Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

A. Devitt Vanech Papers

Dates: 1943-1950

Special Assistant to Attorney General, 1933; Chairman, President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty, 1946-1947; Assistant Attorney General in charge of Lands Division, 1947-1951; Deputy Attorney General, 1951-1952.

The papers of A. Devitt Vanech consist of correspondence with private citizens as well as government officials; petitions; charts; telegrams; press releases; handwritten notes; memoranda; minutes of meetings; newspaper clippings; printed material (including materials published by the Congress, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Catholic Hour); reports on employee loyalty (including the report of the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty, with exhibits); drafts and final copy of Executive Order 9806; bill proposals; and directives. The collection deals almost exclusively with Vanech's position as the head of the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty. The collection consists of one series, a subject file, arranged alphabetically.

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


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one linear foot (approximately 1,400 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: Michael D. Vanech (son) donated all of his literary property rights in the writings of A. Devitt Vanech in this collection, or in any other collection of papers at the Truman Library, to the United States of America. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in other writings in this collection is assumed to remain with the authors of the documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Erwin J. Mueller (1967)
Updated by: Catherine Wright (2002) as part of the Truman Library Internship Program
Supervising Archivists: Randy Sowell and Amy Williams

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


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1906 (March 26) Born, New York City, NY.
1925-1933 Graduated from Peekskill Military Academy in New York. Engaged in real estate and insurance business.
1933 Appointed as Special Assistant to Attorney General Homer J. Cummings.
1936 Received a law degree from the Washington College of Law (now part of American University).
1938 Married Margaret Mary McAuliffe; she died in 1941.
1944 Received a master's degree in law from Catholic University.
1946-47 Chairman of the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty.
1947-51 Assistant Attorney General in charge of Lands Division.
1951 Named Deputy Attorney General.
1952 Resigned his post as Deputy Attorney General in the midst of a controversy, stemming from the fact that he received a Tennessee license to practice law even though he was not a resident of that state. That same year, he announced his intention to run in the Connecticut Democratic primary for Senator; he lost to Abraham A. Ribicoff, who lost to Republican candidate Prescott S. Bush.
1953 Opened a general civil law practice in Washington, D.C.
1967 (September 10) Died, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C.

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


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Augustus Devitt Vanech consist of correspondence, petitions, charts, telegrams, press releases, handwritten notes, memoranda, minutes of meetings, newspaper clippings, printed material (including materials published by the Congress, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Catholic Hour), reports on employee loyalty (including the report of President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty, with exhibits), drafts and final copy of Executive Order 9806 (which created the commission), bill proposals, and directives. All of the materials were collected when Vanech was chairman of the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty (1946-47). The collection consists of one series, a subject file, arranged alphabetically.

Vanech served the Department of Justice in various capacities, starting in 1933. President Harry S. Truman named Vanech chairman of the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty in 1946, a position which he held until the next year, when the Commission ended.

The President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty was designed to recommend a program for investigating the loyalty of current and prospective federal employees, and to review existing loyalty procedures. The main goal of this effort was to uncover government employees with Communist leanings or direct ties to the Communist Party -- people who would pose a threat to the security of the United States in the days of growing distrust that accompanied the beginning of the Cold War with Russia.

The public held a variety of views on the topic of Communists infiltrating the government. While many people feared the possibility of Russian sympathizers spying on government agencies from within, others feared that the Commission was violating their civil rights. Among Vanech's documents are letters from citizens supporting the measures of the federal government, newspaper cartoons and columns denouncing the hunt for Communists, and pamphlets and newsletters concerned with civil rights.

Vanech's papers also contain drafts and copies of Executive Order No. 9835, which established procedures for the investigation of federal government employee loyalty (thus implementing many of the recommendations of the Commission); Bill 3813, proposed by the House of Representatives to prevent government employee disloyalty; and directives regarding loyalty and regulations for the Loyalty Review Board. The plethora of documents of this nature -- those concerned with rooting out Communists from government employment -- is highly indicative of the attitudes of the time. Communist Russia was perceived to be a genuine threat by the U.S. government, even if many citizens were skeptical as to the need for such investigations and orders.

The papers of A. Devitt Vanech are organized in a single series, an alphabetical subject file. The accompanying folder title list contains information concerning the collection. Other manuscript collections at the Truman Library that contain information relating to the federal government's loyalty programs include the papers of Harry S. Truman (Official File, Confidential File, and President's Secretary's Files), Stephen Spingarn, Eleanor Bontecou, Clark Clifford, and George Elsey.

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


SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1-2 SUBJECT FILE, 1943-1950
Correspondence, petitions, charts, telegrams, press releases, handwritten notes, memoranda, minutes of meetings, newspaper clippings, printed material, reports, and other items. Arranged in alphabetical order.

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


FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1
  • A. Devitt Vanech -- Loyalty Commission
  • Civil Rights and Liberties
  • Civil Service Commission -- Photostatic Copies of Report for Loyalty Procedures
  • Communist Party
  • Congressional Correspondence
  • Congressional Reports on Loyalty -- Committee on Civil Service, House of Representatives
  • Correspondence -- A. Devitt Vanech (Loyalty)
  • Correspondence and Memos on Loyalty
  • Duggan, Joseph [empty folder]
  • Executive Order No. 9835
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Loyalty -- Criteria for Designating Organizations
  • Loyalty -- General
  • Loyalty -- Morton Friedman [discharged for suspected disloyalty]
  • Loyalty -- Report of the President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty
  • Loyalty Board -- Department of Justice
Box 2
  • Newspaper Clippings, Literature, Etc. Regarding Loyalty
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Personnel -- New Loyalty Regulations
  • President's Temporary Commission on Employee Loyalty -- Exhibits
  • Proposed Bills or Legislation
  • Report and Requests for Copies
  • Review Board
  • Standards to Be Used as Basis for Government Employment
  • Treasury Department
  • White House

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