The Herbert M. Bratter Collection, 1890s-1975

Collection ID:
Bratter, Herbert Max, 1900-1976 (economist)
Collection is in
. Some materials in
, and
Physical Description:
20 Cubic feet
60 boxes
The papers document the working files and home movies of Herbert M. Bratter, a financial specialist, and his professional career. The materials consist of biographical materials (academic and military records), press releases, newspaper clippings; daily, weekly and monthly releases from government agencies; clippings from the Congressional Record on monetary matters such as silver and gold; topical files covering a range of monetary subjects; publications, including writings about the Bretton Woods Conference, scrapbooks, and moving image including home movies.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
These papers are the working files of a financial specialist from his professional life. They consist of some biographical materials (school and military service records) topical files, press releases, newspaper clippings, daily, weekly and monthly releases from government agencies such as the press summaries of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce of the Department of Commerce and that agency's Far Eastern Financial Notes, Federal Reserve Board Notes, and periodic releases of the Bank for International Settlements. There are extensive clippings from the Congressional Record on monetary matters and particularly on silver and gold when these were subjects of legislative interest, a number of congressional committee reports and congressional hearings.
Also included are many clippings from The Economist and a number from Business Week. Newspaper clippings are most frequently from the New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, Washington Post, Washington Star, and Wall Street Journal. During several periods of intense activity relating to silver, Bratter also used a clipping service. There are some clippings from English language papers in other countries and a few in the language of the country.
Regular bulletins of major banks in this and other countries are included among the papers. There are copies of articles by Mr. Bratter, occasional correspondence, and several reports from commercial attaches at U.S. embassies in the Far East. Correspondence is filed in the relevant subject matter folder. The papers include a number of handwritten notes, most of them memoranda to himself on phone calls or face to face conversations with governmental or congressional staff and members of Congress.
While not complete, the material spans a period when the monetary and fiscal policies of the United States were of major economic and political importance, an era of worldwide depression, a period when a number of countries including the United States abandoned the gold standard, the years of the Second World War and the establishment of agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is complete enough to be useful for doctoral dissertations on several subjects.

The collection is divided into eight series.
The series are organized in the manner in which they were received by the Archives Center: by subject matter and geographically by country. The topical files, political files, and geographical files are arranged alphabetically.
Some folders were incorrectly labeled and some material was not turned over to the Archives Center. For example, the folders relating to world currency omit World Currency I and III. The Guide to Manuscript Collections, 1978, in describing the Bratter collection states, "They also concern the Committee for the Nation to Rebuild Prices and Purchasing Power, a 1930's monetary propaganda group." No such material has been located among the papers. Two brief references to such a group were noted. It is mentioned in the folder on Walter Lippmann in Series 2 and in a Saturday Evening Post article by Raymond Moley in Series 2.
  • Series 1A, Biographical Materials, 1914-1975
  • Series 1, Topical Files, 1930-1974
  • Series 2, Political Files, 1930-1967
  • Series 3, Laws, Orders and Releases, 1933-1939
  • Series 4, Economists' National Committee on Monetary Policy, 1933-1970
  • Series 5, Geographical (by country), 1919-1968
  • Series 6, Publications, 1933-1962
  • Series 7, Scrapbooks, 1922-1969
  • Series 7A, Postcards, 1918-1972
  • Series 8, Moving Image, 1936-1961

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Herbert Max Bratter, an economic and financial specialist, was born in New York City, January 22, 1900 and died in San Antonio, Texas, February 19, 1976. Fluent in six languages, Mr. Bratter became an internationally known expert on gold and silver.
Mr. Bratter was educated at City College, New York (1917 1919) and Columbia University (1919 1921). After several positions with private firms, and a period in the early twenties as a statistician in the Chinese Government Bureau of Economic Information, he became an economic analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce and later for the U.S. Department of the Treasury (1929 1935) and was a member of the American Economic Mission to the Far East (1935). At both Commerce and Treasury "following" silver was one of his official responsibilities. He returned to the private sector and an economics research post with Loomis Sayles & Company, a Massachusetts investment company (1935 1937) and later was in private practice as an economic consultant in Washington, D.C.
The author of more than 125 magazine and newspaper articles and pamphlets, Bratter was also the Washington correspondent and a regular contributor to Banking from 1939 to 1974. Bratter was firmly opposed to any government or monetary action to support the silver industry and in complete disagreement with the Silver Purchase Act. Several members of the Senate consulted him as an expert on silver during periods of legislative debates on pending silver legislation. His publications include The Price of Silver (1930), Japanese Banking (1931), and Silver Market Dictionary (1933).

Erin Molloy
Custodial History
Transferred to the Archives Center from the National Numismatics Collection on January 15, 1985.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated to the National Numismatics Collection, National Museum of the History of Technology by Herbert M. Bratter in the 1960s. Additional materials donated by Julia Rapoza, granddaughter of Herbert M. Bratter, in August 2004 and April 2011.
The Archives Center added six cubic feet of material in 2004 and two cubic feet of material in 2011.
Processing Information
Processed by Grace M. Angle (volunteer) and Robert S. Harding, archivist, November 1986; revised by Alison Oswald, January 2004 and October 2011; revised by Erin Molloy, volunteer, 2012.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Preferred Citation
Herbert M. Bratter Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

More Information

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
China Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Banking Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Economics Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gold standard Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Money Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gold Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1939-1945 Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Silver Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bulletins Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World Bank Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Numismatics Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
International Monetary Fund Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012