William Kirsch Papers, 1921-1954

Scope and Content Note

The value of a set of papers does not always relate directly to the fame and reputation of its creator. There are many instances of collections of the famous and powerful which, for one reason or another, are weak in content. With equal frequency the papers of second echelon leaders or those who worked behind the scenes are unexpectedly rich in information and detail. The McCarthy collection is a prime example of the latter category.

The papers date 1896-1967, although most fall within the period 1908-1921. They are arranged in the following series:

  • A. Correspondence, 1896-1931
  • B. Subject Files, 1896-1967
  • C. Book Files
  • D. Photographs, 1873-1921

The Correspondence, Series A, provides substantial information on McCarthy's personal and professional interests and activities. There is relatively little information on the day-to-day operation of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library. This is not to say that the collection holds little for the researcher interested in the development of the legislative reference concept. McCarthy's interests, ideas, and activities in areas such as economic and political reform, governmental efficiency, agricultural cooperation, and education are thoroughly documented in the collection and also had significant influence on the work of the Library. The correspondence also covers McCarthy's work for the Wisconsin State Board of Public Affairs and the United States Commission on Industrial Relations, his role in state and national progressive politics, his interest in the agricultural cooperation movement in the United States and Ireland, his war work including that with Herbert Hoover for the United States Food Administration, and his campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination in 1918.

Series B, Subject Files, contains non-correspondence items such as reports, clippings, drafts, legislation, working papers, and speeches which relate to most of the same topics covered in the Correspondence series.

Series C, Book Files, consists of drafts, notes, research files, and reviews for several of McCarthy's academic and professional works, and for McCarthy of Wisconsin by Edward A. Fitzpatrick. For both the Subject and Book Files the headings in the microfilm reel contents list provide an accurate overview of the contents.

Series D, Photographs, includes both portraits and candid snapshots.

More information on each of these series is provided below.

INDEX TO CORRESPONDENCE

An index to the correspondence in Series A appears on reel 32 of the microfilm (and is available in paper form in a notebook in the Reference Archivist's office). It shows the names of addressees and signers (except McCarthy himself) of all letters and documents, each followed by a list of dates of all items addressed to or signed by them. No entries have been made under McCarthy's name since he is either signer or addressee of virtually every letter in the series. Entries are primarily for personal names; they were made for organizations only when items had no individual as addressee or signer. No distinction is made in the index between incoming and outgoing letters. Further explanation of the content and format of the index is included at the beginning of reel 32.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PAPERS

Series A. Correspondence, 1896-1931

1896-1908

The correspondence for this period is very sparse, filling only two folders. A significant exchange of letters with John D. Rockefeller Jr., a college classmate and friend of McCarthy, appears in the period. Then and occasionally in later years, Rockefeller provided personal financial assistance to McCarthy. McCarthy's return letters provide information on his personal and professional activities and regularly make suggestions on organizations and individuals worthy of Rockefeller's financial support. In a letter written February 28, 1901, shortly after he came to work for the Legislative Reference Library, McCarthy provided Rockefeller with an interesting assessment of his new position and its future possibilities.

McCarthy's academic accomplishments are also covered in the early letters. Several letters from J. Franklin Jameson, with whom McCarthy studied at Brown, are included as are numerous letters of congratulations after McCarthy's dissertation won the Justin Winsor prize. Letters of Carroll D. Wright of the Carnegie Institution and Ulrich B. Phillips concern a joint McCarthy-Phillips study on the economics of slavery which was apparently funded in part by the Carnegie Institution. Other interesting correspondence of the period includes that with Fred Brockhausen of the Wisconsin State Federation of Labor and Charles R. Van Hise on the University Extension; a long October 1908 letter to Van Hise and other correspondence with Regent Frederick C. Thwaites about the University athletic situation, especially football; and a letter from F. W. Lawrence regarding classes and lectures arranged for workers at the A. O. Smith Company.

Unfortunately, there is little or no information in the 1896-1908 correspondence on such important reforms as the Railroad Commission, public utility regulation, and other early reforms in which McCarthy was involved.

1909-1913

Beginning in this period the volume of correspondence increases sharply and it is more reflective of McCarthy's activities. Frequent topics include extension and vocational education, the State Board of Public Affairs and related issues of government efficiency, and national politics.

