Consumer Reports is a mission-driven nonprofit consumer organization committed to creating a fair, safe, and transparent marketplace for consumers. Consumer Reports was founded as Consumers Union in 1936 by a group of Consumers' Research, Inc. employees involved in a labor strike against their employer. Founders Arthur Kallet and Colston Warne, envisioned a consumer advocacy organization that would take a more activist approach than Consumers' Research and scientifically test common products and services, educate the public, and aid consumers "in their struggle as workers, to get an hones wage."
Today, Consumer Reports, headquartered in Yonkers, New York, reviews approximately 2,500 products and services across more than a hundred categories, and it reaches tens of millions of people through print, digital, and broadcast media. It's flagship publication, Consumer Reports magazine, is one of the largest paid-circulation periodicals in the United States. Because of its broad reach, the organization is also the frequent target of lawsuits by manufacturers whose products have received negative reviews.
From its inception, Consumers Union maintained a reference library as well as a collection of its own publications. In 1971, federal funding was acquired to establish the Center for Study of the Consumer Movement which focused on collecting the history of the consumer rights and cooperative movements more broadly. The center lost funding in 1982. The idea of an archive reemerged in 1985 during planning for Consumers Union's 50th Anniversary. A consultant report recommended that a new Consumers Union archive focus on collecting records documenting its own history.
The Consumer Reports Archive comprises approximately 1,300 linear feet of manuscript materials organized into 64 individual collections including paper records, audio-visual material, and photographs. Additionally, there are approximately 500 linear feet of monographs and serials and 48 pieces of testing equipment.
This guide does not provide a comprehensive list of our holdings related to consumer advocacy and education. Additional titles can be found using keyword searches for "consumer education," "consumer protection," and "consumer movements" in the Rubenstein Library's online catalog. Below is also a list of useful subject headings for collections related to consumerism: