Biography and History

G. Edward Pendray was an early proponent of rocket power and space flight and co-founder of Pendray and Company, a prominent public relations firm. Born in Nebraska in 1901, Pendray grew up in Wyoming. He attended the University of Wyoming and graduated in 1924. He subsequently attended graduate school at Columbia University and received a Master's degree in 1925.

After completing his graduate work, Pendray joined the editorial staff of the New York Herald Tribune. He also served as the science editor of Literary Digest from 1932 through 1936. In 1936 he joined Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company as Assistant to the President. He was responsible for all external public relations, general and product advertising, educational relations, technical publications, and technical employment and training. While at Westinghouse, Pendray received national attention for the idea of preparing a time capsule for the New York World's Fair of 1939. The purpose was to preserve a cross section of contemporary life, literature, science, and philosophy by means of microfilm, sound motion pictures and actual articles of everyday use and interest. Pendray was responsible for its entire development, including coining the term "time capsule." Pendray left Westinghouse in 1945 to start his own public relations firm, Pendray and Company. The firm's clients included Westinghouse, the World Bank, the American Automobile Association, the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and many others. Pendray retired from the firm in 1971.

In addition to Pendray's primary employment in the field of public relations, he also maintained an interest in early rocket technology. Both he and his wife, Leatrice M. Pendray, were pioneer experimenters with liquid propulsion rockets. They helped found the American Rocket Society (ARS) in 1930. The ARS later merged with the Institute of the Aerospace Sciences to form the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in 1963. The AIAA annually awards the G. Edward Pendray Award in recognition of his achievements in astronautics.

Commissioned by The Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation in 1948, Pendray helped develop the Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center at the California Institute of Technology, and the Guggenheim Laboratories at Princeton University. These were followed by the establishment of the Guggenheim Institute of Flight Structures at Columbia University. In 1958, he was a consultant to the Select Committee on Astronautics and Space Exploration of the House of Representatives. Here he aided in the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

G. Edward Pendray married Leatrice M. Gregory in 1927. In addition to beginning involved with American Rocket Society activities and serving as a partner at Pendray and Company, Mrs. Pendray published a syndicated advice column on beauty under the name Jacqueline Hunt from 1929-1944. She died on October 7, 1971. G. Edward Pendray died on September 5, 1987.

Source: From the finding aid for MC105

  • G. Edward Pendray papers. 1829-1981 (inclusive), 1923-1971 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC105

    G. Edward Pendray was an early proponent of rocket power and space flight and co-founder Pendray and Company, a prominent public relations firm. The G. Edward Pendray Papers consist of correspondence, notes, memoranda, drafts, reports, photographs, and printed material related to Pendray's career in public relations and his life-long interest and involvement in aeronautics and astronautics.