McCarthy was a strong advocate of “continuation schools” and took great interest in the development of the University Extension and the state vocational school system. Early 1909 correspondence with Van Hise, Louis E. Reber, and Winfield R. Gaylord centers on the University's funding request for the Extension. Substantial information is also found on the role of William George Bruce and the Merchants and Manufacturers Association of Milwaukee in promoting the Extension. In 1910 McCarthy traveled in the Eastern United States and Europe on behalf of a legislative committee primarily to study industrial education. Many letters in this period concern his travels and findings. Resulting from the study were a report (draft and final copies in the Subject Files, Box 22 and Reel 25) and 1911 legislation on industrial education and apprenticeship. Many letters in the summer of 1911 discuss the selection of a person to head the industrial education program in Wisconsin. Additional important 1909-1913 correspondents on continuation schools, apprenticeship, child labor, and related topics include Jane Addams, Fordyce H. Bottum, Josephus Daniels, Louise Evans, Paul H. Hanus, Norman Hapgood, F. E. Hinners, Austin Keen, Theodore Kronshage Jr., William Lemke, Frank M. Leavitt, H. E. Miles, John M. Nelson, United States Senator Carroll S. Page, C. A. Prosser of the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, University Regent James F. Trottman, and state senator A. W. Sanborn. Miles was a Racine resident and National Association of Manufacturers official whose exchanges with McCarthy are central to understanding McCarthy's activities on behalf of industrial education. Also related to McCarthy's interest in continuing education is correspondence with William T. Elzinga about the death of James H. Stout and the possibility that Stout's estate would discontinue supporting the Stout Institute (now University of Wisconsin--Stout).

Two other topics covered throughout the Correspondence series, the development of legislative reference services outside Wisconsin, and the disposition of McCarthy family property in Brockton, Massachusetts, make their first substantial appearances in the 1909 files. Throughout his career McCarthy's opinions were sought by state and federal officials planning legislative reference functions. Those letters and others of former Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library employees who moved to similar positions in other states mirror the development of the legislative reference concept. The series contains letters of this type from Edwina M. Casey of Kansas, Frederick A. Cleveland and Charles D. Norton, both assistants to President Taft, John A. Lapp of Indiana, Roscoe Pound, and Thomas J. Willis of the Milwaukee Municipal Reference Bureau. The McCarthy property in Brockton had been rented since his father came to live in Madison. It was a personal financial drain on McCarthy and continued as a frequent topic of letters until the property was finally sold a year before his death.

Other important correspondents for 1909-1910 include William H. Allen of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research concerning the National Commission to Study Education and Educational Administration; University of Wisconsin regent Granville D. Jones; Francis E. McGovern; Charles D. Norton regarding interstate commerce legislation; Gifford Pinchot; and Fred N. Read, a personal friend of McCarthy, regarding his mining experiences in Rhodesia and South Africa. An interesting group of 1909 letters, mainly written by McCarthy to his family, concerns a trip and series of exhibition games by the University of Wisconsin baseball team in Japan. Dated December 3 and 22, 1909 are personal memos giving McCarthy's candid opinions of Regent Granville D. Jones.

Correspondence in April-June 1911 with Robert M. La Follette and Frederick C. Howe concerns the initiative and referendum. In May and June many letters concern a McCarthy scheme to give postal rate breaks to magazines willing to disclose their ownership. The measure relates to McCarthy's distrust of the press.

In the last months of 1911 a great deal of the correspondence deals with governmental economy and efficiency, and budgetary systems. Among the correspondents in this regard are Charles J. Bullock, Frederick A. Cleveland, then head of a presidential commission on efficiency and economy, A. Lawrence Lowell, and Thomas K. Urdall. The exchanges with Cleveland are particularly important for the information they provide on McCarthy's philosophy of the role of government. Also in 1911 are letters of Thomas S. Adams and Delos O. Kinsman concerning legislation to establish a state income tax; Sir Horace Plunkett regarding agricultural cooperatives; Charles R. Crane and Robert M. La Follette on trust regulation; and Theodore Roosevelt on judge-made law. Two additional letters of note are one of September 18 to John R. Commons evaluating and criticizing the Milwaukee Bureau of Efficiency and Economy, and one to Van Hise on October 5 criticizing the University for not doing enough to aid state government in solving problems facing the state.

