Collection ID: MSS052
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Collection context


American City Bureau
American City Bureau, a fundraising consulting firm, works with not for profit organizations to design and run fund raising campaigns. Established in 1913 by Edgar and Harold Buttenheim, the company merged with Beaver and Associates in 1963. The firm has worked on capital campaigns on the national and local level. American City Bureau has been instrumental in developing campaigns for organizations such as the Young Men's Christian Association,(YMCA), the Young Women's Christian Association, (YWCA), United Fund, and the Salvation Army. The records detail the fund raising efforts and campaigns of the American City Bureau and its predecessor origins. It consists of 4 page reports of campaigns from Howard T. Beaver Associates, (later Beaver and Associates) from 1936-1963, campaign information from American City Bureau from 1944 -1995, conference addresses and programs, from 1938-1978, promotional materials and publications from 1919- 1973, and their newsletter, Bureau News from 1920-1976.
43.0 cubic feet (42 record cartons and 2 boxes)
Materials are in English .
Preferred citation:

Cite as: American City Bureau Records, 1919-1995, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis.


Biographical / Historical:

American City Bureau was founded on April 22, 1913, by Edgar and Harold Buttenheim. At the time, Edgar was the publisher and Harold the editor of the American City Magazine, a periodical for municipal officials and civic workers in the United States. The Buttenheims established American City Bureau in response to their subscribers' desire for an organization that would provide trained individuals who would assist community leaders in conducting civic fund raising campaigns for non-profit organizations and philanthropic causes.

American City Bureau was originally headquartered in New York City. Branch offices were located in Chicago, San Francisco, and Toronto. The firm's Chicago office became its headquarters during the 1920s. The headquarters moved to Rosemont, Illinois in 1975 and to Hoffman Estates, Illinois in the 1980s.

American City Bureau's early work was with local Chambers of Commerce. They conducted organizational and membership campaigns. The purpose of the firm was stated in the August 22, 1919, issue of the American City Bureau News: "American City Bureau is, an agency for increasing the efficiency of commercial and civic organizations." The firm published the newsletter, Community Leadership through the Chamber of Commerce. It contained articles about subjects of interest to local leaders and news about Chamber activities across the country. The Bureau also published manuals and conducted classes on civic leadership, Chamber of Commerce procedures, techniques and ideals. The Buttenheims also published American City, a magazine dedicated to civic affairs and the promotion of social welfare through non-governmental agencies. American City Bureau conducted campaigns for Chambers of Commerce into the 1940s, but the number of campaigns steadily declined as fund raising campaigns for other clients occupied more of the firm's time. Beginning in the 1920s, American City Bureau worked with Community Chest and United Fund campaigns. Later the Young Men's Christian Association, (YMCA), the Young Women's Christian Association, (YWCA), the Salvation Army, churches, colleges and universities, arts organizations, hospitals and other nonprofit organizations made up the bulk of the Bureau's clientele. By 1947, American City Bureau was the oldest company of its kind and considered themselves "General Practitioners" in the fund raising field. These types of organizations still comprise the majority of American City Bureau's business.

On September 29, 1962, American City Bureau purchased the fund raising firm of Beaver Associates. This firm founded in Chicago in January, 1936, as Howard T. Beaver and Associates. The company's founder, Howard T. Beaver, was employed by the fund raising organization of Ward, Wells and Dreshman for twelve years. This company was instrumental in establishing the YMCA. He served as Western Manager for a portion of that period.

Bart Brammer of American City Bureau first suggested a merger in the late 1950s. At the time Beaver turned down the opportunity. However, in 1962, Beaver, who was in failing health, renewed the discussion. The agreement was nearly final when Beaver died on September 14, 1962, leaving his estate to finalize the merger. On September 29, American City Bureau purchased all outstanding shares of Beaver Associates stock. The company changed its name to American City Bureau/Beaver Associates. In the 1980s the name reverted to American City Bureau.

In 1975, American City Bureau/Beaver Associates purchased the fund raising firm of Will, Folsom and Smith, Inc. This company was founded in 1919 in New York City by Dwight Folsom, Cornelius Smith, and an individual with the last name Will who left the company soon after its founding. Cornelius Smith was a leader in the establishment of the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel and its first president. The company specialized in raising hospital funds.

Over time and through the acquisition of other firms American City Bureau changed its business from a consulting firm to a fund raising firm. In the early fund raising days, the firm sent its associates to live in the communities for the duration of a campaign. The Bureau man would become part of the community in which he worked. Later the focus shifted to instructing groups on fund raising and setting up the campaigns for them. American City Bureau believes strongly in advance preparation before a campaign to insure success. Today the company focuses on raising major funds for not-for-profit organizations. Their mission is "to help your organization advance its mission."

