Summary Information
Title: Peter F. Flaherty Papers
Collection Number: AIS.1999.19
Creator: Flaherty, Peter F., 1924-

Collection Dates: 1964-1995
Extent: 1.0 linear feet (1 box)

Language: English

The collection documents the career of Peter F. Flaherty, a Pennsylvanian politician who was notable as mayor of Pittsburgh from 1970 to 1977, United States Deputy Attorney General from 1977 to 1978, and County Commissioner of Allegheny County from 1984 to 1996. The collection mainly focuses on material from his terms as mayor and material from his unsuccessful bid for Pennsylvania governor in 1978. The papers include awards and honors presented to Flaherty, campaign materials and voter information, correspondence, newspaper clippings, invitations, and a scrapbook.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

October 2009

Finding aid prepared by Ashley L. Taylor
Revision Description:
December 2010:
Description of oversize material added to the finding aid.


Peter (Pete) F. Flaherty was born on June 25, 1924 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, the son of Irish immigrants. He graduated from Allegheny High School and then entered the Army Air Corps in the midst of World War II. After serving as a navigator in the Pacific through the end of the war, Flaherty returned home and attended school first at Mount Mercy College (now Carlow University) and then Notre Dame Law School, graduating with his J.D. in 1951. Flaherty returned to Pittsburgh to practice law, securing a place as Assistant District Attorney of Allegheny County from 1957 to 1964. During this time, he became interested in politics, and was elected to be a City of Pittsburgh Councilman in 1966.

Flaherty, critical of incumbent mayor Joseph Barr, ran for mayor in 1969 under the slogan “Nobody’s Boy,” a reflection of the estrangement he felt from the Democratic Party organization as a whole. Respected for his independence, charisma, and drive, Flaherty won with more than a 4 to 1 margin. He immediately went to work attempting to trim the city payroll and encouraged fiscal responsibility, a stance that got him into trouble with the Teamster Union. Flaherty also gained a reputation as being anti-big business, as illustrated by his protracted battle to stop the Port Authority from implementing the expensive Skybus program. However, Flaherty remained popular with the people and easily won a second term in 1973.

After his second term in Pittsburgh, Flaherty tried to translate his local success to the 1974 U. S. Senate race, in which he was defeated. His attentions turned to Jimmy Carter, another party “outsider” with an emphasis on fiscal responsibility, and he was appointed Deputy Attorney General of the United States in 1977. He stayed only a year in Washington, not having any real power in the administration, and again ran for governor in Pennsylvania. He was defeated by Richard Thornburgh in 1978, and again by Arlen Specter in the 1980 race for the U.S. Senate position. In 1983, he returned from quietly practicing law to run as Allegheny County Commissioner. He was successful in his bid and had a productive career, initiating successful building projects such as new terminals at the Pittsburgh International Airport. He served in that position until his retirement in 1996. Afterwards, Flaherty continued to reside in Pittsburgh until his death from cancer in 2005.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The Peter F. Flaherty Papers focus on Flaherty’s political career, mainly on his two terms as mayor of Pittsburgh and his unsuccessful bid for Pennsylvania governor in 1978. The collection contains a variety of material including honors and awards presented to Flaherty; biographical and autobiographical information; campaign materials for both mayoral and gubernatorial races; a contributors’ list for the 1983 County Commissioner campaign; correspondence and public statements; newspaper clippings; a scrapbook from his 1969 campaign for mayor; a Survey of Voter Attitudes for the 1980 U.S. Senate bid; and a collection of invitations to White House events. The focus of the collection is on his campaigns, primarily towards the beginning of his political career.

Subject Terms

  • Campaign paraphernalia -- Pennsylvania
  • County officials and employees –- Pennsylvania -– Allegheny County
  • Mayors -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Political campaigns -- Pennsylvania
  • Politicians
  • Politicians -- Pennsylvania -- Allegheny County

Corporate Names
  • Allegheny County (Pa.). Board of Commissioners.
  • Pennsylvania. Governor. -- Elections, 1978
  • United States. Congress. Senate. -- Elections, 1980
  • United States. Office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Personal Names
  • Flaherty, Peter F., 1924-

  • Allegheny County (Pa.)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)
  • Washington (D.C.)

  • Lawyers

  • Clippings (Information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Scrapbooks

  • Personal papers
  • Politics

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Peter F. Flaherty in March 2000.

Preferred Citation:

Peter F. Flaherty Papers, 1964-1995, AIS.1999.19, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh


The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Related Material:

Dick Thornburgh Papers, 1932- , AIS.1998.30, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Collection Inventory

Box 1
Folder 1 Awards and Honors, 1964-1995
Folder 2 Awards and Honors, 1995
Folder 3 Awards and Honors, 1995
Folder 4 Biographical Information, 1972-1983, undated
Folder 5 Campaign Materials, 1972-1978, undated
Folder 6 Contributors' List for 1983 Campaign, 1983
Folder 7 Correspondence and Statements, 1968-1993
Folder 8 News Clippings, 1967-1972
Folder 9 News Clippings, 1973-1975
Folder 10 News Clippings, 1976-1978
Folder 11 News Clippings, 1982-1994
Folder 12 News Clippings, undated
Folder 13 Scrapbook, 1969
Folder 14 Survey of Voter Attitudes, 1980
Folder 15 White House Invitations, 1979-1995
Folder 16 Peter F. Flaherty Will and Family Information, 19647

Section: Oversize Material

Map-case 9
Drawer 2 Photos, cartoons, awards, clippings (38 items)