Plans for the State Board of Public Affairs were laid in the last half of 1911 (see especially a long McCarthy memo on August 11, a planning document dated December 7, and correspondence with William H. Allen). In 1912 Board emphasis was directed toward an investigation of agricultural cooperation and marketing (see draft report enclosed in letter to Francis E. McGovern, July 5, 1912 and final report dated July 11), and toward settlement of Northern Wisconsin's cut-over regions. Cut-over correspondence largely concerns proposed legislation to establish a state immigration bureau and to license real estate brokers. Correspondents include land dealer Ben F. Faast, Henry Green of the American Immigration Distribution League, Jeremiah W. Jenks, Granville D. Jones, Milwaukee Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer, James Mullenbach of the National Conference of Immigration and Labor Officials, United States Commissioner of Labor Charles P. Neill, McCarthy assistant Miles C. Riley, and M. J. Wallrich. In 1913 much Board of Public Affairs material concerns marketing and standard, state regulated, brands for agricultural goods. Letters of H. C. Cheyney, E. H. Farrington, Benjamin Hibbard, and some Francis E. McGovern correspondence are important in this regard. Related to the 1913 Board of Public Affairs activities was an investigation into the characteristics and effectiveness of rural schools. A January 24 letter to Sir Horace Plunkett and a January 29 communication to the General Education Board outline the planned investigation. Other information on the Board of Public Affairs is found in letters of John F. Sinclair, Board member William H. Hatton, and staff Robert A. Campbell and Benjamin M. Rastall.

Early 1912 files also contain substantial information on the preparation and publication of The Wisconsin Idea. More significant, however, is the water power issue. McCarthy backed a plan of state regulation and franchise for water power resources. Early in 1912 the state supreme court declared the law unconstitutional. April and May correspondence with Herbert Knox Smith and Governor McGovern concerns McCarthy's attempts to prepare new legislation which would pass the court test. In April and May there is correspondence related to research into the water power issue and especially into water power regulation in Canada.

Public service education, another long-time interest of McCarthy, also first appears in the 1912 files. Proposals are found in letters to Edward A. Birge (January 23) and Chester Lloyd Jones (March 28) and in December McCarthy sent his plan to numerous individuals and received their responses. A comprehensive plan drawn up for the American Political Science Association is dated January 1913. A March 20 letter to John D. Rockefeller Jr., and numerous other letters, especially in early November, concern that plan.

By July 1912 the main thrust of the correspondence is shifting toward national politics. McCarthy helped shape the platforms of the four major presidential candidates (La Follette, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson) in the areas of regulation of monopolies and of interstate commerce. The basis for this input was legislation that McCarthy and his staff had drafted for Charles R. Crane (see 1911 and 1912 letters of Crane, his aid, Charles W. Alkire, and Robert M. La Follette). A July 11, 1912 letter from McCarthy to William Draper Lewis discusses the La Follette platform. However, most of the material in the collection documents McCarthy's role in the Bull Moose campaign. Of importance in this regard is correspondence with Roosevelt, Charles E. Merriam, George E. Roosevelt, Henry F. Cochems, and especially, Gifford Pinchot. An August 12 McCarthy memo covers platform committee meetings with specifics on issues and the stands of individual committee members.

Much post-election 1912 and early 1913 correspondence, and memos dated January 4 and February 10, 1913, concern the future of the progressive movement and the famous “missing plank” of the Progressive platform. Charles K. Lush, George W. Perkins, George L. Record, and William Allen White are frequent correspondents on progressive issues. Also significant are notes dated December 10-12 on a “Progressive Conference” held in Chicago. A plan for a Progressive Party legislative reference service is dated January 9 and is expanded upon in letters of William Draper Lewis and others. Other interesting 1912 correspondence includes an exchange with J. R. Richards outlining McCarthy's role in the development of certain football plays and strategies, and a May 7 letter to Ely reflecting disenchantment with the University's commitment to solving state government problems.

