Donald Dresden was born October 18, 1910, in Larimore, North Dakota. In 1932, he graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics. While at UND, he was a member of Blue Key and president of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. In 1934, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard University.
Between 1934 and 1941, Dresden worked for the Federal Housing Administration in Washington, D.C.; the Edward B. Smith & Co. in New York; the American Radiator Company in Paris; and the American Business Credit Association in New York. In 1941, he joined the United States Army Air Force as a lieutenant in the Intelligence Corps. He eventually rose to the rank of major, and in 1944 became a public relations officer in the European Theater of Operations. While in the army, Dresden worked as a freelance writer selling articles to the New York Times, which led to a position as staff writer after the War.
In 1946, Dresden moved to France and once again became a freelance writer selling articles to many American, French, and British publications. During his stay in France he graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Acadamie de Cuisine de Paris in 1948. With the implementation of the Marshall Plan for European economic recovery, Dresden became Deputy Chief of Information with the American French Mission in 1949. While in this role he founded and edited the French-language magazine Rapports, France-Etats Unis which ran from 1949 to 1953.
Upon his return to the United States in 1953, Dresden accepted a position as public relations director for the National Citizens Committee for Educational Television. Three years later he became an account executive in the Washington, D.C. public relations firm of Robert R. Mullen & Co., handling, among other things, the public relations aspects of the Ford Foundation's quarter-billion dollar hospital grant program. In 1958, Dresden moved to Kiplinger's Changing Times magazine as an associate editor, and in 1959 he became a writer of special articles on economic development for the World Bank. Between 1960 and 1969, he worked for the Scott Paper Company as director of public relations; the United States Information Agency as a public information officer, editor, and writer; the United states Treasury Department as public affairs consultant and ghostwriter; and the Foreign Service Journal as an associate editor. From 1969 to 1976, Dresden wrote a weekly critique of Washington, D.C. area restaurants as the restaurant critic for the Washington Post. Following his retirement from the Post, he continued to write articles on a freelance basis.
Dresden authored three books: Le Chemin de Paris dealt with his wartime experiences and was published in 1946; his second book, The Marquis de Mores: Emperor of the Bad Lands, was published in 1970. This book is a biography of Antoine Amedee-Marie-Vincent Manca de Vallombrosa, better known as the Marquis de Mores, who founded the town of Medora in Dakota Territory in 1883 and lived there with his family until 1887. Dresden's third book, Donald Dresden's Guide to Dining Out in Washington, was published in 1977 and is a review of restaurants in the Washington, DC area. Donald Dresden died November 11, 1982, at 72 years of age.
The Donald Dresden Papers, 1946-1981, have been divided into two series:
Series 1: The Marquis de Mores: Emperor of the Bad Lands
Series 2: Other Writings
Fifty photographs were separated and placed in the Photograph File Cabinets.