Volume XXVI · Number 3 · Spring 1971
"A Great Man"
Adapted from remarks to Twenty-five Year Kodak Group, September 19, 1968.
--MARION B. FOLSOM, Retired Director of Eastman Kodak Company
One afternoon in May, 1914, while studying annual reports of railroad companies in the small library of the Harvard Business School, I received a telephone call to go to the Dean's office. As I crossed Harvard Yard to University Hall, I could think of no reason for the call; but at the office, the assistant dean told me that George Eastman, who had just visited the school, was interested in employing a graduate of the current class for the Eastman Kodak Company and had asked for a recommendation. I learned later that Dean Gay was very upset with the assistant for not letting him know that Mr. Eastman had been in the office. The Dean was eager to enlist the support, financial and otherwise, of leading businessmen for the fledgling business school (it had been started in 1908). The faculty had recommended me for the position and thought I would be interested. In fact, an appointment had been made for me to meet Mr. Eastman the next afternoon at the Hotel Touraine, in Boston.
Upon my return to the library, I looked up the Eastman Kodak Company in the financial books. The information was meager, especially when compared with the railroad reports. It was enough, however, to show a prosperous and growing company. I had heard of Mr. Eastman, the founder, and was surprised that his title was treasurer and general manager, not president.
When I appeared at the hotel, Mr. Eastman asked me to come to his room. He was then sixty years old and seemed to be in the prime of health. In a few words he told me that the Eastman Kodak Company had a number of college graduates from technical schools (M.I.T. and Cornell) in its plants; a friend of his (I later learned it was George May, senior partner of Price, Waterhouse & Co.) had told him about the Harvard Business School, and he was interested in employing a graduate for the commercial side of the business. He didn't know exactly what the work would be, but at the start it probably would be in the office of Frank Lovejoy, one of his principal assistants. As I can recall, he asked very little about my background or my interests, or the courses I had taken. Evidently he depended upon the recommendation of the school.
I told him that I had considered going back to Georgia upon graduation, probably to enter my father's business. Mr. Eastman asked my father's age (fifty-five), to which he replied there was plenty of time for me to join my father later. When I said to Mr. Eastman I would like to get my father's advice, I was told there was no hurry for a decision from me. My brother and I were going to Europe that summer, and Mr. Eastman offered, in case I decided to join the company, to give me letters for the managers of Kodak branches in Europe to enable me to visit them. The interview was brief. However, I was impressed with Mr. Eastman's frank, direct manner and friendly attitude, and with the general brevity of his speech.
When I wrote to him later that I would like to join the company on October 1st, I received a reply stating that my salary would be $100 a month. The letters of introduction to European branches were also forthcoming, but only the one to the Paris branch reached me in time to arrange a cordial meeting. We had a most eventful three months in Europe. The outbreak of war caught us in a small town in southern France, but we were lucky to have return passage on an American ship, and I was able to reach Rochester on schedule for my new job.
Mr. Eastman's office--a very impressive suite--was on the top floor of the sixteen-story Kodak office building, first occupied the previous year. In our first conversation, Mr. Eastman suggested I not let it be known he had personally hired me. The only people in the company who knew this information were his secretary, Miss Alice K. Whitney, and Mr. Lovejoy. Years later, however, one of the Harvard Business School faculty, in a history of the school, related the story of the visit of Mr. Eastman, and told how I was selected for employment by the Kodak firm.
Mr. Eastman called in Mr. Lovejoy, who took me around the corridor to his office. He showed me the small adjoining office where I was to work for the next two and a half years. No one could help not liking Mr. Lovejoy from the first encounter. He took me to lunch at the Hotel Rochester, and during the next hour or so he drove me around in his Franklin to help me find a place to live. My close association with this able business leader and great humanitarian, from that day until his death in 1945, was extremely fortunate for me. I learned much from him about how to deal with people and business problems, and because he was years ahead of his time, with the social responsibility of business.
In 1914, the Kodak Company--although small in comparison with modern corporations--was considered a large concern, with about 7,000 employees in Rochester and a world wide organization of 10,000. Mr. Eastman was involved in every phase of the company's activities. Besides being interested in research and technical manufacturing problems (having been an inventor himself), he was adept in finances, merchandising, advertising, and administration. He was, furthermore, a pioneer in employee relations.
I had little direct contact with Mr. Eastman during the years 1914-1916, but it didn't take long for me to find out the real nature of his position in the company and in Rochester. In many ways it was still a one-man company, although Mr. Eastman was gradually turning over more and more responsibilities to Mr. Lovejoy, who had the title of general manager of manufacturing, but whose duties covered much more than the title indicated. It was a simple organization with few titles. Mr. Frank S. Noble, for instance, a director in charge of most commercial activities, had the title of assistant treasurer, and the only vice-president was a practicing attorney, Walter S. Hubbell, who was also secretary and general counsel.
