An addendum to the Joseph F. McDonald Papers

Identifier: 98-05

Scope and Contents

This is an addendum to the Joseph F. McDonald, Sr. manuscript collection. The first collection, NC429, consisting of 21 cubic feet, was donated in 1971 by Mr. Joseph F. McDonald, Jr. and Mrs. Mary Jean McDonald. This addendum, consisting of 1 cubic foot, was donated in 1998 by Mrs. Mary Jean McDonald. The new collection was given a separate accession number because it was not possible to shelve it with the previous collection. Researchers will need to consult both collections and guides to view the entire collection of McDonald papers. There are no restrictions on use of either collection.

This collection consists entirely of letters written to and from McDonald Sr. and significant Nevada political figures; and McDonald's Speidel Newspapers, Inc., supervisors. Included is correspondence with Walter Baring, Berkeley L. Bunker, Harry S. Bunker, Edward P. Carville, Patrick McCarran, George W. Malone, Key Pittman, and James Scrugham. Most contain frank exchanges of opinions on issues of importance to Nevada, and in some cases, on selection of future political candidates. The letters between McDonald and Harry S. Bunker, Treasurer of Speidel Newspapers, Inc. discuss the business of running the Nevada State Journal and new avenues which Joe wished to pursue to increase circulation and advertising.

The Patrick McCarran letters are of particular note. McCarran and McDonald became good friends when the former was a defense attorney and the latter was a newspaper reporter. According to his oral history, McDonald never had a problem in gaining access to McCarran as U.S. Senator, either directly or through McCarran's office assistant, Eva Adams. McDonald didn't always agree with McCarran and didn't hesitate to give his frank opinion. McDonald states in his oral history that he thought McCarran was very competent and a good senator. The McCarran/McDonald letters in this collection bear out those statements. They provide evidence of just how closely the two worked together but also show that McDonald was not a McCarran "yes man."

This collection is arranged alphabetically by the name of the correspondent and chronologically within each author's files. In addition to letters there are occasionally newspaper clippings and election ephemeral. The McCarran series contains correspondence, photos, programs, and financial documentation for the creation and installation of a statue of Pat McCarran in the rotunda of the United States Capitol building.


  • 1937-1960



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 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, Inc. During that year, he received an honorary Doctor of Journalism from the University of Nevada.

Following retirement, Joe 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, 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.

McDonald was married to Leola Lewis in 1915 and had two sons: Bob, and Joseph F. McDonald, Jr. Joe Jr. spent most of World War II in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and then studied law after the war. Although licensed to practice law he went into the contracting business. He and his wife, Mary Jean had three children: Tracy, Sally, Joseph III.

Joseph McDonald, Sr. 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.

This biographical sketch was compiled by Lenore Kosso.


1 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Joseph F. McDonald was an enthusiastic Democrat and counted many well-known state and national Democratic political figures among his friends. Included are letters to and from Nevada politicians, and from Harry S. Bunker, treasurer of Speidel Newspapers, Inc. In addition to letters there are occasionally newspaper clippings and election ephemeral (1937-1960).


The correspondence of Joseph F. McDonald, Sr. is arranged into the following series by name of correspondent:

1.Representative Walter Baring 2.Senator Berkeley L. Bunker 3.Harry S. Bunker 4.Senator Edward P. Carville 5.Senator Patrick McCarran 6.Senator George W. Malone 7.Senator Tasker Oddie 8.Senator Key Pittman 9.Representative James G. Scrugham 10.Miscellaneous Clippings

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Maryjene McDonald; Boise, ID.

Related Archival Materials

Additional Joseph F. McDonald papers, collection NC429;in Special Collections Department, University of Nevada, Reno.

Separated Materials

A few photographs of Senator Pat McCarran, Yolanda Jacobson Sheppard, the McCarran statue in the U.S. Capitol, and statue dedication ceremonies were part of the McCarran series; they have been transferred to the photographic archives of the Special Collections Department.


A Guide to an Addendum to the Joseph F. McDonald, Sr. Papers
Susan Searcy and Rebecca Richards
April 24, 1998
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)