Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The collection measures 17.8 linear feet and dates from 1903 to 1999, bulk, 1924-1992, and documents the career of advertising designer and executive Douglas Leigh. Found are 83 volumes of publicity scrapbooks that contain mostly photographs, clippings, printed materials, and scattered letters, drawings, and blueprints. Also included are professional correspondence; photographs of project installations, aerial advertising, and entertainers; plaques and awards received by Leigh; and printed material, which includes clippings, press kits, advertising materials, designs and original sketches for projects by Leigh. The material reflects Leigh's continuously imaginative use of a wide range of innovative media in promoting his clients' products.
Among the projects and campaigns represented in the papers are 7up, Airships (Tydol, Flying Red Horse, MGM, Wonder Bread and others), Allied Chemical Tower, Amoco, BlueCross-Blue Shield, Camel cigarettes, Coca-Cola, EPOK, Eveready, Flamingo Frozen Foods, Four Roses Whiskey, Fram Oil Filters, Helmsley Building, Old Gold Cigarettes, Pan Am Building, Pepsi-Cola, R. J. Reynolds, Schaefer Beer, Spectaculars, Stag Beer, Times Tower Building, and Wilson Whiskey.
The Personal Scrapbooks Series (.06 linear feet) consists of 4 scrapbooks that contain photographs, letters, and printed material that document Douglas Leigh's interaction with family, friends, and colleagues.
The General Scrapbooks Series (4.0 linear feet) consists of 16 scrapbooks containing clippings, miscellaneous printed material, letters, interview transcripts, artwork, photographs, and a metal Tydol pin that document the development of miscellaneous projects by Douglas Leigh and his company.
The Billboard Project Files Series (5.0 linear feet) consists primarily of scrapbooks, photographs, and individual product files that document the development of billboard advertising projects.
The Poster Project Files Series (1.6 linear feet) consists of notes, reports, artwork, photographs, miscellaneous printed material, 4 scrapbooks, and individual product files that document the development of poster advertising projects, primarily those used on Railway Express Agency delivery trucks.
The Dirigible Project Files Series (3.7 linear feet) consists of notes, reports, artwork, photographs, miscellaneous printed material, 12 scrapbooks, and individual product files that document the development of dirigible advertising projects involving both painted logos and networks of lights over the surface of the dirigible. These sequentially-timed lights caused dramatic animated effects against the night sky.
The Urban Improvement Project Files Series (2.2 linear feet) consists of photographs, a promotion book, clippings, miscellaneous printed material, 18 scrapbooks, and individual urban improvement project files that document the development of urban improvement projects involving both the construction design of new buildings and the lighting of prominent buildings in New York City and elsewhere.
Douglas Leigh papers, 1903-1999, bulk, 1924-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The collection has been filmed on microfilm reels 5840-5848, and is available through interlibrary loan.
Douglas Leigh (1907-1999) was an advertising designer and executive from New York, New York. He was responsible for festooning Broadway with miles of spectacular electrical and animated signs, such as a steaming coffeepot, a winking penguin on a cake of ice for Kool cigarettes, and the giant Camel sign that puffed smoke rings from a Times Square sign from 1941 to 1967. These effects led to creating animated billboards, an innovation called the Leigh-EPOK animated, billboards matrix display, or EPOK. Leigh was also a pioneer in the illumination of city skylines and buildings.
The Douglas Leigh papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by Leigh's widow, Elsie M. Leigh, in 2000.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001