Edward H. McNamara papers: 1928-2007 (bulk 1987-2006)
Summary Information
Title: Edward H. McNamara papers
Creator: McNamara, Edward H.
Inclusive dates: 1928-2007
Bulk dates: 1987-2006
Extent: 2 linear feet (in 3 boxes)
Papers of Edward H. McNamara (1926-2006), Democratic southeastern Michigan politician, served as Wayne county executive (1987-2002), Mayor of Livonia (1970-1986), and Livonia city councilman (1962-1968). The collection includes newspaper clippings, biographical materials, miscellaneous from his political career, and visual materials.
Call number: 0790 Aa 2
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid created by Amy Barritt, June 2007

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was received from Mrs. Lucille McNamara (donor no. 9882) in 2007.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.


Donor(s) have not transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Edward H. McNamara papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Edward Howard McNamara was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 21, 1926. He served in the United States Navy during World War II, from July 1944 to June 1946. Under the G.I. Bill, McNamara attended the University of Detroit, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and political science in 1959. He also completed one and a half years at the University of Detroit law school.

From 1948 to 1970, he was employed at the Michigan Bell Telephone Company. While employed there, McNamara was elected to a two-year term as Livonia city councilman in 1962, and re-elected to four-year terms in 1964 and 1968. He became the council president in 1968, and was elected Mayor of Livonia in 1970. He served as mayor until 1986. He was then elected as Wayne County Executive, and served in that position from 1987 to 2002.

As county executive, McNamara's lasting contribution was in improving the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. His efforts led to a $1.6 billion renovation of the airport, which included the addition of two runways, a new access road, an 11,000 car parking structure and a 97-gate terminal for Northwest Airlines. The terminal was dedicated to McNamara for his efforts, and was formally named the Edward H. McNamara Terminal.

He was also known for eliminating Wayne county's significant debt, renewing social services to the elderly population in the county, and negotiating deals for new baseball and football stadiums in downtown Detroit.

McNamara's political career was brought under suspicion in November of 2002, when Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and state police raided his office, seeking evidence for a federal grand jury investigation dealing with corruption in airport contracts and campaign fund-raising by his administration. No hearings were ever called, and all charges against McNamara and his staff were dropped in early 2007.

In late 2002, shortly after leaving office, McNamara was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer of the lymphatic system. He died of heart failure on February 19, 2006.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Edward H. McNamara papers largely concern his public political career. These papers do not include the records of his various office and administrations. Instead, they largely present a favorable picture of the political life of McNamara, and highlight his achievements.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Livonia (Mich.)
  • Wayne County (Mich.) -- Politics and government.
  • DVDs.
  • Videotapes.
  • Photographs.
  • McNamara, Edward H.
  • Detroit Metro Airport.
  • Wayne County (Mich.). Executive.
  • McNamara, Edward H.
  • Archer, Dennis.
  • Clinton, Bill, 1946-
  • Gephardt, Richard A. (Richard Andrew), 1941-
  • Patterson, L. Brooks.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Newspaper Clippings [series]

The Newspaper Clippings series covers McNamara's political career from 1962 until the end of investigations against him and his staff in 2007. This includes various events in his political life, including his election in 1970 as City of Livonia mayor and Wayne County Executive in 1987, measures he tried to implement in the various offices he held, the end of his political career in 2002 and his death in 2006.

Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Box   1  
Biographical Materials [series]

The Biographical Materials series includes a copy of the manuscript of McNamara's biography, and biographical notes written during various periods of his political career. This series also includes memories collected by his family, friends and political acquaintances, compiled after McNamara's death. The folder on the Dedication of the Edward H. McNamara Terminal includes letters written to the Wayne County Board of Commissioners supporting the motion to name the new airport terminal after McNamara by various state legislators and other important people in Michigan, including Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, Governor John Engler, and Detroit Regional Chamber President Richard E. Blouse, Jr.

Box   2  
Biography manuscript
Box   2  
Biographical Notes and Collected Memories
Box   2  
Honors and Awards Received 1979-2006
Box   2  
Dedication of the Edward H. McNamara Terminal 1996-2001
Political Career [series]

The Political Career series includes speeches and campaign materials of McNamara, as well as polls and reports taken of his constituents as Wayne County Executive. This series does not include any correspondence.

Box   2  
Campaign Materials
Box   2  
Citizen's Survey 1985
Box   2  
Detroit Survey, Reaction to Archer Decision on Casinos 1998
Box   2  
Wayne County Reports 2000-2002
Box   2  
State of the County Address 1990-1993
Box   2  
Speeches 1985-2002 (3 folders)
Visual Materials [series]

The Visual Materials series includes three folders of photographs, 21 videocassettes (VHS), 3 DVDs and 1 CD. The photographs are of various subjects, including his family, friends and political acquaintances. Of special note are photographs of McNamara with Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, with President Bill Clinton, and with Presidential candidate Richard Gephardt. The videocassettes, DVDs and CD recordings include McNamara's campaign TV and radio spots, scattered episodes of the Brooks and Ed Show (with L. Brooks Patterson and Ed McNamara), the annual Leadership Policy Conference held on Mackinac Island, several State of Wayne County addresses, various interviews throughout his political career, the ground breaking and dedication ceremonies of the Edward H. McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metro Airport, and miscellaneous news broadcasts. The videotapes available in Box 3 are VHS unless otherwise specified.

Box   2  
McNamara with Various Groups (Includes portraits and McNamara family)
Box   2  
McNamara at Detroit Metro Airport (CD with Descriptions) 1998-2002
Box   2  
McNamara with Political Acquaintances (William Clinton, Richard Gephardt, Dennis Archer and L. Brooks Patterson)

(VHS unless otherwise indicated)

Brooks and Ed Show (L. Brooks Patterson and Edward McNamara)
Box   3  
First Episode, "Future of the Region at End of Coleman Young's Mayoral Stint", with guest Jon Pepper, Detroit News columnist (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 1)

Box   3  
"Malice Green Trial Outcome", with guest Kym Worthy, Assistant Prosecutor (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 2)

Box   3  
"Campaign Fundraising", with guest Geoffrey Fieger, attorney to Jack Kevorkian (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 3)

Box   3  
With guest Governor John Engler 1993 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 4)

Annual Leadership Policy Conference
Box   3  
1992 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 5)

Box   3  
2000 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 6)

Box   3  
2001 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 7)

Box   3  
2003 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 8)

State of the County Address
Box   3  
1989 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 9)

Box   3  
1990 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 10)

Box   3  
1991 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 11)

Box   3  
"Perceptions" 1985 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 12)

Box   3  
"Issues Livonia" 1988 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 13)

Box   3  
"Up Front" (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 14)

Box   3  
"Family" 1994 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 15)

Box   3  
"Tolerance" 2001 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 16)

Box   3  
"Airport Security" 2001 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 17)

Box   3  
"Metro Airport-Now Open" 2002 (1 optical discs (CDs))

(Tape no. 18)

Box   3  
"Farewell, Mayor McNamara" 1986 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 19)

Box   3  
"Presidential Ground Breaking, Metro Airport" 1996 (1 videotape (VHS (TM)))

(Tape no. 20)

Box   3  
"Spotlight-Newsmakers of the Year" 1996 (1 optical discs (DVDs))

(Tape no. 21)

Box   3  
"Press Conference, 'He Will Not Run'" 2001 (1 optical discs (DVDs))

(Tape no. 22)

Box   3  
"Spotlight-Edward H. McNamara, 1926-2006" 2006 (1 optical discs (DVDs))

(Tape no. 23)

Box   3  
"Michigan Legislator's Tributes to Edward McNamara 2006 (1 optical discs (DVDs))

(Tape no. 24)

Box   3  
"Ed McNamara Terminal Dedication" 2006 (1 optical discs (DVDs))

(Tape no. 25)