The period, between the outbreak of war in Europe and this country's entry into it in 1917, was especially interesting in a company with a world wide organization which had to make many adjustments to changing conditions. Many of these problems reached Mr. Lovejoy's office and for these he required statistics on a wide variety of subjects. It was my responsibility to collect the statistics.
In 1916, the company adjusted wages to meet the increase in the cost of living. I recall devising a cost-of-living index for Rochester. As the general feeling was that the emergency was temporary, this first increase was put in a separate pay envelope.
On the November morning after the 1916 Presidential election, with the results still uncertain, Mr. Eastman walked into Mr. Lovejoy's office. I overheard Mr. Lovejoy tell him that Wall Street was betting odds on Hughes. Mr. Eastman remarked, "Well, money talks." This early optimism soon faded into gloom throughout the building. Most of the executives, naturally, were strong Republicans and supported Hughes. They were especially hostile to Wilson because of the antitrust case still pending against the company. Although the Taft Administration had initiated the suit against Kodak, the Democratic Administration took the blame in 1916. As a Democrat from Georgia, I was an interested observer of these events. I had been an ardent admirer of Woodrow Wilson during my college days, as were many other college students from both the North and the South.
In May, 1917, I entered the first officers training camp, and had an interesting and vital experience, including service with the A.E.F. Soon after my discharge from the Army, in the spring of 1919, I received a letter from Mr. Lovejoy asking me to rejoin the company and to organize a statistical department. While at home in Georgia, I also had an offer from the University of Georgia to join its faculty to give a course in business administration, and also enquiries from Georgia Tech and Emory University in Atlanta. Undergraduate business schools were being organized in colleges all over the country, and very few persons with graduate degrees were available to teach. After long deliberation, I decided I would not be satisfied with a teaching career; and although the university position might open up opportunities to go into business in the South later, the position Mr. Lovejoy offered seemed to be work for which I was fitted. Two years later I had to reach a decision all over again when I was offered the deanship of the new school of commerce at the University of Georgia, a rather appealing prospect for one who was twenty-seven. However, I never regretted the decision to return to Kodak, although I was sorry to leave the South.
As I have indicated, I had, among other duties before the war, collected information and statistics to assist Mr. Lovejoy in reaching decisions. Fortunately, I had taken several college courses in mathematics and a course in business statistics at Harvard. In those early days, the top executives handled a wide range of problems with no staffs, other than secretaries. Kodak had well-organized accounting and tabulating departments, furnishing complete cost data and statistics of sales by products and geographical divisions. Mr. Lovejoy realized the need for systematic collection and analysis of a much broader range of statistics and information. Only a few corporations had centralized statistical departments, one exception being the American Telephone and Telegraph Company which I had visited after I had rejoined Kodak in July, 1919.
In March, 1920, Mr. Eastman sent a letter signed "G. E." to eighteen executives, and to plant and department managers, stating in part:
I have appointed Mr. M. B. Folsom Statistical Secretary to the President, to organize a department in which statistics regarding all phases of the business will be centralized. This department is intended not only to collect statistics for my own use but also to be of assistance to all executives. It will be the function of the Statistical Department to analyze the statistics now being compiled; to prepare reports and graphic charts for the executives based upon these statistics; to suggest the compilation of further information considered necessary and the elimination of any statistics considered unnecessary.
Mr. Eastman invented this title which was probably unique in industry. I was given an office on the sixteenth floor, connected through a short corridor to Mr. Eastman's inner office, where he and Miss Whitney had adjoining roll-top desks. There was also a long high desk where he signed letters and other papers. In his outer office there was a large flat cabinet with a number of drawers for the blueprints of buildings being planned or constructed. One of his greatest interests was the careful scrutiny of these plans, which very often resulted in important changes.
I kept this office until the department expanded and moved away from the prestigious sixteenth floor to the thirteenth. Later, when I was also assigned the duties of office manager, my title was changed to assistant to the president, and, when Mr. Eastman became chairman, assistant to the chairman, until his death in 1932. I was, thus, closely associated with him during his last twelve years.
My first task was to survey the voluminous reports coming to Mr. Eastman and to cut down on the time required for him to keep in touch with what was going on. During this period, he was delegating more and more responsibility to the top executives, but few if any policy questions were decided without consulting him. He was receiving periodic reports from practically all departments. We soon were able to reduce considerably the reports coming to Mr. Eastman, and developed a series of graphic charts in which he became quite interested. By the use of these monthly charts which showed, for example, sales comparison with the previous years and trends, he was able to keep in touch with the business, and therefore to save a great deal of his time. We also prepared a monthly summary of trends and special developments.
