Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Fred Canfil Papers

Dates: 1934-1946

Executive Manager and Building Superintendent, Jackson County Courthouse, Kansas City Missouri 1935-1940; Assistant Secretary to Senator Harry S. Truman, 1940-1942; U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Missouri, 1944-1953.

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.

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


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: One linear foot (about 2,000 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: The Truman Library received no donation of copyright in the papers of Fred Canfil. Documents created by U.S. government employees in the course of their official duties are in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents presumably belongs to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Philip D. Lagerquist (1977).
Updated by: Julia Oliphant (2003) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and Amy Williams.


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

c. 1884Born
1935-1940Executive Manager and Building Superintendent, Jackson County Courthouse, Kansas City, Missouri
1940-1942Assistant Secretary to Senator Harry S. Truman
1944-1953U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Missouri

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

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.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1-2 GENERAL FILE, 1934-1946
Correspondence, handwritten notes and other items. Arranged in alphabetical order and thereunder chronologically.
3 SCRAPBOOK FILE, 1934-1944
Newspaper clippings arranged in chronological order.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST
    GENERAL FILE
Box 1
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • Franked Envelope
  • G
  • H
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • Newspaper Clippings
  • O
  • P
  • R
  • S
  • T
Box 2
  • "Thanks"
  • U
  • V
  • W [1 of 2]
  • W [2 of 2]
  • WPA lists
    SCRAPBOOK FILE, 1934-1944
Box 3
  • 1934 Missouri Senatorial Campaign, May - August
  • 1934 Missouri Senatorial Campaign, June - July
  • 1934 Missouri Senatorial Campaign, July - August
  • 1934 Missouri Senatorial Campaign, September - November
  • Harry S. Truman, 1934 - 1944

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