Guide to the John P. Hoerr Oral History Collection, 1914-2004 AIS.2007.04

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
John P. Hoerr Oral History Collection
Creator
Hoerr, John P., 1930-2015
Collection Number
AIS.2007.04
Date
1914-2004
Extent
2.0 linear feet (3 Boxes)
Abstract
This collection documents the research efforts of John P. Hoerr in his effort to create the book, Harry, Tom and Father Rice published in 2005. John Hoerr’s research attempted to unearth the events that occurred during the Red Scare in the United States and those who were prosecuted by the House Un-American Activity Committee. His research efforts have brought together a collection of oral histories (consisting of interviews in their original format on micro cassettes as well as transcriptions), a wide array of news clippings, and various other research forms. These interviews, news clippings, correspondence, union mail, Congressional records, legal proceedings, and writings in this collection help to show what occurred to the three main figures of Hoerr’s research during the 1950s.

Preferred Citation

John P. Hoerr Oral History Collection, 1914-2004, AIS.2007.04, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Biography

John P. Hoerr was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania in 1930. Hoerr witnessed both post-Depression conditions and post-war prosperity in the mill town of McKeesport. In addition, he also worked in a mill in McKeesport during his time in college at Penn State University. This background familiarized Hoerr with the labor conditions in Pennsylvania. After Hoerr graduated from Penn State University in 1953, he moved on to numerous reporting positions in New Jersey, Michigan, and Pittsburgh. After 1960, Hoerr focused his attention solely on labor reporting until 1991, when he began freelance writing. It was during this time when Hoerr began researching for his book, Harry, Tom, and Father Rice, of which one of the main research topics, Harry Davenport, was his uncle. This book focused on telling the story of how the Red Scare brought these three men, Harry Davenport, Thomas Quinn, and Father Rice, together during the Red Scare.

Harry J. Davenport was born August 22, 1902. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Harry followed his brother around in an advertising company and moved from Johnstown to Buffalo to Utica and then to Seattle. Not much is known of Harry Davenport during these cross country years. However, by 1937, Davenport had joined the Communist Party United States of America in Detroit, Michigan.

In 1949, Davenport ran for a congressional seat for the Democratic Party in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania district. John Hoerr draws the connection between Davenport and Thomas (Tom) Quinn during this congressional campaign, as it was the first time they met. Quinn was the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 601 chairman, who supported Davenport’s campaign from the labor sector. He arranged political support for Davenport’s campaign from his labor union. Quinn later commented that Davenport would be far more progressive than the other Democratic representatives. He thought it was very important that Harry was elected, “everybody who knew Harry felt that he would make a difference. He was different” (Hoerr, p. 117).

Davenport was victorious over the Republican nominee, John McDowell. McDowell had previously strong ties to the House Un-American Activity Committee as a chairman in 1948 and Davenport addressed this connection to his liberal voting groups. Once elected, he immediately came out in opposition to the House Un-American Activities Committee and attempted to create a resolution to abolish it. Davenport claimed that the House Un-American Activities Committee had been “directly responsible for either murder or suicide… to blame for broken homes, broken lives, and shattered reputations” (Hoerr, p. 138). Despite his strong feelings against the Committee, Harry’s resolution was never brought to a vote.

Harry Davenport was also known for his attacks on bigotry, intolerance and racism. He was considered to be extremely liberal in his practices. He supported the repeal of the Taft-Harley Act, continuation of rent control, public housing for low income people, the expansion of Social Security benefits, the increase of minimum wage, and wished to suppress anti-Semitism. Davenport also wished to dispose of a discriminatory poll tax.

Davenport’s downfall came only a year after his election to his congressional post. By 1949 and 1950, Communist accusations had increased tremendously, and despite Davenport’s stance on foreign communism, he could not escape the accusation of bringing communism to the domestic front. His Communist ties first surfaced when Tom Quinn of the UE Local 601 was accused of supporting Communism. The UE Local 601 that had elected Davenport to power had also been accused of supporting Communism, thus tying Davenport to the party. It was during this time that Davenport was even faced with voting against Tom Quinn in a trial. By 1950, Davenport had lost his congressional seat and retired to his grandmother’s house to live. He began writing a book of his life which he entitled, “Death of a Congressman.” It is unknown to John Hoerr when Harry Davenport stopped writing "Death of a Congressman," but Harry left almost no papers behind. Harry J. Davenport died in December 1977.

Thomas (Tom) Quinn was born August 10, 1917, but was orphaned in 1918 after both of his parents died of the flu. He was raised by relatives until age twelve, when effects of the Depression sent him to an orphanage. He soon earned a welding certificate and began welding barges before taking a job at the Jones and Laughlin Steel Mill. It was at this mill in 1937 when Quinn first participated in a strike. He later began working at Westinghouse in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1941, where he also became a member of the UE 601. By 1946, Tom Quinn had emerged as a leader of UE Local 601 during a national strike against Westinghouse. In response, he became a staff representative for the district and was in charge of negotiating contracts.