As an indication of his concern for details, he once returned a graphic chart with the notation, "I don't like the way the draftsman makes his R's." More positively, when he was away on his hunting trips to Africa, British Columbia, or Alaska, he would have me cable him the periodic sales figures, using a code for the different sales classifications to save cable charges. I happen to have kept a copy of a cable to him in Nairobi on May 19, 1926. After reporting on sales for the first four months, the cable refers to Kodak Park costs, Tennessee Eastman profits, current cash funds, price of Kodak Common, German imports, a particular government contract and "Eastman Theatre (attendance) four months nine (percent) ahead; Metropolitan (Opera) made up last year's deficit." My copy shows "Mr. Lovejoy says o.k."
In my early statistical work I was fortunate to find that rather complete records were available for sales for many previous years. In a letter I wrote to Mr. Eastman in June, 1921, when the post-war recession was under way, I reported on a study we had made of the effects of the "depression of 1907-08" on the sales of Kodaks, films and papers. The only reliable measure of general business trends then available covering a long period were bank clearings. We plotted curves of bank clearings and sales of the products during 1907, 1908, and 1909, and pointed out the different effects on Kodaks, films, and papers, how much each dropped and when bank clearings and sales recovered "the pre-panic level." Another chart showed the sales from January 1919 to April 1921, with projections for 1923. Unfortunately, the charts are missing, but this was our first crude effort at sales forecasting, which has since developed almost into a science, with many available data and tools and many persons at Kodak engaged in it. In 1924, a report sent to Mr. Eastman in Vancouver included a forecast of general business with more indices available: carloadings, department store sales, automobile sales, and employment, in addition to bank debits.
Mr. Eastman was particularly adept at writing short, concise letters, with no unnecessary words. He dictated his own letters. I recall the first letter he asked me to write for him to a New York State assemblyman concerning a legislative matter. In my draft, I began the concluding sentence by stating, "I think," which Mr. Eastman immediately struck out. He said to me, "Be positive."
For years, Mr. Eastman had a system for the use of pencils with different colored leads for the several departments--as I recall it, blue for sales, brown for credit, red for accounting, etc.--but he reserved green for himself, signing his office memos or okays with G. E. in green.
Even in his later years and after he had delegated much responsibility to others, he was held in awe even by some of the higher executives. From stories told me by some of the "old-timers" of the long, intense hours put in at the office or plant by Mr. Eastman when the company was going through its early struggles, I could easily appreciate this awe. But when I knew him, he was always calm and deliberate.
Mr. Eastman once told me of an experience he had in seeking a loan during the early years of the business. It was a loan to replace a building which had burned down. He showed the bank the statement of the earnings and assets of the small business, which he thought justified the loan, and was quite upset when the president of the bank told him he would make the loan if Colonel Henry A. Strong would endorse the note. Mr. Eastman went to Colonel Strong and borrowed the money from him, and he told me that he had never gone back to a bank to borrow money since that experience.
Mr. Eastman, although he was forced to leave school before completing high school, was an extremely well educated man. He had read widely and was equally at ease in conversing with scientists, architects, engineers, educators, musicians, physicians as with business men. He seldom wrote articles or made speeches, but in his later life he occasionally gave interviews. The following extracts give interesting sidelights of his views. As early as 1887, he wrote:
The business is likely to be a permanent one if built on a sure foundation, which foundation is good goods. To make good goods requires experience and is a slow matter--perhaps it is a slower matter with me than it might be with someone else, but I do the best I know how. But when we get there, we "get there" to stay.
In a talk to employees in 1925:
By working seriously and effectively in our working hours, much can be done to enable us to make the most of our leisure hours. What we do in our working hours determines what we have in the world. What we do in our play hours determines what we are.
In a letter to the manager of the European business:
One of the best qualifications for a manager, superintendent, or foreman is ability to recognize ability in those under him and to stimulate their initiative. Any concern where this is overlooked will be full of dry rot. The ideal corporation is one that makes the best use of the brains within it.
In 1927, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Eastman Kodak Company of New Jersey, I suggested to Mr. Lovejoy and Lewis B. Jones, the advertising manager, that the company should substitute for the four-page annual report to stockholders a more complete one. They thought it a good idea, but were doubtful that Mr. Eastman would change the make-up of the report which had been the same for twenty-four years. We prepared a dummy, including pictures of the various plants, a color picture of the new store in Place Vendôme, Paris, a description of the various lines of business, but few changes were made in the format of the income statement and the balance sheet.
Mr. Lovejoy and Mr. Jones okayed the draft, which I assumed they would present to Mr. Eastman. However, they said it was up to me; they probably did not want to face a turn-down. When I showed it to Mr. Eastman, he read it through immediately, made one correction in the use of a word--a mistake which had gotten by all of us (we had used the word agriculture instead of horticulture). He then okayed the whole draft. That was the beginning of the new style annual report for which the company in recent years has received several national awards.
