Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Jesse M. Donaldson Papers

Dates: 1782-1959. Bulk Date Span: 1947-1952.

Postmaster General of the United States, 1947-1953.

The papers of Jesse M. Donaldson consist of the contents of nine scrapbooks containing: Donaldson's speeches and statements as Postmaster General; letters he received from friends and prominent people; newspaper and magazine clippings regarding Donaldson; and a collection of the portraits and autographs of Donaldson and his predecessors as Postmaster General.

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one linear foot (about 1,600 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: The Truman Library did not receive a donation of copyright from the donor of this collection. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their duties are in the public domain. Copyrights to other documents in the collection presumably belong to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by:Willie L. Harriford, Jr. (1964); Randy Sowell (2005).

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1885 (August 17) Born, Shelbyville, Illinois
1908-1915 Postal employee and supervisor in Illinois and Oklahoma
1915-1933 Post Office Inspector and Inspector in Charge, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Kansas City, Missouri
1933-1936 Deputy Second Assistant to the Postmaster General
1936-1943 Deputy First Assistant to the Postmaster General
1943-1945 Chief Post Office Inspector
1945-1947 First Assistant to the Postmaster General
1947-1953 Postmaster General of the United States
1970 (March 24) Died, Kansas City, Missouri

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Jesse M. Donaldson consist of the contents of nine scrapbooks, which contain speeches and statements, correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, and memorabilia relating to Donaldson's tenure as Postmaster General of the United States during the Truman administration. The contents of the scrapbooks have been photocopied in order to preserve the original documents and make them readily accessible to researchers.

The papers include speeches delivered by Donaldson as Postmaster General, statements he made while testifying before Congressional committees, and transcripts of interviews with Donaldson. Most of the speeches are in the form of Post Office Department press releases, and relate to such topics as the operations of the Department, its fiscal problems during this period, and the need for an adjustment of postal rates. A few are political speeches in behalf of President Truman and the Democratic Party.

The collection includes many letters and a few telegrams to Donaldson from friends, members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, other Cabinet members, and such prominent persons as Eleanor Roosevelt, Bernard Baruch, and George Jessel. Most of these are congratulatory messages marking Donaldson's appointment as Postmaster General in 1947. The rest are mostly thank-you messages for commemorative stamps and other gifts, or expressions of esteem from officials who were leaving the administration.

Donaldson was the first career postal official to be named Postmaster General. Traditionally, this position had been held by political party leaders who were adept at rewarding loyal Democrats or Republicans with patronage jobs in the Post Office Department. Donaldson's papers include many articles and editorials from newspapers and magazines emphasizing his nonpolitical status and extolling his appointment as a triumph of merit over patronage. A common theme in this press coverage was Donaldson's rise from mail carrier to head of the Department. Some of the later articles deal with Donaldson's efforts to reduce the Department's large annual deficits by increasing postal rates.

One interesting item in the collection is a bound volume containing the portraits and autographs of all fifty-three Postmasters General of the United States under the Constitution, from Samuel Osgood to Jesse M. Donaldson. This volume was presented to Donaldson by Paul Aiken in 1948.

Related materials at the Truman Library can be found in the Official File (OF 19: Post Office Department), the President's Personal File (PPF 3610: Jesse M. Donaldson), and the President's Secretary's Files (Subject File: Cabinet: Postmaster General), Harry S. Truman Papers. Also relevant are the papers of Robert E. Hannegan, Donaldson's predecessor as Postmaster General.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 SCRAPBOOK FILE, 1782-1959
Contents of nine scrapbooks containing correspondence, speeches and statements, printed material, and memorabilia relating to Jesse M. Donaldson and his service as Postmaster General of the United States. Arranged alphabetically.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST
    SCRAPBOOK FILE, 1782-1959

Box 1

  • [clippings, 1947-1948]
  • [clippings, 1948-1951]
  • [correspondence, 1947-1949]
  • [correspondence, 1947-1951]
  • "Dear Mr. Postmaster General:" [correspondence, 1947-1952]
  • "Postmaster General Jesse M. Donaldson" [clippings and memorabilia, 1947-1959]
  • "Postmasters General of the United States" [portraits and autographs]
  • [speeches and statements, 1947-1950]
      [1 of 5]
      [2 of 5]
Box 2
      [3 of 5]
      [4 of 5]
      [5 of 5]
  • [speeches and statements, 1951-1952]
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]

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