- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
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- Eberstadt, Ferdinand
- Ferdinand Eberstadt Papers
- Public Policy Papers
- Permanent URL:
- 1868-1970 (mostly 1935-1965)
- 277 boxes and 6 items
- Storage Note:
- Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Boxes 1-193; 195-278
Ferdinand Eberstadt (1890-1969) was a prominent Wall Street investment banker who also served in several government posts throughout his career. During World War II, he organized the production and distribution of supplies to the United States military through his work with the Army-Navy Munitions Board and the War Production Board, and he was subsequently involved in plans for the reorganization of the armed services and in the development of post-war economic policies. The Eberstadt papers primarily document his extensive career in public service to the United States related to defense and the economy, as well as his career as an investment banker and his personal life, and include correspondence, reports, his writings, and his personal papers.
Collection Description & Creator Information
The Eberstadt papers primarily document his extensive career in public service to the United States related to defense and the economy, as well as his career as an investment banker and his personal life, and include correspondence, reports, his writings, and his personal papers. The papers especially document his work during World War II with the production and distribution of supplies to the military, and his subsequent work on the reorganization of the military. The papers include files concerned with his work with the Reparations Conference in Paris, the Army-Navy Munitions Board, the War Production Board, the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, the National Security Resources Board, and the Hoover Commission on Government Reorganization.
The Papers have been arranged in fifteen series:
- Collection Creator Biography:
Ferdinand Eberstadt (1890-1969) was a prominent Wall Street investment banker who also served in several government posts throughout his career. During World War II, he organized the production and distribution of supplies to the United States military through his work with the Army-Navy Munitions Board and the War Production Board, and he was subsequently involved in plans for the reorganization of the armed services and in the development of post-war economic policies. He was also involved with the Reparations Conference in Paris in 1929, the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, the National Security Resources Board, and the Hoover Commission on Government Reorganization.
Eberstadt was born in New York City on June 19, 1890 to Edward F. and Elenita Eberstadt. He earned his A.B. degree from Princeton University in 1913 and then studied political economy in Berlin, Munich, and Paris for a year. Eberstadt returned to the United States in 1914, enrolling in Columbia University Law School. He interrupted his studies to serve in the armed forces, first on the Mexican border and once the United States entered World War I, serving in France as a lieutenant. He was later promoted to the rank of captain. After the end of his military service, Eberstadt returned to Columbia University, where he received his LL.B. in 1917. Eberstadt married Mary Van Arsdale Tongue of New York City in 1919 and they had four children: Frances (Unnerstall), Mary (Harper), Ann (Cannell), and Frederick.
Eberstadt was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1919 and began his career at Wall Street that same year with the law firm McAdoo, Cotton & Franklin. He was made a partner when Williams Gibbs McAdoo left and the firm was re-organized as Cotton & Franklin. While at Cotton & Franklin, he was assigned to advise the investment banking firm of Dillon, Read & Company. His advice proved so valuable to the company that they hired him, as a partner, in 1925. While there, he was instrumental in facilitating the 1928 merger of Dodge and Chrysler, and worked successfully with big foreign loans. He sold his partnership in the company in 1928.
Eberstadt entered public service for the first time in 1929, when he was appointed to serve as assistant to Owen D. Young at the Paris Reparations Conference because of his knowledge of German finance. Upon returning to the United States, he was a partner in the investment banking firm of Otis & Company of Cleveland and New York for a brief time before founding his own brokerage firm, F. Eberstadt & Company, in 1931. He achieved success dDuring the dDepression he by specializeding in small stock and bond issues, and h. His company became well respected , known for underwriting the public offerings of carefully selected new companies and for arranging mergers. Eberstadt was also a pioneer in the field of mutual funds, founding the successful Chemical Fund in 1938 and serving as chairman of the board until his death in 1969. Throughout his career on Wall Street, Eberstadt became was highly regarded as both an innovator and a critic, especially of Wall Street's insularity, as well as the practices of its member firms.