Mr. Eastman was also a notable pioneer among industrialists in the field of employee relations. One day in 1899 employees received an unexpected bonus and a printed card reading: "This is a personal matter with Mr. Eastman and he requests that you not consider it as a gift but as extra pay for extra good work." His concern for the human factor in industry and his desire to have all those in the organization participate in the extra profits of the company led to the adoption of the wage dividend plan in 1912.
The wage dividend from that time has been the foundation stone of the well-rounded industrial relations program of the Kodak company. Mr. Eastman said at the time, "The past and continued prosperity of our company is not due to the value of a patent or an invention. Quality can only be secured by extreme skill and alertness not only as individuals but as an organization." And, at another time, he stated: "An organization cannot be sound unless its spirit is. That is the lesson the man on top must learn. He must be a man of vision and progress who can understand that one can muddle along on a basis in which the human factor takes no part, but eventually there comes a fall."
One day Mr. Eastman called me into his office, asking me to meet the "fastest talking man in America," an insurance man named Walter Forster. Mr. Eastman later told me that he always gave Mr. Forster an appointment because he liked to hear him talk. This time he was talking about pension plans.
The management for some time had been trying to interest Mr. Eastman in adopting a pension plan because by that time (the middle twenties) a number of the workers were reaching retirement age; and, as some of them would probably be unable to get along well if retired, the management would naturally hesitate to lay them off. When Mr. Eastman was approached, he took the position that with the company paying at least the going amount of wages, and with the substantial annual cash wage dividend, the company had done its part; it would be up to the individual to take care of retirement himself.
Probably out of courtesy to Mr. Forster, Mr. Eastman asked me to study the pension problem and to find out what other progressive companies were doing. The plan finally recommended by the management to Mr. Eastman provided for retirement annuity, life insurance, and total disability benefits. The current cost would be financed by a thirty-five percent reduction in the cash wage dividend, and the past service cost would be assumed by the company, with a substantial portion being met by an initial cash payment of $7,500,000 to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Mr. Eastman readily agreed to this compromise plan because he was then convinced of the need. He also agreed to have the plan underwritten by an insurance company--as he expressed it, "to remove the funds from business risks." Since all employees would participate in the several benefits, including the past service credits, the plan was well received in spite of the reduction in the wage dividend. Incidentally, rates of recent cash wage dividends have been exceeding the rate before the reduction and there is now an investment provision encouraging employees to save part or all of the annual payment.
The following anecdote from an article, "My Friend George Eastman," by the Rev. George E. Norton, former rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Rochester (published in the University of Rochester Library Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 1, Fall, 1967) indicates this change in Mr. Eastman's attitude. Mr. Norton writes of a trip the Nortons took with Mr. Eastman to Europe:
The next morning our chauffeur called for us in a limousine and we started for Avignon where we stayed two days. From Avignon we made for Nice on the French Riviera. This was a long jaunt and on the way down G. E. started asking me what I thought about the responsibility of an industry to establish a pension fund for its employees. I said that I thought when a man had given his life to an industry and had reached retirement age, it was only just for a big concern to grant him a retirement pension. His answer was prompt: "There are several things wrong with that statement. For instance, Eastman Kodak is not a philanthropic institution. Moreover, no employee has given his life to it. Kodak has given him a job so he could make a living. Also Kodak has benefitted the community in which he lived, etc." He brought this matter up several times on this trip and every time he would reject all of my suggestions. I felt that I had miserably failed. Now, I must jump ahead to our return to Paris two weeks later. He called me into his room and shoved a sheaf of papers across the desk to me. To my amazement, I saw the complete draft for the pension plan which Eastman Kodak later adopted. Mr. Marion Folsom had prepared it and forwarded the complete proposal to Mr. Eastman. G. E. chuckled and greatly enjoyed my surprise. I said, "You rascal. You were just taking me for a ride."
Carl W. Ackerman, in his biography of Mr. Eastman (published in 1930) wrote, "The social philosophy which he [George Eastman] practiced in building his company was not only far in advance of the thinking during his lifetime but it will be years before it is generally recognized and accepted."
I have often wondered how Mr. Eastman would have reacted to the Social Security measures adopted by the government a few years after his death. I am inclined to think his views would have been about the same as those of Mr. Lovejoy who realized, as a result of the depression, that governmental action was necessary and that the contributory social insurance was far better than relief measures to prevent destitution. Mr. Lovejoy encouraged me in my work on Social Security in spite of the opposition of the great majority of business people. Mr. Eastman did approve the Rochester Unemployment Benefit Plan, adopted in 1931, and the failure to adopt a plan for unemployment benefits by the company when some of us first proposed it in 1921 was not in response to the objections of Mr. Lovejoy or Mr. Eastman, but to those of the plant managers.
