Biography and History

J. Douglas Brown (1898-1986) was an economist and Princeton University administrator who was an expert in the field of industrial relations, especially on the topics of Social Security and personnel and manpower issues. He was one of the leaders in the development of the Social Security program and also served in the War Department during World War II on manpower issues.

James Douglas Brown was born on August 11, 1898 in Somerville, New Jersey to James and Ella M. (Lane) Brown. He began his undergraduate education at Princeton University in 1915, with a focus on pre-med training, but left in 1917 to join the Army. He was a private in the Army Medical Corps in France from 1917 to 1919. Brown then returned to Princeton University and changed his studies from medicine to the field of industrial relations, having acquired an interest in human organization while in the Army. Brown received his A.B. in 1920, although he maintained his membership in the Class of 1919. Brown received his A.M. from Princeton University in 1921. It was during his master's studies that he developed his interest in economics.

Brown taught as an instructor of economics at Princeton University from 1921 to 1923 and at New York University from 1923 to 1925. He then returned to Princeton University for further graduate work, earning his Ph.D. in 1928. Brown married Dorothy Andrews on June 18, 1923. They had three daughters, Martha Jane (Spencer), Doris Andrews (Miller), and Elizabeth Andrews Brown, and a son, James Douglas Brown, Jr.

Brown's academic career was spent at Princeton University. He was an instructor from 1926 to 1927, assistant professor of economics from 1927 to 1934, and professor of economics from 1934 to 1966. Brown served as director of the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton from 1926 to 1955, as Dean of the Faculty from 1946 to 1966, and as Princeton University's first provost from 1966 until his retirement in 1967. Brown also served as President of the University Store, as a member of the Editorial Board, the Board of Trustees and as Vice President of the Princeton University Press, and as a member of numerous faculty committees. During his career, Brown wrote thirteen books and numerous articles in the field of industrial relations, and on social insurance, labor economics, and education. His works include The Liberal University; An Institutional Analysis (1969), An American Philosophy of Social Security (1973), The Human Nature of Organizations (1974), and Essays in Social Security (1977).

While he was the Dean of the Faculty, Brown was one of Princeton University's chief spokesmen to the academic community and a staunch defender of traditional liberal education. He was also instrumental in strengthening the University's faculty and personnel administration. As the second director of the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University, Brown was a pioneer in the development of the field of personnel and industrial relations. The Industrial Relations Section was established as part of the Economics Department in 1922 to enhance and extend the knowledge of industrial relations, the first section of its kind. The section serves as a library of documentary materials, a research organization, and an adjunct in undergraduate and graduate instruction. During his tenure, Brown justified establishing the section on a permanent basis for its value to education and industry, expanded the purpose of the section to serve industry and other outside groups in addition to Princeton University faculty and students, led an increase in research, and was instrumental in building an endowment for the section to over $1 million.

Brown's academic career was interspersed with service to the government at the federal and state levels. His first appointment was as a member of President Herbert Hoover's Emergency Committee for Employment from 1930 to 1931, which was formed to help fight the spread of the Depression.

Brown's long involvement with Social Security began in 1934. He served on President Roosevelt's Committee on Economic Security from 1934 to 1935, which drafted the original Social Security legislation of 1935. Brown was a leader in the reform and expansion of the Social Security program for the remainder of his career. He was the chairman of the first Federal Advisory Council on Social Security from 1937 to 1938 and served on four subsequent Advisory Councils: 1947 to 1948, 1957 to 1958 as chairman of the drafting committee, 1963 to 1964, and 1969 to 1971. Brown also served as special advisor on Social Security to the Secretary of the Treasury in 1939, and as a consulting economist to the Social Security Board from 1936 to 1950. Brown is often referred to as the "Father of Social Security" for his long and influential role in the original development and continued reform of the Social Security program.

During World War II, Brown became increasingly involved in government service. He conducted a special study for President Roosevelt in 1940 on the manpower issues the aircraft, machine tool, and steel industries would face if the United States entered the war. Brown was Chief of the Priorities Branch of the Labor Division in the Office of Production Management and the War Production Board from 1941 to 1942, playing a key role in converting the American economy from civilian to wartime production. From 1942 to 1945, he served as a principle consultant on manpower to the Secretary of War and as alternate member for the War Department on the War Manpower Commission. He was also a member of the Advisory Council on Personnel to the General Staff, War Department, from 1946 to 1949.

