Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Joseph Patrick Tumulty Papers, 1913-1948

Duane Norman Diedrich Collection

Finding aid created by
Clements Staff

Summary Information
Title: Joseph Patrick Tumulty papers
Creator: Tumulty, Joseph P. (Joseph Patrick), 1879-1954
Inclusive dates: 1913-1948
Bulk dates: 1913-1924
Extent: 4.5 linear feet
Personal and professional correspondence of Joseph P. Tumulty (1879-1954), Private Secretary to Woodrow Wilson from 1911-1921.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by D. N. Diedrich, 1994-1995. M-3079, M-3110.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Joseph Patrick Tumulty Papers, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is in a temporary arrangement.


A New Jersey attorney from a middle class Irish-Catholic family, Joseph Tumulty became an important figure in state-level Democratic circles, in the progressivist mold of William Jennings Bryan. After a stint in the New Jersey Assembly (1907-1910), where he sponsored unsuccessful reformist legislation to regulate railroad and utility rates, Tumulty served as an adviser to gubernatorial candidate Woodrow Wilson in the election of 1911. Pleased with Tumulty's assistance, Wilson appointed Tumulty his private secretary in 1911. Tumulty ably served for ten years.

During his tenure as Wilson's secretary, Tumulty filled many different roles, including press secretary, public relations, campaign organizer for the Catholic and Irish vote, and adviser for minor patronage appointments. His relationship with the president was nearly severed over his opposition to Wilson's remarriage only a few months after the death of his first wife, but Wilson declined Tumulty's offer to resign. Despite this, however, the relationship between the two was never again as close.

A 'conservative progressive' in his own estimation, Tumulty was a proponent of women's suffrage and war-time censorship, and was a supporter of A. Mitchell Palmer's deportation of 'red' aliens in 1919. His support of Palmer and of the 'wet' Catholic presidential candidate, James M. Cox ultimately led to his final break with Wilson in 1922, and ended Tumulty's influence in Washington. He remained in the city as a practicing attorney until his death in 1954.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Personal and professional correspondence of Joseph P. Tumulty, Private Secretary to Woodrow Wilson from 1911-1921.

The collection is made up of retained copies and typescripts of correspondence, and appears to have been thoroughly sorted through, with all of the letters to or from Wilson having been removed. What remains provides insight into political patronage during the Wilson administration and a variety of other political issues.

Subject Terms

    • League of Nations.
    • Presidents--United States--Election--1920.
    • Temperance.
    • United States--Politics and government--1913-1921.
    • Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924.
    • World War, 1914-1918.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Boxes   1-3  
    Joseph Patrick Tumulty papers,  1913-1948 [series]