Jesse M. Donaldson Papers
Dates: 1782-1959. Bulk Date Span: 1947-1952.
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.
Size: Less than one linear foot (about 1,600 pages).
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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