Mary E. Cunningham
Papers, 1940 - 1983

Quantity:  28 Boxes (14 cu. ft.)
Access:  Open to research
Acquisition:  Donated to the New York State Library by Anna C. Cunningham, 1987
Processed By:  Fred Bassett, Assistant Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, November 1989

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Biographical Note:

Mary E. Cunningham was born April 25, 1917 in Mamaroneck, New York. In 1939 she joined the staff of the State Historical Association of New York. During her tenure with that organization she served in a number of capacities, including editor of the Yorker and New York History, assistant to the director, associate director, director of school services, and librarian. In 1957, she began her career in government service as deputy director for the Division of Public Information, New York State Department of Commerce. In 1959, she became editorial director for Ingham & Co., where in consultation with State Education Department, she developed social studies curriculum for New York State Schools. Similarly, she continued this kind of work as editorial director at Follett Publishing Company, 1960-1962. She served the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), first as Chief of the Consumer Information Branch, then after reorganization, as Deputy Director of the Division of Consumer Education. Following her government service, she worked as an editorial director of social studies for Rand McNally & Company. Among her other activities, she was author of "New York State Story," a syndicated column about the State's history. She was also founder of American Heritage magazine, and served as its first editor. Lastly, she was actively involved in the Democratic Party. She died in Cooperstown, N. Y., June 6, 1986.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection contains a variety of material that relates to the personal and professional life of Mary E. Cunningham. Included are papers relating to her service at the New York Historical Association. These include correspondence, printed material, and memoranda concerning program development and the editing of New York History and The Yorker. Also included are materials relating to her syndicated column, "New York State Story," and other publications. These materials include typescripts of articles, news clippings of these articles, notes, and drafts.

Mary Cunningham's work in developing social studies curricula is well documented in this collection, especially the filmstrip series " York State." There are letters, memoranda, printed brochures, and news clippings relating to its development, as well as the illustrations used in the film.

A large portion of these papers is comprised of personal material relating to her career in state and federal government. These include correspondence, memoranda, and reports. These papers document her efforts to establish a promotional magazine about New York State while at the Department of Commerce, and her role in getting the federal government more actively involved in consumer affairs while serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Closely related to these papers are those documenting her activities on behalf of the Democratic Party, which undoubtedly helped propel her into government service.

Finally, this collection contains personal resumes, correspondence with family members and friends, news clippings, publications, and photographs. The correspondence provides some insight into her personal life. Of special interest are her candid and witty remarks about the world around her. In essence this collection would be invaluable for the study of the role of women in education, government, and politics.

Box and Folder List

Box

Folder

Description

1

 

Personal Correspondence, 1940-1983

2

 

New York Historical Association, 1940-1957

Subject Files, 1940-1957

3

 

New York State Story, typescripts, 1951-1955

4

 

Drafts, notes and memoranda, ca. 1950-1957

5

 

American Sequence newsletter

"This Very Week" newspaper column

American Heritage Magazine correspondence file, 1954-56

 

 

Lamb's Sectional History of New York

6

 

Democratic Party of New York State, 1957-1962

7

 

New York State Department of Commerce

Division of Public Information, Deputy Director, 1957-1959

Correspondence, 1957-1958

8

 

1-6

7

8-9

10

Subject Files, 1957-1959

New York State Magazine project

Mohawk-Hudson Educational Television, 1958

Hudson-Champlain celebration, 1959

New York State Radio Bureau

9

 

Ingham & Company, editorial director, 1959-1960

"Our York State" filmstrip series

10

1-3

 

4-8

9-10

11

Follett Publishing Co., editorial director, 1960-1962

Food and Drug Administration, 1962-1969

Appointment and Personal, 1962

Financial Reports, 1966

Statistical Reports, 1966

11

1-7

8

9-10

Correspondence, 1963, 1964

Speeches, ca. 1964

Typescripts of Publications, ca. 1963-1965

12

 

1

2-4

5

6-7

8

9

10

Subject Files, 1963-1969

Advertising

Aging

Consumer Education

Drugs and Narcotic Abuse

Public Television

Health Care

Poison Prevention

13

 

Publications and Printed Material

Social Studies Curriculum Manuals, ca. 1970

14

 

Social Studies Curriculum Manuals, ca. 1970

15

 

Brochures and news clippings

16

 

Brochures and news clippings

17

 

Greeting Cards, Invitations

18

 

Photographs

19

 

"Our York State" filmstrip illustrations, ca. 1960

Geography of the Hudson Valley

20

 

Hudson's Voyage and the Dutch

21

 

English in the Hudson Valley

22

 

Revolution in the Hudson Valley

23

 

The Middle Years (Hudson Valley)

24

 

Card File:  Directory of Names

Health Science

Social Studies

Home Economics

25

 

Honoraria, Certificates and Diplomas

26-28

 

Unprocessed accretion

Last Updated: June 30, 2010