Mr. Eastman, of course, needed a number of persons to run his household, the social affairs, the garden, greenhouse, garage, and to look after the two cows in the barn. Having realized the value of organization charts in the company, Mr. Eastman asked me to have the newly organized Statistical Department prepare an organization chart of the twenty-six members of the household staff and their functions.
Before he left on a hunting trip to Alaska for Kodiak bear, Mr. Eastman asked me to arrange for a changeover of the telephone systems in his home. When his house was built, he had his own elaborate intercommunicating telephone system installed. Back in the twenties, when the Home Telephone merged with the Bell System, it was necessary to replace a privately owned inter-communicating system with one owned by the telephone company at a small monthly charge for each outlet. Mr. Eastman had gone over the number of phones carefully and had left me a list of those to be included in the new system. The number was reduced from, as I recall, about twenty down to ten. His housekeeper, Miss Marie Cherbuliez, called me when the new system was being put in, for she was quite concerned because phones were not included for the garage, greenhouse or stable. The cost for the three would be only $2.25 per month, and she wanted to know if it would be okay to go ahead with them. As Mr. Eastman had seemed rather positive about the phones on the list, I wrote him, giving the monthly rates. A couple of weeks later, in a cable from Alaska to Miss Whitney, he responded, "Tell Folsom telephone for garage okay but not others." Although liberal in spending for entertaining, travel and such things, he disliked useless expense and waste.
In that same year, 1924, Mr. Eastman announced gifts of thirty million dollars to the University of Rochester, M. I. T., Hampton and Tuskegee institutes. He explained these gifts as follows :
In the first place, the progress of the world depends almost entirely upon education--fortunately, the most permanent institutions of men are educational-hence the selection of educational institutes. I selected a limited number because I wanted to cover certain kinds of education and felt I could get results with those named quicker and more directly than if the money were spread.
During these later years, Mr. Eastman devoted much of his time and a substantial part of his wealth to a number of non-profit projects. He once said, "If a man has wealth he has to make a choice--he can keep it together in a bunch and then leave it for others to administer after he is dead, or he can get into action and have fun while he is still alive. I have enjoyed getting into action and adapting it to human needs and making the plans work."
In these affairs, Mr. Eastman exhibited the same talents and tactics that he had employed so successfully in his business career: careful selection of capable imaginative administrators, close attention to the project, a strong but simple organization, and adaptation to changing conditions. It was my good fortune to work for him on several of these diverse and interesting projects.
The project which for several years took a good part of his time was the Eastman School of Music and the Eastman Theatre. With the announcement of his generous endowment in 1918, he stated:
It is necessary for people to have an interest in life outside of an occupation. . . . Hours of employment will inevitably be shortened, and as production increases, as it must increase, they must be still further shortened. . . . What, however, is going to be done with the leisure thus obtained? I do not think that we have ever created enough outside interests. Leisure is unfruitful because it is not used productively. All sorts of sports, recreation, and diversions must be developed if we are to make full use of our leisure. . . . I am interested in music personally and I am led thereby merely to want to share my pleasure with others.
He and Dr. Rush Rhees, then president of the University of Rochester, together worked out a comprehensive plan for an institution to provide preparatory and professional music education of the highest quality; to cooperate with the public schools to improve their musical programs; to erect a large theatre for motion pictures and concerts, and to erect a small hall for chamber music.
All these plans were carried out with highly successful results, with the exception of the motion picture theatre. Mr. Eastman had in mind entertainment combining a first-rate film with a program of music by an orchestra, and occasionally ballet and parts of operas, which would attract people to pay New York City prices. While the attendance was favorable during the first few years, it soon became evident that many of the public preferred the current trend of two-feature film programs, to the programs offered by the Eastman Theatre. Finally, the use of the theatre for daily motion picture showings was abandoned.
Mr. Eastman followed the attendance records closely, especially when the success of the theatre became uncertain. He asked me to have a statistical study made of the attendance to see if we could find any clues on why certain pictures were successful box office attractions. We classified the pictures; then we made a study of the attendance of each picture and compared it with the record of the same picture throughout the country. A short questionnaire was distributed to the viewers to obtain their opinion of the show and their preferences for various types of pictures. After keeping the records for two or three years, we found that there were so many variable factors--the pulling power of the star, the competing pictures in the city, the state of the weather, the title of the film--that it was impossible to reach any conclusion on why one picture drew better than another, or to be able to predict which picture would draw and which one would not. The abandonment of the Eastman Theatre for motion pictures was a great disappointment to Mr. Eastman. This pioneer program and the whole plan, including raising and lowering the platform for the orchestra did, however, set the pattern for the Music Hall shows which have become so popular in New York's Radio City.
Learning about the work of Professor Seashore, of the University of Iowa, in developing a series of tests by use of phonograph records to determine whether a person had musical talent, Mr. Eastman suggested that the School of Music add to the faculty a psychologist to consider the possibility of using such tests in screening applicants. Dr. Hazel Stanton, who had studied under Dr. Seashore, joined the staff soon after the School was established. She began testing both the children in the preparatory department and applicants for admission to the School, keeping a complete record of the test scores and the grades of the students throughout their school career. The faculty, naturally, were quite skeptical of the scheme. Mr. Eastman asked me to make a statistical study of the tests and the subsequent school records. He was concerned particularly because so many of the parents in the community wanted their youngsters to take the course in the preparatory school; yet, some of them obviously would have little musical talent. Mr. Eastman did not like the idea of having a teacher devote time to training a person if he did not have talent.
I was much impressed with Dr. Stanton's work and the complete record she kept. The students were rated A to E. Our study showed that the correlation was quite good between those testing A and B and their school records, and also with those in the lower end of the scale; but those in the middle were erratic. While we had only a limited number of students with complete records for four years, we found that of a group of twenty-one students who were rated in the two highest grades by the teachers, twenty were in the two highest test grades. Only one who was rated in the top group by the teachers had failed to make a high scoring test. We also found that of those who rated the lowest in the testing scores, practically all had dropped out of the School before the four years had passed. The study brought out rather conclusively that the tests could be used as a good indication of whether the applicant had musical talent and could be used, along with other standards, to determine whether he should be admitted. It would be used to spot the exceptionally talented youngsters, and to indicate those with so little talent that there was a question as to whether or not they should be admitted. This was the important point which Mr. Eastman wanted to make clear to the teachers.
He seemed pleased with the results of the study and asked me to prepare a set of slides to present the charts to the faculty. When the meeting was held, to the surprise of all of us, Mr. Eastman showed up and sat in the back row with two or three friends. I never knew whether we convinced the faculty or not, but, fortunately, a short time later the new director of the School of Music, Dr. Howard Hanson, arrived in Rochester. He was acquainted with the Seashore Tests and much impressed with the results of their use at the School. They have since been used as one of the criteria in determining whether a person should be admitted.
The Rockefeller Fund and the General Education Board were planning to foster five or six new medical schools of the Johns Hopkins type to carry out the ideas developed by Dr. Abraham Flexner. They were anxious to have such a school developed in New York City. However, they found that important members of the medical staffs, practicing or consulting physicians of the leading hospitals, were not interested. It was then decided to consider a location upstate. Someone suggested Rochester, because of the high academic status of the University of Rochester, and of the possibility of getting Mr. Eastman interested in the project. Dr. Flexner approached Dr. Rhees and Mr. Eastman, and Mr. Eastman became very much interested in the proposal, especially when he saw the possibility of having the Eastman Dental Dispensary become a part of the medical school. Beginning with the suggestion that Mr. Eastman contribute $2,500,000 along with a similar amount jointly from the Rockefeller Foundation and the General Education Board, it finally developed into a contribution of $4,500,000 by each to construct a complete medical school.
In 1957, while Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, I had the pleasant task of presenting an award to Dr. Flexner on behalf of the Association for Aid to Medical Schools. I mentioned Mr. Eastman's connection with Dr. Flexner and quoted this extract from a letter Mr. Eastman wrote to a friend in 1921. I found this in Dr. Flexner's autobiography:
He [Dr. Flexner] is the worst highwayman that ever flitted into and out of Rochester. He put up a job on me and cleaned me out of a thundering lot of my hard-earned savings. I have just heard that he is coming up here June 2nd to speak at the graduating exercises of the allied hospitals. I have been asked to sit on the stage with him, but instead of that I shall probably flee the town for fear he will hypnotize me again.
Mr. Eastman and Dr. Rhees, after a careful search for a dean of the new medical school, were fortunate to secure the services of Dr. George H. Whipple whose remarkable record in the selection of the faculty and outstanding leadership in research and teaching enabled the school to achieve a rank among the few top medical schools of the nation.
Mr. Eastman's close association with Dr. Rhees, in connection with the establishment of the music and medical schools, undoubtedly had an important effect in changing his attitude toward the value of a college education. He had realized earlier the importance of scientific and technical education because of the contribution of a few graduate engineers and scientists toward the early success of the Kodak company. His changed attitude toward the typical college graduate was stated in a letter to a friend, written in 1924:
In your day and mine a large proportion of the boys who went to college were rich men's sons who did not really have to work when they came out. Nowadays practically all the bright boys try to go to college, and the war developed the fact that it was the college graduate who made good as an officer and leader. We now instead of looking askance at the college graduates send out scouts every spring to engage the cream of the college men to fill our ranks. So you see, my position has completely changed. From the Kodak point of view, I consider it a very highly desirable thing to have a good college here, not only to help train good men but also to make Rochester an attractive place for Kodak men to live and bring up their families.
