Allan Sproul spent nearly thirty-six years in the Federal Reserve System, all but ten of them at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He served as the New York Fed’s president from January 1941 to June 1956. He was forty-four years old when he was named president.
Sproul was born in 1896 in San Francisco. He attended high school in the Bay Area and then matriculated at the University of California, Berkeley. World War I disrupted his college education when he enlisted in the Army Air Forces and learned to fly bi-planes. He was promoted to officer status and his squadron was sent to Britain in 1918. He returned to the University of California at Berkeley and completed his bachelor’s degree in pomology, the study of fruit cultivation. He was also awarded a doctor of laws degree from New York University.
Beginning his Fed career in 1920 at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Sproul served as head of the division of analysis and research. In 1930, he came to the New York Fed as an assistant deputy governor and secretary. Six years later, as a result of the Banking Act of 1935, the office of first vice president was established. Sproul held this position until appointed president of the Bank.
As Sproul wrote in the New York Fed’s annual report, “1941 was a pivotal year for the nation and though the most important event of 1941 [the United States entrance into World War II] lies mainly beyond the scope of this report…it seems best to begin this review with some reference to that momentous event, for it marks the termination of one phase of our experience as well as the beginning of another and establishes the plane of comparison between what has thus far happened and what is yet to come.” 1
Sproul was named vice chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee (the Federal Reserve System’s monetary policymaking unit) when the New York Fed was given a permanent seat on the FOMC in 1942. In 1956, he resigned from the New York Fed and returned to California to serve as a director of Wells Fargo Bank. He also served as a director of Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation.
Sproul died in 1978 after a long and distinguished career.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Annual Report, (1941).
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. See disclaimer.