must remember that we were about forty years younger then. [Laughter] We could put our full time on a lot of different jobs.

FRY: I was just wondering about the general picture of advertising in the early twenties when you first started this. Was your agency fairly typical then?

DRURY: No. Ours was a small agency, a service agency. There


were half a dozen of the nation-wide advertising companies who controlled the big accounts. Our accounts were mostly local manufacturers. We had a mattress maker, a bedspring maker, a gas furnace maker.  A great many of our accounts had to do with associations. We carried on a campaign for the Pacific Coast Gas Association, which is made up of people who are in that general industry. There were associations like the Wholesale Grocers and others for whom we carried on campaigns

Of course that kind of work involves, first of all, planning, programming. Next, it requires the production of whatever informative material is needed to get the message to the right audience. Not the least important phase of that kind of work--and this applies to everything else I've been in--is some system of score-keeping, some way of keeping track of what you've done and what you've accomplished. It's surprising how difficult that phase of the matter is.

FRY: Finding out if you've really influenced the people?

DRURY: Yes; as a basis for future planning, and to find out what you've already done.

FRY: Did these commercial campaigns ever make use of bill boards?

DRURY: We never went into billboards, partly because of our prejudice, I guess, against defacing the landscape, but also partly because unless you're in the big money you can't do much with billboards. The smaller accounts can't afford billboards, so that maybe we made a virtue of necessity. The media through which we worked in all types of campaigns were primarily newspaper and


magazine advertising and the accompanying publicity, and direct-by-mail.

But the commercial accounts made up only half the agency's business. The major interest of both of us personally was more in campaigns which had what you might call some degree of intellectual content. Perhaps we were more serious as young men than we were in the later years.

FRY: An appeal to a certain idealism?

DRURY: Yes. It was on that basis that in 1919 the directors of the Save-the-Redwoods League asked us to undertake, in a very small way at first, the publicity for the newly-formed league, the objects of which you know. It was established primarily to preserve the redwoods in Northern California that were just beginning to be cut extensively. And it was felt that there needed to be a concerted program to get more and more support for their preservation, to establish an organization with membership to solicit funds and to have some influence upon legislation and things of that sort.

Organizing the Save-the-Redwoods League

FRY: Who were the men who first had a vision of the redwoods league?

DRURY: That's something that I was talking about with Mr. Francis Farquhar today. I just got a letter from Horace M. Albright in which he raised the same question because a book was being written in which the part of Steven T. Mather, the first director of the national parks in the redwoods league, was being discussed. Unquestionably


Mr. Mather was one of the first to help in bringing this about. But the formal history of the league indicates that in 1917 there were three men, one of them Dr. John C. Merriam, then professor of paleontology at the University of California and later president of the Carnegie Institution at Washington; Madison Grant, a New York attorney; and Henry Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History.

These three men made a trip up into the redwood country where the cutting was going on, and on the way back home they spent the night at Arcata, where they composed a letter to Governor William D. Stephens; urging that the legislature take some action to acquire the finest of these redwood forests. And at that time, the way we have always understood it, the idea of a permanent, nation-wide organization such as the Save-the-Redwoods League was conceived.

So these three men just named were looked upon as the founders. In fact, there is a redwood grove up at Dyerville called the Founders' Grove, with a tablet that recites that they established the Save-the-Redwoods League. But in matter of time I'm sure that it will be established that Stephen T. Mather was working right along with them. I believe that Stephen Mather knew about it possibly even before they were up there. I think he'd been through the redwoods before '17. William Kent, who gave Muir Woods to the federal government as the first redwood reservation, and quite a few others, were part of the group that formed this organization. It was formed in 1918 and incorporated in 1919. The first secretary-treasurer was Dr. Robert


G. Sproul, who was then in the comptroller's office at the University. Dr. Sproul has continued ever since as the treasurer.

At that time, Dr. Harper Goodspeed of the University was assistant treasurer and helped get the organization started, but he later withdrew, and that's when we were asked to undertake the promotion of the league. They asked me, as the representative of the firm that was handling the brunt of the