By 1949, UE was denounced as a Communist union along with its leaders and supporters. Since Quinn fell under this branch, he was called forth by the House Un-American Activities Committee to testify on his own behalf. Quinn claimed to assert his constitutional rights by refusing to answer certain questions about himself during this trial, and he was held in contempt of court. UE promised to support Quinn if his trial was taken all the way to the Supreme Court. However, in 1953, Quinn was fired from Westinghouse because he had been an accused Communist. In 1955, Tom Quinn prevailed in the Supreme Court case Quinn v. the United States which proved to be a major victory for civil liberties. But, this case was not the end to Quinn’s meetings with the House Un-American Activity Committee. In 1959, he was again brought before the committee to testify. It was here that Quinn disagreed with an undercover FBI agent admitting that he had never seen the man before that day. It is observed that during this trial Tom Quinn brought an end to harassment by the House Un-American Activity Committee.

After his dealings with the House Un-American Activity Committee, Tom Quinn remained involved with labor and the UE. He held the position of field organizer in the UE from 1954 to 1962 in Western Pennsylvania. After this position, Quinn moved on to serve as a business agent for the UE Local 610 where he represented two groups of laborers. In 1974, Quinn joined the Pennsylvania Bureau of Mediation and, in 1979 became director. (Refer to the Papers of Thomas J. Quinn Finding Aid for more information) Tom Quinn died February 11, 2005 at the age of 87.

Charles Owen Rice was born in New York City, New York, on November 21, 1908 to Irish immigrant parents. His mother died in 1912 and his father sent him to live in Ireland with family. He returned in 1920 to find his father remarried and moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is where Rice spent his teenage years. Rice graduated from Duquesne University and moved on to Saint Vincent Seminary School, where he was ordained a priest in 1934. Rice wished to use his new position to engage in social reform in the areas of labor and working class issues.

Father Rice immediately took an anti-Communist stance in his labor policies. He often spoke out against Communist practices during his weekly radio addresses. Monsignor Rice is well known for his involvement in the 1949 Local 601 Election. This occurred during Rice’s second anti-Communist crusade. Father Rice “pushed” Phil Murray to expel UE from the Congress of Industrialized Organization and wished to replace it with a new union in which he engineered, the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (IUE). Rice did not stop there; he continued to collaborate with congressional investigators to begin to accuse union members of communist membership. However, he did not foresee his actions continuing as far as they did and harming as many people, including, Tom Quinn and Harry Davenport. Charles Owen Rice died November 13, 2005 with an ambivalent attitude regarding his accomplishments.

Hoerr died on June 21, 2015.

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Scope and Contents Note

The John P. Hoerr Oral History Collection is a documentation of an investigation into the lives of three men: Harry J. Davenport, Tom Quinn, and Monsignor Charles Owen Rice. During the process of Hoerr’s research, he exhausted various resources to obtain the information he desired, and this collection greatly reflects his research process. A large portion of the materials collected during his research relate to the period in American history known as the “Red Scare.” Hoerr obtained a portion of his information through oral history interviews with either those men involved or men who had worked with them in passing. In an effort to relate the lives of the three listed men to that period in time, Hoerr’s research includes a rather large section of materials related to the UE and the IUE and their questionable Communist involvement during that time.

Through his efforts, Hoerr amassed a collection of oral history, newspaper clippings, and an assortment of research notes. The variety of the information in these documents is crucial to retelling the roles of Harry, Tom and Father Rice during the Cold War. Hoerr’s research greatly reflects the nature of the time period in the way an individual’s life was affected with the accusation of communism.

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Arrangement

Series I. Oral History, 2000-2004

Series II. Newspaper Clippings, 1940-1960

Series III. Research Notes, 1914-2004

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, October 2009

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright

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.

Acquisition Information

Gift of John P. Hoerr in February 2007.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Shelley Byron in September 2009.

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Related Materials

Related Material

Michael P. Weber Papers, 1963-1984, AIS.1988.15, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

Charles Owen Rice Papers, 1935-1988, AIS.1976.11, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

Records of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 601, East Pittsburgh, Pa., 1947-1954, AIS.1967.02, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

Thomas J. Quinn Papers, 1947-1992, AIS.1973.09, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers.
  • United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities.
  • United States. Congress. Senate. Judiciary Committee.
  • United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Genre(s)

  • Clippings (Information artifacts)
  • Interviews
  • Mailing lists
  • Oral histories (Document genres)
  • Photographs
  • Transcripts

Geographic Name(s)

  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1953
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1953-1961

Personal Name(s)

  • Davenport, Harry James, 1902-1977
  • Quinn, Thomas J.
  • Rice, Charles Owen, 1908-2005

Subject(s)

  • Cold War
  • Communism
  • Labor
  • Labor unions -- Organizing -- United States
  • Labor unions and communism -- United States
  • Politicians
  • Politics
  • Priests
  • Social action

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Previous Citation

John P. Hoerr Oral History Collection, 1914-2004, AIS.2007.04, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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Bibliography

Hoerr, John. Harry, Tom, and Father Rice. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.

