Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Roy W. Harper Papers

Dates: 1940-1991.

Chairman, State Offices, Harry S. Truman for U.S. Senator Renomination and Election Committee, 1940; Chairman, Missouri State Democratic Committee, 1946-1947; U.S. District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri, 1947-1991.

The papers of Roy W. Harper include correspondence between Mr. Harper and Harry S. Truman dating from 1944 to 1966, and correspondence between Harper and others concerning Truman. Judge Harper’s four commissions by President Truman as a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri as well as his oath of office are part of the collection. The papers include invitations to the Inauguration of Missouri Governor Warren Hearnes, the Inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and special events at the Truman Library. The collection also contains newspaper clippings related to Truman’s 1949 Inaugural and a cartoon book, Three Races in the Life of Harry Truman.

See also Roy W. Harper oral history.

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


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one linear foot (about 750 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Roy W. Harper donated to the U.S. government his copyright interest in all unpublished materials in this collection, and in any other collection of Harper papers in depositories administered by the U.S. government. Documents prepared by U.S. government officials in the course of their duties are also in the public domain. Copyright in other documents presumably belongs to the creators of those documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Laura Sellers (2005) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program.
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and David Clark.


[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1905 (July 26)Born, Gibson, Missouri
1929Received A.B. and LL.B. degrees, University of Missouri
1929-1930Lawyer for Shell Oil, St. Louis, Missouri
1931-1934Private Practice in Steele, Missouri
1934Democratic County Chairman, Pemiscot County, Missouri
1934-1947Member of the firm Ward & Reeves in Caruthersville, Missouri
1940Chairman, State Offices, Harry S. Truman for U.S. Senator Renomination and Election Committee
1941 (July 30)Married Ruth Butt
1942-1945Served in 35th Fighter Group, U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, rising to the rank of colonel
1946-1947Chairman of the Missouri State Democratic Committee
1947-1991U.S. District Judge, Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri
1959-1970Chief Judge, Eastern District of Missouri
1971-1991Senior Judge, Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri
1994 (February 13)Died, Chesterfield, Missouri

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Roy W. Harper contain correspondence between Roy W. Harper and President Harry S. Truman spanning more than twenty years. In addition to other related correspondence, this collection contains Mr. Harper’s four commissions as U.S. District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri as well as his oath of office; newspaper clippings from several Washington D.C. newspapers related to President Truman’s 1949 Inaugural; and invitations to the Inauguration of Missouri Governor Warren Hearnes, the Inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and special events at the Truman Library. This collection also contains a cartoon book, Three Races in the Life of Harry Truman.

Mr. Harper has a unique place in judicial history because he received four commissions to the U.S. District Court by President Truman, more than any judge in U.S. history has ever received. He served the third commission without pay because he had not been confirmed by the Senate.

The papers consist of one series, a Subject File, which is arranged in folders entitled “Correspondence,” “Inauguration,” “Memorabilia,” “Printed Material,” and a folder for the cartoon book, Three Races in The Life of Harry Truman.

The correspondence is arranged in mostly chronological order. The majority of the letters are between Harry S. Truman and Mr. Harper. Their correspondence ranged from birthday greetings and Christmas wishes to letters about Missouri politics, the firing of General Douglas MacArthur, and President Truman’s thoughts about the state of affairs. There are some instances where the President’s Secretary, Matthew Connelly, sent or answered messages on the President’s behalf, but mainly President Truman answered all of Harper’s letters. In addition to the personal correspondence between Mr. Harper and President Truman, there are letters that were either related to Judge Harper’s work or to his prominence in Missouri Democratic politics. The last letters in this folder relate to efforts by the Truman Library to obtain this collection and an oral history interview from Judge Harper.

The “Inauguration” folder contains correspondence between Judge Harper, friends, and executives of hotels and railroads relating to his trip to Washington D.C. for President Harry Truman’s Inauguration in 1949. This folder also contains invitations to the 1965 Missouri Gubernatorial Inauguration of Warren Hearnes and the 1965 Presidential Inauguration.

The “Memorabilia” folder contains Judge Harper’s four commissions to the bench of the United States District Court as well as Mr. Harper’s oath of office. The commissions are dated from August, 1947 to February, 1949.

The “Printed Material” folders contain Washington D.C. newspaper clippings related to President Truman’s 1949 Inaugural, from newspapers such as the Washington Post, Times Herald, and Evening Star. The last newspaper article is from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, featuring an interview with Judge Harper about President Truman on the occasion of Truman’s one hundredth birthday. Other items in this folder include invitations to the cornerstone laying of the Truman Library and to the dedication of the mural by Thomas Hart Benton in the lobby of the Library. A copy of President Truman’s remarks to the Senate in 1964 is also included in this folder.

The last folder contains a cartoon book, Three Races in The Life of Harry Truman, illustrated by Bud Bentley of the art department of the Houston Post. The cartoons relate to Truman’s attendance at horse and mule races, and include a depiction of the 1948 Presidential race, with President Truman on a donkey and Governor Thomas E. Dewey riding an elephant.

Other materials at the Truman Library relating to Roy W. Harper include an oral history interview with Harper, and files of correspondence between Truman and Harper in the Truman Papers as U.S. Senator and Vice President, in President’s Personal File No. 1238 and in the Name File of the Truman Post-Presidential Papers.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container No. Series
1 SUBJECT FILE, 1940-1991
Correspondence, news clippings, Inauguration materials, certificates of commission, and the cartoon book, Three Races in The Life of Harry Truman. Arranged alphabetically.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST
    SUBJECT FILE, 1940-1991
Box 1
  • Correspondence
      [1 of 3]
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]
  • Inauguration
  • Memorabilia
  • Printed Material
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Three Races in The Life of Harry Truman--Cartoon Book

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]