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FTC: For the Consumer

Oral Histories

  1. Commissioner Mary Gardiner Jones (1964-1973)
    Conducted by FTC staff, October 9 and 24, 2003

Full-Text Interview

After graduating from Wellesley College, Commissioner Jones taught history (1943-46) and worked for the Office of Strategic Services (1944-46). She attended Yale Law School, where she was named managing editor of the Law Journal.

Commissioner Jones worked at Donovan, Leisure, Newton and Irvine, then joined the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department in 1953. Commissioner Jones moved to the law firm of Webster, Sheffield, Fleischmann, Hitchcock and Christie in New York. She was appointed a Commissioner in 1964 and reappointed in 1966.

After she left the Commission in 1973, Commissioner Jones taught at the University of Illinois and worked for Western Union. She later founded the Consumer Interest Research Institute and the Alliance for Public Technology, and was President of the Mental Health Association of D.C. Chairman Timothy J. Muris named the FTC's Annual Award for Voluntarism for Commissioner Jones.

  1. Commissioner Leon Higgenbotham (1962-64)
    Conducted by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, October 7, 1976

Full-Text Interview

Judge Higgenbotham was the first African American Commissioner. He graduated from Antioch College (1949) and Yale Law School (1952). Before he became a Commissioner, Judge Higgenbotham was a Philadelphia County Assistant District Attorney (1953-54), a partner in the law firm of Norris, Green, Harris & Higginbotham, in Philadelphia (1954-62), a special hearing officer for conscientious objectors for the U.S. Justice Department (1960-62), and a Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (1961-62).

He later served as a Judge, U.S. District Court, Eastern District, Pennsylvania (1964-1977), Vice Chairman, National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (1968-1969), Judge, U.S. District Court, Virgin Islands, (1969), Judge, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Third Circuit (1977-1993), counsel to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton (1993-98), a professor at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government (1993-98), and an international mediator of first South African election in which blacks were allowed to vote in 1994.

Bibliographic Sources: Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Howard University

  1. Commissioner Stephen Spingarn (1950-53)
    Conducted by the Harry S Truman Library, March 20-28, 1967

Full-Text Interview

Before he came to the FTC, Commissioner Spingarn was an attorney with the Treasury Department (1934-41), Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, (1937-38), Special Assistant to the General Counsel, Treasury Department (1941-42), and Commanding Officer, 5th Army Counter Intelligence Corps. (1943-45), Commissioner Spingarn's other postitions included Assistant General Counsel, Treasury Department (1946-49), Alternate Member, President's Temporary Committee on Employee Loyalty (1946-47), Deputy Director, Office of Contract Settlement (1947-49), Assistant to the Special Counsel of President Harry S Truman (1949-50), and Administrative Assistant to the President (1950).

Bibliographic Source: Harry S Truman Library

Additionally, interviews with the following Commissioners are available from other libraries and archives:

  1. Paul Rand Dixon (1961-81; Chairman, 1961-69; 1976).
    Conducted by the John F. Kennedy Library

Chairman Dixon graduated from Vanderbilt and the University of Florida Law School. He was on the FTC staff rom 1930 to 1957, except for Naval Service during World War II. Dixon served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant (jg) and eventually became a Lieutenant Commander. Between 1957 and 1961, Dixon served as Counsel and Staff Director, Senate Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee (1957-61).

The interview focuses on the Commission during the Kennedy administration.

Bibliographic Source: 5 FTC Statutes and Decisions vii.

  1. Commissioner Philip Elman (1961-70)
    Conducted by Columbia University Oral History Project

Commissioner Elman graduated from the College of the City of New York and Harvard Law School. He clerked for Judge Calvert Magruder (1939-40) and Justice Felix Frankfurter (1941-43). His later positions included attorney, Federal Communications Commission (1940-41), Office of Foreign Economic Coordination, State Department (1943-44), the Solicitor General's Office, Department of Justice (1944-45), Legal Adviser to the Office of Military Government, Berlin, Germany (1945-46), and Assistant to the Solicitor General (1946-61). Elman was responsible for the Justice Department's amicus brief in Brown v. Board of Education.

Versions of this interview have been published. See The Solicitor General's Office, Justice Frankfurter, and Civil Rights Litigation, 1946-1960: An Oral History, Philip Elman interviewed by Norman Silber, 100 HARV. L. REV. 817 (1987) (portion of the interview); Norman Silber, With All Deliberate Speed : The Life of Philip Elman (2004) (full interview, with annotations).

Bibliographic Source: Oral history interview; 7 FTC Statutes and Decisions vii.

  1. Commissioner Lowell B. Mason (1945-56; Chairman,1949-50)
    Conducted by the Harry S Truman Library

Commissioner Mason graduated from Northwestern University Law School (1916). He was an Assistant Corporation Counsel for Chicago (1916), a member of the Illinois Senate (1922-30), General Counsel of the National Industrial Review Board (Darrow Board) (1934), and Counsel for two Senate Subcommittees (1935-36).

The interview focuses on Mason's years at the Commission.

Bibliographic Source: 5 FTC Statutes and Decisions vii.

  1. Commissioner James Landis (1933-34)
    Conducted by Columbia University Oral History Project

Commissioner Landis graduated from Princeton (1921) and Harvard Law School (1924). He clerked for Justice Louis Brandeis (1925) and taught at Harvard Law School as an Assistant Professor (1926-28) and Professor (1928-1934).

During his brief tenure at the FTC, Landis worked mostly on securities matters. At the time, the FTC enforced the Securities Act of 1933.

The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 created the SEC, and the SEC subsequently enforced both the 1933 Securities Act and the 1934 Securities Exchange Act. Landis, who played a pivotal role in securing that legislation, left the FTC to become an SEC Commissioner (1934-1937) and its Chairman (1935-1937). Among his later positions, he was Dean of Harvard Law School (1937-1946), a Regional Director (1941-42) and Director (1942-43) of the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense; Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (1946-47), and Special Counsel to President John F. Kennedy (1961). While working for President Kennedy, Landis developed a number of agency Reorganization Plans, one of which (Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1961) provided new authority for the FTC to delegate functions to its staff.

Principal Source: Harvard Law School Library; Donald Richie, James M. Landis: Dean of the Regulators (1980).

  1. Commissioner George Rublee (1915-16)
    Conducted by Columbia University Oral History Project

Commissioner Rublee graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He worked with Victor Morawetz on the creation of U.S. Steel. Before his Commission service, Rublee worked with Louis Brandeis on several projects, including the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy during the administration of William Howard Taft. In 1912, Rublee was a speechwriter for former President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was seeking to regain office, first in the Republican primaries and later as the standard-bearer for the new Progressive Party. In 1914, at Brandeis's behest, Rublee lobbied (without pay) for antitrust legislation. During the spring of that year, Rublee persuaded Woodrow Wilson to support what became Section 5 of the FTC Act, giving the Commission prosecutorial authority to challenge unfair methods of competition. The Commisison was later given separate authority to challenge unfair or deceptive acts or practices under Section 5 of the FTC Act.

President Wilson nominated Rublee as one of the first five Commissioners. However, Congress blocked Rublee's confirmation and he served only as a recess appointee.

His later career included private practice and government service. In 1938, he became Director of the Intergovernmental Committee on Political Refugees Coming from Germany.

Sources: Oral history interview; Marc McClure, Earnest Endeavors: The Life and Public Work of George Rublee (2003).

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Last Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2004