Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Jacob M. Arvey Papers

Dates: 1945 - 1977

Chairman, Cook County (Illinois) Democratic Central Committee, 1946-1950;
Democratic National Committeeman from Illinois 1950-1972.

The papers of Jacob M. Arvey consist mainly of correspondence between himself and President Harry S. Truman. The majority of the correspondence is personal in nature and dates from Truman’s post-presidential years. Other correspondence relates to invitations to Truman to speak at events, usually those sponsored by Jewish organizations. There are also some printed materials in the collection.

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


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one-half of one linear foot (approximately 175 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Jacob M. Arvey donated to the U.S. government his literary property rights in his unpublished writings in this collection, and in any other collection of papers in the custody of U.S. government. Documents created by U.S. government employees in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents is assumed to belong to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Erwin J. Mueller (1976).
Updated by: Gretchen Ekerdt (2003) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and Amy Williams.


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1895 (November 3) Born, Chicago, Illinois
1915 (June 11) Married Edith Freeman
1916 Began law practice in Chicago after attending John Marshall Law School
1920-1977 Practiced law as a partner in various Chicago firms, the last of which was Arvey, Hodes, Costello & Burman
1923-1941 Alderman, 24th Ward, Chicago
1941-1945 During World War II, served with Illinois National Guard as judge advocate general and a civil affairs officer; stationed in the Pacific and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel; awarded the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit
1945 Appointed Chicago Park Commissioner by Mayor Edward Kelly
1946-1950 Chairman Cook County (Illinois) Democratic Central Committee
1948 Supported the candidacies of Paul Douglas for U.S. Senator and Adlai Stevenson for Governor of Illiois; advocated creation of the state of Israel and a strong civil rights plank in the Democratic platform; initially backed Dwight D. Eisenhower for the Democratic presidential nomination, but when Eisenhower refused to run, supported President Truman and helped Truman carry Illinois and win the election
1950-1972 Democratic National Committeeman from Illinois
1952 Supported the Presidential campaign of Governor Adlai Stevenson
1967 Retired from Chicago Park District Board
1968 Named Israel Bond “Man of the Year”
1977 (August 25) Died, Chicago, Illinois

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Jacob M. Arvey consist mainly of correspondence between himself and President Harry S. Truman. The majority of the correspondence is personal and dates from Truman’s post-presidential years. Other correspondence relates to invitations to Truman to speak at events, usually those sponsored by Jewish organizations. The collection also includes some printed material relating to Truman or Arvey, and copies of several speeches. The papers are organized into a single series, a Subject File.

The correspondence mostly spans the years from 1948 to 1970. There is a small amount of correspondence from 1977 concerning the Truman Library’s acquisition of an additional document for the collection.

Only two pieces of correspondence exist in the papers from the Truman presidential years. One is dated November 13, 1948, from Truman to Arvey, thanking him for his role during Truman’s successful presidential campaign. The other is from 1951, from Arvey to Truman, declaring Arvey’s support for the President in the 1952 campaign.

The great amount of personal correspondence between the two men covers a variety of subjects. The most common are letters of thanks from Truman to Arvey. Typically, Truman was thanking Arvey for his birthday or holiday greetings and gifts, for his special notes of encouragement or congratulations, for forwarding publications of interest, and, in later years, for his concern for Truman’s health and well-being. Truman also sent Arvey letters of encouragement and congratulations. Other examples of personal correspondence include requests from Arvey for Truman to autograph items for Arvey’s friends. The replies to these requests, either from Truman or his secretary, Rose Conway, show that Truman readily complied. Some of the correspondence refers to documents that are not included in the collection.

The correspondence indicates that Truman could not always accept the many invitations from Arvey to speak at or attend various events. Many of these events were hosted by Jewish organizations around the country. Truman declined requests because of an already busy schedule and, in later years, a conscious effort to “slow down.” However, the papers also include information about the many events Truman did attend. The Chicago Committee for State of Israel Bonds held a celebration of the three-thousandth anniversary of the founding of Jerusalem at Chicago Stadium in November 1953. Arvey introduced Truman at the celebration, and there is a copy of his introduction and of Truman’s remarks. Truman spoke at another State of Israel Bonds dinner in Miami Beach, Florida in February 1957. Arvey introduced Truman again at that event, and there is a copy of that introduction as well. After both of these events, Truman wrote to Arvey thanking him for his hospitality and kind remarks.

In 1961, Truman met with the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion. Correspondence afterwards between Arvey and Ben-Gurion’s office documents the success of that meeting. An unusual deviation from the correspondence relating to events sponsored by Jewish organizations was a 1962 letter from Arvey inviting the former President to deliver the keynote address during the first annual American Masonic Heritage Week in Chicago.

A few of the letters are between Truman’s secretary, Rose Conway, and Arvey’s secretary, Dorothy Christerson. Two other letters were written by Bess Wallace Truman to Arvey on occasions when her husband was ill. The collection also includes some correspondence with other persons involving Truman or Arvey.

More information about Arvey can be found at the Truman Library in the Papers of Harry S. Truman, particularly in the White House Central Files: President's Personal File (PPF 4106) and in the Name File of the Post-Presidential Papers.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1
SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1977
Correspondence between Jacob M. Arvey and President Harry S. Truman, other correspondence, printed material, and speeches. Arranged alphabetically by folder title.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST
    SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1977
Box 1
  • Correspondence with Harry S. Truman, 1948-1960
  • Correspondence with Harry S. Truman, 1961
  • Correspondence with Harry S. Truman, 1962
  • Correspondence with Harry S. Truman, 1963-1965
  • Correspondence with Harry S. Truman, 1967-1970
  • Correspondence with Harry S. Truman Library, 1977, and Arvey Introduction of Truman at Israel Bonds Dinner, 1957
  • Cross Reference
  • Printed Material [and speeches]

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