Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Harry S. Truman Papers
Staff Member and Office Files:
Joseph H. Short Papers

Dates: 1950 - 1952

Press Secretary to the President, 1950-1952

The Joseph H. Short Files contain materials relating to Short's position as Press Secretary to the President from 1950 to 1952. The collection mostly consists of transcripts of press conferences held by Joseph Short during this period, along with transcripts of a few press conferences held by assistants in his absence. Also included are memoranda, reports, newspaper clippings, and other items concerning national security issues that affected the press. Among these were the CONELRAD plan, which imposed restrictions on broadcasters in the event of a national emergency, and the Truman administration's efforts to prevent the release of sensitive information by federal departments and agencies.

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


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Approximately one half of one linear foot (about 1,000 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Harry S. Truman donated his copyright interest in writings in these files to the United States government. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their official duties are likewise in the public domain. Copyright interest in any other writings in these files is assumed to remain with the authors of the documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: James R. Fuchs (1956).
Updated by: Malinda Baehr (2002) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and Amy Williams.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

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.

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COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

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.

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SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
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.

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FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1
  • CONELRAD [Control of Electromagnetic Radiations]
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- December 1950
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- January 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- February 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- March 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- April 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- May 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- June 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- July 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- August 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- September 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- October 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- November 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- December 1951
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- January 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- February 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- March 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- April 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- May 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- June 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- July 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- August 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- September 1952
  • Press and Radio Conferences -- November-December 1952
  • Security
      [1 of 3]

Box 2

  • Security (cont'd.)
      [2 of 3]
      [3 of 3]

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