New York Zoological Society. Public Affairs Division and predecessor units records
This collection consists mainly of the records of New York Zoological Society (NYZS)’s Department of Publications while headed by William Bridges (Editor and Curator of Publications, 1935-1966), and Eugene J. Walter (Curator of Publications from the end of the 1970s to the early 1990s). It also includes materials from various departments, divisions, and administrative staff involved in the provision of NYZS public relations and publicity services from the late 1920s to the early 2000s. In addition to the Publications Department under Bridges and Walter, these materials come from the Public Relations and Promotions Unit, 1978-1979, under Curator Joan Van Haasteren. Furthermore, the collection includes records from individual NYZS administrative offices and senior staff who were involved in NYZS’s government affairs functions from the 1970s through the late 1990s, including the Office of General Director William G. Conway (1966-1999) and senior administrative staff member John McKew. The collection largely documents the administration, production, and management of NYZS’s communications, marketing, publicity, public relations, and publications and media production work. It also documents, to a lesser degree, the Society’s late-20th century government affairs efforts, particularly legislative campaigns relating to zoo admissions, wildlife management, and conservation from the early 1970s to the late 1990s.
The bulk of the collection consists of records of the former Department of Publication pertaining to press coverage of the Society. Records include clippings received from Burelle's Press Clippings Service, an external clippings service used by the Society from the 1940s to the 1980s. Clippings contained in these files reflect local, regional, national, and occasionally international press coverage for the New York Zoological Society over a 40 year period. Later clippings in the collection, dating from the 1970s to the 2000s, reflect materials that appear to have been collected by succeeding units with public affairs-related mandates, including the Publications and Public Relations Department and the Public Relations and Promotions Unit. Major topics include the Society and its facilities, local government affairs, wildlife and environmental research and conservation, international affairs, journalism, communications, visual arts, and celebrity news.
There is also a large run of NYZS press releases, the bulk of which dates from the 1940s to the early 2000s. Records contain the releases and associated production-related materials, such as correspondence, memoranda, press lists, production notes, vendor orders, notes, and related publications. These records document a range of Society programs, services, and activities. Notes and annotations are present on many of the draft press releases and provide complementary insight on editorial decisions.
Subject and event files also make up a fair portion of the records in this collection. These materials date from 1950 to 1982, and reflect the Society’s efforts to increase awareness of and support for its mission, purpose, and programs through a range of advertising, promotional, publication, and marketing activities. The bulk of this material consists of production files relating to special events produced by, or in tandem with, the Society, particularly in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Documents include subject files, event production files, annual publicity and annual newspaper clippings files, correspondence and production files, and exhibit records. There are also correspondence files relating to external film, audio-visual media, and print requests that provide evidence of the range of external interest in Society programs, services, and activities. Finally, there are also materials relating to the Society's exhibit at the 1964 New York World's Fair.
The collection also includes legislative campaign files and associated materials dating from the late 1960s to the late 1990s that were produced by the Office of the General Director and senior administrative staff. These records relate to the Society’s lobbying efforts on a number of key topics including policy development relating to zoo administration, particularly admissions, as well as wildlife management and conservation. The bulk of the materials consist of Admissions Bill legislative campaign chronology books (1973-1982), which relate to NYZS’s continuing efforts to gain more control over admissions revenue. There are also records from several other legislative campaigns conducted by the Society, in particular in the areas of national zoo and aquarium regulations, wildlife importation regulations, and animal inspection services.
Finally, the collection includes general administrative and operational records created from the early 1960s to the 1980s relating to various departments, divisions, and individual Society staff members that performed public affairs functions during those years. The bulk of the records include correspondence files, minutes, and reports documenting publications, publicity, and photography activities at the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, and New York Zoological Society during the 1970s. There are also several additional files relating specifically to the management of NYZS’s photograph, film, and media collections.
- 1925 - 2004
- Majority of material found within 1940 - 1980
- New York Zoological Society. Office of the Assistant Director for Administrative Services (Organization)
32 linear feet (80 Hollinger boxes)
0.25 cubic feet (1 flat box)
The New York Zoological Society's (NYZS) communications, marketing, publications, government affairs, community affairs, photography and media production, and other public relations functions historically have been divided among several different departments and units. In the late 20th century, these function were eventually united in the Society’s Public Affairs Division, but prior to that they were performed by numerous predecessor units, including, among others, the Department of Publications, the Department of Publications and Public Relations, the Public Relations and Promotions Unit, the Marketing and Communications Department, the Office of the Assistant Director for Administration, the Office of the Director of Special Projects, and the Government Affairs Office.
The Publications Department was initially established with a single staff member with the title ‘Photographer and Editor’ in 1901. By the mid-1940s, the Department was named ‘Publications and Photography’ and its duties included preparing press releases for distribution to news reporting agencies, producing all official NYZS photography, and managing external requests for print, film, and audio media. The Publications Department also ran an in-house print shop, which prepared labels for major exhibits at the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium and produced the Society’s publications, including Zoologica, Animal Kingdom, and NYZS annual reports. [For more on the history of the Department’s early decades, see the finding aid for Collection 2006, the records of Publications Curator William Bridges. For more on the history of the Society’s audio-visual media production, see the finding aid for Collection 2008, the records of the Audio-Visual Office within the Society’s Department of Education.]
