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Guide to the Edgar R. Baker Papers
1926-2011 (bulk, 1940s-1969)
 MS 3156

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer and Duncan Knox

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on January 04, 2021
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical / Historical

Edgar Robey Baker, Jr. (1920-1969) was an executive with TIME Inc. with responsibility for leading the company's international division during its expansion in the decades immediately after World War II.

Baker was born on October 16, 1920, in Washington, D.C. He attended public schools in Washington including Whittier elementary school, Paul Junior High School and Central High School. He earned an AB in Economics from George Washington University (GWU) in 1941, where he was a member of the honorary society Phi Beta Kappa. After some graduate studies, he worked as an economist for the U.S. government from 1942 to 1945 in the Department of Labor, Lend-Lease Administration, and Foreign Economic Administration. In 1944, Baker married Alice Newcomer of Winter Park, Florida, an aspiring journalist whom he had met at GWU.

In December 1945, Baker was hired by TIME Inc. as an assistant to the Managing Director of LIFE. In 1946, he was named General Manager of TIME's new operating division, TIME-LIFE International (TLI), reporting to C.D. Jackson. In 1949 Baker succeeded Jackson, who became Publisher of FORTUNE, and was promoted to Managing Director of TLI, becoming head of TIME Inc.'s international division with responsibility for its worldwide publishing operations. He reached executive rank in 1957, being elected a Vice President that year.

By the end of Baker's tenure at TLI in 1964, TIME's global presence had grown to include offices in 20 countries publishing 10 international editions, including some in languages other than English, with circulations of about 1.5 million each. Among these was a Spanish language version of LIFE and a Japanese language version of FORTUNE. He played a leadership role behind two significant TIME, Inc. initiatives: the 1955 Inter-American Investment Conference in New Orleans and the 1957 International Industrial Development Conference in San Francisco. He was a frequent conference speaker or panelist on topics concerning United States foreign relations and foreign trade in the postwar era. In 1959, Baker was a member of the small delegation to Poland headed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Frederick H. Mueller.

Baker was based in TIME's New York headquarters, but he traveled often through Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, and South and Central America, sometimes accompanied by his wife, Alice. In the midst of one such trip spanning the globe with Alice, in September 1963, Baker suffered a heart attack in Rome. He recovered and returned to the U.S. by ship in late 1963.

In early 1965, Baker was transferred from TLI, replaced by his lieutenant, Charles (Charley) Bear. In his new role as a Corporate Vice President and, in 1966, as Director of Research and Development, Baker was responsible for identifying new business lines and products for the diversification of TIME, Inc. In this role, Baker became involved with an educational joint venture with General Electric, TIME Inc.'s investment in film studio MGM, and the acquisition of book publisher Little, Brown, among others.

Beyond TIME Inc., Baker remained attached as an alumni to George Washington University, supporting their fundraising efforts. Politically, he was a liberal Democrat who was an early supporter of John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential campaign; as a result Baker was apparently in consideration for a foreign service role in the new administration. He was an avid baseball fan, especially of his hometown Washington Senators. He and Alice lived at 980 Fifth Avenue in New York and had a summer home in Sharon, Connecticut. On June 11, 1969, Baker died at the age of 48, reportedly of acute infectious hepatitis.