Ross, Charles G. Papers

Dates: 1890-2010; Bulk Date Span: 1945-1950

Correspondent and editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1918-1945; Press Secretary to the President, 1945-1950

The papers of Charles G. Ross primarily document his service as Press Secretary to President Harry S. Truman. The collection also contains some documentation of Ross's youth and education, his personal life, and his career as a journalist. The collection includes some material relating to his sons, John B. and Walter Ross; his widow, Florence Ross; and her second husband, Roy A. Roberts, the editor of the Kansas City Star. The papers consist of correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed material, transcripts of press conferences, diary entries, press releases, scrapbooks, and other items.

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

ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 10 linear feet, 11 linear inches (approximately 20,000 pages).
Access: Open.
Copyright: The late Florence Ross Roberts donated her literary property rights in any of the writings of her husband, Charles G. Ross, in this collection to the United States government, effective at the time of her death. Documents created by U.S. government officials in the course of their official duties are 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: Frank L. Barkofske (1960); Dennis Bilger (1984, 1987); Randy Sowell, Sharie Simon, and Janice Davis (2000); Lucia Flaim and David Clark (2008); Randy Sowell, Amy Crossley, and Janice Davis (2012).

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1885 (November 9)

 

Born, Independence, Missouri

1901

 

Graduated from Independence High School with classmates Harry S. Truman and Bess Wallace

1905

 

A.B., University of Missouri

1908-18

 

Member of the faculty of the School of Journalism, University of Missouri

1913 (August 20)

 

Married Florence Griffin

1918-34

 

Chief Washington correspondent, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

1932

 

Received Pulitzer Prize for newspaper correspondence

1934-39

 

Editorial page editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

1939-45

 

Contributing editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

1945-50

 

Press Secretary to the President

1950 (December 5)

 

Died of a heart attack at his desk in the White House

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

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The Charles G. Ross Papers mostly document his service as President Harry S. Truman’s Press Secretary from 1945 to 1950. The collection also includes information about Ross’s youth and education, his personal life, and his distinguished career as a journalist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A significant portion of the collection documents the activities of Ross’s family in the years after his death in 1950. Included is material relating to his sons, John B. and Walter Ross; his widow, Florence Griffin Ross; and her second husband, Roy A. Roberts, the long-time editor of the Kansas City Star.

The Ross Papers consist of eleven series. The first series, the Alphabetical Correspondence File, contains correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed material, press releases, and other items relating to Ross’s service as Press Secretary to the President. For the most part, this series is a name file comprising Ross’s official correspondence with various persons during his tenure as Press Secretary. Much of this correspondence is with reporters, editors, and publishers, and includes occasional protests by Ross against what he regarded as unfair or inaccurate press reports. There is also correspondence with Ross’s friends and relatives, and with such prominent officials as Dean Acheson, J. Edgar Hoover, and Fred Vinson. In addition to documenting the Truman administration’s relations with the press from 1945 to 1950, the material in the Alphabetical Correspondence File also contains information on such subjects as the decision to use the atomic bomb, trips taken by the President, and Ross’s personal or financial affairs.

The Papers Removed from the Scrapbooks of Charles G. Ross File contains documents that were originally included in the scrapbooks at the end of the collection. The series mostly consists of transcripts of press and radio conferences held by Ross during his years as Press Secretary. These conferences were held, usually in the morning, on most weekdays when Ross was present at the White House. At the conferences, Ross provided the assembled reporters with tidbits of information concerning the President’s daily schedule and other matters of interest such as new appointments, resignations, and travel plans. He also answered questions from the reporters, frequently engaging them in amusing banter that is preserved in the transcripts. Perhaps the most poignant transcript is the last one, for the press and radio conference held on the afternoon of December 5, 1950. Moments after that conference, Ross collapsed and died of a heart attack at his desk in the White House. Also included in this series are press releases, memoranda, and other items documenting Ross’s service as Press Secretary and the Truman administration’s relations with the press.

Subject File I of the Ross Papers contains correspondence, printed material, newspaper clippings, diary entries, handwritten notes, and other items documenting the life and career of Charles G. Ross from high school in Independence, Missouri, through his years as a journalist in St. Louis and Washington, D.C., concluding with his service as a close aide and adviser to his boyhood friend, President Harry S. Truman. Included in this series is some Ross family correspondence, mostly consisting of letters from his sons, John and Walter. John’s letters contain interesting descriptions of his experiences as a medical student at Johns Hopkins during the 1930s. Other documents in this series include a copy of Ross’s 1901 annual (yearbook) from Independence High School; a college literary magazine featuring his poetry; diary entries by Ross for the years 1919 and 1938; his marriage certificate; correspondence concerning the Pulitzer Prize which Ross received for journalism in 1932; handwritten notes to Ross from President Truman; and newspaper clippings and letters of condolence regarding the death of Ross in 1950.

Subject File II of the Ross Papers contains materials similar to those that are found in Subject File I. Among the items in this series are a religious periodical from 1892 containing a letter written by the six-year-old Ross; school papers prepared by Ross at Noland School and at Independence High School; his high school English notebook; speeches delivered by Ross in 1933 and 1946; diary entries by Ross for the years 1939 and 1946-49; financial records; legal documents; family correspondence from Ross, his father, and his sister, Helen; and other materials pertaining to Ross’s personal life and professional career.

