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Manuscript Finding Aid

A Guide to the Collection of
Joseph F. McDonald, Sr.
Collection No. NC429

Joseph F. McDonald 1891-1971

Joseph F. McDonald was born on August 4, 1891 in Denver, Colorado. He and his mother moved to Goldfield, Nevada in 1906 and then to Rawhide, Nevada in 1908. That same year, Joe McDonald enrolled in the University of Nevada High School at Reno and, soon after, entered the University as a freshman. After graduation in 1915, he started his career with the Reno newspapers. Beginning as a reporter for the Reno Evening Gazette, he worked for both Reno newspapers and in 1939 became editor of the Nevada State Journal and later, publisher. He retired in 1956 as president of Reno Newspapers Incorporated. During that year, he received an honorary Doctor of Journalism from the University of Nevada.

Following retirement, Joe McDonald was asked by the Fleischmann Foundation to head an organization which would guide development at Lake Tahoe. As president of the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association, he initiated the first planning efforts at the lake.

Throughout his active life, Joseph McDonald served on numerous boards and commissions and participated in a variety of organizations and community projects. He was an enthusiastic Democrat and counted many well known state and national Democratic political figures among his friends. Joseph McDonald died on March 24, 1971. An oral history, completed in January, 1971 by Mr. McDonald for the University of Nevada, may be consulted for further biographical information.

Scope and Content

The Joseph F. McDonald Sr. collection is contained in 21 archival boxes. Because of the variety of Mr. McDonald's associations the collection has been divided into three major subgroups and into series within the subgroups. The first group includes personal and family papers as well as material generated as a result of Mr. McDonald's involvement in civic organizations and his service on boards and commissions. Group two contains material relating to Reno newspapers, and group three concerns Lake Tahoe.

Joseph McDonald maintained files on a wide variety of subjects and in many cases those files, including correspondence, have been kept intact. He also collected and saved a large assortment of printed material and being a newspaperman, quantities of newspaper clippings. A representative portion of these have been retained.

See 98-05 for addendum, guide available.

This collection is divided into the following subgroups and series:

I. Personal Papers

Series 1  Correspondence

Series 2  Personal and Family Files

Series 3  University of Nevada

Series 4  Nevada State Board of Parole Commissioners

Series 5  California State Automobile Association

Series 6  Civil Organizations and Interests

Series 7  Photographs

Series 8  Printed Material

II. Reno Newspapers

Series 1  Correspondence

Series 2  Operational Files

Series 3  Subject Files

Series 4  Old Newspapers

III. Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association

Series 1  Association Papers

Series 2  Correspondence

Series 3  Financial Records

Series 4  Subject Files and Printed Material

Series 5  Lake Tahoe Area Council

Series 6  California-Nevada Interstate Compact Commission

Series 7  Lake Tahoe Photographs


I. Personal Papers

This group of the Joseph F. McDonald Sr. collection contains all of Mr. McDonald's papers except those directly related to the newspaper business and those of the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association. Included are his personal papers and memorabilia, personal and general correspondence, material belonging to his wife, Leola Lewis McDonald and his son Joseph F. McDonald Jr., files kept by McDonald relating to the various boards and commissions on which he served and organi­zations and groups to which he belonged, subject files reflecting his interests, photographs and printed material.

Box 1

Series 1 NC429/I/1 Correspondence

This series contains Joseph McDonald's personal and general correspon­dence from 1918 to 1969. Although some letters in this series are addressed to him as editor of the Nevada State Journal, most newspaper related correspondence has been included in the Reno Newspapers subgroup. Correspondence in this series relates to Mr. McDonald's involvement in Democratic politics and his activities in civic organizations. Many letters are from friends and family. McDonald received several long and detailed letters from Senator Pat McCarran in the 1930's and a few letters from national political figures in the 1950's including Averill Harriman, Adlai Stevenson (August 3 and 23, 1956), Estes Kefauver and John F. Kennedy (January 28, 1958, October 2, 1959, December 28, 1959). Correspondence is arranged in chronological order followed by a folder of cards and invitations. Also included in this series are two file folders of William S. Boyle correspondence, 1922-1943.

Box 2 and 3

Series 2  NC429/I/2   Personal and Family Files

The papers in this series are personal material concerning Joseph F. McDonald Sr., Leola Lewis McDonald, his wife and Joseph F. McDonald Jr., their son. Fragments relating to other family members are also included. Joseph F. McDonald Sr. files include honors, speeches, clippings, financial records, memorabilia, and seven diaries, 1963-1970. Leola McDonald, also a journalist, was associated with Reno newspapers from 1916 to 1950 as a society editor. She was active in a number of women's organizations in Reno. Included in her files are original manuscripts, newspaper articles, material from the Reno chapter of D.A.R. and from the Twentieth Century Club, and a scrapbook of the Reno chapter of the National League of American Penwomen, 1927-1944. Joseph F. McDonald Sr's and Leola McDonald's files are arranged in Box 2.

