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Kenny (Robert W.) Papers
BANC MSS .C-B 510  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Biographical Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Separated Material
  • Publication Rights
  • Appendix A. Selected List of Individuals whose Correspondence is among Kenny Papers
  • Appendix C. List of Individuals and Organizations Corresponding with Kenny

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library
    Title: Robert Walker Kenny Papers,
    creator: Kenny, Robert Walker, 1901-
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS .C-B 510
    Physical Description: 40 linear feet Number of containers: 41 boxes, 16 cartons, 5 oversize boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1920-1947
    Abstract: Chiefly his papers as Attorney General of California, 1942-1946; some material pertaining to his offices and judgeships, Los Angeles; State Senatorship; Prohibition repeal; legal problems of World War II, including Japanese evacuation and war industry reconversion; control of venereal diseases; U.S.-Mexican water negotiations; Indian claims; National and International Lawyers Guilds; minority groups and civil rights; United Nations Conference, San Francisco, 1945; the Nuremberg trials; support of Henry A. Wallace as Presidential candidate; private law practice.
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Biographical Information

    Robert Walker Kenny was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 21, 1901. His father was Robert W. Kenny, Sr., (1863-1914) a prominent banker and civic leader in Los Angeles and Berkeley, California. The elder Kenny's father, George Kenny, arrived in San Francisco in the early 1850s with his brothers-in-law A. L. Bancroft and Hubert Howe Bancroft. The three men formed a partnership and established the first bookstore in San Francisco. R. W. Kenny's maternal grandfather, George Carleton, was a pioneer orange grower in Riverside County, California, and a leader in the Methodist Church in Southern California.
    Kenny was educated at Harvard Military Academy and the University of Southern California Preparatory School, both in Los Angeles. He received his A.B. degree from Stanford University in 1921. He later studied law at the University of Southern California and was admitted to the State of California bar in 1926.
    From 1921 to 1927 Kenny worked as a newspaper reporter in the United States and Europe for various publication and press services, including the United Press in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London, the Chicago Tribunein Paris, France, and for the following Los Angeles newspapers: Los Angeles Evening Herald, Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Examiner.
    After his admittance to the Bar in 1926, Kenny was appointed in 1927 on the basis of a competitive civil service examination, to the position of Deputy Counsel for Los Angeles County in which capacity he served until 1931. While Deputy County Counsel, Kenny was assigned to attend sessions of the California Legislature at Sacramento under the auspices of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to handle bills affecting Los Angeles County.
    After working actively in the 1930 campaign for the election of James Rolph, Republican, as Governor, Kenny was appointed by Rolph to the Municipal Court of Los Angeles on September 14, 1931, and in 1932 he was elevated to the Superior Court.
    At this stage of his career Kenny considered himself a "liberal" Republican and in this role worked actively as a "wet" for the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1932 under the banner of the Crusaders, a Los Angeles organization dedicated to the repeal of the Prohibition Amendment. Kenny's anti-Prohibition attitudes also found expression in his work with the Liberal League, another Los Angeles non-partisan political organization which, in addition to its "wet" orientation vigorously sought to defeat the incumbent Los Angeles mayor, John C. Porter. In the hotly contested mayoralty election of 1933 Kenny worked with the Liberal League on behalf of candidate Frank L. Shaw who defeated Porter decisively.
    In 1934 Kenny sought his first elective office, his position on the Superior Court bench to which he had been appointed originally by Governor Rolph. In this campaign Kenny received support from broad segments of the area and won easily.
    In 1938 Kenny ran as a Democrat for the State Senate. He won both the Democratic and Republican nominations in the primary election and went on to defeat his Progressive Party opponent in the general election by an overwhelming margin. In the same campaign he served as Chairman of the State Democratic Central Finance Committee for the election of Culbert L. Olson to the office of Governor.
    While in the State Senate Kenny became the Administration's floor leader but soon disaffected from Governor Olson's program on a number of major issues. In 1940 Kenny participated in an unsuccessful attempt to recall Governor Olson. In this effort he offered himself as a candidate for the Governor's post in case a recall attempt against Olson succeeded.
    In November 1942 Kenny running as a Democrat was elected Attorney General for the State of California for a four year term. In this election he quietly supported Republican candidate Earl Warren against Governor Olson who ran for a second term. Both Warren and Kenny won their contests by substantial margins.
    Among major developments or events occurring during Kenny's incumbency as Attorney General, January 1, 1943, to December 31, 1946, as reflected in this collection are: Kenny's interest in civil rights problems growing out of the return of wartime Japanese evacuees to California; his attendance of and reporting on the Nuremberg trials of German war criminals in March 1946; his activities in promoting a favorable solution of the problem of post-war reconversion of West Coast war industries; his reorganization of the Attorney General's Office; his efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to cause the defeat of a proposed U.S.-Mexican Water Treaty which Kenny believed was contrary to the best interests of the people of California; his activities to bring to a successful conclusion several decades of effort by the Indians of California to obtain a cash settlement of their claims against the United States Government based on treaties signed by representatives of the Government with the tribes in the 1850s; his participation in two dramatic criminal cases, which involved members of racial minority groups — the so-called Sleepy Lagoon Case and the Turner Case; his active intervention in the "Zoot Suit" riots of Los Angeles during World War II; his vigorous fight against the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in California in 1946; and his efforts to establish an international organization of lawyers with a liberal-oriented point of view during the organizing sessions of the United Nations Organization in San Francisco in 1945.
    In May 1946 Kenny announced that he would run for governor. His opponent was Earl Warren, who was seeking his second term. Kenny and Warren cross-filed and thereby appeared in opposition to each other on the ballots of both major parties in the primary election of June 1946. Warren defeated Kenny on both ballots, to retain his governorship for 4 more years. Kenny completed his term as Attorney General in December 1946 and thereafter returned to private law practice in Los Angeles.

