Public Relations


Fred Black (1881-1972)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1918-1933, 1933-1943
Major roles: Business Manager Dearborn Independent, Head of Advertising Department, In charge of World’s Fairs in 1934 and 1939, Head of Public Relations
(image: P188.10891 Acc. 1660 box 138)

Fred Black was first hired as the Business Manager of the Dearborn Independent in 1918. Black covered a variety of roles during his time with the paper including setting up a news bureau in 1919 to cover the Chicago Tribune trial, investigating the book The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth for a number of years at Henry Ford’s behest which resulted in a number of articles, and assisted in writing some of the content for “Mr. Ford’s Page.” When the Dearborn Independent ceased publication in 1927, Black became head of the Advertising Department under Edsel Ford. Black’s first major campaign was for the new Model A, he also worked on Lincoln, Trimotor, and by-products advertising. Black left the company shortly during 1933 when all Ford advertising was cancelled due to the depression, but returned when Edsel Ford asked him back to take charge of Ford exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair. He was later responsible for the Ford efforts at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and the 1939 San Francisco Golden Gate Exposition. Early in WWII, Black was put in charge of the Public Relations Department, but left the company in 1943.

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William Cameron (1878-1955)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1919-1946
Major roles: Editor of Dearborn Independent, Speaker on Ford Sunday Evening Hour
(image: THF116344)

William Cameron began his career at Ford Motor Company around 1919 writing for the Dearborn Independent and covering the Chicago Tribune trial extensively. In 1920, he was named editor of the Dearborn Independent, and along with input from Liebold, wrote “Mr. Ford’s Page” interpreting and expressing Henry Ford’s viewpoints for the paper. When publication of the newspaper ceased in 1927, Cameron moved into a public relations role as Ford’s public voice. In 1934, Ford started the Ford Sunday Evening Hour and Cameron gave weekly talks on various subjects for the program and was given full reign in the topics he chose to discuss. In 1942, the program was cancelled due to the war, but Cameron continued to write and speak for Ford publicly including bi-weekly talks at the Greenfield Village Chapel. As Henry Ford II began to take on more responsibility within the company, Cameron also wrote speeches for him. Cameron retired in 1946.

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Benjamin (B.R.) Donaldson (1893-1980) 

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1919-1959
Major roles: Director of Advertising and Sales
(image: Acc. 1660 box 139)

B.R. Donaldson joined Ford Motor Company in 1919 as the head of the Mailing Department for the Dearborn Independent. He rose through the ranks to become Associate Editor of the paper in addition to being Editor of Ford Motor Company plant publications. In 1927, he was named Manager of Fordson tractor advertising and when Fordson production moved abroad he became Manager of Export Advertising for 10 years, during which time he also headed the Truck Advertising program. While the company was broadcasting on their station WWI, Donaldson handled programming and also worked as an announcer for the station. During WWII, he was charged with directing the writing of the company’s war operations, a 500,000 word project. He was named Director of Advertising and Sales in 1945 and played a prominent role in the company’s 1953 50th Anniversary TV special. He was named Director of Institutional Advertising in 1954, retiring in 1959 but continuing to act as a consultant for the company.

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  • Last Updated Mar 27, 2024
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  1. My Grandmother, Ivy Sexton, worked for Ben Donaldson, and she helped weld and build bomber planes in the Ford factory during WWII. When she became pregnant with my father, Ben Donaldson gave my grandparents, Ivy and Aretus Sexton, a large financial gift to help pay for their baby during the economic depression. They named their newly born son, Donald Ben Sexton (my father). Don grew up and also worked for Ford for a period of time until he joined the Navy and went to Viet Nam in 1961. He owned Ford trucks for the rest of his life, until he passed away on 09/01/2022. Laid to rest in Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, for Veterans.
    by Laurel Sexton on Feb 09, 2023

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