Joseph F. McDonald Jr. was a prisoner of war in Shanghai during World War II. Box 3 contains four folders of prisoner of war correspondence and related material, 1941-1945, and three folders of printed material, including newspapers and clippings relating to his experience. Also included in this series are Joseph F. McDonald Jr's fraternity memorabilia.

Box 3

Series 3  NC429/I/3   University of Nevada

Material in this series concerns the University of Nevada, Reno. Both Joseph F. McDonald Sr. and Jr. attended the University and the material may have been collected by both. Joseph McDonald Sr. was active in the University Alumni Association and remained interested in University affairs throughout his life. Included are a University of Nevada High School Annual (1911); material from the Journalism Department, 1949; University of Nevada policy statements, 1944-1958; printed material, 1940's and 1950's; alumni material, 1917 and 1918, 1944; student activities, 1934-1964. 6 folders.

Box 4

Series 4  NC429/I/4   Nevada State Board of Parole Commissioners

Joseph F. McDonald Sr. was appointed by Governor Grant Sawyer to the Nevada State Board of Parole Commissioners for a term of four years from 1959 to 1963. He served as chairman beginning in 1960. This series contains files maintained and material collected by Mr. McDonald during his term of service. Included are one volume, "Nevada Prisoners, 1959"; two bound volumes of court proceedings; eight volumes of Board of Parole Commissioners meetings, 1959-1962; five file folders of Parole Board material, including correspondence, 1959-1963; several issues of "Sagebrush", the Nevada State Prison newsletter, 1961-1962. Material is arranged in chronological order.

Box 5

Series 5  NC429/I/5   California State Automobile Association

Joseph McDonald was elected, as the Nevada representative, to the board of directors of the California State Automobile Association on January 17, 1952 for a three year term. He was subsequently re-elected and served continuously until 1966 when he was made an Honorary Life Director. He also was elected to serve on the Insurance Board of the C.S.A.A. and as director of the American Automobile Association in 1960. Mr. McDonald's files containing C.S.A.A. and A.A.A. material have been kept intact and are arranged in chronological order. A collection of C.S.A.A. maps and Motorland magazine follows the file folders in Box 5.

Box 6 and Box 7

Series 6  NC429/I/6   Civic Organizations and Interests

This series contains a variety of material relative to the civic organizations, clubs, projects and interests in which Joseph McDonald was involved. He was, for example, an executive board member of the Nevada Boy Scout Council; chairman of the Nevada Employment Security Council, 1945; secretary of the Nevada World's Fair Commission, 1937-1938; a founder of the Community Chest - United Fund in Reno, 1961; president of the Reno Y.M.C.A. board; and a delegate to the national Democratic convention in 1948, to name a few. File folders, created by Mr. McDonald, on these and other areas of interest are subject headed and arranged in alphabetical order. Box 6, A-N, Box 7, P-Z.

Box 8

Series 7  NC429/I/7   Photographs

This series contains Joseph McDonald's photographs. Included are photographs of McDonald, family and friends; photographs of special events and groups, University of Nevada pictures and scenes of Reno and Nevada. Photographs are arranged in subject groups in alphabetical order. Photos have been transferred to photo archives of special collections.

Box 9 and Box 10

Series 8  NC429/I/8   Printed Material

Two boxes of printed material make up this series. Joseph McDonald collected information on virtually every subject and saved pamphlets and magazines in great numbers. Some periodicals, government publications and printed material, as well as many duplicates, have been discarded. A representative sampling of his collection has been retained, however, as well as all annotated or inscribed material, publications of special historical interest, and printed material relating to Nevada.

II. Reno Newspapers

Joseph F. McDonald began his newspaper career in 1915, soon after graduation from the University of Nevada. He started as a reporter for the Nevada State Journal and retired in 1956 as president of Reno Newspapers Inc. "That was the highlight of my whole life," he said, "my 42 years of newspaper work." McDonald worked for both Nevada newspapers early in his career as a journalist and achieved the position of city editor and political writer for the Reno Evening Gazette in 1927. In 1939, when the Gazette and Journal became associated with Speidel Newspapers Inc., Joe McDonald was named editor of the Nevada State Journal. During the years he was editor, the Journal reflected McDonald's conservative, democratic preferences and his strong support for Senator Pat McCarran. In 1950, McDonald was made publisher of the Nevada State Journal and treasurer of Reno Newspapers Inc. and in 1956, he became president of that organization.