    Selected List of Public and Private Offices held by Robert W. Kenny

    1. Deputy County Counsel of Los Angeles County, 1927-1931
    2. Municipal Judge, Los Angeles County, 1931-1932
    3. Superior Court Judge, Los Angeles County, 1932-1938
    4. Chairman, Democratic State Central Finance Committee, 1938
    5. State Senator from Los Angeles area, 1939-1942
    6. Director, Tivoli Beer Company
    7. Partner in law firm of Vallee, Beilenson and Kenny, 1939
    8. President, National Lawyers Guild, 1940-1948
    9. Attorney General, State of California, January 1943-December 1946
    10. Director, Los Angeles County Law Library Board, 1943
    11. President, California Housing and Planning Association, 1943
    12. Director, Oceanic Oil Company, 1944
    13. Member, Advisory Pardon Board, 1944
    14. Chairman, California Commission on Interstate Cooperation, 1945-1946.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Robert Walker Kenny papers, BANC MSS C-B 510, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection contains a small amount of correspondence and printed material dating beyond the end of Kenny's term as Attorney General. Much of this material deals with his activity in 1947 to promote Henry Wallace as an independent candidate for the Presidency. (Carton 13, Misc. Political Campaign, 1947)
    The correspondence, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, speeches, press releases, personal miscellany and political campaign material reflect in varying degrees all phases of Kenny's professional and political career. The great bulk of the collection, however, deals with his service as Attorney General, State of California, from January 1943 to December 1946, and in the same period, his activities as an executive in various private and public organizations. A considerable amount of the letters received and sent by Kenny as Attorney General are concerned with the routine responsibilities and administrative operations of his office, including those of his principal subordinates. Among such material are requests for employment and for letters of recommendation, routine correspondence relating to meetings, conferences, speaking engagements and travel, acknowledgement of receipt of minutes of meetings and reports, formal and informal opinions regarding proposed and enacted legislation prepared by deputies of the Attorney General's Office.
    All political campaigns in which Kenny was an active participant are represented in varying degrees in the collection. These include: the "wet" campaign of the "Crusaders" in 1932; the Los Angeles mayoralty contest of 1933, as an adherent of the "Liberal League;" Kenny's campaign in 1934 to serve as Superior Court judge; Culbert Olson's gubernatorial campaign and Kenny's contest for State Senate in 1938; campaign for Attorney General in 1942; and Kenny's unsuccessful race for Governor against Earl Warren in 1946.
    The collection contains correspondence reflecting other official appointive posts held by Kenny while Attorney General. These include: Chairman, California Commission on Interstate Cooperation; member, Advisory Pardon Board and Director, Los Angeles County Law Library. At the same time he occupied the office of President, National Lawyers Guild, and for two years he served as President, California Housing and Planning Association.
    The collection also contains some correspondence relating to Kenny's private law practice and other business connections. With respect to the former, there is correspondence by Kenny as a member of the firm of Vallee, Beilenson and Kenny from 1939 to 1940, and later correspondence relating to his law partnership with Morris E. Cohn. Kenny's private business associations included his serving on the boards of directors of the Citizens' National Bank, Oceanic Oil Company and the Tivoli Beer Company.
    Copies of letters sent by subordinate officials and employees of Kenny's office are interfiled in proper chronological sequence with letters originating with Kenny. Letters and memoranda by such individuals addressed to Kenny are filed alphabetically by name of the writer in Interoffice Memoranda (Boxes 40 and 41).
    The Kenny collection was given to the Bancroft Library by Robert W. Kenny in December 1952.
    Additional Kenny papers are at UCLA. Janet Stevenson tapes of Kenny are deposited with her papers at the University of Oregon.

