Joseph T. McDonnell Papers

Identifier: 85-11

Scope and Contents

The Joseph T. McDonnell Papers primarily consist of Joseph T. Mcdonnell's papers that document his time in the US Army and Reserves Services and as a legislative assistant to Nevada US Senators Pat McCarran and Alan Bible. There are additional papers of Gladys Morris McDonnell, Joseph's wife, and Gladys' parents Richard and Jessie Morris. Gladys' papers are primarily diaries she kept which document appointments, trips, and visitors to the McDonnells. The Morris family papers contain primarily genealogical papers and legal records, including certificates, and correspondence.


  • 1885-circa 1982


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

Joseph Thomas McDonnell was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on September 23, 1908. He attended Reno High School and the University of Nevada, Reno, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1933. He subsequently did graduate work in accounting and economics. In 1938, he married Gladys C. Morris of Reno. During World War II he was stationed with the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater and attained the rank of Captain. Between September 30, 1945, and August 1946, he was assigned to occupied Korea and after his return to the United States, served in the Army Reserves until 1956.

McDonnell joined the staff of Nevada's U.S. Senator, Pat McCarran, in 1948, serving as McCarran's administrative assistant until 1952. He also worked for Senator Alan Bible in the same capacity for two years, and on the staff of the Senate Committee on Appropriations from 1965 until his retirement in 1974.

While on McCarran's staff, McDonnell attended Georgetown Law School at night, graduating in 1953. That same year he was admitted to the Nevada State Bar; the U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C.; and the U.S. Court of Appeals. He was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958, and maintained a private law practice in Washington, D.C. In 1974, McDonnell retired and returned with his wife to Reno.

Joseph died in Reno, Nevada in 1985.

Gladys Catherine Morris was born on July 11, 1912, to Richard L. and Jessie Williams. She attended the University of Nevada, Reno and graduated with a degree in Education. She taught school in Yerrington, Nevada until she married Joseph on June 27, 1938.

Gladys died in Reno in 1983.

Richard Lester Morris was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 12, 1885. His father was Ernest Edward Morris. Richard worked as an Engineer for the Southern Pacific Power Company. Jessie Jane Williams was born in London, England on October 2, 1886, to John David and Jane (Jones) Williams. by 1920, Richard and Jessie had relocated the family to Reno, Nevada.

Jessie died on February 14, 1965, and Richard died on April 15, 1965, both in Reno.


3.4 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials



Joseph T. McDonnell (1908-1985) was a lawyer and worked for Senators Pat McCarran and Alan Bible. The collection contains the papers of Joseph, his wife Gladys Morris McDonnell (1912-1983), and her parent's Richard L. (1885-1965) and Jessie (Williams) Morris (1886-1965). Included are diaries, papers related to Joseph's careers as lawyer and legislative assistant, correspondence, legal documents, family records, books, photos, and memorabilia. Of particular note are letters written by Joseph to Gladys while he was stationed in Korea, 1945-1946.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Joseph T. McDonnell Papers; 2) Gladys M. McDonnell Papers; 3) Richard L. and Jessie Williams Morris Papers

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Joseph T. McDonnell estate in 1985.

Guide to the Joseph T. McDonnell Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)