In the 1913 files is the first sustained information on agricultural cooperatives. Then, as in later years, communications of Sir Horace Plunkett, the Irish cooperation advocate, and Gifford Pinchot are especially important. On Wisconsin agriculture issues, including cooperation, the letters of Henry Krumrey of Plymouth are equally significant. 1913 letters of Pinchot and Plunkett largely concern the launching of the American Agricultural Organization Society (AAOS). An April 2 letter to Charles S. Barrett encloses an outline of the AAOS constitution, and minutes of the new organization are enclosed in a Pinchot letter of May 5. Other important letters on cooperation include those of Thomas N. Carver of the United States Department of Agriculture. Some individual letters also contain significant political opinions and other information: a February 27 letter to Plunkett contains useful early biographical information on McCarthy; a March 20 letter to Van Hise and a June 6 letter to La Follette give McCarthy's views of the state political situation; and a July 13 Van Hise letter is a response to McCarthy's charges that the University was not doing enough in the areas of marketing and cooperation.

1914-1916

Topics of major importance in the 1914-1916 files are the United States Commission of Industrial Relations, Wisconsin politics and especially criticisms of the Legislative Reference Library, the AAOS and other topics related to agriculture, and industrial education.

In June 1914 McCarthy was appointed director of research for the Commission on Industrial Relations. Correspondence about the commission begins early in 1914 and dominates the files until early 1915. Individual correspondents include Redmond S. Brennan, Lewis K. Brown, John R. Commons, Frederick A. Delano, W. Jett Lauck, John B. Lennon, Thomas I. Parkinson, and Commission chairman Frank Walsh. From Madison, McCarthy directed a research staff which was headquartered in Chicago. William M. Leiserson supervised the day-to-day activities of the Chicago office and his correspondence is the key to understanding Commission research and McCarthy's role. Most Commission-related material in the Correspondence series concerns administrative matters and research assignments. A few progress reports and final reports are in the Correspondence series and some additional reports are in the Subject Files (Boxes 24-25 and Reel 28). Specific important Commission documents include an August 28, 1914 letter to Walsh on labor's most serious problems, as shown by research to date; a 31-page November 1, 1914 outline showing research undertaken and reports completed, and listing staff members responsible for individual projects; and a November 24, 1914 letter to Commissioner Harris Weinstock conveying a pessimistic view of the Commission's work.

By early 1915 most Commission-related correspondence concerns the bitter conflict between Walsh and McCarthy over finances and McCarthy's relationship with John D. Rockefeller Jr. McCarthy letters to Walsh on February 15, to Commons March 1, and numerous exchanges with Leiserson show McCarthy's side of the controversy. A March 1 Walsh letter relieved McCarthy of his Commission responsibilities, and subsequent correspondence with Harris Weinstock and others concerns McCarthy's charges that he has been treated unfairly by the Commission.

During the 1914 gubernatorial campaign, McCarthy and the Legislative Reference Library were attacked by both the stalwart and progressive Republican candidates. Correspondence about the political situation and testimonials for McCarthy appear throughout 1914 and 1915. Emanuel Philipp, the stalwart, won the election but eventually became a supporter of the Library. The pivotal event in this conversion was an unprecedented hearing on the Legislative Reference Library held in the governor's office. A transcript of this hearing is dated April 8, 1915.

A number of other significant topics are covered in the 1914 and early 1915 correspondence. Joseph Davies is a regular correspondent on issues including federal government appointments and legislation, and state Democratic politics. University-related correspondents include William H. Allen on the controversial “survey” or investigation of the University's administration. Letters to Charles R. Crane, Walter Rogers, and Richard Lloyd Jones give McCarthy's views of conflicts among Wisconsin progressives and his opinions of Wilson's presidency; Paul Reinsch letters concern the possibility of McCarthy going to China to work with Reinsch; letters of Moncena Dunn of La Crosse concern the “coupon ballot” and an organization called the Honest Ballot Association; the letters of John S. Murdock continue to be significant because of McCarthy's tendency to express candid views on a range of topics; and a February 12, 1915 memo concerning state supreme court justice Roujet D. Marshall is illustrative of McCarthy's feelings on several state political issues and his distrust of the courts. In addition, in 1914 and subsequent years Edith L. M. Tate is a regular correspondent, particularly on issues related to tuberculosis and public health.