The material in this subgroup is contained in five archival boxes and is directly related to Joseph McDonald's newspaper career and to Reno Newspapers. Many of the files were created by Mr. McDonald and have been kept intact. They contain newspaper related items collected by him and material generated by Reno Newspapers.

Box 11

Series 1  NC429/II/1   Correspondence

This series contains newspaper related correspondence during the time of Joseph McDonald's association with Reno Newspapers. Correspondence from 1928 to 1939 is fairly light. Included are letters and telegrams to McDonald, as city editor of the Reno Evening Gazette, seeking information and stories regarding Reno divorce cases. The bulk of the correspondence dates from 1939 to 1956, McDonald's term as editor and later, publisher of the Nevada State Journal. Included are letters to and from fellow journalists, operational correspondence, letters from individuals seeking newspaper jobs or offering to serve as reporter in outlying rural areas, and letters to the editor. A large portion of the correspondence is with Speidel Newspapers Inc. executive personnel. There are also several letters from Senator Pat McCarran and three letters from J. Edgar Hoover. All correspondence in this series, including McDonald's incoming and outgoing letters and other correspondence, has been interfiled and is arranged in chronological order.

Box 12

Series 2  NC429/II/2   Operational Files

This series contains files, many of them created by Mr. McDonald, relating to the operation of Reno newspapers. Included are two bound volumes, "Primer for Publishers" and "Editorial Survey." Files include material on advertising, newspaper carriers, circulation, features contracts, job applications and personnel. Also included are articles written by Joe McDonald and articles, stories, and poetry submitted to Reno newspapers. Files on Speidel Newspapers Inc., the Nevada Press Association, the American Newspaper Publishers Association and the American Society of Newspaper editors have also been grouped with this series. Files are arranged by subject in alphabetical order.

Box 13

Series 3  NC429/II/3   Subject Files

The files in this series contain information and printed material on a variety of subjects. McDonald presumably created and maintained many of these subject files as resource material for his newspaper work. Included are files on Atomic Bomb, Basic Magnesium Inc., Gold and Silver, Hoover Report, 1949, the Mannelle Case, Military Training, Moral Re-armament, Power, Prostitution, Taxes, War and Defense, Welfare and W.P.A. Subject files are arranged alphabetically.

Box 14 and Box 15

Series 4  NC/429/II/4   Old Newspapers

Joseph McDonald collected newspaper front pages recording important national and local events. Originally scattered throughout the collection, they have been placed, randomly, in two archival boxes. Also included is a wrapped package of newspapers, 1961-1963, on the shelf.


III. The Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association 1957-1968

The Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association was incorporated in Nevada on January 11, 1957. It was established as a non-profit organization with funds from the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation of Nevada for the purpose of promoting, "orderly development of the Lake Tahoe area." Joseph F. McDonald, newly retired Reno newspaperman, was asked to organize the association and was elected president at the first meeting of the Board of Directors on January 14, 1957. He served in that capacity until the company's dissolution in 1968.

Among the Association's undertakings were a planning survey of the entire Lake Tahoe area and the establishment of a U.S. Coast Guard unit at the lake. Most important, it was the pioneer regional organization at Lake Tahoe and forerunner of the Lake Tahoe Area Council, also organized by Joseph McDonald. One of the association's major goals was to achieve creation of a bi-state agency to administer the affairs of Lake Tahoe. This was on the brink of accomplishment when the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association dissolved in 1968. The material in this subgroup includes records generated by the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association and also, material collected by Mr. McDonald as president of the organization.

Box 16

Series 1  NC429/III/1   Association Papers

The series consists of records of the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association including Articles of Incorporation, 1957; Board of Director meetings, 1957-1968; annual reports, 1957-1963; insurance and Nevada Industrial Commission material, information about the Fleischmann Foun­dation of Nevada and a letter of dissolution, June 28, 1968. Also included are two notebooks of handwritten notes by Mr. McDonald recording the early planning efforts at Lake Tahoe including formation of the Nevada­ California Lake Tahoe Association and the Lake Tahoe Area Council, 1956-1960, 11 folders.