    Separated Material

    A collection of portraits and photographs of Kenny and his colleagues, political campaign rallies, photographs of California sheriffs, etc. were removed to portrait drawer 2406-2544.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.

    Appendix A. Selected List of Individuals whose Correspondence is among Kenny Papers

    Duncan Aikman

    Note

    Personal friend of Kenny.
    Dewey Anderson

    Note

    Director of SRA under Governor Olson.

    Note

    See Anderson letter to Kenny, July 10, 1946.
    Jerry Askwith (Miss)

    Note

    Personal friend of Kenny.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Askwith, May 13, 1946.
    Fred A. Baker

    Note

    Attorney, represented Attorney General's Office in Washington D.C. in 1946 in handling California Indian Claims.

    Note

    See Baker letter to Wylie, May 14, 1946.
    Wendell Berge

    Note

    U.S. Assistant Attorney General in charge of Anti-Trust work.

    Note

    See Berge letter to Kenny, April 18, 1945.
    Manchester Boddy

    Note

    Publisher, Los Angeles News.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Boddy, May 16, 1946.
    James Bolger

    Note

    Personal friend of Kenny.

    Note

    See Bolger letter to Kenny, August 17, 1943.
    Blair Bolles

    Note

    Writer. Wrote article about Kenny in April 1946 issue of Coronet.

    Note

    See Wylie letter to Bolles, January 16, 1946.
    Edwin O. Both

    Note

    Former employee of Attorney General's Office who became prolific correspondent with Kenny after entering military service.
    Walter L. Bowers

    Note

    Assistant Attorney General in charge of Division of Civil Law in Los Angeles.
    Col. Evans F. Carlson

    Note

    Military hero and potential candidate in 1945-46 for Governor of California as Democrat.

    Note

    See Carlson letters to Kenny, October 1, 1945, and June 14, 1946; also Kenny letter to M. Blankfort, December 26, 1945.
    Tom Clark

    Note

    U.S. Attorney General and later U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

    Note

    See Clark letters to Kenny, April 21 and 25, 1945.
    Morris E. Cohn

    Note

    Kenny's law partner after Kenny's term as Attorney General; also frequent "ghost" writer for Kenny while Attorney General.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Friends, May 8, 1946.
    Stan Delaplane

    Note

    Newspaper reporter and columnist.

    Note

    See Delaplane letter to Kenny, June 11, 1943.
    Helen Gahagan Douglas

    Note

    Member of Congress, Democrat.

    Note

    See Douglas letter to Kenny, June 30, 1946.
    William O. Douglas

    Note

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

    Note

    See undelivered speech by Kenny nominating Douglas for Vice President in 1944.
    Sheridan Downey

    Note

    U.S. Senator.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Downey, August 17, 1943.
    Charles Flato

    Note

    Personal friend of Kenny.

