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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

John W. McCormack collection

Repository: Boston University. Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center

Collection Description (CRHP): In an interview, McCormack discusses the insertion of a civil rights plank in the 1944 Democratic Party platform, civil rights legislation and his belief in civil rights as a moral issue.

Collection Description (Extant): In a career that spanned over forty years John W. McCormack (1891-1980), who was called “the very model of an old-time, big-city politician,” served as a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts under eight presidents, was thrice named the House Majority Leader, and, from 1962 until 1971, was the 53rd Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The John W. McCormack collection consists of correspondence, professional material, personal memorabilia, audio, and photographs. The collection is extensive, and primarily professional in nature, reflecting McCormack’s long service in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Correspondence makes up the bulk of the collection. The letters are dated from 1950 to 1971 (the year McCormack retired from the U.S. Congress). The letters are organized into files by subject. Prominent topics include various Congressional projects, committees, and bills; the U.S. State Department; the Internal Revenue Service; the U.S. Post Office and Postmaster General; the General Service Administration; the Vietnam War; housing; and other subjects. Some files include other documents besides letters. Notable correspondents include John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, William Westmoreland, J. Edgar Hoover, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, John D. Rockefeller III, Warren Burger, Robert F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson, Walter Reuther, Carl Vinson, George McGovern, Richard Cardinal Cushing, Ted Kennedy, Edward R. Murrow, Thomas P. O’Neill, Robert S. McNamara, Sargent Shriver, Jacob K. Javits, Edmund Muskie, Harry F. Byrd, Leverett Saltonstall, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Leo Sheridan, B. K. Nehru, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and numerous other public figures. In addition, there are some personal letters to McCormack from various friends in the government, as well as some Valentine’s Day cards sent by McCormack to his wife.

There are many photographs in the collection, primarily images include McCormack either alone or with other politicians and public figures. Also present are some signed photos of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and others.

Printed materials in the collection include Congressional reports; magazines, newspapers and clippings with articles about McCormack; and pamphlets on topics of interest to Congress.

Audio recordings in the collection include There are also recordings of McCormack’s appearances on radio and television from the 1950s to 1970; recordings on long-playing records and magnetic tapes of McCormack addressing Congress in 1960 and 1969; and 8 reels of taped interviews with McCormack by Edward Oliver Craft, recorded in 1971.

Personal memorabilia in the collection is extensive. The various items include gavels, plaques, framed certificates, citations, honorary degrees, flags (, Massachusetts, Department of the Treasury), and drawings.

Digital Status: No

Existing IDs: 556

Extent: 171 boxes

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Interviewees: John W. McCormack

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


Civil rights--Cases
Civil rights--Religious aspects
Democratic Party (U.S.)
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Massachusetts--Politics and government
Powell, Adam Clayton, 1908-1972
United States--Politics and government
United States. Congress. House


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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