Biography and History

W. H. “Ping” Ferry, born 17 December 1910, was the son of Hugh Joseph Ferry, President and Chairman of the Board of the Packard Motor Company, and Fay Ferry. He graduated from Dartmouth in 1932. From 1933-1941, Ferry pursued a career in journalism, though, in 1936, he briefly held the position of Director of Publicity for Eastern Airlines. Between 1940-1945 he held a series of positions including consultant for the International Labour Organisation (1940-1944), Chief Investigator in New Hampshire for the Office of Price Administration (1942-1944), Director of Public Relations for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (1944), and member of the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, Southwest Pacific Area (1945). From 1945-1954, Ferry was a partner in the New York public relations firm of Earl Newsom and Company. The Ford Foundation used this public relations agency, and Ferry was responsible for writing speeches for Henry Ford II.

In 1951, while still working for Earl Newsom, he became a public relations adviser for the Ford Foundation. Ferry advised Paul G. Hoffman, head of the Foundation, and the trustees on numerous issues ranging from civil liberties to the possible establishment of a peace agency funded by the Foundation. He was also a personal friend of Robert M. Hutchins who became the president of the Fund for the Republic. The Fund for the Republic was a non-profit organization whose basic objectives were to research and analyze two issues which the organizers believed important to American political life: civil liberties and civil rights. Ferry became Vice President of the Fund in 1954 and was responsible for its administration and public relations. He continued to work for the Fund after it moved from New York City to Santa Barbara, California in 1959, when it changed its name to The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI). Ferry published a number of essays while at CSDI including: The Corporation and the Economy (1959), The Economy Under Law (1961), Caught in the Horn of Plenty (1962), What Price Peace (1963), Masscom as Educator (1966), Farewell to Integration (1967), Tonic and Toxic Technology (1967) and The Police State is Here (1969).

Upon leaving CSDI, Ferry continued his work as a consultant. In 1984, he created an organization called “Expro” (Exploratory Project on Conditions for Peace). Twenty-three members from the academic world and various civic organizations discussed and published monographs on hunger, poverty, Third World development and nuclear weapons.

Ferry's marriage to Jolyne Marie Gillier in 1937 ended in divorce in 1972. He married Carol Underwood Bernstein in 1973. Ferry and his second wife made grants and personal contributions through the DJB Foundation to finance “things that no one else would fund because they were too radical for conventional foundations.” He died in 1995 from Parkinson's disease in Scarsdale, New York.

Source: From the finding aid for MC046

  • Wilbur Hugh Ferry Papers. 1962-1964 (inclusive).

    Call Number: MC046

    From 1954-1969, Wilbur Hugh Ferry served as vice president of the Fund for the Republic, an organization dedicated to the open discussion of American social and political issues during the Cold War period. In the mid-1950s, the organization often focused on the abuses of American civil liberties that characterized the McCarthy era. When the Fund shifted its base of operation from New York City to Santa Barbara, California in 1959, Ferry moved with the organization, now called the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, and became its staff director. His responsibilities as administrator of the Fund included research, publication of a magazine, and organizing conferences. On August 7, 1962, Mr. Ferry delivered a speech titled "Myths, Cliches and Stereotypes" to the Western States Democratic Conference in Seattle, Washington where he spoke out against the rarely criticized head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover. The storm of protest that followed led to a denouncement from Attorney General Robert Kennedy, an attack on the floor of the Senate by Iowa Republican Bourke B. Hickenlooper, and bitter attacks by the press across the country.