Beginning in the late 1960s, the Society’s public relations functions started to evolve and outgrow the Publications Department, as acknowledged first with a name change to ‘the Department of Publications and Public Relations.’ Public affairs functions during the late 1960s and early 1970s expanded Society visibility, for example by increasing the number of appearances of Society staff in TV and radio interviews. Other new activities included the launch of marketing campaigns; the initiation of a dedicated publicity program for the Society’s magazine, Animal Kingdom, and an increase in external publicity from public service advertising in print, radio, and TV outlets.
As the 1970s continued, the Society changed the way it approached public relations activities and it began splitting these functions away from the Publications and Public Relations Department. The Society employed paid advertising for the first time in 1974, and subsequently began a period of contracting and coordinating with a range of external public relations, advertising, and creative agencies. In the latter part of the decade, it formed a new unit to take on these functions, the ‘Public Relations and Promotions Unit.’
By 1979, the Society’s public relations function was completely separated from the Publications Department (which in the late 1970s went back to its old name).‘Public Relations and Promotions’ operated into the early 1980s, when public relations were integrated into the new ‘Public Affairs’ Division along with membership and development functions. Meanwhile, the Publications Department remained in operation until it became one part of a larger Marketing and Communications Department within the Public Affairs Division in the early 1990s.
Concurrently, through the 1970s and early 1980s, the Society started expanding its governmental lobbying and legislative campaigning operations. These efforts began without a dedicated unit, instead being led by NYZS General Director William G. Conway (1966-1999), and administered by John McKew in his various Society staff roles throughout the years. Governmental operations at this time included a significant campaign to lobby for the NYZS’s Admissions Bill, as well as other activity relating to zoo administration, wildlife management, and conservation that carried into the late 1990s.
In 1981, government operations eventually became an office in its own right, headed by Kathleen Wilson, which centralized government affairs work that had been scattered amongst various NYZS departments and divisions. The Governmental Affairs office aimed to coordinate the Society’s City, State, and Federal government operations.
WCS’s current Public Affairs Division emerged during the 1980s and 1990s from several mergers and separations between various Departments and units, including Publications, Development, Membership Marketing and Communications, Media Services, Public Relations and Advertising, Aquarium Public Affairs, and the Government Affairs Office. Today, the Public Affairs Division provides WCS’s public affairs services including communications, online programs and media production, policy and government affairs, and publications.
- Series 1
- Administrative and operational files, 1964-1980 (Bulk 1972-1978)
- Series 2
- Press releases, 1935–2003 (Bulk 1940-1979)
- Series 3
- Subject and event files, 1950-1982
- Subseries 3A
- Advertising and promotions, 1950-1980
- Subseries 3B
- Special events, 1962-1980 (Bulk 1976-1980)
- Subseries 3C
- Publicity, 1964-1982
- Subseries 3D
- Film, media, and print projects, circa 1950-1980
- Subseries 3E
- New York World’s Fair, 1962-1966
- Series 4
- Clippings, 1925-2004
- Subseries 4A
- Chronological, 1925-2004 (Bulk 1940-1981)
- Subseries 4B
- Alphabetical, 1969-1986 (Bulk 1978-1980)
- Series 5
- Legislative campaign files, 1968-1997 (Bulk 1973-1982)
Other Finding Aids
Internal transfers, 1979 (Acc. 1979.016, 1979.063, 1979.070).
Internal transfer, 2000 (Acc. 2000.004).
Internal transfer, 2016 (Acc. 2016.022).
Various items, including press kits, several folders of internal and external newsletters, souvenir publications, brochures, and programs, circa 1960-2000s. 0.4 linear feet. Transferred to the NYZS/WCS Archives Publications and Printed Ephemera collection.
One folder of NYZS and non NYZS bound publications, circa 1940s-1960s. 0.2 linear feet. Transferred to the WCS Library.
Three folders of publication and printed ephemera from other zoos and aquariums, circa 1970s-1980s. 0.2 linear feet. Separated for eventual inclusion in a potential WCS Archives international zoo/conservation history collection.
- Bridges, William, 1901-
- Conway, William, 1929-
- Endangered species
- Endangered species -- Law and legislation -- United States
- McKew, John
- New York Aquarium
- New York World's Fair (1964-1965 : New York, N.Y.)
- New York Zoological Park
- New York Zoological Society
- New York Zoological Society. Department of Publications
- New York Zoological Society. Department of Publications and Public Relations
- New York Zoological Society. Public Affairs Division
- New York Zoological Society. Public Relations and Promotions Unit
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- United States. Department of Agriculture
- Walter, Eugene J.
- Wildlife Conservation Society (New York, N.Y.).
- Wildlife conservation
- Wildlife conservation -- Law and legislation
- Wildlife management
- Zoo animals
- Zoo exhibits
- Zoos -- Administration -- Economic aspects
- Zoos -- Public relations
- Zoos -- Publicity
- New York Zoological Society. Office of the Assistant Director for Administrative Services (Organization)
- New York Zoological Society. Office of the General Director (Organization)
- New York Zoological Society. Public Affairs Division (Organization)
- New York Zoological Society. Department of Publications (Organization)
- New York Zoological Society. Department of Publications and Public Relations (Organization)
- New York Zoological Society. Public Relations and Promotions Unit (Organization)
- Guide to the Records of the Public Affairs Division and Predecessor Units, 1925-2004 (Bulk 1940-1980)
- Emma Curtis
- February 2017
- Description rules
- Language of description
- Collection processing and finding aid creation for this collection was made possible through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission Access to Historical Records grant program in 2016.