Breadcrumb

Short, Joseph H. and Short, Beth Campbell Papers

Dates: 1932-1984

Joseph H. Short was a Washington correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, 1943-1950, and Press Secretary to the President, 1950-1952. Beth Campbell Short was Correspondence Secretary to the President, 1952-1953

The papers of Joseph H. Short and his wife, Beth Campbell Short, relate for the most part to their work as White House officials during the Truman administration. The collection also includes information concerning Mr. Short's previous career as a White House correspondent, press coverage of the presidency during the Roosevelt and Truman years, and the presidential campaigns of 1944, 1948, and 1952. The papers consist of correspondence, press releases, printed material, appointment and telephone logs, transcripts of press briefings, handwritten notes, invitations, 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: Alexander Short donated to the United States government his copyright interest in the writings of his father and mother that are in this collection, or in any other manuscript collection in the custody of the United States government. Documents created by employees of the United States government in the course of their official duties are in the public domain. Copyright interest in other documents is assumed to belong to the creators of the documents or their heirs.
Processed by: Randy Sowell, Sharie Simon, and Janice Davis (2005, 2011).


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

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Joseph H. Short

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


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

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Beth Campbell Short

1908 (August 6)

 

Born, Notawa, Oklahoma

1925-1926

 

Attended Christian College, Columbia, Missouri

1929

 

B.A. and Journalism Certificate, University of Oklahoma

1929-1936

 

Reporter, Springfield, Missouri and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

1936-1940

 

Correspondent for the Associated Press, Washington, D.C. Bureau, with responsibility for covering First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

1937 (December 27)

 

Married Joseph H. Short

1940-1952

 

Homemaker and freelance writer; raised her three children, Alexander, Stephen, and Victoria Short

1952 (September 18)

 

Death of Joseph H. Short

1952-1953

 

Correspondence Secretary to the President

1953-1957

 

Publicity Director, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

1957-1966

 

Press Secretary to Senator A. S. Mike Monroney, Democrat from Oklahoma

1966-1978

 

Special Assistant for Research, Development and Training to Assistant Commissioner, Social Security Administration

1988 (January 11)

 

Died, Alexandria, Virginia

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

COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Joseph H. Short and Beth Campbell Short at the Truman Library relate primarily to his work as Press Secretary to the President, and her work as Correspondence Secretary to the President, during the period from December 1950 to January 1953. The collection also documents Joseph H. Short's career as a Washington correspondent with the Associated Press, the Chicago Sun, and the Baltimore Sun from about 1938 to 1950. It includes material relating to press coverage of the presidency during the Roosevelt and Truman years; the 1944, 1948, and 1952 presidential campaigns; and the career of Louise Hachmeister, a longtime White House telephone operator and friend of the Shorts. The collection contains only a small amount of information relating to Mrs. Short's activities after 1953.

The papers consist of correspondence, press releases, printed material, appointment and telephone logs, transcripts of press briefings, handwritten notes, invitations, memorabilia, and other items. In 2011, six years after the papers were opened for research, a significant accretion was added to the collection. Folders containing this material are identified with the bracketed words "2011 accretion" or "includes documents added in 2011" in the list of folder titles at the conclusion of this finding aid.

The collection is comprised of nine series. The first series, the Correspondence File, consists mostly of Joseph H. Short's personal correspondence with friends and associates, many of them from the fields of journalism and government, during his tenure as President Truman's Press Secretary from December 1950 to September 1952. Included in the series are letters and telegrams received by Short, along with enclosed newspaper clippings and other items, and carbon copies of Short's outgoing correspondence. Much of this correspondence relates to Short's appointment as Press Secretary following the death of his predecessor, Charles G. Ross, in December 1950. Congratulatory messages and copies of Short's letters of acknowledgment make up a large part of the series. Also included is correspondence relating to gifts, invitations, and personal favors. There is relatively little information in the Correspondence File concerning Short's official duties as Press Secretary. The series contains only a small amount of information concerning Beth Campbell Short.

The second series, the Subject File, contains correspondence, invitations, appointment and telephone logs, printed material, and other items documenting the White House careers of both Joseph H. Short and Beth Campbell Short. As in the previous series, much of Mr. Short's correspondence in the Subject File is personal in nature and consists of congratulations and acknowledgments upon his appointment as Press Secretary. But the series also contains some interesting material regarding presidential press conferences and efforts to involve Cabinet officials in presenting the Truman administration's message to the public (through a so-called "Working Group") during the dark days of the Korean War.