Agriculture and agricultural cooperatives are the final major topics of the 1914-1916 period. Included is correspondence on the American Agricultural Organization Society (AAOS) and on marketing legislation in Wisconsin. During the winter of 1914/1915 Sir Horace Plunkett visited the United States, and at the same time AAOS staff member Charles W. Holman was in Texas doing organizing work. In spring and summer of 1915 Holman and another staff member, Charles A. Lyman, were sent to Ireland to study organizing methods with Plunkett. Arrangements for and reports on these trips are covered in many letters. In early December of both 1915 and 1916 the AAOS sponsored national conferences on marketing and farm credits. Much correspondence for November and December of both years concerns plans for and results of these meetings. In 1916 a prime topic is a conflict between McCarthy and AAOS treasurer Lawrence Godkin over expenditures and effectiveness of organizing work. Letters of Pinchot, Plunkett, and James Byrne shed light on this conflict. Other important correspondents on the AAOS and related issues include Frank L. McVey, AAOS president and also president of the University of North Dakota, Charles O. Gill of the Commission on Church and Country Life, and Leonard G. Robinson of the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society., Other individuals whose correspondence touches on marketing and cooperation include Charles Brand and Carl Vrooman of the United States Department of Agriculture, Kenyon L. Butterfield, president of Massachusetts Agricultural College, Henry Krumrey, and Henry S. Pritchett of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. An August 14, 1914 letter from McCarthy to Carl J. Sandquist contains a thorough explanation of marketing legislation in Wisconsin.

McCarthy was also an important advisor to another agricultural organization, the Wisconsin State Union of the American Society of Equity. He corresponded regularly with Equity officials and members including A. H. Christman, C. E. Hanson of River Falls, J. A. Hogan of Waunakee, Judge Daniel O. Mahoney, president of the state organization, and M. W. Tubbs, state secretary. A regular topic of the Equity correspondence is the establishment of a cooperative meat packing plant in La Crosse. Another interesting topic, illustrative of attempts to unite farm and labor interests, is a 1916 “monster conference and picnic” sponsored jointly by the Equity and the Milwaukee Federated Trades Council (see letters of Charles J. Steffen).

Industrial education received relatively little coverage in 1914 and 1915. Conversely, 1916 correspondence holds a substantial amount of information on this topic. January files contain a great deal of material related to a meeting of the National Society for Promotion of Industrial Education, and spring and summer letters contain information on the Smith-Hughes Act to promote agricultural and industrial education. McCarthy's Smith-Hughes Act correspondents include Robert M. La Follette, Alvin E. Dodd, secretary of the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, J. J. Handley of the Wisconsin State Federation of Labor, Miles, and Frederick A. Geier of the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company. On the state level there is substantial correspondence regarding apprenticeship and industrial education with Frank L. Glynn, George P. Hambrecht, and Stewart Scrimshaw.

Also in 1916 is a great deal of information relating to the establishment of a national magazine devoted to the issues of progress and efficiency. Tentatively titled “Horizon,” this journal was to be related to the Metropolitan Magazine. Elias Tobenkin and Carl Hovey are the key correspondents for information on the magazine.

1915 and 1916 files contain many single or small groups of letters on interesting topics. Zona Gale letters often comment on University of Wisconsin issues. Around July 1915 there are a number of letters on the topic of a central board over both the University and the Normal Schools. Correspondence of Frederick A. Cleveland and S. Gale Lowerie comment on the New York state constitutional convention and its implications for state governments; letters of John Collier, of the New York Training School for Community Center Workers, concern immigration; and some of the Plunkett letters comment on the political conflicts in Ireland. State senators George Staudenmayer of Portage and Edward T. Fairchild of Milwaukee are McCarthy's most regular contacts in the state legislature.

1917-1918

Some correspondence on the Smith-Hughes Act carries over into January and February 1917 and, as always, agricultural issues are important. However, McCarthy's war work and his try for the Democratic Senate nomination are by far the most heavily documented topics in this two year period.

McCarthy was instrumental in establishing a state council of defense in Wisconsin, and designed a draft registration program for the state (see letter of Willet M. Spooner, June 1, 1917). Early in April McCarthy assistant Miles C. Riley sent copies of the legislation establishing the Wisconsin State Council of Defense to all state governors, and received reactions to the plan from many of them. Other important correspondents on the State Council of Defense include C. F. Burgess, Alfred L. P. Dennis, Andrew H. Melville, and Council chairman Magnus Swenson.

