March 22, 2005: Headlines: Directors - Shriver: Libraries: Kennedy Library: An Inventory of Sargent Shriver's Personal Papers 1948-1976 in the John F. Kennedy Library

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An Inventory of Sargent Shriver's Personal Papers 1948-1976 in the John F. Kennedy Library

An Inventory of Sargent Shriver's Personal Papers 1948-1976 in the John F. Kennedy Library

An Inventory of Sargent Shriver's Personal Papers 1948-1976 in the John F. Kennedy Library

R(obert) Sargent Shriver (#214)

Official seal of the National Archives

An Inventory of His Personal Papers


In the John F. Kennedy Library

National Archives and Records Administration

Administrative Information

Biographical Note

Collection Overview

List of Series


Administrative Information


Papers 1948-1976

Brother-in-law of President Kennedy, lawyer, businessman, government official, diplomat. Assistant general manager, Merchandise Mart (1948-1961); Director, Peace Corps (1961-1966); Director, Office of Economic Opportunity (1964-1968); Special Assistant to the President (1965-1968); Ambassador to France (1968-1970); Vice Presidential candidate (1972); Presidential candidate (1976). Personal and professional papers relating to Shriver’s work as the first director of the Peace Corps, as the first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, and as United States Ambassador to France. The collection also covers Shriver’s role in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Presidential campaign, his 1970 bid for governor of Maryland, his 1972 campaign for the Vice Presidency, and his 1976 campaign for the Presidency.



Usage Restrictions

According to the deed of gift signed September 30, 1992, copyright of these materials has been retained by R. Sargent Shriver. Documents in this collection that were prepared by officials of the United States as part of their official duties are in the public domain. Users of these materials are advised to determine the copyright status of any document from which they wish to publish.


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excesses of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law. The copyright law extends its protection to unpublished works from the moment of creation in a tangible form. Direct your questions concerning copyright to the reference staff.


Received from R. Sargent Shriver of Washington, D.C., in September 1992 (Acc. 1993-047).


About 157,500 items (126 linear feet)

Classified Items Withdrawn

Selected files may contain withdrawal sheets where documents containing national security classified information were removed from this collection.

Withdrawn Items

Selected folders may contain withdrawal sheets where documents, in accordance with the donor's deed of gift, were removed from the collection. These include documents which may be used to injure or harass any living person.

All withdrawn documents have been placed under seal and upon request the Kennedy Library will review any material which has been closed for a period of not less than 2 years for the purpose of opening items which no longer require restrictions. Researchers should consult the reference staff to obtain the appropriate form(s).

Items Separated

Items separated include oversize items (OVZ-214), oversize printed materials (PM-214), photographs, and museum objects. A separation sheet has been inserted in the appropriate file describing the item and giving a reference number. To see oversize material, please ask the reference archivist for assistance

Date Opened

February 2005

Finding Aid Prepared by

Megan Banach, Erica Bicchieri, Jennifer Blake, Sarah Cheeseman, Anne Kumer, Christina Lehman, Alyssa Pacy, and Nathaniel Wiltzen.

Encoded by

James M. Roth

Related Collections

William Josephson Papers, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Records of the Peace Corps, 1961-1991, NARA, College Park, MD

Records of the Community Services Administration, 1963-1981, NARA, College Park, MD

Office Files of Bill Moyers, Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, Austin, TX

Kennedy Foundation Archives, Washington, DC.

The Personal Papers of Sargent Shriver (1915- )

Biographical Note

Robert Sargent Shriver was born on November 9, 1915 in Westminster, Maryland to Robert and Hilda Shriver. After graduating from the Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, which he attended on a full scholarship, Shriver spent the summer in Germany as part of the Experiment in International Living, returning in the fall of 1934 to begin college at Yale University. By his sophomore year, despite financial difficulties, Shriver became the senior editor for the Yale Daily News. The following summer, Shriver was once again invited to participate in the Experiment for International Living, but this time as a leader of a small group of students. Shriver graduated from Yale in 1938 and, with the help of scholarships, family, and friends, enrolled in Yale Law School.

Shriver maintained a link to the Experiment for International Living while in law school, and he led a third group of students to France in the summer of 1939, when World War II was just beginning. Back at Yale, he enlisted in a summer program in the Navy and, at the same time, protested actively against America’s involvement in the war. After he graduated law school in 1941, he reported to duty in the Navy and was assigned to a new battleship, the South Dakota. Shriver served as a gunner in two large battles during 1942: the Battle of Santa Cruz and the Battle of Guadalcanal. Shriver next trained as a submariner, and on 13 March 1945 he was given the assignment of gunnery and torpedo officer on the USS Sandlance.

After the war, Shriver returned to New York City, working briefly at the law firm of Winthrop, Stimson before becoming an assistant editor at Newsweek. It was during this time that Shriver first met Eunice Kennedy and began working for Joseph P. Kennedy at JPK Enterprises in Manhattan. Soon afterward, Shriver moved to Chicago to become the assistant general manager of the Merchandise Mart for Joseph Kennedy. In 1947 he moved to Washington, D.C. to help Eunice Kennedy on the National Conference on Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency. A little less than a year passed before Shriver returned to Chicago to resume work at the Merchandise Mart.

