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Oram Group, Inc. Records

Identifier: MSS057

Scope and Contents

The Harold Oram Group, Inc. Records document the organization's fund raising activities from the time of its beginning during World War II through the 1980s. Although the vast majority of the records document the campaigns for individual organizations, information is also available about the internal operations of the company through Oram's correspondence. This collection documents Harold Oram's unique fund raising style through a variety of different types of campaigns and reflects his numerous innovations to the field such as the convocation and telegram campaigns.

The collection is divided into five series.

Administrative Records, 1939-1992, include the business records of the company. The majority of the information in this series is limited to the years between 1950 and 1980. This series includes board of directors' minutes from the 1980s, lists of clients, and information about anniversary celebrations. Also included in this series are the correspondence files of Harold Oram, founder and first CEO of the firm and Elizabeth Hicks, an employee of the Oram Group, Inc.

Harold Oram's correspondence constitutes a large portion of this series and includes personal and business communications arranged by topic. The correspondence gives insight into Oram's fund raising style and his personality. It also reflects his personal and business dealings with associates, clients, and colleagues in the field. This is also the best place to learn about his personal fund raising philosophies and methods.

Client Files, 1937-1990, is the largest portion of this collection. These records include the correspondence with clients, reports, and campaign appeals created by the Oram Group, Inc. One important aspect of these files is the appeals and literature sent directly to individuals through the U.S. Mail and telegram. These appeals came in the form of direct requests for funding or special invitations to convocations designed for the campaign. Most of the client files also include the lists of individuals solicited during campaigns. Another important type of document in these files is the planning report compiled by Oram employees for a campaign. Includes oversized files that are housed separately.

Direct Mailings, 1980-1991, contain the direct mail appeals for specific organizations and causes. These are the later mail campaigns and only include information sent to the perspective donor. Many of these clients do not appear in the Client Files. No mailing lists or client correspondence are included.

Harold Oram Oral History Project, 1991-1992, includes the audio cassettes and transcriptions of the interviews conducted for this project documenting the history of Harold Oram and the Oram Group, Inc. Interviews include long-time associates such as Eve and Ralph Bates, who knew Oram prior to the firm's founding and Henry Goldstein, who later became the CEO of the organization.

Photographs, 1945-1980, include photographs of Oram Group, Inc. employees during celebrations, company pictures, and publicity photographs from clients.


  • 1938 - 1992


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Public Access to client records and records of the internal operations of the Oram Group, Inc. Records are restricted for a period of forty years from the records' date of creation. Mailings, brochures, and other materials intended for public distribution, and all records more than forty years old are open to the public without restriction. Researchers wanting to use restricted records must receive written permission from the chief executive officer of the Oram Group, Inc.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) govern the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Historical Note

The Oram Group, Inc. (formerly Harold L. Oram, Inc.) was founded in 1939 as a fund raising and public relations consulting firm specializing in liberal social causes. Early clients of the Oram Group addressed social and political issues including human and civil rights, the environment, nuclear weapons, and refugee relief. Today the Oram Group, Inc. continues to serve the non-profit organization in the areas of religion, social action, health, civil rights, the environment, and performing arts.

The firm's founder, Harold Leon Oram, was born on December 2, 1907 in Butler, Pennsylvania to Austro-Hungarian immigrants, Samuel and Freda (Ginzler) Oram. Oram received his early education in Butler with the exception of one year at Staunton Military Academy. After graduation from Butler High School, he spent two years at the University of Miami in Florida majoring in history and economics. In 1934 Oram earned a law degree from New York Law School. He appears never to have practiced law, but after graduation continued a career in journalism that he began in 1930.

Oram began his journalism career in Texas. His first venture, a weekly paper called the Fort Worth Monitor, partnered him with Leopold Mamolen. When the newspaper failed, he left Texas and went to work for newspapers in Hartsdale and Brooklyn, New York while he attending law school. In 1936 Oram began working with the North American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy, an activist group committed to the Loyalist side in Spain's Civil War. When that organization split, Oram joined the group's liberal faction that included Ralph Bates, Varian Fry, and Roger Baldwin and helped form the Spanish Refugee Relief Campaign. As the Director of Publicity and Fund Raising for the organization, Oram was responsible for obtaining the funds to aid in relocating Spanish Loyalists who fled Spain following General Francisco Franco's victory.

In September 1939 Oram founded a fund raising firm called Consultants in Fund Raising. Shortly afterward, he changed the name to Harold L. Oram, Inc. The firm's early clients were devoted to aiding victims of social injustice. Clients included the Emergency Rescue Committee (predecessor to the International Rescue and Relief Committee), an organization that helped anti-Nazi intellectuals and political leaders escape Europe following the fall of France during World War II. Another client, the National Sharecroppers Fund, sought to improve the conditions for tenant farmers and migrant workers throughout the United States. A third client from the early 1940s, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, sponsored the legal assault on segregation.

Oram's first employees were women, Eileen Fry (wife of Varian Fry) and Anna Frank Loeb, who had also met Oram through the Spanish Refugee Relief Campaign. Eve Bates (wife of Ralph Bates), another friend from the days of the Spanish Refugee Campaign, became a part of the firm in 1941. In 1942 Oram left to serve in the army during World War II leaving them to manage the firm.

When he returned from the army in 1946, Oram's business began to expand. As word of his ability to raise money spread, the client list grew. At first, most of the firm's clients were associated with efforts to recover from the effects of World War II and to combat the spread of Communism. They included the American Association for the United Nations, the Citizens Committee for the Marshall Plan, and the Iron Curtain Refugee Campaign. Gradually the list began to include causes concerned with environmental, educational, and health issues.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Oram's clientele represented a number of anti-Communist Asian causes. Among his clients during those years were the American Friends of Vietnam, Aid Refugee Chinese Intellectuals, Inc., the Committee of One Million Against the Admission of Red China to the United Nations, and the Dr. Tom Dooley Foundation. Oram also handled public relations in the United States for the Republic of South Vietnam during the late 1950s.

As shifts in the American social and political climate occurred, the Oram Group's clientele gradually changed. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the organization continued to expand into new fund raising areas including the arts, education, and environmental campaigns. Beginning in the 1960s, Oram began raising money, through capital fund campaigns, for buildings and institutions as well as causes. Two of the earliest capital fund campaigns were designed for the Hampton Institute and Goodwill Industries of Greater New York. As the clientele of the organization made a gradual shift, so did the internal operations. The Oram firm had expanded into several branches and associate offices and found itself in a new era when the company's founder retired.

In the course of his career, Oram was responsible for a number of novel fund raising techniques. He pioneered modern direct mail appeal methods, collecting and compiling lists of donors in the days before such lists were bought and sold wholesale. Once, when a suitable list was unavailable, he used Who's Who as a mailing list. Oram is reputed to be the first to take out full-page advertisements in prestigious newspapers, such as The New York Times, for their value as stuffers in direct mail appeals. Another early tactic he employed involved telegrams. Taking advantage of the sense of urgency a telegram conveyed, he first sent them to important and wealthy individuals inviting them to contribute funds to the client's particular cause. Later he sent telegrams as urgent invitations to attend convocations (another Oram innovation) combining information sessions and fund raising events for his clients.

Henry Goldstein, a long-time member of the Oram firm, purchased the company in 1977. Goldstein, a native of New York, entered the fund raising field in the mid-1950s. His first fund raising job was with the United Community Chest of Paterson, New Jersey. He came to Harold L. Oram, Inc. in 1964 through an advertisement in The New York Times. Shortly after Goldstein joined the firm, the organization began to expand. Oram formed a subsidiary, Oram Associates, to handle capital campaigns and placed it under the guidance of Goldstein and Sidney W. Green. When Green departed, the subsidiary corporation became Oram-Goldstein Associates. Soon there were other subsidiaries for various facets of the business. Constituency Builders, Inc. (CBI) handled the direct mail campaigns and Rusk and Oram focused on annual giving. By the time Goldstein purchased the organization in 1977, it consisted of three corporations: the Oram Group, Oram International Corporation, and CBI. Goldstein merged the three into one corporation calling it the Oram Group, Inc.

After Goldstein's purchase of the firm, he continued the traditional fundraising that served as its foundation from the beginning, but began a gradual shift in direction to deal with the changing times. The firm grew to provide consultation to help an organization operate efficiently and effectively in order to champion their specific cause. Traditional fund raising grew into one piece of the firm's emerging focus on the entire organization. The Oram Group, Inc. now operates out of two offices in New York and California. Areas of consultation include management counsel for successful interaction within an organization, fund development counsel from planning through implementation of a fundraising campaign, board development, planning studies, organizational assessments, and executive search to assist in filling senior positions within an organization.


30 Cubic Feet (27 cartons, 2 oversized boxes, 1 microfilm roll, 27 audio cassettes)


The Oram Group, Inc. (formerly Harold L. Oram, Inc.) was founded in 1939 as a fund raising and public relations consulting firm specializing in liberal social causes. Early clients of the Oram Group addressed social and political issues including human and civil rights, the environment, nuclear weapons, and refugee relief. Today the Oram Group, Inc. continues to serve the non-profit organization in the areas of religion, social action, health, civil rights, the environment, and performing arts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by The Oram Group, Inc., New York, NY, May 1991, 1992. Includes accesssions A90-39, A91-48, A92-5, A92-6, A92-7, A92-19, A92-24.


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Oram Group, Inc. Records, 1938-1992
Processed by Debra Brookhart
Description rules
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Repository Details

Part of the Philanthropic Studies Archives Repository

IUPUI University Library
755 W. Michigan St.
Room 0133
Indianapolis IN 46202 USA