The Ward M. Canaday Center

for Special Collections

The University of Toledo

Finding Aid

JOHN P. KELLY PAPERS, 1937 - 1983




Size: 2 linear ft.


Provenance: John P. Kelly donated this material to the Ward M. Canaday Center, University of Toledo Libraries, on July 17, 1985.


Access: open


Copyright: The literary rights to this collection are assumed to rest with the person(s) responsible for the production of the particular items within the collection, or with their heirs or assigns.  Researchers bear full legal responsibility for the acquisition to publish from any part of said collection per Title 17, United States Code.  The Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections may reserve the right to intervene as intermediary at its own discretion.



Completed by: Paul M. Gifford, May 1987


Reformatted: Arjun Sabharwal, September 2009




This collection consists of material generated by the activity of John P. Kelly, Democratic Party leader of Toledo, Ohio. Most of it relates to presidential elections during the years covered by the collection. In addition to correspondence, the collection contains photographs, programs, campaign buttons, tapes, films, certificates, and clippings. The value of the collection for research is limited, but it does contain many items worthy of display.


Biographical Sketch



1896, Dec. 28              Born in Toledo.


                                    Attended the former St. Patrick’s Elementary School and St. John’s

                                    High School.


1916                            Bridge Inspector, Lucas County Surveyor’s Office.  Enrolled in law school, St. John’s College; attended                                     Campion College.


1917-1919                   Student Army Training Corps.


1919-1920                   Deputy Sheriff, Lucas County.


1920                            Married Grace Harpen.


1920-1933                   Clerk and salesman for building supply companies.


1932-1984                   Democratic Ward Chairman.


1933-1936                   Deputy County Engineer.


1936                           Appointed, then elected, County Commissioner.


1939-1941                   Member, Toledo City Council.


1942                            Defeated for election; returned to construction material business.


1944                            Appointed Clerk, Lucas County Board of Elections.


1945-1976                   Served as member of Lucas County Board of Elections.


1945-1966                   Chairman, Executive Committee, Lucas County Democraticorganization.


1948 and 1964             Presidential Elector.


1949-1966                   Member of Advisory Committee on Political Organization, Democratic National Committee.


                                    For twenty years, Vice-chairman of Ohio Democratic organization.


1989, June 16              Died.


Scope and Content


Although this collection does contain some correspondence and items of interest to researchers interested in the history of postwar Toledo politics, most of the materials in the collection are memorabilia with primary value as objects for display. These include about 110 photographs; invitations and programs to Presidential inaugurations; programs for national Democratic Party conventions; miscellaneous certificates and campaign paraphernalia; and films.


Correspondence is largely incoming. Major correspondents include Congressman

Michael J. Kirwan, Adlai Stevenson, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Hubert Humphrey. Letters from these individuals are brief; they convey thanks after campaign visits or offer acknowledgments for letters received. Other correspondents are national and state Democratic Party -officials and Toledo politicians; they generally offer congratulations to Kelly. Letters are arranged chronologically.


Photographs, nearly all of them 8" x lo", are news photos of Presidential candidates, portraits of Kelly's political confreres, informal scenes of fund-raising dinners, and the like. There are a number of good photographs of Truman's 1948 visit to Toledo and of John F. Kennedy's visits in 1959 and 1960. Notable too is a color photograph of Kelly with Robert F. Kennedy taken only weeks before the latter's assassination. Many of the photographs, unfortunately, have not been identified.


The films, all of them 16 mm, include "The Pursuit of Happiness" (1955?), a history of the Democratic Party narrated by Sen. John F. Kennedy, "The Greatest Heritage" (1952?), on Ohio election procedures, narrated by Ohio Secretary of State Ted Brown; and a negative reel, with cuttings, identified only by the inscription "Democratic Campaign Committee" on the canister.


The two tape recordings deserve notice. One recording, consisting of two reels, is of Kelly's retirement dinner on Oct. 30, 1966, at which speeches were made by Frazier Reams, Jr., then a gubernatorial candidate, former governor and Toledo mayor Michael DiSalle, Congressman Thomas Ludlow Ashley, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and John F. Kelly's brother Msgr. lgnatius Kelly. The other recording was made in 1959 from broadcasts over WSPD of the annual meeting of the City Manager League in Toledo, a broadcast paid for by the League, and a local-affairs call-in show, "People's Opinion."

Content Listing







Outgoing, 1945- 1966


Incoming, 1941-1976



Democratic Party national conventions, 1944,

1952, 1972


Electoral College, 1948-1964


Kennedy, John F., 1961-1963


Kennedy, Robert F., 1968

Presidential inaugurations


1937, 1949






Truman, Harry S, 1948-1949


Miscellaneous, 1945-1976



Presidential and senatorial campaigns


John P. Kelly


Democratic Party functions


Of others


Clippings, 1945-1983

Plaques (2)

Tape recordings

Democratic dinner (retirement dinner), Oct.

30, 1966 (2 reels)

City Manager League meeting, WSPD, 1959


Democratic Campaign Committee (negative)

Cuttings (unidentified)

"The Greatest Heritage" (ca.1952)

"The Pursuit of Happiness" (ca. 1955)


Campaign buttons, convention badges, miscellaneous

campaign paraphernalia




Last Updated: 6/9/16