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Papers of Harry S. Truman Staff Member and Office Files: John R. Steelman Files

Dates: Date Span: 1946-1951; Bulk Date Span: 1949-1950

Special Assistant to the President, 1945-1946; Director, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, 1946; Chairman, President's Scientific Research Board, 1946-1947; The Assistant to the President, 1946-1953; Acting Chairman, National Security Resources Board, 1948-1950; Acting Director, Office of Defense Mobilization, 1952.

The John R. Steelman Files document his work on the White House staff from 1946-1953 as the Assistant to the President. During this period, Steelman worked with federal programs to alleviate unemployment in distressed areas of the United States as established in accordance with the President's memorandum of July 14, 1949. These documents pertain to unemployment, the Bureau of Employment Security, other federal agencies, housing, labor, public works, railroads, and the economy. The files include correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings, handwritten notes, printed materials, reports, pamphlets, drafts of legislation, charts and graphs, speeches, press releases, maps, minutes of meetings, reports, and telegrams.

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


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: 5.6 linear feet (11,200 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: Philip D. Lagerquist (1956); Tammy Kelly and David Clark (2003).


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

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1900 (June 23)   Born, Thornton, Arkansas
1922   A.B., Henderson Brown College, Arkadelphia, Arkansas
1924   M.A., Vanderbilt University
1928   Ph.D., University of North Carolina
1928-34   Professor of Sociology and Economics, Alabama College, Montevallo, Alabama
1934-36   Commissioner of Conciliation, U.S. Conciliation Service
1936-37   Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor
1937-44   Director, U.S. Conciliation Service, U.S. Department of Labor
1944-45   Public Relations Consultant, New York City
1945-46   Special Assistant to the President
1946   Director, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion
1946-53   The Assistant to the President
1946-47   Chairman, President's Scientific Research Board
1948-50   Acting Chairman, National Security Resources Board
1952   Acting Director, Office of Defense Mobilization
1953   Served briefly as Special Assistant to the President, helping the Eisenhower administration get underway
1953-c.1968   Industrial Relations Consultant, Washington, D.C.
1955-69   Served at various times as president of the Montgomery Publishing Company and chairman of the board of the Record Publishing Company, and as publisher of newspapers in Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Rockville, Maryland
1999 (July 14)   Died, Naples Florida

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


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The John R. Steelman Files document his work as Assistant to President Harry S. Truman. The Steelman Files are part of the Staff Member and Office Files of the Harry S. Truman Papers. Steelman did not take the material in these files with him at the conclusion of his government service. When the administration ended in 1953, his files were shipped to Kansas City as part of Mr. Truman's presidential papers, which Truman subsequently donated to the United States government. As part of his duties at the White House, Steelman worked with federal programs to alleviate unemployment in distressed areas. These programs were established in accordance with the President's memorandum of July 14, 1949, and were aimed at dealing with the effects of the economic recession of 1949.

The collection is composed of nine series and a number of subseries. A small General File consists of the outline of the filing system for the collection, drafts waiting for approval, and Bureau of Employment Security and Commerce Distribution Lists from 1949-1950.

The Chronological File consists of carbons of all outgoing correspondence and related memos from August 1949 to June 1950. The letters are to state government officials, Congressmen, federal officials and individuals asking about conditions in specific areas of the country, thanking them for information provided, and assuring them that the government was taking steps to improve the unemployment situation.

The State File consists of correspondence between Steelman and state government officials, Senators, Representatives, organizations (often unions) and private citizens regarding economic conditions in the individual states from 1949-1951. The correspondence primarily pertains to conditions in specific cities, or sometimes a particular industry or business, and what the states were trying to do to improve the situation.

The Organization of Program File, 1946-1950, consists of correspondence and press releases pertaining to the legal foundation for establishing the program to channel government contracts to economically depressed areas, the establishment and function of the program, and previous programs designed to relieve unemployment.

