Keyserling, Leon H. Papers

Dates: 1923-1989

Vice Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 1946-1949; Acting Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 1949-1950; Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 1950-1953

The papers of Leon H. Keyserling document his entire career as an activist economist devoted to liberal causes. Keyserling himself compiled and bound the remarkable series of articles and reports he wrote, the speeches and testimony he gave, and the newspaper clippings that recorded the events of his long career. These series constitute about two-thirds of the collection. Most of the remainder consists of files of memoranda, correspondence, reports and transcripts of testimony that document Keyserling's work as Vice Chairman, Acting Chairman, and Chairman of President Truman's Council of Economic Advisers.

See also Oral History

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Publications | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


Size: About 35 linear feet (approximately 70,000 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Mrs. Mary Dublin Keyserling donated her copyright interest in any unpublished writings, including those of her husband, in this collection or in any other collection in the possession of the United States Government, to the people of the United States. In addition, documents prepared by United States Government employees in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents that do not fall into the above two categories is presumed to remain with the writers of the documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Dennis E. Bilger, Raymond H. Geselbracht, Sharie K. Simon, Bridget D. Lackey and Mary Jo Minter (1990); Dennis E. Bilger and Randy Sowell (2001).


[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Publications | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


1908 (Jan. 22)


Born, Charleston, South Carolina



A. B., Columbia University



LL. B., Harvard University



Graduate Student, Department of Economics, Columbia University



Attorney, Agricultural Adjustment Administration



Consultant economist to Senate committees on issues relating to banking and currency, industrial recovery and public works, housing, social security, labor relations and employment



Legislative Assistant to Senator Robert F. Wagner



General Counsel and other positions with the U.S. Housing Authority, the Federal Public Housing Authority, and the National Housing Agency



Vice Chairman (1946-49), Acting Chairman (1949-50), and Chairman (1950-53) of the Council of Economic Advisers



Consulting economist and practicing attorney, and especially, consultant to members and committees of the Congress on issues relating to banking and currency, industrial recovery and public works, housing, social security, labor relations and employment, taxation and monetary policy



Founder and president, Conference on Economic Progress



Became president of the National Committee for Labor, Israel

1987 (Aug. 9)


Died, Washington, D.C.

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  Redirecting Education (with Rexford Tugwell)


  Toward Full Employment and Full Production


  Consumption-Key to Full Prosperity


  The Federal Budget and the General Welfare


  The Peace by Investment Corporation (with Benjamin Javitts)


  Taxes and the Public Interest


  Progress or Poverty


  The Move Toward Railroad Mergers


  A Freedom Budget for All Americans


  The Scarcity School of Economics


  Liberal and Conservative National Economic Policies and Their Consequences, 1919-79


  The Current Significance of the New Deal
[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Publications | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


The papers of Leon H. Keyserling document his entire career as an activist economist devoted to liberal causes. Most of the collection was compiled, arranged and bound by Keyserling himself, apparently in order to create a record for posterity of his amazingly energetic efforts to influence public policy. Keyserling's work as Vice Chairman, Acting Chairman, and Chairman of Truman's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) is documented principally in the Council of Economic Advisers File, and also in portions of the Speech and Article File and the Clippings File. This material constitutes about one-fourth of the collection. The rest of the collection documents primarily Keyserling's attempts through his speaking and writing, as well as through his associated activities as consultant and lobbyist, to influence public policy toward the creation of an equitable prosperity.

The collection is composed of ten series. A small Harry S. Truman File brings together documents related in diverse ways to President Truman. The series includes a small amount of correspondence between Keyserling and Truman, some of it, primarily from the years following Truman's presidency, concerned with economic policy. The series also includes a transcript of Keyserling's contribution to a conference on the Truman White House held at the Truman Library in 1977, a manuscript by Keyserling about Truman's Council of Economic Advisers, and files on Truman-related memorial activities in which Keyserling participated.