After World War II, and throughout the remainder of his career, Brown continued to serve as a consulting economist to various Federal and New Jersey government agencies influencing policies on unemployment relief, Social Security, and manpower planning. He was a member of advisory boards and committees or served as a consultant to a wide variety of agencies, including the Social Security Administration, the Air Force, the Office of Defense Mobilization, the Department of Labor, the National Security Resources Board, the Federal Advisory Council for Employment Security, the New Jersey state government, and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

In addition to his work at Princeton University and with the government, Brown was active in numerous professional organizations. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Association of American Colleges, the American Management Association, the American Economic Association, the American Statistical Association, and the New Jersey Association of Colleges and Universities. Brown was a founder and president of the Industrial Relations Research Association, and from 1940 to 1942 was an elected member of the Executive Committee of the American Economic Association. He served as a member of executive or advisory committees for the American Association for Labor Legislation, the American Association for Social Security, the Committee for Economic Development, the Institute of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the American Council on Education, and the Institute of College and University Administrators. Brown was also a director of McGraw-Hill Publishing Company and a trustee of the University of Rochester and the Princeton Theological Seminary. Brown received honorary degrees from Rutgers University (1947), Kenyon College (1954), Union College (1966), Franklin and Marshall College (1966), and Princeton University (1973). In 1971, he received the Arthur J. Altmeyer Award, the highest award given by the Social Security Administration, for his contributions to the program's success. Brown died on January 19, 1986, at the age of 87.

Source: From the finding aid for MC155

  • Office of Dean of the Faculty Records. 1781-2015 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC118

    Princeton University's dean of the faculty is the senior administrator responsible for the quality and well-being of the faculty and professional staffs of the university. In the past, the office has been responsible for matters ranging from student discipline to undergraduate academic life and the curriculum. This record group consists of the files of the faculty, the dean, the office, and its staff. In addition to the office's subject files, the collection includes the records of faculty meetings, faculty and University committees, and the personnel files of faculty, senior staff, and trustees.

  • Bicentennial Celebration Records. 1944-1947 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC148

    The Princeton University Bicentennial Celebration was a year-long series of events that began on September 22, 1946 with a sermon delivered by Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, in the University Chapel and ended with an address by President Truman in front of Nassau Hall at the June 17, 1947 Concluding Bicentennial Convocation. The Bicentennial Celebration Records contain correspondence, writings, speeches, press-releases, pamphlets, reports, newspaper clippings, tickets, transcripts, watercolor and pencil sketches and various other materials documenting the 1946-1947 Princeton University Bicentennial Celebration.

  • J. Douglas Brown Papers. 1910-1978 (inclusive), 1930-1970 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC155

    J. Douglas Brown (1898-1986) was an economist and Princeton University administrator who was an expert in the field of industrial relations, especially on the subjects of Social Security and personnel and manpower issues. He was one of the leaders in the development of the Social Security program and also served in the War Department during World War II on manpower issues. Brown's papers document his career as a government consultant, as a scholar, and as a university administrator and include his correspondence and writings, reports, meeting minutes, notes, and publications.

  • J. Douglas Brown Papers. 1910-1978 (inclusive), 1930-1970 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC155

    J. Douglas Brown (1898-1986) was an economist and Princeton University administrator who was an expert in the field of industrial relations, especially on the subjects of Social Security and personnel and manpower issues. He was one of the leaders in the development of the Social Security program and also served in the War Department during World War II on manpower issues. Brown's papers document his career as a government consultant, as a scholar, and as a university administrator and include his correspondence and writings, reports, meeting minutes, notes, and publications.

  • Industrial Relations Section Records. 1922-1984 (inclusive), 1930-1965 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC231

    The Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University was established in 1922 to enhance and extend the knowledge of industrial relations. The Section serves the university community, industry, and the government and includes a research program, a special library, and aids in instruction at Princeton University. The Section's records document the research and administration of the Section and include financial papers and materials related to its conferences, publications, and research.