The Operation of Program File consists primarily of correspondence, drafts of legislation, handwritten notes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, press releases, reports, brochures and speeches relating to federal programs to alleviate unemployment in distressed areas from 1946-1950. The series has seven subseries. The Letters to Agencies Transmitting B.E.S. (Bureau of Employment Security), Lists to Distressed Areas File consists of transmittal letters accompanying Bureau of Employment Security summary reports on the labor market trends and characteristics of various depressed areas from 1949-1950. The Letters to Agencies Transmitting General Information File contains summary reports and correspondence pertaining to unemployment from 1949-1950. The Miscellaneous Correspondence and Material-Individual Agencies File, which is the largest subseries in the Operation of Program File, consists of correspondence, reports, handwritten notes, brochures, press releases, and speech drafts relating to assistance from agencies and plans to channel government purchasing and contracts to areas with critical unemployment from 1949-1950. The Administration File consists of correspondence, resumes, employment applications, information regarding offices and parking and legislation from 1949-1950. The Miscellaneous Subject File consists of public works and resource development reports, Soviet government organizational charts, speeches, press releases, and reports pertaining to railroads, employment, and the United Nations from 1949-1950. The Legislation File consists of legislation pertaining to compensation of federal employees, aid for small businesses, economic expansion, the mutual defense assistance program, foreign aid and the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1949-1950. The Private Organizations Files consists of correspondence, reports and newsletters pertaining to the American Municipal Association, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and "Kiplinger Washington Letters" from 1949-1950.

The Monthly Reports from Agencies File consists of correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, press releases, and reports from 1949-1950. This series has four subseries: Reports, Correspondence Regarding Establishing Reporting System, Consolidated Reports, and Reports by Agencies. These subseries contain information pertaining to federal efforts to channel procurement, construction and loans into distressed areas of the country.

The Extra Copies of Mimeographed Material From Labor and Commerce File consists of duplicate copies of reports from 1949-1950 from the Departments of Labor and Commerce with information pertaining to labor supply and the labor market.

The Bureau of Employment Security (B.E.S.) and Commerce Reports on Individual Areas File consists of charts, graphs, reports pertaining to labor market trends and characteristics, fact-finding surveys, and local business employment reports from 1949. This series has 16 subseries, one for each of the following states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Vermont. Each of these states included specific cities that were considered distressed areas.

The Personal Files, Reports and Press Releases File consists of correspondence, drafts of legislation, handwritten notes, memoranda, press releases, printed materials, reports and transcripts pertaining to contracts, agriculture, economic development, labor supply, the labor market, product development and marketing, income trends, and industrial development, from 1947-1950.

A related collection at the Truman Library is the John R. Steelman Papers.

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

SERIES DESCRIPTIONS
Container Nos.   Series
1   GENERAL FILE, 1949-1950
Memoranda outlining filing system, correspondence, and memoranda of distribution lists for Bureau of Employment Security and Commerce Department reports and memos. Arranged alphabetically.
1   CHRONOLOGICAL FILE, 1949-1950
Correspondence, memoranda, and clippings, relating to requests for information on economically distressed areas, and assuring people of the government's commitment to provide aid. Arranged chronologically.
2-3   STATE FILE, 1949-1951
Correspondence, handwritten notes, memoranda, clippings, pamphlets, and reports regarding economic conditions in each state. Arranged alphabetically.
4   ORGANIZATION OF PROGRAM FILE, 1946-1950
Correspondence and press releases pertaining to the legal foundation for establishing the program to channel government contracts to economically depressed areas, the establishment and function of the program, and previous programs designed to relieve unemployment. Arranged chronologically.
4-9  

OPERATION OF PROGRAM FILE, 1946-1950  Seven subseries:

8
 

Administration File, 1946-1950, consisting of correspondence, resumes, applications pertaining to employment, and legislation. Arranged alphabetically.

8-9
 

Miscellaneous Subject File, 1949-1950, consisting of public works and resource development reports, Soviet government organizational charts, speeches, press releases, and reports pertaining to railroads, employment, and the United Nations. Arranged alphabetically.

9
 

Legislation File, 1949-1950, consisting of legislation pertaining to compensation of federal employees, aid for small businesses, economic expansion, mutual defense assistance program, foreign aid and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Arranged alphabetically.

9
 

Private Organizations File, 1946-1950, consisting of correspondence, reports and newsletters pertaining to the American Municipal Association, Congress of Industrial Organizations and "Kiplinger Washington Letters." Arranged alphabetically. (Box 9)

9-10
 

MONTHLY REPORTS FROM AGENCIES FILE, 1949-1950  Four Subseries: