Harry S. Truman Papers
|1904 (February 11)||Born, Vicksburg, Mississippi|
|1925||A.B., Virginia Military Institute|
|1925-1929||Reporter in Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana|
|1929-1931||Correspondent for the Associated Press, Richmond, Virginia Bureau|
|1931-1941||Correspondent for the Associated Press, Washington, D.C. Bureau|
|1937 (December 27)||Married Beth Campbell|
|1941-1943||Correspondent for the Chicago Sun, Washington, D.C.|
|1943-1950||Correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, Washington, D.C.|
|1950-1952||Press Secretary to the President|
|1952 (September 18)||Died, Washington, D.C.|
The Joseph H. Short Files contain materials relating to Short's position as Press Secretary to the President from 1950 to1952. The materials are arranged in a single series, a Subject File. The Short Files are part of the Staff Member and Office Files of the Harry S. Truman Papers.
The collection mostly consists of the transcripts of "press and radio conferences" (more accurately described as press briefings) held by Joseph Short and others from December 1950 to December 1952. At these very informal conferences, which were held frequently if not daily at the White House or at President Truman's vacation residence in Key West, Florida, the Press Secretary provided reporters with information about the President's schedule and other matters of interest, and also responded to their various questions. Of particular interest are the transcripts of the several press conferences held by Short on April 11, 1951, following the President's firing of General Douglas MacArthur. Short conducted almost all of the press conferences that are transcribed in this collection. Stephen Early, who had served as Press Secretary under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was called back to preside over a couple of press conferences in December 1950. This was after the death of Press Secretary Charles G. Ross, but before Short succeeded Ross in that position. Short himself became ill in September 1952, and died suddenly on September 18. During his illness and after his death, the press conferences were held by Assistant Press Secretaries Roger Tubby and Irving Perlmeter
The files also contain memoranda, correspondence, reports, newspaper clippings, drafts of executive orders and public statements, and other documents pertaining to national security issues that affected the press during this period. Two executive orders issued by President Truman in 1951 were responsible for much of the controversy that is documented in Short's files. Executive Order 10290, issued on September 24, 1951, required all Executive Branch departments and agencies to classify sensitive documents and restrict public access to certain information on the grounds of national security. Journalists and other critics alleged that this order would encourage unnecessary government censorship of information that might be politically embarrassing to the administration. Executive Order 10312, issued on December 10, 1951, laid the basis for CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiations), a government plan imposing restrictions on broadcasters in the event of a national emergency. This plan created controversy inside and outside the administration, and resulted in high-level meetings between government officials and representatives of the broadcasting industry.
More information about Joseph H. Short and the office of Press Secretary during the Truman Administration can be found in the Truman Library's oral history interviews with Mrs. Joseph H. (Beth Campbell) Short and Eben Ayers, and in the papers of Charles G. Ross and Eben Ayers.
|1-2||SUBJECT FILE, 1950-1952|
|Transcripts of press conferences conducted by Joseph H. Short and others, with memoranda, drafts, reports, newspaper clippings, and other items. Arranged in alphabetical order, except for the press conference transcripts, which are arranged in chronological order.|