Following the sudden death of her husband in September 1952, Beth Campbell Short was appointed Correspondence Secretary to the President, becoming the first woman in history to hold such a high-level position on the White House staff. The Subject File contains extensive documentation of her work as Correspondence Secretary during the last four months of the Truman Presidency. Included are drafts and copies of many letters prepared by Mrs. Short for the President's signature-mostly, thank-you letters to officials who were leaving office at the end of the administration. Also of interest are logs documenting Mrs. Short's appointments, telephone calls, and other activities as Correspondence Secretary. The Subject File also includes some material relating to Joseph Short's career as a journalist from 1938 to 1950, and particularly during the 1948 presidential campaign. A smaller amount of material in the series documents Mrs. Short's association with Mr. Truman and her other activities from 1953 to 1984.

The third series, the Press Release File, mostly documents the activities of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman from 1938 to 1953, with particular emphasis upon the 1948 and 1952 election campaigns. The press releases in this series contain presidential speeches, messages, statements, and executive orders, as well as itineraries and schedules for presidential trips. Some of the press releases bear handwritten notes, apparently by Joseph H. Short, indicating such things as changes in the President's speeches and crowd reactions to his remarks. Mr. Short apparently collected most of these press releases while covering the 1948 campaign and other presidential activities as a reporter. A few documents in this series relate to Mr. Short's service as president of the National Press Club in 1948-49. There are also many press releases for the 1952 campaign, apparently White House file copies collected by Mrs. Short.

The Press Telegram File is the fourth series in the collection. It mostly contains press reports and drafts of press reports written by Joseph H. Short while he was covering the travels and activities of President Truman as a Washington correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. Short sent these stories to his newspaper by telegram while on the road with the President. Included are many stories on Truman's 1948 "Whistlestop" campaign, his trips to Rio de Janeiro and Wake Island, and his vacations in Key West, Florida. This series also contains press reports by Short on the travels of President Roosevelt in 1938 and of Vice President Alben Barkley in 1950.

The fifth series, the Scrapbook File, includes the contents of scrapbooks that document Mr. Short's career as a journalist covering the President and the Washington political scene from 1942 to 1950, and his work as White House Press Secretary from 1950 to 1952. Newspaper clippings of articles written by Short for the Baltimore Sun, and transcripts of his daily press briefings at the White House, make up most of the material in this series.

The sixth series, the Newspaper Article File, mostly contains articles by Short from the Baltimore Sun and other newspaper articles concerning the Truman administration. The series also includes articles dealing with the Trumans in their retirement years and with such historic events as the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the end of World War II, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The seventh series, the Louise Hachmeister File, contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, other printed material, and memorabilia relating to Hachmeister, who worked as a telephone operator at the White House from 1933 to 1953, through the administrations of both Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. Hachmeister was a friend of the Shorts and apparently gave this material to Mrs. Short at the end of the Truman administration. The series includes personal messages to "Hackie" from Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and other prominent figures, thanking her for her capable service to two Presidents. Also featured in the series are newspaper and magazine articles relating to Hachmeister and the White House telephone system, and sympathetic letters "Hackie" received after she was relieved of her duties early in the Eisenhower administration.

The eighth series, the 1944 Campaign File, relates for the most part to Senator Harry S. Truman's campaign for Vice President in 1944. It includes press telegrams from Joseph Short of the Baltimore Sun and other journalists reporting on Truman's campaign trips in behalf of the Roosevelt-Truman ticket, along with annotated speeches by the candidate, campaign publications, other printed material, and handwritten notes.

The General File is the ninth and last series in the collection. Most of the material in this series pertains to President Truman and his association with the Shorts. It includes correspondence, memorabilia, speeches, White House press releases, photographs of the President, and information concerning his trips.

More information concerning Joseph H. Short and Beth Campbell Short can be found at the Truman Library in the papers of Harry S. Truman (President's Personal File No. 5223 and the White House Office of the President's Correspondence Secretary Files), in the papers of Eben Ayers, and in oral history interviews with Mrs. Short, Robert G. Nixon, Roger Tubby, and Irving Perlmeter. Additional papers of Beth Campbell Short, covering the period from 1953 to 1968, are located at the Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives at the University of Oklahoma.

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

SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos.

 

Series

1-6