Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Papers of Harry S. Truman
Staff Member and Office Files:
White House Office of the President's Correspondence Secretary Files

Dates: 1945-1953.

The White House Office of the President's Correspondence Secretary Files contain copies of letters and messages from President Harry S. Truman prepared by the Correspondence Secretary to the President. It also contains select letters President Truman received from the general public, and the responses sent by Mrs. Beth Campbell Short.

[Administrative Information | Organizational History Note | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 2 linear feet, 2 linear inches (about 4,000 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Harry S. Truman donated his copyright interest in writings in these files to the United States government. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their official duties are likewise in the public domain. Copyright interest in any other writings in these files is assumed to remain with the authors of the documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Philip Langerquist (1961); Randy Sowell (2005).
Updated by: Andrew Luce (2014) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and David Clark.


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ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY NOTE

The White House Correspondence Secretary's primary responsibility was handling all correspondence going in and out of the White House. Furthermore, the Secretary was tasked with drafting, editing, and preserving records of President Harry S. Truman's personal and official correspondence. President Truman wrote to friends, organizational leaders, domestic politicians, and foreign dignitaries. In President Truman's diary entry of November 20, 1952, he noted that he had advised President-Elect Dwight D. Eisenhower to "obtain a correspondence secretary who could suggest answers to 75% of the mail, keep track of birthdays, special days, proclamations, and be able to write letters he could sign after reading the first paragraph." William D. Hassett served as Correspondence Secretary to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman from 1944 to 1952. During the last months of Truman's presidency, Beth Campbell Short was appointed Correspondence Secretary to the President. She was the widow of Press Secretary Joseph H. Short, who died in September 1952.

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The White House Office of the President's Correspondence Secretary Files consist of copies of letters and messages from President Harry S. Truman prepared by the Correspondence Secretary for the President. The White House Office of the President's Correspondence Secretary Files are part of the Staff Member and Office Files of the Harry S. Truman Papers. This material was shipped to Kansas City as part of Mr. Truman's presidential papers. Truman subsequently donated his papers to the United States government. The collection consists of one series, a Subject File.

The Subject File contains copies of letters, messages, and telegrams from President Truman, along with attachments. A majority of the attachments are newspaper clippings, but they also include brochures, cards, and other printed material. The recipients of these messages spanned the globe, from world leaders such as Josef Stalin of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Winston Churchill of Great Britain, to the Archbishop of Chicago and the Commander in Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

One of the main duties of the Correspondence Secretary was to draft, edit, and maintain copies of messages President Truman sent throughout his term in office. The actual content of the correspondence represents some of the typical messages from the White House, noting occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, dedications, and holidays. Letters and messages in the collection also contain President Truman's comments on various topics such as civil rights, labor, peace, and education, in addition his greetings to forums and organizations.

Filed as "Best Letters" under the name of Beth Campbell Short are letters written by the general public to the White House, and Mrs. Short's copies of her responses to those letters. While Mrs. Short was Correspondence Secretary to President Truman from late 1952 to early 1953, she collected a sample of letters offering praise and encouragement to the soon-to-be-retiring President. Both old and young expressed their heartbroken feelings for President Truman and the defeated Democratic Party. Most of Mrs. Short's responses were generic due to the large volume of mail the White House received, but she would occasionally set aside the norm to respond to special letters.

Related collections at the Truman Library include the papers of William Hassett, who served as Correspondence Secretary to the President from 1944 to 1952. The papers of Joseph H. Short and Beth Campbell Short include information relating to Mrs. Short's service as Correspondence Secretary from 1952 to 1953.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos.Series
1-5SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1953
Copies of correspondence with newspaper clippings and other printed material. Arranged in alphabetical order.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1
  • Awards
  • Birthday
  • Business and Professional Groups
  • Charitable
  • Christmas
  • Civic
  • Civil Rights
  • Dedication: Churches, Schools, Public Works
  • Democratic Party Messages
  • Education
  • Electric Power
  • Endorsements
  • Fairs & Festivals
  • Farm Organizations
  • Forums
  • Fraternal Lodges & Societies
  • Handicapped Groups
  • Health
  • Historical Events & Societies
  • Honorary Degree
  • Honorary Office
  • Hospital
  • Housing
  • Illness
  • International Meetings & Events
  • Invitation
  • Jewish Groups
  • Labor
  • Law Enforcement
  • Membership
  • Miscellaneous
  • Negro Groups
  • Newspapers
  • Organizations Receiving Presidential Messages
  • Pamphlets
  • Patriotic Groups
  • Peace
  • Political
Box 2
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1945
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1946
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1947
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1948
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
Box 3
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1949
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1950
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1951
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
Box 4
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1952
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Presidential Letters and Messages, 1953
  • President's Birthday Gift, 1952
  • Protocol
  • Public Works
  • Resignation and Retirement
  • Safety
  • Short, Beth Campbell, September 1952, "Best Letters"
  • Short, Beth Campbell, October 1952, "Best Letters"
  • Short, Beth Campbell, November 1952, "Best Letters"
      [1 of 4]
      [2 of 4]
Box 5
      [3 of 4]
      [4 of 4]
  • Short, Beth Campbell, December 1952, "Best Letters"
  • Sports
  • Support
  • Testimonials
  • Thanks
  • Trade Associations
  • United Nations
  • Veterans
  • Wedding, Golden
  • Women's Organizations
  • Youth Groups

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