Shriver married Eunice Kennedy on 23 May 1953. The wedding took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, with Cardinal Spellman, a Kennedy family friend, officiating. The couple settled in Chicago, and in 1955 Shriver began directing both the Catholic Interracial Council, an organization established for the desegregation of schools, and the Chicago Board of Education. In 1960, Shriver coordinated the Wisconsin and West Virginia primaries for John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Campaign. When Kennedy was elected, Shriver was asked to direct the Talent Hunt committee to research and find appropriate candidates for top administrative and ambassadorial positions.

John F. Kennedy’s election led to what would become one of Shriver’s most important and long-lasting accomplishments, the creation of the Peace Corps. The idea for the Peace Corps originated with two speeches that John F. Kennedy gave on the campaign trail. At the University of Michigan, Kennedy introduced the idea of a youth service corps for college students. Months later, Kennedy solidified his ideas about the service corps and made it a major campaign pledge. Shriver was asked to work on a report about the feasibility of a volunteer corps that would work on projects in other countries. Shortly after receiving the report, Kennedy signed the executive order establishing the Peace Corps (Executive Order 10924). Shriver served as the Director of the Peace Corps from 1961 to 1966. During his tenure as director, Shriver traveled around the United States giving speeches about the Peace Corps in many different contexts: graduation ceremonies, honorary doctoral ceremonies, political meetings, and economic councils. Shriver also made oversea trips to Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Germany to review Peace Corps work being done in those countries and to make new connections for future programs.

After President Kennedy’s death on 22 November 1963, Shriver continued directing the Peace Corps while also helping to launch President Johnson’s new War on Poverty. Though there was talk that this work would result in a vice-presidential bid for Shriver in the 1964 presidential election, President Johnson chose Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey as his running mate instead. On 20 August 1964, Johnson signed the Office of Economic Opportunity Act which would eventually provide job training, work study programs, loans and grants to poor farmers, and a domestic volunteer service that cooperated with local governments and communities. After having spent months laying the groundwork for the O.E.O., Shriver became the agency’s first director. The O.E.O. was quickly dubbed the domestic Peace Corps, and branched into many different programs including Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Community Action Program (CAP), Job Corps, Head Start, and the Neighborhood Youth corps. Shriver traveled extensively throughout the country giving speeches, visiting various communities where poverty programs were in place, and encouraging others to join the War on Poverty. He resigned as Director of the O.E.O. on 12 April 1968.

On 7 May 1968, Shriver was sworn in as the U.S. ambassador to France. His job in Paris was not expected to be an easy one, as American relations with France, and specifically with French President Charles de Gaulle, had grown increasingly strained throughout the decade. President de Gaulle had established diplomatic relations with communist China in 1964, withdrawn from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) integrated military organization in 1966, publicly denounced the American war in Vietnam in 1967, and encouraged French-Canadian separatists in 1968. The United States, for their part, had consistently refused to aid France in its pursuit to become a nuclear power. The domestic situation in France proved to be difficult as well; upon his arrival in Paris Shriver encountered a severe domestic crisis involving nationwide strikes and student unrest. Despite these obstacles, Shriver and de Gaulle established a working friendship, and the Shriver family became popular and often-publicized members of Paris society. Franco-American relations began to thaw as a result of this friendship, and were furthered when de Gaulle was succeeded by his former Prime Minister Georges Pompidou in 1969. As Ambassador, Shriver was peripherally involved in the Paris Peace Talks which began in 1968 between the United States and Vietnamese officials. He also oversaw President Richard Nixon’s visit to Paris in 1969, which marked the first American state visit to France since 1961, as well as President Pompidou’s state visit to Washington, D.C. in March 1970. Despite his success as Ambassador and his family’s apparent contentment with life in Paris, Sargent Shriver’s thoughts and ambitions were never far from the political scene back in the United States. His correspondence with friends and colleagues touched on various political possibilities, including the 1968 Democratic vice presidential nomination, a nomination for Ambassador to the United Nations, a run for the governorship of Maryland, and Shriver’s consistently strong political potential in Illinois. This period was also marked by Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s organization of the First International Special Olympic Games, held in July 1968 in Chicago, and the assassination of Shriver’s brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy, less than a month after the Shrivers’ arrival in Paris.

Upon his return from France in 1970, Shriver founded the Congressional Leadership for the Future (CLF). The CLF functioned as an independent organization separate from the Democratic National Committee, with Shriver serving as the Chairman. The CLF campaigned on behalf of Democratic candidates throughout the country for the November 1970 Congressional races. Shriver, along with his small staff, traveled extensively throughout the United States, particularly where races were thought to be hotly contested, delivering speeches, hosting luncheons and dinners, participating in local community events, and garnering support for candidates. The CLF collected research on the various candidates they were supporting, their opponents, and the relevant political, social, and economic issues surrounding each election. Shriver delivered many political speeches during this short time period that became part of his well-known rhetoric, including “Mature Patriotism: A Turning Point in American History,” “The Human Reality of Recession,” and “Elephantitis in the White House.”