In mid-June 1917 McCarthy was appointed to the United States Food Administration, and from then until mid-February 1918, Food Administration work is the key element in the files. For much of the period McCarthy was actually living in Washington. His letters to his wife, and to Legislative Reference staff Irma Hochstein and Mary Moran often summarize his activities, while Hochstein and Moran's letters discuss Library matters. For the Food Administration McCarthy worked to assure an adequate supply of needed commodities. In the summer and fall of 1917 there is information on regulation of prices for wheat and other commodities. A long set of minutes reflecting the Committee on Prices' deliberations on wheat is filed with the August 29 letters. Late in 1917 McCarthy visited Texas to solve shortages of seed and livestock feed, and in January 1918 he was in Utah studying the mutton and sheep industry. Correspondence for those months contains information on each trip.

During his service in Washington, McCarthy also acted as a lobby for Wisconsin interests. In a January 15, 1918 letter to Matthew S. Dudgeon McCarthy claimed to attend to four or five matters for Wisconsin businesses or soldiers each day. For an example of his lobbying activities see the September and October 1917 material relating to McCarthy's assistance to William Rahr & Sons, a Manitowoc company trying to ship malt to Mexico, and his 1917 correspondence with Governor Philipp and Charles A. Lyman.

McCarthy's war work was interrupted in the spring of 1918 by his unsuccessful race for the Democratic United States Senate nomination. Letters of William M. Leiserson and others in January and early February concern the election, and in a February 24 telegram to Gifford Pinchot McCarthy announced that he “probably will have to enter Democratic primary so to insure one loyal candidate.” From then until the March 19 primary, campaign solicitations, statements, nomination papers, and other election material fill the files. Much of the correspondence is routine and many of the outgoing letters are unsigned, but obviously written by campaign workers. Interesting documents include a March 15 letter enclosing a campaign financial statement and a March 16 letter to the Wisconsin Secretary of State listing McCarthy's campaign committee. In March 22 letters to John S. Murdock and J. S. Cullinan, McCarthy goes into detail about his motivations for entering the race.

By April 1918 McCarthy was back at the Food Administration, but his remaining service there was sporadic. In a June 22 letter Felix Frankfurter asked McCarthy to travel to Europe to study labor-management relations and the training of new workers for war industries. During this July-September trip McCarthy also visited Ireland. Correspondence during the mission is sparse, but McCarthy's letters to his wife and a July 16 letter to Plunkett give his impressions of the expedition. Many letters dated circa 1918 (filed at the end of the 1918 files) to Lucile McCarthy clearly date from the period McCarthy was in Europe. A memo dated July 16 concerns food shortages in England, and the official report to Frankfurter is dated September 12. Enclosed with the report is an analysis of conditions in Ireland.

Shortly after McCarthy's return, preparations began for another government mission to Europe, this one to observe civilian agencies authorized to do welfare work among soldiers (see Albert A. Henry to McCarthy, October 31, 1918). However, the armistice cancelled this trip. In late 1918 and early 1919 some files relate to postwar problems, especially those related to labor (see correspondence with Louis D. Brandeis).

Although most of the 1917 and 1918 files concern the war, the AAOS and agricultural issues also regularly appear. In December 1916 the National Agricultural Organization Society (NAOS) was formed to succeed the AAOS. Most of the 1917 and 1918 NAOS material deals with finances. McCarthy's conflict with treasurer Lawrence Godkin escalated to the point where Godkin refused to send funds to McCarthy. As before, letters of James Byrne, Pinchot, and Plunkett are important on this topic. A May 25, 1917 letter of Edwin C. Mason encloses an audit for the organization for 1915-1917. Other interesting letters include one of April 20, 1917 from NAOS president Frank L. McVey offering his resignation because McCarthy was not involving him in decision-making; and exchanges with George W. Simon of the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society.

