Contents and Arrangement

Presidential Campaign Staff, dates not examined

22 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The 1952 Presidential Campaign Staff primarily included members of Stevenson's Illinois gubernatorial staff, including William McC. Blair, Jr., Wilson Wyatt, Carl McGowan, Newton Minow, Carol Evans, and Clayton Fritchey, all of whom undertook additional duties after his nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate. Others involved with the campaign were long-time associates of Stevenson, including Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Ernest Ives, and Elizabeth Ives. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by staff member's last name, and alphabetically by the last name of the correspondent within each file. Much of this correspondence is from the general public regarding campaign issues, speeches, campaign suggestions, and offers of support. Some of the correspondence is interoffice communication that deals with such administrative matters as reporting contributions, referrals of key contact people, and more mundane subjects, such as renting office furniture. In the correspondence, as well as in the papers in general, the lack of organizational planning is evident, as there is no clear division of duties among the staff.

Subject correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the issue and includes correspondence pertaining to Stevenson's Alger Hiss deposition, comments on Stevenson's speeches, and a large amount of correspondence regarding political contributions, particularly the Stevenson Fund and Richard M. Nixon's "Checkers" speech. In 1949, when Hiss was on trial for perjury, Stevenson served as a character witness for him, based on his acquaintanceship with Hiss in Washington during the 1930s and 1940s. Asked what Hiss's reputation for honesty was at that time, Stevenson replied "good." This deposition was offered as proof of Stevenson's softness on Communism. Correspondents both condemned Stevenson for his leniency and praised him for his honesty. Most often, they simply asked for clarification of his position.

Political contributions became another significant campaign issue after it was revealed that Republican vice-presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon had accepted $18,000 in private contributions from wealthy Californians while serving as Senator. Nixon defended himself in late September in his so-called "Checkers" speech, in which he admitted that one contribution he refused to give up was his daughters' dog, Checkers. Shortly thereafter, Stevenson was questioned about the Stevenson Fund, composed of leftover gubernatorial campaign funds and additional contributions. The Stevenson Fund, amounting to approximately $80,000, was used primarily to increase the salaries of underpaid state employees, many of whom had sacrificed more lucrative positions in order to work in Stevenson's administration. Queries and comments from prospective supporters were answered by form letter. A sample form letter is included at the front of the first folder; others were discarded.

The reports reflect data-gathering on the part of staff members and volunteers, including media reports listing pro-Stevenson newspapers and tracking favorable editorials. State reports, used for preparation of speeches and campaign visits and arranged alphabetically by state, provide background information, such as local issues, politicians, demographics, key contact people, and voting records.

The speeches are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the person giving the speech and include those given on Stevenson's behalf by staff and volunteers, including George Ball, Jane Dick, and Wilson Wyatt, by leading Democrats, such as Harry S. Truman, Maury Maverick, Estes Kefauver, and Stevenson's running mate, John Sparkman, and general speeches, presumably gathered for reference purposes. Copies of "sample" speeches sent to state organizations for local supporters to use as a guideline in preparing their own speeches are included, as are copies of Eisenhower's campaign speeches.

The correspondence in the Volunteers for Stevenson records is similar in scope to that of the staff. Correspondence with the state and local committees is arranged chronologically and documents the referral of volunteers to local groups, reports of local activities, and suggestions. The financial materials are arranged with general financial materials first, followed by records of contributions. The general financial materials include summary reports prepared for the Senate and House of Representatives in accordance with the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, filed under receipts and disbursements. In addition to correspondence with donors, the contribution materials include fundraising information for specific drives, such as the Radio/TV Fund, New York Post Trust Funds, and fundraising events. The state financial files document the transfer of funds from state and local committees to the national committee.

Public relations material, arranged alphabetically, includes the correspondence of Porter McKeever, publicity director, and Robert Hind, assistant publicity director, regarding the placement of advertisements, offers of volunteer assistance, suggestions, and the organization of special committees. Press releases, newsletters, and state files containing advance materials are also included.

The reports include a master plan for managing the campaign, prepared by Edward L. Bernays, as well as post-election voting analyses and reports of the organization of local committees and an analysis of their effectiveness. Volunteers for Stevenson mobilized various groups of people to generate additional support for Stevenson among special interest groups, including minorities, labor representatives, lawyers, business leaders and doctors. The National Advisory Committee for Stevenson, an honorary group of prominent individuals, was also organized. The organization of the special groups is documented through lists of individuals recruited, telegrams of acceptance and refusal, and notes of organization. Papers documenting the Springfield Conference, held in early October for leaders of Volunteers for Stevenson groups throughout the country to coordinate the work of the committees for the last month of the campaign, include schedules, planning materials, and lists of attendees.


Subseries 4A: 1952 Presidential Campaign, is divided into two subgroups: Presidential Campaign Staff and Volunteers for Stevenson, following the administrative separation of these two groups.

Collection History


Materials separated from this collection during processing in 2010 include newspaper clippings from major newspapers on Stevenson's political career, scrapbooks that are also available on microfilm, and duplicate photographs. Approximately one inch of news clippings on Stevenson were separated from accession ML.2014.002, as were duplicative, unannotated typescripts of speeches.


These papers were processed with the generous support of Mrs. Barry Bingham, William McC. Blair, Jr., Nona Cox, Mrs. J. Edward Day, Jane Warner Dick, Phyllis Gustafson, the Estate of Elizabeth S. Ives, Timothy R. Ives, Philip M. Klutznick, Nan McEvoy, Josephine P. McGowan, Newton N. Minow, Adlai E. Stevenson III, John Fell Stevenson, Maurice Tempelsman, and Willard Wirtz. Funding for the digitization of records in this collection was provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Processing Information

Processed by Susan J. Illis in 1996-1997 with assistance from Carl D. Esche, Katherine Johnson, Sue Jean Kim, Debra Levin, Damian Long, James Macgillivray, Cei Maslen, Michelle Peart, Patrick Shorb, and Elizabeth Williamson. Materials received after the collection was processed were integrated by Adriane Hanson in 2010. Additonal donations made after 2010 were integrated into the collection by Mudd Library staff.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Series 11 is composed of audiovisual materials in various formats.

Credit this material:

Presidential Campaign Staff; Adlai E. Stevenson Papers, MC124, Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Boxes 213-233; 662

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