E. N. (Ned) Brandt

Born: May 16, 1922 | Detroit, MI, US

E. N. (Ned) Brandt, company historian of The Dow Chemical Company and a major figure in Dow's public relations activities for over three decades, begins the interview by touching on his family background and early education, before recalling his activities in news writing positions during high school and journalism school at Michigan State. Brandt joined a quartermaster ROTC unit in 1941, went through Officer Candidate School, and in 1944 volunteered for overseas duty. He describes several interesting experiences during the war in France when he was an intelligence officer and a public relations officer. After a brief stint with UPI in Detroit, Brandt returned to France and worked for the French broadcasting system and the State Department at the Paris embassy. He discusses his work in France, art studies in Paris, and travels to Algeria. In 1953 Brandt resigned from the foreign service and joined Dow. This section of the interview includes recollections of Dow's early public relations department and Bud Smith, and work with Bill Schuette as public relations manager of the newly created Midland Division. Brandt next discusses his concerns as assistant director and then director of public relations in the 1960s, including such topics as Dow's global reorganization in 1965, speech writing for Dow's top executives, environmental issues, The Dow Story, and outside involvement with public affairs organizations. In describing his activities during the 1970s and 1980s, Brandt talks about a visit to Chile, public relations in South Africa, difficulties with Mark Batterson during Zoltan Merszei's tenure as president of Dow, the TV Hot Box, the origins of Dow's history function and the Dow archives, his own decision to retire, and the Futures Initiative. The closing segments of the transcript focus on Brandt's outside activities, especially for historical societies and foundations. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0683
No. of pages: 57

Interview Sessions

James J. Bohning
17 June 1992
Midland, Michigan

Abstract of Interview

E. N. (Ned) Brandt, company historian of The Dow Chemical Company and a major figure in Dow's public relations activities for over three decades, begins the interview by touching on his family background and early education, before recalling his activities in news writing positions during high school and journalism school at Michigan State. Brandt joined a quartermaster ROTC unit in 1941, went through Officer Candidate School, and in 1944 volunteered for overseas duty. He describes several interesting experiences during the war in France when he was an intelligence officer and a public relations officer. After a brief stint with UPI in Detroit, Brandt returned to France and worked for the French broadcasting system and the State Department at the Paris embassy. He discusses his work in France, art studies in Paris, and travels to Algeria. In 1953 Brandt resigned from the foreign service and joined Dow. This section of the interview includes recollections of Dow's early public relations department and Bud Smith, and work with Bill Schuette as public relations manager of the newly created Midland Division. Brandt next discusses his concerns as assistant director and then director of public relations in the 1960s, including such topics as Dow's global reorganization in 1965, speech writing for Dow's top executives, environmental issues, The Dow Story, and outside involvement with public affairs organizations. In describing his activities during the 1970s and 1980s, Brandt talks about a visit to Chile, public relations in South Africa, difficulties with Mark Batterson during Zoltan Merszei's tenure as president of Dow, the TV Hot Box, the origins of Dow's history function and the Dow archives, his own decision to retire, and the Futures Initiative. The closing segments of the transcript focus on Brandt's outside activities, especially for historical societies and foundations. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1943 Michigan State University BA Journalism

Professional Experience

US Army

1943 to 1946

United Press International

1946 to 1947

French Broadcasting System

1947 to 1949
Literary Critic; Editor, Export Import Journal

US Embassy, Paris

1949 to 1953
Press Attaché

Dow Chemical Company

1953 to 1956
Public Relations Staff
1956 to 1961
Public Relations Manager, Michigan Division
1961 to 1965
Assistant Director of Public Relations
1965 to 1970
Director of Public Relations
1970 to 1978
Director of Business Communications
1978 to 1986
Senior Counselor of Public Affairs
1983 to 1993

Honors

Year(s) Award

Brandt Professorship, Michigan State University

Director, Michigan Chapter, Public Relations Society of America

Chairman, Public Relations Committee, Chemical Manufacturers Association

The Golden Workshop

President, Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education

Chairman, Public Relations Seminar, National Organization of Corporate Public Relations Directors

Committee to Re-Elect the President (Nixon)

The Wise Men

Secretary, Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation

Secretary, Pardee Foundation

Vice President, Midland Foundation

Member, Board of Directors, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation

Vice President and Secretary, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation

Council of Michigan Foundations

Chairman, Michigan Division Council, American Red Cross

Chairman, Hall of Ideas Management Council, Midland Center for the Arts

Midland County Historical Society

Historical Society of Michigan

President, Saginaw Valley Torch Club

Rotary International

About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.  Bohning passed away in September 2011.