In 1972 Shriver ran for vice president on the Democratic ticket along with presidential candidate George McGovern. Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton was nominated as McGovern’s running mate at the 1972 Democratic Party convention, but McGovern decided to run with Shriver instead after it was revealed that Eagleton had undergone electroshock therapy to treat depression. McGovern and Shriver lost the general election that November to Republican candidates Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

After the election, Shriver left public life to join the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson. In 1976 Shriver ran a short-lived campaign for President, but soon returned to his private endeavors.

Collection Overview

This collection contains the personal and professional papers of R. Sargent Shriver. Materials relate to Shriver’s work as the first director of the Peace Corps, as the first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, and as United States Ambassador to France. The collection also covers Shriver’s role in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Presidential campaign, his 1970 bid for governor of Maryland, his 1972 campaign for the Vice Presidency, and his 1976 campaign for the Presidency. The papers span the years 1948 to 1976, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1955 to1972. The papers are arranged into ten series: Series 1. 1960 Presidential Campaign; Series 2. Peace Corps, 1961-1967; Series 3. Office of Economic Opportunity, 1963-1968; Series 4. Ambassador to France, 1968-1970; Series 5. Campaign for Governor of Maryland, 1970; Series 6. Congressional Leadership for the Future, 1970; Series 7. Presidential Campaign, 1972; Series 8. Presidential Campaign, 1976; Series 9. General Business Materials, 1954-1972; and Series 10. Personal.

Series 1. 1960 Presidential Campaign, focuses on Shriver’s involvement in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Presidential campaign, primarily in Illinois. It contains correspondence, campaign administration and events files, subject file, and government talent search files. The bulk of the materials in this series range from 1960 to 1961, although the talent search materials span as late as 1965.

Series 2. Peace Corps, documents Shriver’s work as the first director of the Peace Corps, and contains correspondence files, writings files, trip files, and subject file. Correspondence mainly focuses on individual events and subjects such as Sargent Shriver’s appointment as director of the Peace Corps, and also includes specific forms of communication such as “memorandums to the President.” Most of Writings consist of speeches, but there is a small section of articles by and about Shriver. Trip files and subject files contain information on major trips Shriver took to Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America as well as reports on early Peace Corps projects. The bulk of the material in this series ranges from 1961 to 1966, although small portions go as late as 1968.

Series 3. Office of Economic Opportunity contains material related to Sargent Shriver’s role as the first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity (O.E.O.) and as Special Assistant to President Lyndon B. Lyndon in his War on Poverty. The series consists of correspondence, writings, subject files, and clippings.

Series 4: Ambassador to France, contains material related to Sargent Shriver’s role as Ambassador to France, including correspondence and related materials; general and administrative files; events and meetings files; Ambassador’s Residence files; subject files; clippings; and photographs.

Series 5. Campaign for Governor of Maryland contains address card files, articles and newspaper clippings, campaign materials, correspondence, memos, minutes of meetings, notes, press releases, reports, and telegrams about Sargent Shriver’s campaign for Governor of Maryland. Most of the materials are from 1970, but there are small sections dating as early as 1965. The bulk of the material is correspondence either encouraging Shriver to run for governor of Maryland or discussing options about running.

Series 6. Congressional Leadership for the Future consists of materials related to the Congressional Leadership for the Future (CLF), founded by Sargent Shriver. This series contains administrative files and state subject files.

Series 7. 1972 Presidential Campaign contains information about Sargent Shriver’s involvement with George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign. It consists of correspondence, subject files, staff files, geographic briefing files, issues and research division files, speechwriting division files, press division files, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver campaign files.

Series 8. 1976 Presidential Campaign contains material about Sargent Shriver’s 1976 presidential campaign, consisting of campaign materials, correspondence, writings, subject files, press division files, and appearances files. Campaign materials covers volunteer outreach and the major functions of Shriver’s 1976 campaign for president. Correspondence tracks inter-staff relations, as well as Shriver’s public support, social engagements, and press relations. Writings are largely comprised of political statements, a few key speeches, and position papers. Subject files are mostly research materials collected by the staff of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver and support many of the formal statements made in the writings files. The press division files delve into Shriver’s relationship and interactions with the media during the campaign. Appearances files consist of files supporting and documenting specific appearances and speaking engagements.

Series 9. General Business Files contains information about Sargent Shriver’s business activities not covered elsewhere in the collection. These activities include possible Vice Presidential nominations, a possible nomination to the United Nations, and his work with the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson. Shriver’s ongoing involvement in Chicago-area business and politics, such as Joseph P. Kennedy’s Merchandise Mart, the Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago, and the Chicago School Board, are covered here as well. The series also contains speeches, correspondence and paperwork (all of a business nature) generated by Shriver when he was not associated with a particular business or office. Public appearances are documented with correspondence, speech transcripts, and scheduling information. Subject files contain information relating to particular business ventures.

Series 10. Personal, consists of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s personal papers, including correspondence, financial records, family records, vacations, awards and ephemera, news clippings, and photographs.

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