Ireland was an occasional topic in Plunkett correspondence throughout 1917 and 1918, but in November and December 1918 became a major concern. Many of the letters cover efforts to organize a group of prominent Irish-Americans to support home rule. Important correspondents in this regard include George P. Ahern, John O'Hara Cosgrave, J. S. Cullinan, and H. N. MacCracken. In a December 23 letter to personal friend R. B. Dickie, McCarthy fully expresses his views on the Irish situation.

Individual items of note for 1917 are: a Louis B. Wehle letter of January 5 speculating on McCarthy as a successor to Edward M. House as President Wilson's aide; Lyman's first-hand account, September 21, of La Follette's well known “anti-war” speech in St. Paul; and another Lyman letter dated December 7 on why J. N. Tittemore was able to defeat Judge Daniel O. Mahoney for the state Equity presidency. In 1918, letters of New York attorney Charles A. Heydt are important on the McCarthy-Rockefeller relationship; a September 21 McCarthy letter to William Bullitt speculates that the Japanese might try to use their aid to the United States in its Siberian operation as a lever to gain citizenship rights for Japanese-Americans.

1919-March 1921

By January 1919 McCarthy was readjusted to Madison and to legislative reference work. Correspondence on Ireland, which became heavy in late 1918, continues. In April and May 1920 files there are a number of letters, including those of P. Courtney and Joseph Cudahy, concerning the establishment of a cooperative packing plant in Ireland.

Spring 1919 correspondence of Charles A. Lyman, Gifford Pinchot, and Horace Plunkett contains detailed information on NAOS financial problems. An audit covering the period 1915-1918 is enclosed in a letter of February 3, 1919. A March 10 Plunkett letter intimates that Godkin had misused NAOS funds. In an April 9, 1919 McCarthy declared the NAOS to be virtually out of business, and finally in a March 24, 1920 letter he announced he was closing the books on the organization.

While the NAOS was declining, McCarthy's interest in other agricultural issues was not. Listed below are agricultural issues and organizations receiving attention followed by the names of key correspondents: the National Board of Farm Organizations (Charles A. Lyman), sugar cooperatives (C. G. Patterson of the Intermountain Farmers Association), fruit cooperatives (Aaron Sapiro), and the Equity and its relations with the Nonpartisan League and the Farm Bureau (Charles A. Lyman). Information on the relations of farmers and organized labor is found in letters of Lyman, Pinchot, and Henry C. Wallace (see particularly November-December 1919 period, and a Lyman letter of February 23, 1920). In a letter to Lyman on February 28, 1921, McCarthy discussed Henry Wallace's role in the new Hoover administration and stated that during the war he leaked information which Wallace used to editorialize against Hoover. Dave O. Thompson of the Illinois Agricultural Association is also a frequent correspondent.

The remaining heavily covered topic in the 1919-March 1921 period is McCarthy's deteriorating health. In the last half of 1919, the fall of 1920, and the two months immediately preceding his death, there was much correspondence concerning McCarthy's health. A touching example is a long letter to Plunkett on January 12, 1921 in which McCarthy discussed his health and related financial needs and plans.

A number of additional significant topics are covered in single or small groups of letters. Mr. and Mrs. R. B. Dickie of North Freedom, Wisconsin and old friend Genkwan Shibata are regular correspondents on a wide range of issues; H. E. Miles corresponds occasionally on industrial education; and exchanges with Louis B. Wehle generally concern national politics. Sale of the Brockton property, which finally occurred in the spring of 1920, is regularly mentioned, as is the 1920 presidential campaign. Correspondents on the latter topic include Gifford Pinchot and Henry C. Wallace, with whom McCarthy discusses Hoover's standing with farmers.

April 1921-1931

Files for the weeks immediately following McCarthy's death contain hundreds of messages of condolence. In May 1921 Irma Hochstein wrote many McCarthy acquaintances asking for accounts of their friendship with him, and the files include many replies. Other correspondence of Hochstein and Edward A. Fitzpatrick concerns a McCarthy memorial association. For the period after April 1922 there is only scattered correspondence, filling just one folder, including many letters of Louis B. Wehle. 1922 Wehle correspondence with Richard J. Walsh of Colliers concerns a federal law to record securities exchanges. These letters probably became mixed with the McCarthy papers during the period the collection was in Wehle's possession. Other Wehle letters concern a writing project on McCarthy.