The Council of Economic Advisers File consists primarily of reports, memoranda, staff studies and transcripts of congressional hearings relating to Keyserling's work on Truman's Council of Economic Advisers from 1946 to 1953. The series has five subseries. The Report File includes the quarterly reports, special reports and annual reports sent by the CEA to the President, as well as the semiannual economic reports that the President sent to the Congress. The small Council Members File is composed of correspondence, reports, and articles arranged in name files for CEA members and staff. The Subject File, besides having files on such subjects as business groups, manpower, the steel industry, investment, fiscal policy and development, and welfare programs, includes biographical sketches of the members and staff of the CEA, a transcript of an oral history interview Keyserling gave to a representative of the Harry S. Truman Library in 1971, and--most important--three folders, entitled "White House Contacts," of correspondence exchanged between the CEA, President Truman, and members of the White House staff. The Staff Studies File contains reports, correspondence and other materials relating to several areas of economic study being considered by the CEA. The Hearings Before the Joint Economic Committee File contains published transcripts of the hearings before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress from 1946 to 1953.

The Subject File contains material dating from 1928 to 1986 and includes Keyserling's correspondence with such scholars as Professor Alonzo Hamby and Hugh S. Norton regarding economic issues and his work with the CEA; correspondence with various members of the CEA during the period after the Truman administration; articles by columnists and other writers on economic issues; documentation of international economic issues and Keyserling=s work in India and Israel; and personal correspondence with his friends, the Lowenthals, with whom he discussed his own genealogical background and relationship to the German Kaiser. This series also includes various newspapers and magazines, as well as Keyserling's correspondence with editors and writers for those publications. Also included is material on the Chandler Historical Prize, which was awarded to Keyserling by Columbia University when he was a student there in 1928.

The Congressional Correspondence File consists of three subseries: the Senate File, arranged alphabetically by the name of the Senator with whom Keyserling corresponded; the House of Representatives File, containing correspondence between Keyserling and members of the House of Representatives, also arranged alphabetically by name; and the Humphrey-Hawkins Bill File, which contains drafts of legislation and other material pertaining to the proposed Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act, which Keyserling worked on for Senator Hubert Humphrey and Representative Augustus Hawkins during the 1970s.

The Speech and Article File was compiled, arranged, and bound by Keyserling himself. It apparently contains virtually every speech he made and every article, letter to the editor, and statement of any kind that he contributed to the periodic press. Some of his school papers are also included in the series. These materials were unbound during processing and put into folders. Each item was given an individual folder and listed in this finding aid. Keyserling's arrangement has been maintained. It is chronological by year, and then, within each year, by various categories of document type. For example, the categories for 1967 are articles, speeches, unrecorded speeches and press releases. Arrangement within each category of document type is chronological. Keyserling's own listings of the contents of each of his thirty-six bound volumes are filed at the beginning of each volume's contents.

The Testimony File is arranged in two subseries. The Congressional Testimony File primarily contains published congressional hearings and reports that include testimony by Keyserling. Most of the material in this subseries dates from the period after Keyserling's tenure on the Council of Economic Advisers. The Non-Congressional Testimony File contains primarily transcripts of Keyserling's testimony before the Interstate Commerce Commission regarding the merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central Railroad, and before various state public utility commissions regarding the electric power and natural gas industries.

The Studies and Reports File contains bound volumes of papers prepared by Keyserling, sometimes writing together with his wife, Mary Dublin Keyserling. It consists of four subseries, following Keyserling's own arrangement: the Labor Relations File; the International Economics File; the Conference on Economic Progress File; and the Miscellaneous File.

The Clippings File, which was compiled and arranged by Keyserling, documents his work from 1933 to 1983. It is arranged in six subseries: the Chronological File; the Council of Economic Advisers File; the "Important Clippings" File; the General Clippings File; the Clippings Re Price Increases, Tax Cuts and Interest Rates File; and the Conference on Economic Progress File. The Chronological File is the largest subseries, and is the only one to cover the period before Keyserling joined the Council of Economic Advisers. It is particularly informative for the years 1933 and 1949-52. The Council of Economic Advisers File contains clippings about the resignation of the first chairman, Dr. Edwin G. Nourse, and about the CEA's reports to the President and the President's reports to Congress. The designation "Important Clippings" is Keyserling's own.

The Memorabilia File contains a few of Keyserling's early school papers; several exchanges of correspondence, some of them substantive, between Keyserling and Hubert Humphrey, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson; and framed or mounted awards and citations that were given to him.