Scope and arrangement
The Godfrey Nelson papers consist of people and subject files, derived from Nelson's office files, covering his roles as New York Times financial columnist, corporate secretary, member of The Times board of directors, and administrator for several of The Times affiliate companies. Files include internal memoranda, legal documents, and financial records concerning income tax and other financial and legal matters at The Times. In addition to his administrative and legal counsel, Nelson provided editorial advice to the paper and made suggestions for news stories. Many files consist of correspondence regarding Nelson's writings on taxation for the paper and in other publications, and feature in-depth discussions of the impact of tax policies on individuals and society. Also present are files from Nelson's private law practice, mostly concerning people affiliated with The Times, and documents created by Ben C. Franck, who preceded Nelson as Times secretary.
The collection is divided into two series: I. People and II. Subjects. The People files consist of records pertaining to individuals, while the Subjects files contain items on specific topics and corporations and for many of the paper's affiliate companies. Items germane to two or more people or subjects are often cross-referenced in the finding aid; documents related to specific issues are generally located in subject files rather than the people folders of those involved.
Notably, Nelson worked closely with Adolph Ochs on both personal and corporate matters. After Ochs's death in 1935, Nelson reported to both Arthur Hays Sulzberger and Julius Ochs Adler. The collection contains communications with other high-level figures at The Times, such as Vice President and Director Orvil Dryfoos and Managing Editor Edwin L. James. These are mostly found in the Subject files. Numerous internal Times memoranda and correspondence are from Peter M. Brown, who worked in the secretary's office.
The New York Times Company records. Godfrey Nelson papers are arranged in two series:
This series is made up of files that contain items to, from, or concerning various individuals. Most people represented are staff members and others affiliated with The New York Times, such as the publishers' families. Files consist of interoffice memoranda with senior staff regarding financial matters; correspondence with fellow board of directors members; and communications with various lawyers and clients on Times-related legal matters. Files for the publishers and their families typically concern official Times business, advice on tax matters and estate planning, and records of The Times Company's payments for the family's personal expenses. Also present are letters from readers, many of whom were friends of Nelson, commenting on specific articles or columns.
Files are arranged alphabetically by name. Entries without box and folder numbers cross-reference related material in other files. These files do not necessarily collect every letter, memorandum, or document related to the individual; subject files should also be consulted.
This series is made up of alphabetical subject files that are organized (and titled) by topical keywords, types of records, and corporation names. These records primarily document Nelson's involvement in Times corporate matters. Finances of the New York Times files consist of financial reports and other records that track the paper's finances throughout Adolph S. Ochs's ownership and after his death. These document the company's dealings with the Internal Revenue Service and feature many letters between Nelson, representing the Times Company, and the IRS. This series also contains files on Times subsidiary companies with which Nelson was involved, such as The Chattanooga Times, Spruce Falls Power & Paper Co., Ltd., Times Facsimile Corporation, Wide World News Photo Service, Inc., and others.
Nelson's contributions to the paper as a columnist are largely documented in the Taxation, Articles by Nelson files (1913-1918, 1935-1951). These files contain communications among Nelson, Times editors, and the publishers, concerning the contents of his columns. They also feature letters from readers from around the country, including tax and estate law experts, commenting on his columns and discussing both specific tax advice for individuals and macro-level tax policy prescriptions for the United States. Other substantial files include the Buildings files, containing legal records for Times properties; the ABC Publications, Inc., files regarding lawsuits surrounding a large newsprint purchase; and the files of Cook, Nathan and Lehman, a legal firm with long-time ties to the paper. The Legal Work by Godfrey N. Nelson file holds a small amount of Nelson's private legal papers.
Files are arranged alphabetically by file title. Entries without box and folder numbers cross-reference related material in other files.