The chairmen and presidents of American City Bureau have played prominent roles in the fund raising field. They include:

Chairmen: Presidents: Harold Buttenheim 1913-1935 Edgar Buttenheim 1913-1935 James Almond 1936-1955 Harold Buttenheim 1936-1948 Bart Brammer 1956-1960 Edgar Buttenheim 1949-1955 Robert Dobbin 1960-1970 James Almond 1956-1960 Eugene White 1971-1972 Lowell Brammer 1960-1970 Edgar Powell 1972- Robert Dobbin 1971-1973 James Biggins 1972-1984 Executive Committee 1973 Edgar Powell -1984 James Biggins 1984- Following Dobbin's retirement in 1973, Powell and Biggins served as the executive committee which handled the duties of chairman.

Scope and Content:

The collection consists of historical records of American City Bureau, Howard T. Beaver and Associates, Beaver Associates, and American City Bureau/Beaver Associates covering the years 1919-1995. The records demonstrate how American City Bureau has conducted business and how the business has changed overtime.

The Howard T. Beaver records, 1936-1962, consist of 4-page reports and conference materials. The 4-page reports provide abstracts of individual campaigns. The reports contain the name of the soliciting organization, the goal amount, the amount raised, itemized expense reports, the dates of the campaign, names of key individuals from community (both those who worked for the campaign and those who donated), the name of the firm's representative running the campaign, and a report by the company representative about the campaign. These records are helpful in demonstrating how the Beaver campaigns were run as well as how the experiences with individual campaigns changed how things were done over time. For example, many of the final reports contain notes from the field with suggestions about what worked and what did not in individual campaigns. Some of the suggestions are reflected in changes made to campaign procedure. The reports also give key information about the organizations and the communities in which the campaigns were run. These records are arranged by year then alphabetically by campaign. (See Appendix A for a complete listing of the clients.) The Howard T. Beaver conference materials, 1936-1962, consist of conference programs and conference addresses used in training the staff.

The Conference Records, 1935-1962, contain conference addresses from American City Bureau and American City Bureau/Beaver Associates. Also included are programs, photographs and other materials provided at these conferences. Conferences included are American City Bureau, and American City Bureau/Beaver Associates. This series is divided into conference addresses and programs.

The Publications and Promotional Materials, 1920-1973, is comprised of books, pamphlets, newsletters and other materials on fund raising produced by the firm as well as self promotional items from Christmas cards, to brochures, to small premiums distributed in advertising the company's services. These publications are helpful in ascertaining the firm's standard ideas on fund raising and can be compared to actual practice by looking at individual campaigns along with them. They are arranged alphabetically. The promotional materials demonstrate the sales tactics of the organization from 1928-1973.

The Bureau News- Bureau/ Beaver News, 1919-1976, contains information about current and recently completed campaigns, a monthly sales report, instructions to staff, personal news on employees, information on conferences, as well as a directory of staff members and their location at the time of publication. These newsletters give the researcher an idea of relations within the company as well as help to interpret the campaign reports through updates. These newsletters often indicate the effects of outside forces on the Bureau's business.

Community Leadership through the Chamber of Commerce, 1921-1922, published articles of interest to local leaders and about the Chambers of Commerce across the country. This newsletter contains a wide range of material concerning issues of interest in the early 1920s. It also contains excerpts of articles from major newspapers giving the researcher an idea of the things going on in the country that affected local interests. The promotional materials are organized chronologically.

Campaign Records, 1944-1995, detail the running of campaigns. A typical campaign file includes: campaign plans, final reports, printed materials, transmittals, correspondence, preliminary studies regarding the feasibility of some campaigns, as well as other materials used to conduct campaigns. The final reports contain roughly the same information as the 4-page reports above. The campaign records assist in the understanding of how campaigns were run and how those have changed over time and the differences between large and small campaigns. These records contain a variety of campaign types and are arranged by name of soliciting organization, state, city and date.

Acquisition information:
Presented by American City Bureau, Hoffman Estates, Illinois, 1993 and 2003. A93-45, A2002/03-50
Rules or conventions:
DACS-Describing Archives: A Content Standard
General note:

Rights Statement: The text of this webpage is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).



This collection is open to the public without restriction.


The copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) govern the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.


Cite as: American City Bureau Records, 1919-1995, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis.

University Library
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