Fred Canfil Papers
The papers of Fred Canfil consist of correspondence, handwritten notes, newspaper clippings and other items mostly pertaining to Canfil's role as a Kansas City political supporter and associate of Harry S. Truman. There are also letters referring to Canfil's duties as a U.S. Marshal and Building Director.
Size: One linear foot (about 2,000 pages).
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The papers of Fred Canfil consist mostly of correspondence with citizens requesting assistance in finding a job. As a close friend and political backer of Senator Harry S. Truman, Canfil was often contacted by constituents seeking his help or assistance from the Senator. In addition to employment opportunities (eagerly sought by many Missourians during the Great Depression), these people also asked for favors or urged support for legislation in Congress. Included in the collection are typed or handwritten letters to Canfil and carbon copies of his replies, as well as some correspondence with Truman. Also included are documents regarding Canfil's work as superintendent of the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri, and as a U.S. Marshal. (Truman was instrumental in obtaining both of these positions for Canfil.) The papers date from 1934 to 1946, but there is little or no material dating from 1937, 1939, or 1942-43.
As "executive manager" and building superintendent of the courthouse in Kansas City, Canfil's duties included providing information on the value of office space for lease and the value of services furnished by the lessor. He was also responsible for elevator maintenance and the ventilation system.
As a U.S. Marshal, Canfil issued orders to all his deputies regarding proper procedures for the transportation of federal prisoners and other responsibilities. His personal duties included inspecting subordinates, keeping a record of the number of prisoners in Missouri, and having the last word on prisoner health and welfare. He also performed unofficial duties for the Truman family and personal favors for Truman. It was Canfil who arranged for the creation of the "Buck Stops Here" sign for President Truman's desk.
During all stages of his professional life, Canfil received letters from many individuals requesting aid or recommendations for government employment. He gave preference to those who were loyal to the Democratic party. He also received or issued warnings about Democrats who had betrayed the party or Republicans who needed to be replaced. Canfil was responsive to requests for help and was usually very successful in providing it. He traveled a great deal in performing his official duties and in working for Truman. Many of his letters in reply begin with an apology for the delay resulting from his out-of-state travels.
Canfil's papers consist of two series. The first series, the General File, contains correspondence, handwritten notes, and other items relating to various aspects of Canfil's activities as described above.
The second series, the Scrapbook File, contains newspaper clippings relating to the 1934 Missouri senatorial campaign, dating from May to November. These are separated into four folders. Canfil acted as Truman's driver and aide during that campaign, which ended in Truman's election to the U.S. Senate. The last folder in the series includes various clippings relating to Truman's Senate career.
More information about Fred Canfil can be found at the Truman Library in the oral history interview of Mildred Dryden. Other related papers include the Harry S. Truman Papers: Papers as Presiding Judge of the Jackson County (Missouri) Court.