Talk on Joseph E. Davies is scheduled for Saturday

July 31, 2018

The Watertown Historical Society will host a special public presentation on Saturday, Aug. 4, on the life of Joseph E. Davies, a Watertown native who became a United States diplomat and served in many high-ranking government positions including ambassador to the Soviet Union.

The presentation will be led by Davies’ granddaughter, Mia Grosjean, whose labor of love has been the documentation of her grandfather’s life. There is no cost to attend the presentation, which will start at 5:30 p.m. at the Towne Cinema. Popcorn, soda, and other refreshments will be available for purchase at the theater.

Davies was born in Watertown in 1876 and died in 1958 in Washington, D.C. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School in 1901. He was appointed by President Wilson to be commissioner of corporations in 1912, and first chairman of the Federal Trade Commission in 1915. He was the second ambassador to represent the United States in the Soviet Union, and U.S. ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg. From 1939 to 1941, Davies was special assistant to Secretary of State Hull, in charge of war emergency problems and policies. From 1942 through 1946, he was chairman of President Roosevelt’s War Relief Control Board.

Grosjean’s dedication to studying her grandfather’s extensive political career led her to Russia as a Fulbright scholar, were she spent months studying files at the American Embassy and various Soviet archives. Grosjean recently moved from Sag Harbor, New York, to Washington, D.C., in large part to conduct research on her grandfather’s career at the Library of Congress.

In April 2011, Grosjean traveled to Madison and Watertown to conduct research on her family, and on Davies, in particular. The information collected on Davies by the Watertown Historical Society and kept on file at the Octagon House Museum is featured prominently in Grosjean’s research on her grandfather.

Part of Davies’ legacy is the Joseph E. Davies Scholarship Foundation which was formed in 1951 and the first scholarship was issued a year later. Scholarships have been awarded annually since that time, both in Watertown and in area high schools. Since its inception the Davies scholarship program has awarded several million dollars to students.

For more information on Grosjean’s presentation, call the museum at 261-2796 or email whs@watertownhistory.org.

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