By the time I became associated with Mr. Eastman, several of the civic projects which he initiated and helped develop had already been firmly established, such as the Rochester Community Chest, one of the first in the country, and the Bureau of Municipal Research, also among the first of its kind. His work with the Bureau, which he entirely financed, led to his interest in the city management movement, in which he was an important influence.
In these later years he maintained an active interest in local government and kept a close check on the activities of the Bureau. Generally he would, when in Rochester, spend one afternoon a week discussing the various projects with the Bureau director and giving advice on the best methods to achieve results. He had advised the director from the beginning that when a plan or recommendation was adopted to give all credit to the official in charge of the department and not to attempt to take any credit for the Bureau itself. This was an important factor in its record of accomplishments. As a result, the Bureau for many years received very little publicity. When I was appointed office manager, Mr. Eastman told me of the advice he had given to the director of the Bureau, implying that it would be well to follow the same policy in dealing with heads of departments at the Kodak office.
Eight years after the Bureau was established, a person being considered for the position of director asked the question, "How permanent is the Bureau?" The record shows that Mr. Eastman's answer was, "As far as I am concerned, I am well satisfied with what the Bureau is doing and as long as it continues to produce the present results, it will continue. I consider that the money is well spent. The only thing outside of failure of performance is the arrival of the millennium in the city government when it is so perfect that there will be nothing for the Bureau to do. As far as you and I can see, that is many years away."
Mr. Eastman provided in his Will funds to the organization for only one year. His theory was that if the organization was doing a good job in meeting current needs, other people or companies would see that it was continued. If the community was not sufficiently interested, the Bureau probably should be discontinued. Soon after his death, the larger taxpayers in the community provided funds for the budget of the Bureau, and it is now operating with a greatly expanded budget, an active board of trustees, a long list of projects under study, and good cooperation from city and county officials. The Bureau has followed consistently the policies of objective research, non-partisanship, full credit to officials, and independence laid down by Mr. Eastman; it is recognized as one of the small number of effective research bureaus in the country.
Calendar reform was also intensely interesting to Mr. Eastman in his later years. A friend in New York City sent to Rochester an Englishman named Moses B. Cotsworth who had developed a plan for reforming the calendar. Mr. Cotsworth left with Mr. Eastman a mass of papers relating to the history of the calendar. These papers pointed out the confusion existing because of the present calendar, and how his plan would simplify it. Mr. Eastman asked me to make a study of the proposal and to give him a report.
I found Mr. Cotsworth's study of the development of the calendar fascinating. The fact that the month is not a multiple of the week is the chief cause of trouble with the present calendar. His proposed plan was very simple: To create 13 months of 28 days each, for a total of 364 days; the extra day in each year would be a worldwide holiday without a weekday name. He suggested calling it World Peace Day and suggested Sol for the name of the thirteenth month, which would be placed between June and July. It would also be necessary to have an extra day each Leap Year. The date for Easter would be fixed and all holidays would be on Mondays.
Mr. Eastman first became very much interested in Mr. Cotsworth as a person. Mr. Cotsworth had given up his position as a statistician with a British railway company, had spent all his savings on the calendar project, and was trying to find someone who would support his efforts to obtain general acceptance of his proposal. He was a member of the Society of Friends and lived up to their ideals. Evidently he was working on calendar reform for the good of humanity, without expectations of personal benefits.
The calendar proposal of Mr. Cotsworth seemed to be a practical scheme to overcome defects of the present calendar. Mr. Eastman was impressed with the project but, as usual, before giving it his support he wanted to see whether it would be realistic to expect that a change like this could ever be made. An attractive booklet entitled, "Do We Need Calendar Reform?," and a questionnaire, were enclosed in a letter personally signed by Mr. Eastman and sent to one hundred persons from various walks of life. We had a remarkably high percentage of returns, probably because of Mr. Eastman's personal letter. A large proportion indicated that they thought the plan was good and that efforts should be made to obtain its acceptance. Those who opposed it generally cited the difficulty of change.
Mr. Eastman then decided to help Mr. Cotsworth. He set up a budget and asked Mr. Eugene Chrystal, public relations director for Kodak, and me, to take care of the financing and to help Mr. Cotsworth with his program. Mr. Cotsworth spent some time with the League of Nations to secure its interest and action. He met with a number of church organizations, who were much interested in the fixed Easter idea, and with business associations in this country and throughout the world. He never lost an opportunity to speak to people whom he happened to meet in his many travels. The story was told that on a train trip from New York City to Rochester he began a conversation with the person sitting next to him, first to find out what his occupation was and then to tell him about the advantages of calendar reform in his particular occupation. The man interrupted him by saying, "Wait a minute! Aren't you the same man who spoke to me about calendar reform on a bus in London last year?"