During the 1940s, Eberstadt served several key roles in the nation's defense. In 1941, he was asked by James V. Forrestal, who had also been a partner at Dillion, Read & Company, to conduct a study of the machine tool industry and determine how it might be prepared for war. This led to a study of the entire production front, and Eberstadt's subsequent appointment in 1942 as Chairman of the Army and Navy Munitions Board, the agency in charge of the procurement and distribution of supplies to the armed services. In four months, he increased machine tool production, a major bottleneck, by thirty percent. When the Board was merged with the War Production Board later that year, Eberstadt was appointed Vice-Chairman of the War Production Board, in which capacity he had charge of procuring and allocating raw materials to war factories. He resigned in 1943, after five months in the position, when it was determined that the Board would operate more efficiently with one chairman.
In 1945, Eberstadt was asked again by James V. Forrestal to prepare a report, this time on the unification of the armed services. The "Eberstadt Plan" became the basis for the Armed Forces Unification Act, under which Forrestal was appointed Secretary of Defense. Eberstadt also wrote the foundation for the National Security Act of 1947. In 1946, Eberstadt was appointed by Bernard Baruch, the United States Representative on the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, to serve as one of his four assistants. In this capacity, Eberstadt wrote much of the Baruch Plan for the control of atomic energy production. In 1948, he returned once again to Washington to work with the National Security Resources Board to develop a general mobilization plan. He served as an advisor to Arthur M. Hill, chairman of the board, to prepare an organization plan to insure the maximum utilization of the nation's industrial and civilian resources in the event of war and to draft legislation to put it into effect. Eberstadt also served as a member of the Hoover Commission on the Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, becoming Chairman of the Commission's Committee on the National Security Organization in 1949.
For the remainder of his career, Eberstadt was primarily focused on his investment firm, but he often returned to Washington to serve as a consultant on economic and defense matters to various government agencies. Eberstadt died on November 11, 1969 at the age of 79.
1929 Assistant to Owen D. Young, Reparations Conference, Paris 1942 Chairman, Army and Navy Munitions Board 1942 Program Vice Chairman, War Productions Board 1945 Prepared the "Eberstadt Report" for the Secretary of the Navy, James V. Forrestal 1946 Assistant to Bernard M. Baruch, United Nations Atomic Energy Commission 1948 Prepared a Report on Operations of the National Security Resources Board 1949 Chairman, Commission on National Security Organization of the Herbert Hoover Commission 1958 Consultant, Department of Defense Reorganization
This collection was donated by Mary V. T. Eberstadt, wife of Ferdinand Eberstadt, in September 1970 , with additions from Frederick Eberstadt, son of Ferdinand Eberstadt, in July 1980 and October 1980 , from Dr. Calvin L. Christman in February 1977 , and from Professor Jeffrey Dorwart in December 1987 .
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No appraisal information is available.
These papers were processed with the generous support of the Ferdinand Eberstadt Foundation and the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed in 1984.
Finding aid written by Adriane Hanson in November 2007.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.
- Special Requirements for Access:
A record of a luncheon in honor of Howard S. Cullman is located in Series 10: Memorabilia, Box 194, and three audio cassette tapes of an interview of Eberstadt are located in Series 15: Additional Papers, Box 277. Access to these materials follows Mudd Manuscript Library policy for preservation and access to audio-visual materials.
- Credit this material:
Ferdinand Eberstadt Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Publication Note:
The following sources were consulted during the preparation of the biographical note: "Eberstadt, Ferdinand," Current Biography, H.W. Wilson Company, 1942. Eberstadt, Ferdinand 1913 File; Undergraduate Alumni Records, Box 397, Folder 3; University Archives, Special Collections, Princeton University Library. "Ferdinand Eberstadt, Investment Banker Active in Government Service, Dies." The New York Times, November 13, 1969.
- Subject Terms:
- Investment banking -- United States.
Legislators -- United States -- Correspondence.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Reparations.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Economic aspects.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Reparations.
World war, 1939-1945 -- Equipment and supplies.
- Genre Terms:
- United Nations. Atomic Energy Commission
United States. Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government (1947-1949)
United States. Joint Army and Navy Munitions Board
United States. National Security Resources Board
United States. War Production Board
Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965.
Forrestal, James, 1892-1949
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964
- United States -- Armed Forces -- Organization.
United States -- Defenses.
United States -- Economic conditions -- 20th century.
United States -- Politics and government.