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Collection Inventory

Series  I. Oral History 2000-2004 

Scope and Content Notes

The John P. Hoerr Oral History Collection includes a significant oral history series. Throughout his research, Hoerr conducted interviews with various union members, religious leaders, family members, or others who may have been involved with Harry Davenport, Tom Quinn, or Monsigner Rice. These interviews were conducted between 2000 and 2004 and provided Hoerr with imperative information on the Cold War Era. Some of the most important interviews were conducted with Tom Quinn and Monsignor Rice. These interviews are helpful to portray the true emotion of the time and how sincere the House Un-American Activity Committee acted toward possible Communist infiltration of labor unions. The interviews with Tom Quinn and Monsignor Rice also show where the paths of Davenport, Quinn, and Rice crossed.

This series includes microcassettes of some interviews. In addition, all interviews have been transcribed by Hoerr, including those that are not available on microcassette. This series is arranged alphabetically. The exception to this alphabetical arrangement is a tape that contains an interview with both James Connolly and Tom Quinn.

  BoxTape
Interview with Bob McCoy (1 and 2), 2002 11
("Interview with Bob McCoy (1 and 2)," online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Bob McCoy (3), 2002 2
("Interview with Bob McCoy (3)," online pending)
  Tape
Interview with John Connelly (1 and 2), 2000 3
("Interview with John Connelly (1 and 2)," online pending)
  Tape
Interview with John Connelly (3), 2004, Interview with Tom Quinn (part 1), 2000 4
("Interview with John Connelly (3), 2004, Interview with Tom Quinn (part 1), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (2 and 3), 2000 5
("Interview with Tom Quinn (2 and 3), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (4 and 5), 2000 6
("Interview with Tom Quinn (4 and 5), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (6 and 7), 2000 7
("Interview with Tom Quinn (6 and 7), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (8 and 9), 2000 8
("Interview with Tom Quinn (8 and 9), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (10 and 11), 2000 9
("Interview with Tom Quinn (10 and 11), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (12 and 13), 2000 10
("Interview with Tom Quinn (12 and 13), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (14 and 15), 2000 11
("Interview with Tom Quinn (14 and 15), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (16 and 17), 2000 12
("Interview with Tom Quinn (16 and 17), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Tom Quinn (20 and 21), 2002 13
("Interview with Tom Quinn (20 and 21)," online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Monsignor Charles Owen Rice (1 and 2), 2000 14
("Interview with Monsignor Charles Owen Rice (1 and 2), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Alex Steber (1), 2002 15
("Interview with Alex Steber (1), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with Alex Steber (2), 2002 16
("Interview with Alex Steber (2), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with John Vento (1 and 2), 2002 17
("Interview with John Vento (1 and 2), " online pending)
  Tape
Interview with John Vento (3); Interview with Tom Quinn (18), 2002 18
("Interview with John Vento (3); Interview with Tom Quinn (18)," online pending)
  BoxFolder
Release Forms 21
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with John E. Connelly, 2000 2
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Tom Foley, 2004 3
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Tom Kerr, 2004 4
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Jim Knox, 2000 5
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Sam Lemon, 2002 6
  Folder
Transcription of Interview Excerpts with Quinn’s Family, undated 7
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Charles and Rochelle Quinn, 2001, 2004 8
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Ron Quinn, 2001, 2002 9
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Steve Quinn, 2000, 2002, 2004 10
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Tom Quinn, 2000 11
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Tom Quinn (phone), 2000 12
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Tom Quinn regarding the House Un-American Activities Committee, 1949, 2000 13
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Tom Quinn regarding UE Shop Representation and Politics, undated 14
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Monsignor Charles Owen Rice, 2000 15
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Hyman Richman, 2004 16
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Jill Leeds Rivera, 2003 17
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with James Rush, 2000 18
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Henry Salczka (Slonska), 2000 19
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with John Vento, 2002, 2004 20
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Robert C. Whisner, 2000 21
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with Edwin Wintermeyer, 2000 22

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Series  II. Newspaper Clippings 1940-1960 

Scope and Content Notes

Hoerr collected a large number of newspaper clippings relating to Harry J. Davenport's Congressional career as a representative for a Pittsburgh district (1949-1950). These clippings begin with Davenport campaigning in 1946, but mainly refer to his 1948 campaign and 1949 term. Shortly after Davenport won his Congressional seat, his term abruptly ended when he was accused of being a Communist. The other news clippings mainly deal with Tom Quinn and his own issues with Communist accusations and the coinciding legal proceedings. In addition, Father Rice’s involvement with the UE probe is well documented. The newspaper clippings demonstrate a great understanding of the fear of communism at the time and the way it affected the lives of the three men. This series is arranged chronologically.

