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Archives and Special Collections: Sam Black

Collection information

Collection: The Sam Black Archive

Collection Ref.: GB 0559 SB

Biographical History:

Sam Black (1915-1999), Professor of Public Relations at Stirling and Exeter Universities, was born in London in 1915. Along with US contemporary Edward Bernays, Sam Black is recognised as one of the founding fathers of Public Relations internationally and as a key thinker and contributor to the development of PR as an ethical and rigorous management science discipline in the UK, with an established place on the University curriculum. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) in the UK in 1948 and in its adoption of a professional code of ethics for members. An active writer and speaker on his subject, Black lectured extensively around the world and wrote over a dozen books on Public Relations matters (translated into several languages) alongside numerous articles appearing in a variety of publications worldwide. Black enjoyed a long association with British industry and trade associations and contributed to the Board of Trade initiative to encourage British companies to exhibit overseas by organising over 100 overseas exhibitions for the Board, for which he was awarded an MBE for his services to export in 1969. Black campaigned from the early 1980s for the introduction of public relations as a management discipline in Universities, succeeding in 1988 with the establishment of the first PR Masters programme in Europe at the University of Stirling.


Papers relating to Sam Black’s public relations career and activities between 1936 and 1999 including documents relating to Black’s relationship with the Association of Optical Practioners (AOP). Papers relating to the development and foundation of public relations courses at the University of Stirling between 1984 and 1998. Papers concerning career and activities of Dr Edward L Bernays and Black’s correspondence with him between 1923 and 1998. Photographs spanning Black’s PR career between 1954 and 1990. Artefacts awarded or gifted to Black during course of his PR career between 1965 and 1992.

Extent: 14 Boxes

Catalogue information

The Sam Black papers have been fully catalogued and a copy of the catalogue is available above. The contents of the collection are divided into 5 sections, each covering a particular aspect of Black's career. A detailed collection-level description is also provided.

Additional collection information

Accruals: Further additions to the collection expected.

Language: English, with some material in French, Spanish and Chinese.

Access: Please contact us in advance of a visit by emailing

Related material: The papers of Edward L Bernays are held by the Library of Congress (MSS 12534) and include Bernay's correspondence with Sam Black. 

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