The next two series, Mrs. Charles G. Ross (Mrs. Roy A. Roberts) Files I and II, contain materials documenting some aspects of the life of Florence Griffin Ross. File I includes a substantial amount of information concerning Mrs. Ross’s second marriage, in 1955, to Roy A. Roberts of the Kansas City Star. In addition to congratulatory correspondence, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia, the series contains diaries of cruises and trips taken by Mr. and Mrs. Roberts. File I also contains Griffin family correspondence and printed material relating to the life of Mrs. Ross. The documents in File II consist of various pieces of correspondence, among them messages of condolence received by Mrs. Ross after the death of Charles G. Ross, from such persons as Harry S. Truman, Bess Truman, Clark Clifford, Perle Mesta, and Mrs. Oliver Franks (the wife of the British ambassador to the U.S.).

The Roy A. Roberts File contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, printed material, speeches, and other items concerning Roberts’s career as editor, president, and chairman of the board of the Kansas City Star. Of particular note are letters and other materials relating to the involvement of Roberts in politics (particularly, his role in promoting the presidential candidacy of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952); his marriage to Mrs. Ross in 1955; his retirement from the Star; and his death in 1967. A fairly large portion of the series consists of newspaper or magazine articles by or about Roberts.

The Dr. and Mrs. John B. Ross File contains documentation of the activities of Ross’s son and daughter-in-law and their extended family. Some references to the lives and careers of Charles Ross and Harry Truman can be found in the correspondence, printed material, memorabilia, and other items that make up this series. A number of items were added to the Dr. and Mrs. John B. Ross File in 2012. Most of these items relate to Dr. Ross’s military service during World War II.

The Cross Reference Sheets File consists of cross reference sheets describing artifacts, books, and photographs that have been transferred from the Ross Papers to the museum, book, and audiovisual sections of the Truman Library. Photocopies of many of the transferred photographs are included in the series. The Scrapbooks File consists of twelve scrapbooks covering the period from April of 1945 to December of 1950. Contained in the scrapbooks are newspaper and magazine clippings documenting the Truman administration and Ross’s role in it during those years.

The Louise Ross Holmquist File, which was added to the collection in 2012, contains correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, photographs, and memorabilia concerning Charles G. Ross and his younger sister, Louise Ross Holmquist. The series includes letters and telegrams to Louise from her brother Charles and from Bess and Margaret Truman; articles about Charles Ross and President Truman from various newspapers and magazines; and photographs of Charles, Louise, and other members of the Ross family. Also included are exams written by Ross as a student in the public schools of Independence, Missouri, report cards documenting his academic progress; a copy of the Independence High School yearbook, The Gleam, from 1909 (the year Louise graduated); the transcript of a 1948 radio broadcast concerning Louise and her brother; and a copy of the handwritten memoirs of Virginia Ross Weston, a sister of Charles and Louise, containing her recollections of their father.

More information about Charles G. Ross can be found in other manuscript collections at the Truman Library, most notably in the Personal File of the President’s Secretary’s Files, Harry S. Truman Papers, which includes a diary that was kept by Ross in 1946 (a typed draft of this diary is also in Subject File II of the Ross Papers). Other material concerning Ross is located in the White House Central Files (Official File 253 and President’s Personal File 4247) of the Truman Papers, and in the papers of Eben A. Ayers and Mary Paxton Keeley. Relevant information can also be found in the Library’s collection of oral history interviews, particularly in the interviews with Ayers, Keeley, Robert G. Nixon, and Matthew J. Connelly. A microfilm copy of the scrapbooks in the Ross Papers, reproduced on five reels of microfilm, is included in the Truman Library’s Scrapbook Collection.

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

SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos.

 

Series

1-8

  ALPHABETICAL CORRESPONDENCE FILE, 1916-1950 (Bulk Date Span, 1945-1950)
Correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed material, press releases, and other items documenting the service of Charles G. Ross as Press Secretary to the President from 1945 to 1950; the Truman administration and its relations with the press; and Ross's personal and financial affairs. Arranged in alphabetical order.

8-14

  PAPERS REMOVED FROM THE SCRAPBOOKS OF CHARLES G. ROSS FILE, 1945-1950
Transcripts of press and radio conferences, press releases, memoranda, and other items pertaining to the Truman administration and Ross's service as Press Secretary to the President. Transcripts of conferences and press releases arranged in chronological order; rest of series arranged in no particular order.

14-17

  SUBJECT FILE I, 1900-1970
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, printed material, diary entries, handwritten notes, and other items documenting the personal life and professional career of Charles G. Ross. Arranged in alphabetical order.

17-18

  SUBJECT FILE II, 1892-1987
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, printed material, diary entries, school papers, speeches, financial records, legal documents, and other items documenting the personal life and professional career of Charles G. Ross. Arranged in alphabetical order.

19

  MRS. CHARLES G. ROSS (MRS. ROY A. ROBERTS) FILE I, 1904-1972
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, printed material, memorabilia, diary entries, and other items relating to the life of Mrs. Florence Ross and her marriage to Roy A. Roberts