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James L. McConaughy Papers

Identifier: RG069_146

Scope and Content

These papers are arranged into three series: Personal Papers, Political Papers, and Photographs.

Series 1. Personal Papers, 1905-1966, bulk 1905-1948, includes biographical information; McConaughy's Yale University scrapbook, 1905-1909; correspondence from McConaughy to his wife Elizabeth while he was abroad working for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) during World War II; a few items from China, including McConaughy's business card as President of United Chica Relief with the Chinese translation on the reverse; and a few of McConaughy's writings including a narrative of his experience in the O.S.S.

Series 2. Political Papers, 1938-1948, consists primarily of speeches. Included are those from the 1938 and 1940 campaigns for Lieutenant Governor and the 1946 campaign for Governor. From his term as governor are speeches delivered to the Meriden-Wallingford Foremen's Club, YMCA, New England Governors' Conference, President's Highway Safety Conference, Connecticut Federation of Labor Convention, Knights of Columbus, Connecticut State Apprenticeship Council graduation, Connecticut Manufacturers Association, West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, C.I.O Convention, Connecticut Bankers Association, the Boy Scouts, as well as for Pan-American Day, the Italian-American Columbus Day celebration, Lincoln Day for both 1947 and 1948, and the General Assembly adjournment in 1947. Also present are radio talks given Monday evenings, primarily from the Executive Residence, from January 27 to June 9, 1947. These talks were meant to be informal and McConaughy often gave an update of his activities as Governor. Topics covered in these radio talks include the state budget, taxation, veterans issues, and education. Elizabeth McConaughy stood in for her husband on two occasions when he was away. She spoke about her family. Two radio talks in January 1948 concern the oil shortage and a final one in February 1948 was to call a Special Session of the Legislature.

Series 3. Photographs, 1888-1948, bulk 1947-1948, are mainly from McConaughy's term as Governor. Included are photographs of his inauguration, various state officials and employees, events that he attended, and military events such as Submarine Day and McConaughy's trip with other governors to Hawaii on the battleship U.S.S. Iowa. There are also photographs taken at McConaughy's home in Cornwall and several of his wife Elizabeth McConaughy. The portrait photographs include some of McConaughy as a child.


  • 1888-1966, bulk 1888-1948

Language of Materials

The records are in English.

Biographical Note

James McConaughy was one of several governors of Connecticut in the first half of the twentieth century who came from an academic background. Others were Bingham, Cross and Snow. What they shared with their university activities was a love of politics. McConaughy was born in New York City where his father, a minister, was an official in the Y.M.C.A. His family moved to Massachusetts and in 1901 he attended the Mount Herman School where his father had been on the faculty for ten years. McConaughy received college degrees from four universities and in 1918 was named president of Knox College in Illinois. He became associated with Connecticut when Wesleyan University in Middletown made him its president in 1925. He married Elizabeth Townsend Rogers in 1913 and they had three children.

When the new Republican Party of Connecticut emerged after the 1937 death of its long time party boss, J. Henry Roraback, McConaughy became one of its advocates. Known as a forceful speaker, he was one of several candidates being proposed in 1938 for the Republican nomination for governor. When Raymond Baldwin agreed to head the party's ticket that year, he consented to be nominated for the position of lieutenant governor. As with Baldwin, the small Union Party placed him on its ticket and this helped him win the election. McConaughy sought to serve two more years as lieutenant governor, but lost in the 1940 campaign. In 1942 he left Wesleyan to become president of the United Chinese Relief Fund during World War II. A year later he became part of the secret operations of the U.S. government's Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.). When the 1946 state Republican convention met, McConaughy was nominated for governor and he faced his former Wesleyan associate, Wilbert Snow, in the election. In winning the post, he replaced Snow as governor, who had served the last 13 days of Raymond Baldwin's term.

As governor, McConaughy pushed those programs that interested him, including education, reform in employment, housing needs, benefits for the elderly, and assistance for returning servicemen. To pay for these programs he urged passage of a state sales tax, which brought in more funds than were needed and had to be scaled down later. McConaughy also pushed for the integration of the state's National Guard so that Blacks would not be segregated into separate units. McConaughy suddenly died after serving a little over one year as governor on March 7, 1948. The state's offices, courts and schools closed in his honor. McConaughy was given a small private funeral in Middletown where his remains were cremated. A larger ceremony was held the next day at the Capitol Building in Hartford. McConaughy Hall at the University of Connecticut in Storrs is named in his honor, as is a building at Wesleyan University.


5 cubic feet


James L. McConaughy was President of Wesleyan University, 1925-1943, and Governor of the State of Connectuct, 1947 until his death on March 7, 1948. Included in his papers are correspondence, speeches, photographs, and the scrapbook he kept while attending Yale from 1905-1909.


Series 1. Personal Papers, 1905-1966, bulk 1905-1948

Series 2. Political Papers, 1938-1948

Series 3. Photographs, 1888-1948, bulk 1947-1948

RG 069:146, James L. McConaughy Papers
Finding aid prepared by Paul E. Baran.
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Connecticut State Library Repository