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Marty Mann Papers

An inventory of her papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRA
Date: Feb 1997

Biographical History

Margaret "Marty" Mann (1904-1980) was an American advertising and public relations executive and founder of the National Council on Alcoholism. Born into an upper middle class family in Chicago, Mann attended private schools, traveled extensively, and was a debutante. She married into a wealthy New Orleans family; when in her late twenties, due to financial reverses, she had to go to work, her social and family connections made it easy for her to launch a career in public relations.

Mann's "social" drinking, however, grew to the point where it endangered not only her business but her life, including at least one suicide attempt. In 1939 her psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Tiebout, gave her a manuscript of his book Alcoholics Anonymous, and persuaded her to attend her first AA meeting (at the time there were only two AA groups in the entire United States). Despite several relapses during her first year and a half, Mann succeeded in becoming sober by 1940 and, apart from a brief tumble nearly twenty years later, sober she remained for the rest of her life.

In 1945 Mann began working actively to eliminate the stigma and ignorance regarding alcoholism, particularly for women, and to encourage the "disease model" which viewed it as a medical/psychological problem rather than a moral failing. She helped start the Yale School of Alcohol Studies (now at Rutgers) and organized the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (NCEA) which later became the National Council on Alcoholism (today the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence or NCADD). She was also in great demand as a public speaker, her personal experience making her particularly effective, and she was instrumental in educating the public that alcoholism is a serious but treatable disease.

Mann published her New Primer on Alcoholism in 1958. Although the National Council on Alcoholism had no formal relationship with Alcoholics Anonymous, Mann's willingness to admit her alcoholism and her successful experience with AA encouraged others to seek help, and Mann contributed the chapter "Women Suffer Too" to the 2d and 3rd editions of The Big Book of AA. In the 1950s Edward R. Murrow named her as one of the "Ten Greatest Living Americans." She died at home in 1980.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Marty Mann Papers includes correspondence, writing, printed material, and memorabilia. The collection is divided into 13 series.

Marty Mann files and Personal correspondence contain Mann's personal files and letters. Included here is a file of letters from author Carson McCullers, with whom Mann had an affair in 1950.

National Council of Alcoholism files (I) material includes articles of association, minutes, pamphlets, and other items relating to the organization's formation and early history. Additional NCA material may be found in the National Council of Alcoholism files (II) series below.

General files relate to organizations (National Budget Committee, Scientific Advisory Committee, Yale), tv and radio (radio spots "This I believe" and "Town meeting," proposed television series), and other topics. Included here are letters from families of alcoholics in more than forty states, in response to an article in the January 1963 Reader's Digest about Mann and her personal battle with alcoholism.

Writings contains galleys for and copies of Mann's New Primer on Alcoholism.

Notes contains desk calendars for nearly 20 years as well as personal notebooks and pocket calendars.

Pamphlets consists of printed material from the National Council on Alcoholism (brochures, leaflets, press kits), medical research reports, convention proceedings, and annual reports.

News clippings covers approximately ten years, and Scrapbooks of clippings approximately twenty years.

Memorabilia, donated at a later date, contains address books, awards and certificates, Marty Mann's obituaries, and material relating to her appearance on the Phil Donahue show.

National Council of Alcoholism files (II), donated at a later date, contains additional material on the NCA, including brochures about their various programs, annual reports, etc.

Book-related files, donated at a later date, contains correspondence with publishers, fan letters and royalty statements relating to Mann's books, including foreign editions.

Recordings includes speeches, remarks, workshops, and radio appearances by Marty Mann and others, as well as recordings of sessions at annual meetings and conferences of the NCA and other organizations and of memorial services for Ms. Mann. Also includes three film reels of short public service spots. Formats include films, reel tapes and phonodiscs. Much of this material has been digitized.

Arrangement of the Collection

Within each series, material is ordered alphabetically. The series themselves are not in any particular order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Access to recordings requires advance notice to produce a use copy.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Gardner, Yvelin.
Mann, Marty, 1904-
McCullers, Carson, 1917-1967.
Oursler, Fulton, 1893-1952.
Peale, Norman Vincent, 1898-1993.
Pike, James A. (James Albert), 1913-1969.

Corporate Bodies

Alcoholics Anonymous.
National Council on Alcoholism -- Records and correspondence.


Alcoholism -- Congresses.
Alcoholism counseling.
Public relations consultants -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Annual reports.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Film reels.
Manuscripts for publication.
Phonograph records.
Sound recordings.
Tape reels.


Public relations consultants.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Marty Mann Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Majority of collection gift of Marty Mann, 1966-1968, 1984.

"Alcoholics Anonymous presents Marty Mann; San Francisco December, 11 1946" recordings, gift of Peter Desmier, 2014.

Table of Contents

Marty Mann files

Personal correspondence

National Council of Alcoholism files (I)

General files




News clippings



National Council of Alcoholism files (II)

Book-related files



Note on alternate formats:

Many of the recordings in the collection have been digitized. Contact the repository listed above for more information.