In search for more information on the life of Doris Fleischman, the Museum of Public Relations found a book by Federico Rey Lennon called Doris & Eddy, Pioneers of Public Relations. The edition is entirely in Spanish, so we took the job of translating it to an English version. We will be publishing excerpts of the book that praises the life and work of both Doris Fleischman and Edward Bernays. This following passage introduces Doris and her early years.
“Beautiful, Smart, Charming and Ingenious”
Doris could and should be baptized as “the mother of modern public relations”. During the 1920s she supported Bernays’ concept of “consultant”, to replace the “press agent” term of the time.
This is what the New York Times said about Doris Fleischman during that time: “She has acquired an important position in a man’s world as a public relations consultant.”
Doris was born July 18, 1892 in New York in a middle-class family. She was the daughter of Harriet Rosenthal and Samuel E. Fleischman, a prominent lawyer with clients such as the Jewish organization B’nai B’rith. His friends included figures such as Andrew Carnegie and William Howard Taft. He was a rigid and authoritarian man who was very controlling of his wife’s and children’s lives. Doris had two brothers, Ira and Leon S (a journalist associated with Edward Bernays), and a sister named Beatriz, married with Martin Untermeyer.
Despite being a strict conservative, Samuel Fleischman encouraged Doris to study and read. She finished her studies in the Horace Mann School of New York and received a degree in Barnard College in 1913. Her calling for journalism came at a late age. At first, she studied music, aiming to become an opera singer. Susan Henry affirms that when Doris left Barnard, she didn’t think she was suitably prepared for a serious career, or even educated enough. She said she was interested in psychology and music. However, despite her initial preferences, she ended up working as a journalist in the New York Tribune.
Doris and Edward met and began flirting since the moment he moved to New York after finalizing his studies at Cornell. In their early days, Bernays described her as a “beautiful, smart, charming and ingenious” woman.