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 Subject Files, 1957-1959
  7 New York State Magazine project
  8-9 Mohawk-Hudson Educational Television, 1958
  10 Hudson-Champlain celebration, 1959
New York State Radio Bureau
9   Ingham & Company, editorial director, 1959-1960

"Our York State" filmstrip series
10 1-3 Follett Publishing Co., editorial director, 1960-1962
  4-8 Appointment and Personal, 1962
  9-10 Financial Reports, 1966
  11 Statistical Reports, 1966
11 1-7 Correspondence, 1963, 1964
  8 Speeches, ca. 1964
  9-10 Typescripts of Publications, ca. 1963-1965
12   Subject Files, 1963-1969
  1 Advertising
  2-4 Aging
  5 Consumer Education
  6-7 Drugs and Narcotic Abuse
  8 Public Television
  9 Health Care
  10 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: May 24, 2021