Series 2  NC429/III/2   Correspondence

This series includes incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Nevada California Lake Tahoe Association, also some correspondence from the Lake Tahoe Area Council and the California-Nevada Interstate Compact Commission covering the period from August, 1956 to April, 1970. Additional correspon­dence relating to specific projects has been retained with the project material in the subject series. Included in this series are letters from U.S. Senators Alan Bible, Nevada, and Thomas H. Kuchel, California; U.S. Congressmen, Walter Baring, Nevada, and Harold T. Johnson, California; Governors Grant Sawyer, Nevada, and Goodwin J. Knight and Edmund G. Brown, California. Correspondence is arranged in chronological order. 13 folders.

Box 17

Series 3  NC429/III/3  Financial Records

This series contains financial records of the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association including statements and audits, tax material, vouchers, 1957-1968; bank statements, 1957-1968; a bank book, 1957-1963; an account book, 1966; an account book of checks drawn, bank balances and expenses, Feb., 1957-Jan., 1962. Material is arranged chronologically within subject categories.

Box 18

Series 4  NC429/III/4   Subject Files and Printed Material

The material in this series consists of subject files concerning projects undertaken by the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association and also, informational files maintained by the organization. Many of these subject files appear to have been created by Mr. McDonald and have been kept intact. Correspondence relating to the subject files has been retained within the file. Major subjects included are Lake Tahoe Planning, Squaw Valley Winter Olympics, U.S. Coast Guard Project and the Lake Tahoe Music Camp. Information files include material on water, snow surveys, statistics, maps, U.S. Forest Service, property owner organizations and the Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. Printed material and newspaper clippings about Lake Tahoe are also included. Subject files are arranged in alphabetical order by folder title, followed by Lake Tahoe printed material and four folders of Lake Tahoe newspaper clippings.

Box 19

Series 5  NC429/III/5   Lake Tahoe Area Council

The Lake Tahoe Area Council, incorporated in June, 1958, became an active organization in April, 1959. Created by Joseph McDonald and financed by the Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Association, the Council set a goal of seeking solutions to problems of the Lake Tahoe area through planning and co-operation. The Council sought membership of a variety of interests groups including business firms, government agencies and civic organiza­tions, as well as home and property owners.

The fragmentary collection in this series consists of the files of Joseph McDonald who was a trustee of the Council. A separate, and much larger collection of Lake Tahoe Area Council records (NC1200) should be consulted. Included in this series are minutes of general membership meetings, 1958­1969; minutes of board of directors meetings, 1958-1970; reports, 1959-1961; resolutions, 1960-1962; policy statements, 1958-1963; membership lists and material, 1959-1969; press releases, 1958-1960; financial statements, 1959-1960; publications, 1959-1971. Material is arranged in subject folders. 15 folders.

Series 6  NC429/III/6   California-Nevada Interstate Compact Commission

A California-Nevada Interstate Compact Commission was established in 1955 by each legislature in the states of California and Nevada. The purpose was to co-operate as a Joint Commission in formulating a compact relative to the distribution and use of the waters of Lake Tahoe and the Truckee, Carson and Walker Rivers. This series contains a fragmentary collection of California-Nevada Interstate Compact Commission material as accumulated by McDonald who frequently attended and participated in meetings. A more comprehensive collection of records of the California-Nevada Interstate Compact Commission can be found in the papers of Fred Settelmeyer (NC459) who was a Nevada Compact Commission member. Included in this series are proceedings, minutes of meetings and subject folders containing reports, statements, memorandums, and printed material. Box 19 contains eight folders of material including a public opinion survey, 1958; attorney general's opinion, 1957; reports and motions, 1960-1961; Tahoe water problems committee reports, proceedings, memorandums, correspondence, minutes of meetings, 1958-1961; four bound volumes of proceedings of meetings of the Lake Tahoe problems committee of the Joint California­Nevada Interstate Compact Commission, 1959-1960. Box 20 contains 13 bound volumes of proceedings of the Joint California-Nevada Interstate Compact Commission for meetings, March 26, 1957 and for scattered meetings, 1960-1963; seven folders of minutes and agendas for meetings of the Joint California-Nevada Interstate Compact Commission, scattered meetings 1957­1966; three folders of minutes and agendas for meetings of the California-­Nevada Interstate Compact Commission of California, scattered meetings, 1959-1965.

Box 21

Series 7  NC429/III/7   Lake Tahoe Photographs

This series contains photographs of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada area. Included are 42, 11x13 3/4 photographs mounted on board, 26 11x13 3/4 photographs, unmounted, 9, 8x10 photographs of Stateline, Nevada, 9, 8x10 North and South Tahoe Public Utility District photographs and several smaller prints and negative. Transferred to photo archives of special collections.