Series B. Subject File

Arranged alphabetically by folder title, these files include reference material on many of the same topics covered in the Correspondence series. Types of materials in the files include, but are not limited to, reports, articles and speeches by McCarthy and others, drafts and annotated copies of legislation, and newspaper clippings.

The contents list below shows folder headings and dates. These are generally indicative of file contents, but several files deserve further explanation. The “Agriculture” files include organizational materials on both the American Agricultural Organization Society (AAOS) and the American Society of Equity. Information on settlement of Wisconsin's cut-over regions is found in the “Board of Public Affairs - Land & Immigration” and “Immigration” files. The “Board of Public Affairs - General” file contains an analysis of the Board by McCarthy. The file titled “Commissions” has information on the relationship of commissions to courts. The “Economy/Efficiency” file consists of information on scientific management and, along with files on “Government” and “Education - Training for Public Service,” documents governmental reforms designed to promote efficiency. The “Herbert Hoover” file contains memos written by McCarthy about 1920 assessing Hoover. The Correspondence Series contains a similar assessment written when McCarthy left the United States Food Administration (filed October 1918). The “Legislative Reference - Wisconsin” file largely concerns political attacks made on the Library, 1914-1915, and the investigation carried on by Governor Philipp. The various “Political” files contain McCarthy's contributions to state and national political platforms as well as more information on the Progressive's “missing plank” of 1912. The files on the United States Commission on Industrial Relations include the following research reports:

  • H. W. Ballantine, “Evolution of Legal Remedies as a Substitute for Violence and Self Help”
  • ------, “Martial Law, and the Abuse of Military Authority in Strikes”
  • F. H. Bird, “Report Relating to Legislation and Administration of Safety in Wisconsin”
  • William M. Leiserson, “A Plan for a National System of Labor Exchanges”
  • ------, “The Labor Market and Unemployment”
  • Selig Perlman, “Tentative Programme of Work of Division on Welfare and Social Insurance””
  • Inis Weed, “A Tentative Amendment of the Smith- Hughes Bill to Promote Vocational Education”
  • ------, “Summary of Report on Violence”

Finally, the “War Work - European Trip” file contains reports on the food and labor supply in Europe and McCarthy's account of the battle of Chateau-Thierry; and the “War Work - Personal” folder includes a sketchy journal of McCarthy's activities, May-October 1918, and a three-page memo assessing his own contribution to the war effort.

Series C. Book Files

This series contains notes, drafts, reviews, and other materials relating to McCarthy's major writing projects and similar material for Edward A. Fitzpatrick's biography of McCarthy. The contents list below includes the titles covered in the series. Four of the works, McCarthy's dissertation on the Anti-Masonic party, a biography of Irish historian and politician William Edward Hailpole Lecky, and two manuscripts related to slavery, date from very early in McCarthy's career. The file on the dissertation contains tables of election results, notes, transcripts of letters and newspaper articles, and other research materials, but no manuscript for the work itself. The manuscript entitled “Economic History of Negro Slavery” was a joint project of McCarthy and historian Ulrich B. Phillips which apparently received some financial support from the Carnegie Institution but was never completed. Included in this collection are a prospectus, outline, bibliography, and drafts of several chapters. Much of the material appears to be in McCarthy's handwriting. A typed draft of a work entitled “The Significance of Slave Disturbances” is also in the series but nothing is known of the origin of this work.

The remaining works by McCarthy relate more directly to his professional interests. Included are extensive notes, copies of reports, speeches, and legislation, and other research material gathered for a proposed work entitled “Industrial Education.” The Elementary Civics file contains a publisher's contract, royalty statement and outlines for revisions. An outline and some research material is the only material on “Legislative Trends.” McCarthy's most well-known work, The Wisconsin Idea, is documented here only by an extensive collection of published reviews.

Series D. Photographs, 1873-1921

Most numerous in the Photographs series are formal portraits of McCarthy from childhood until near the time of his death, and pictures of McCarthy and others at work in the Legislative Reference Library. Also included are pictures of various family members and acquaintances, several pictures from the 1909 University baseball team's tour of Japan, and numerous candid snapshots of people and activities at “Tirnanoge,” the family cottage on Lake Mendota near Madison. Originals are in the photograph “name file.”