James T. Quirk Papers
Dates: 1936-1976; Bulk Dates: 1944-1945, 1951.
The papers of James T. Quirk document primarily his service as a public relations officer in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War. Quirk served in the European theater from 1943 to 1945 and in Korea and Japan in 1951, handling press and public relations for such senior U.S. commanders as General Omar Bradley, General George S. Patton, Jr., and General Matthew B. Ridgway. His experiences during both wars are related in letters to his wife and in other materials in the collection.
Size: Less than one linear foot (about 400 pages).
[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]
The papers of James T. Quirk document primarily his service as a public relations officer in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War. Quirk served in the European theater from 1943 to 1945 and in Korea and Japan in 1951, handling press and public relations for such senior U.S. commanders as General Omar Bradley, General George S. Patton, Jr., and General Matthew B. Ridgway. The collection consists largely of letters from Quirk to his wife, Elizabeth, written during his service in Great Britain, France and Germany in 1944-45, and in Korea and Japan in 1951.
As head of public relations and censorship for the First and Third Armies in 1944-45, Quirk was responsible for the release of information to the press. His duties included arranging facilities for war correspondents near the front lines, censoring news reports, and handling public relations and press liaison for General Omar N. Bradley and General George S. Patton, Jr., among others. Quirk was personally involved in the liberation of Paris and the Battle of the Bulge. He later served as executive officer of the public relations division of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). After the war, Quirk returned to his career as a broadcasting and publishing executive. From January to June 1951, he served as public information officer to General Matthew B. Ridgway in Korea and Japan. When General Ridgway succeeded General MacArthur as head of United Nations forces in Korea in April 1951, his first act in his new capacity was to award Quirk the Legion of Merit.
After his Korean War service, Quirk returned to his job as an executive with the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1953, he was named publisher of a new magazine, TV Guide. Under his leadership over the next sixteen years, TV Guide became the largest selling magazine in the world. Quirk died in 1969 at the age of fifty-seven.
The papers of James T. Quirk were arranged and edited by his son, Rory Quirk, after his father's death. Portions of Quirk's letters to his wife that refer to family and other private concerns were removed by his son. In 1976, Rory Quirk allowed historian Forrest Pogue to see his father's Korean War letters. Rory Quirk donated his father's papers to the Truman Library in 1992.
The papers of James T. Quirk are arranged in a subject file in an approximate chronological order. The World War II folders include, most importantly, approximately seventy letters that Quirk wrote to his wife in 1944-45; the Korean War folders hold about twenty-five letters to his wife. These letters show Quirk to be a gifted writer with a flair for description, an appreciation for vivid anecdotes, a sense of humor, and an ability to reflect upon the larger issues involved in the great conflicts of which he was a part. Quirk was a perceptive eyewitness to such events as the bombing of London, the Normandy invasion, the liberation of Paris, the front-line fighting in Europe and Korea, and the dismissal of General MacArthur. His letters record his personal contacts with Generals Bradley, Patton, MacArthur and Ridgway; his visits to Berchtesgaden, Nuremberg, and Berlin; and his observations about such important events as the discovery of the Nazi concentration camps, the postwar occupation of Germany, the Potsdam Conference, the Nuremberg war crimes trials, and some of the major battles of World War II and the Korean war. Besides Quirk's letters to his wife, the collection also includes a small amount of material concerning Quirk's public relations responsibilities, especially during the Korean War, and also some personnel records concerning his military service.
Other collections at the Truman Library which are relevant to the topics dealt with in the Quirk papers include the President's Secretary's Files (General File--Douglas MacArthur, Matthew Ridgway, Omar Bradley; Subject File--Defense Secretary George C. Marshall); the Records of the Democratic National Committee (General Douglas MacArthur File); Official Files 584 (MacArthur) and 3127 (Ridgway); the George Elsey papers (Subject File--Korea); Record Group 330 (Public Statements of the Secretary of Defense, 1947-52) and 407 (U.S. Army Unit Diaries, Histories, and Reports, 1944-51); the Student Research Files on the Potsdam Conference, U.S. Policy in Occupied Germany, and the Korean war; and the oral history interviews of George Elsey and Frank Pace, Jr. .