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Social Security: Get to know J. Douglas Brown

This guide is a companion to the exhibition on the creation of the Social Security Act of 1935 and the role of the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University.

Who was J. Douglas Brown?

As part of the centennial celebration of Princeton University’s Industrial Relations Section, this exhibit showcases the work of labor economist, and Princeton economics professor, J. Douglas Brown (1898-1986). 

As one of four staff consultants, Brown was instrumental to the President’s “Committee on Economic Security”, chaired by Sec. Labor Frances Perkins, in drafting the original bill for the national pension system. Throughout his decade of service to the Federal government, Brown remained a dedicated member of the Princeton faculty, serving as Director of the Industrial Relations Section, and later as the Dean of Faculty. In the latter part of his career, he took on the role of the first Provost of Princeton University. 

Contributing to significant changes to original Act

Discover the Oral History interviews with key people who drafted the original plan for old-age insurance

J. Douglas Brown and WWII

J. Douglas Brown and the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University contributed to study and research on manpower for the war effort. Brown writes to John Gilbert Winant, Chairman of the Social Security Board and Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), about working with the Office of Production Management. In this letter, Brown details the developments of the policy and labor supply plans for the United States at the time. 

J. Douglas Brown's Bibliography

Selected Bibliography on Social Security of Works Authored By or in Honor of J. Douglas Brown

  1. Brown, J. Douglas. An American Philosophy of Social Security: Evolution and Issues. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.

  2. Industrial Relations Section, Princeton University Department of Economics and Social Institutions. J. Douglas Brown: A Record of Service: Printed for the Friends of the Industrial Relations Section on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of J. Douglas Brown's Directorship. Self-published, June 1951.

  3. Brown, J. Douglas. Genesis of Social Security In America. Princeton: Industrial Relations Section, 1969.

  4. Brown, J. Douglas. "Before the Presidential Steel Board: Statement of Professor J. Douglas Brown Relating to Social Security Benefits." United Steelworkers of America, CIO and Certain Steel Production and Fabrication Companies. New York: Pandick Press, Inc., August 6, 1969.

  5. Brown, J. Douglas. "Foreword to Social Security: Selected List of References on Unemployment, Old Age and Health Insurance." In Bibliographies Volume IV 1930-1938, by Helen Baker, Librarian. Princeton: Industrial Relations Section, October. 1, 1936.

  6. Brown, J. Douglas. "The Idea of Social Security." Bureau of Old Age Survivors Insurance, November 7, 1957.

  7. Bowen, William G., Frederick H. Harbison, Richard A. Lester, and Herman M. Somers. The Princeton Symposium on The American System on Social Insurance: Its Philosophy, Impact, and Future Development. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968. 

  8. Brown, J. Douglas. Essays on Social Security. Princeton: Industrial Relations Section, 1977.

Click here to access the full Library Catalog to Brown's works