  Folder
Harry Davenport and United Electric, the Worker, 1940-1950 23
  Folder
The Gazette, 1946 24
  Folder
Campaign, 1946 25
  Folder
McDowell-Davenport Campaign, noted, 1946 26
  Folder
The Gazette, 1948 27
  Folder
Campaign, 1948 28
  Folder
The Jewish Criterion, 1948 29
  Folder
The Gazette, 1949 30
  Folder
Local 601 UE Election Involving Father Rice, 1949 31
  Folder
UE Probe, 1949 32
  Folder
James Matles as leader of United Electric, 1949-1975 33
  Folder
McDowell Victory, 1950 34
  Folder
November Election, 1950 35
  Folder
UE versus IUE, 1950 36
  Folder
Campaign, 1950 37
  Folder
Tom Quinn, 1950-1981 38
  Folder
House Un-American Activity Committee Hearing, 1959 39
  Folder
Harry Davenport and Elections, 1959-1960 40
  Folder
Monsignor Rice, undated 41
  Folder
Tom Quinn Legal Proceedings, undated 42

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Series  III. Research Notes 1914-2004 

Scope and Content Notes

Hoerr collected various other articles and materials referring to Harry Davenport, Tom Quinn and Father Rice. These research notes refer mainly to the Red Scare/Cold War period. A large portion of Hoerr’s research notes reflect the transcriptions of the House Un-American Activity Committee hearings in reference to the three main people involved. His research notes touch on other hearings which were also connected to the Communist man hunt, including motives against the UE. In addition, Hoerr documents Tom Quinn’s legal proceedings from his own Communist trial. Hoerr’s research notes demonstrate the strength the government developed behind the House Un-American Activity Committee. This series is arranged chronologically.

  Folder
Westinghouse Bridge over Turtle Creek Valley, 1914-1916 43
  Folder
Discharges of M. Darino, Fitzpatrick, Panzino, E. Darino, 1942-1967 44
  Folder
Harry Davenport FBI File, 1945 45
  Folder
Allegheny County District 29 Official Election Results, 1946, 1948, 1950 46
  Folder
Rodef Shalom Archives, 1946-1960 47
  Folder
Davenport Publicity, 1946-1948 48
  Folder
Davenport-McDowell Campaign, 1947-1948 49
  Folder
Congressional Record, 1949 50
  Folder
House Un-American Activity Committee Hearing, 1949 51
  Folder
James Matles as Leader of UE, 1949-1975 52
  Folder
UE versus IUE, 1950 53
  Folder
National Archives Files on the Un-American Activity Committee, 1950 54
  Folder
House Un-American Activity Committee Exposes Communist Party Western Pennsylvania, 1950 55
  Folder
Harry Davenport Divorce, 1951 56
  Folder
Quinn Legal Proceedings, 1951-1955 57
  Folder
William Peeler 601 Activist and Leader, 1952, 1998 58
  Folder
United States Senate Judiciary Committee “Subversive Influence in United Electric Radio,” 1953 59
  Folder
House Un-American Activity Committee, Quinn involved and Staber Testifies, 1959 60
  Folder
House Un-American Activity Committee Hearing, 1959 61
  Folder
House Un-American Activity Committee “Butler Hearing,” 1963 62
  BoxFolder
Monsignor Rice Interview Transcription with Notes, 1967-1968 363
  Folder
James Matles Interview Transcription, 1968 64
  Folder
Tom Quinn Oral History by Ron Shatz, 1977 65
  Folder
Miscellaneous Tom Quinn, 1983-2003 66
  Folder
Transcription of Interview with David Lawrence, 1981 67
  Folder
Quinn-Hoerr Correspondence, 1999-2000 68
  Folder
Computer Printer Notes Created by Hoerr while Researching at the UE/Lab Collection, 2000-2004 69
  Folder
Notes on Research in Communist Party United States Internal Files, 2002-2003 70
  Folder
Book Journal of “Harry, Tom, and Father Rice,” 2004 71
  Folder
Miscellaneous Davenport, undated 72
  Folder
Photographs of Harry Davenport used in “Harry, Tom, and Father Rice,” undated 73
  Folder
Miscellaneous Dorothy Day, undated 74
  Folder
Miscellaneous Father Rice, undated 75

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