Mr. Eastman kept in close touch with the progress; we prepared for his signature articles for leading periodicals and letters to important associations. Business concerns were showing interest in the 13-month calendar for internal use. For several years a number of firms had been using the 13-period calendar to maintain their own records of sales so that comparisons with the preceding year could be made more accurately, and also to assist in planning manufacturing operations and in budgeting. The Kodak company adopted this plan in 1928 and has used it ever since.
At the time of Mr. Eastman's death, some progress was being made, although it was felt to be a long-term project. Mr. Eastman, in his Will, made the same arrangement for the calendar project as for others he was supporting. This was a keen disappointment to Mr. Cotsworth, and it was the only time we had known him to lose his optimistic enthusiasm. It did not take him long to recover, however. When he learned that the University of Rochester had been bequeathed the bulk of Mr. Eastman's estate, he immediately approached the University trustees. To our surprise, he convinced them that they should continue the support for three years at the same rate as Mr. Eastman had contributed.
During the years immediately preceding World War II, however, interested persons in the various nations soon put a low priority on calendar reform. Because of the inertia and the difficulty of getting agreement between the various churches, groups and nations, it is doubtful if this complete plan, although sound and practical and beneficial to people throughout the world, will ever be applied in its entirety. The chances are good, however, that two features--the plan for a fixed Easter and placing holidays on Monday--will be adopted within a reasonable time. With the increasing number of workers enjoying an increasing number of holidays and the obvious advantages of the longer weekends, limited action has already been taken to change certain holidays to Monday for government employees.
After the publicity given to his large gifts to educational institutions, Mr. Eastman was flooded with requests from people all over the world to the extent that Miss Whitney prepared a printed card for reply. Mr. Eastman showed me some of these requests, such as one from a minister of a small rural church in Kentucky for money to repair a leak in the church's roof. In addition to his large contributions, he made many, known only to Miss Whitney, to individuals. He showed me a touching letter he had received from a girl who had been burned in an accident at Kodak Park, and whom he had helped after the company had already gone beyond its obligations.
Mr. Eastman enjoyed lively social conversations. For several years he would have a group of four young married women for luncheon on Saturdays. They were served lobsters shipped from Boston. Included were Mrs. Whipple, wife of the dean of the medical school; Mrs. Stanhope Bayne-Jones, wife of a faculty member of the medical school; Mrs. Harold Gleason, wife of the organist of the Eastman School of Music, and my wife. Initially, Mr. Gleason, and later, Mrs. William Vaughn, would play the organ during the luncheon.
Once when I drove Mrs. Folsom to his house, Mr. Eastman noticed that I had our three-year-old son in the car. He asked my wife to bring the boy in to see him. When the youngster looked around he calmly said, "Nice little home," which gave Mr. Eastman quite a laugh.
While Mr. Eastman did much entertaining in small and large groups, he must often have felt lonely in his immense home. One November day, upon Mrs. Folsom's return from one of the Saturday luncheons, she wondered whether Mr. Eastman had any plans for Thanksgiving. I remarked that he certainly must have, but she phoned him anyhow. He readily accepted her invitation for Thanksgiving dinner. We also had the Albert Chapmans join us and Mr. Eastman seemed to have a pleasant time.
On another occasion we were showing a home movie in the first model Kodascope which was not easy to thread. When we saw the film piling up on the floor, Mr. Eastman insisted on rethreading it himself.
In 1954, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, I was asked by the Deputy Postmaster General to participate in the first day ceremonies introducing the George Eastman Commemorative Stamp. My concluding remarks were:
George Eastman was a simple and reticent man who shunned publicity. He was direct in word and deed. Under what seemed a calm severity he was sensitive, even sentimental. . . . He had a faculty for reducing complex problems to a few fundamentals. If these fundamentals measured up to his estimate of soundness and fairness, his solution of the matter was usually direct, simple and bold.
A prime quality was his sincerity. He seldom came to an impulsive decision. Only after considered conviction did he speak his mind and then in a calm, matter-of-fact way. He was as simple in his attitude to life as he was in his speech.
In his life, George Eastman, an unusually modest man, did not consider himself great. Nor did he seek fame--in fact, he avoided it. Yet he was great. And it is fitting. . . that our Government should honor him with a commemorative stamp in its series of Famous Americans.
From the perspective of the intervening years since 1954, I am even more convinced that George Eastman was indeed a great man. I feel privileged to have enjoyed such a close association with him as employer and friend during my early years in business.