    Note

    See Flato letter, to Kenny, March 8, 1945.
    Abe Fortas

    Note

    Under Secretary of the Interior.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Fortas, June 23, 1944.
    John Gunther

    Note

    Author and personal friend of Kenny.

    Note

    See Gunther letter to Kenny, April 18, 1946.
    Stella Hail

    Note

    Kenny's secretary, 1943-44.
    Robert Hannegan

    Note

    Chairman, National Democratic Committee.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Hannegan, June 27, 1945.
    Nora B. Helm

    Note

    Kenny's secretary in 1939.

    Note

    See letter by Kenny, December 15, 1939.
    Jess Hession

    Note

    Assistant Attorney General at Sacramento in charge of Criminal Law.
    Eugene Huston

    Note

    Chief, Division of General Administration at Sacramento.
    Harold Ickes

    Note

    Secretary of the Interior.

    Note

    See Ickes letter to Kenny, December 26, 1945.
    Charles W. Johnson

    Note

    Supervising Deputy Attorney General, whose professional ability was highly regarded by Kenny.

    Note

    See Johnson's letter to Kenny, June 8, 1946.
    Henry Kaiser

    Note

    Industrialist, who was considered by Kenny in 1944 as a prospect for Democratic Vice President.
    Harvey Kilgore

    Note

    U.S. Senator and political supporter of Kenny.

    Note

    See Kilgore letter to Kenny, July 12, 1945.
    Paul Leake

    Note

    Collector of Customs in San Francisco and prominent California Democratic politician.

    Note

    See Leake letter to Kenny, May 3, 1946.
    Adolph Levy

    Note

    Participated in Kenny's 1946 campaign in Los Angeles area.
    Clarence A. Linn

    Note

    A Deputy Attorney General in Kenny's office. Also a personal friend of Kenny before he became Attorney General.

    Note

    See Linn letter to Kenny, January 23, 1940.
    Hartwell H. Linney

    Note

    Chief Assistant Attorney General at San Francisco Office.
    William Malone

    Note

    A leading Democratic politician in Northern California while Kenny was Attorney General.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Malone, May 16, 1946.
    Groucho Marx

    Note

    Motion Picture actor and political admirer of Kenny.

    Note

    See Marx letter to Kenny, December 7, 1945.
    Everett W. Matoon

    Note

    Deputy Attorney General in Los Angeles office. Mattoon was Chief Counsel for Los Angeles County in 1928-31 while Kenny was serving as a Deputy Counsel.
    Maury Maverick

    Note

    U.S. Congressman. Administrator in war production program in Washington during World War II. Briefly a law partner of Kenny after Kenny's term as Attorney General.
    J. H. McClelland

    Note

    Chief, Division of Identification at Sacramento.
    Carey McWilliams

    Note

    Writer, attorney and personal friend of Kenny.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to McWilliams, October 7, 1944.
    Justin Miller

    Note

    Judge in U.S. Court of Appeals and friend of Kenny.

    Note

    See Miller letter to Kenny, October 9, 1943.
    Robert Morris, Jr.

    Note

    Assistant Attorney General in charge of Civil Law in Los Angeles Office in 1945. Became Kenny's law partner after his term as Attorney General.

    Note

    See Morris's letter to Wylie, September 24, 1946.
    Janet S. Marony

    Note

    Kenny's Confidential Secretary.
    James H. Oakley

    Note

    Assistant Attorney General at Sacramento in charge of Division of Civil Law.
    F. J. O'Ferral

    Note

    Chief, Division of Narcotic Enforcement in San Francisco.
    Culbert L. Olson

    Note

    Governor of California 1938-1942. Kenny served as Chairman of his finance committee in 1938 campaign.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Olson, September 21, 1939, and Kenny letter to Frank Walker, November 8, 1943.
    Edward Pauley

    Note

    Industrialist and prominent national Democratic politician.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Pauley, April 21, 1943.
    Martin Popper

    Note

    Executive Secretary of National Lawyers Guild while Kenny was President of the Guild.
    Robert B. Powers

    Note

    Coordinator of Law Enforcement agencies at Sacramento.
    James Rolph

    Note

    Governor of California, 1931-1935. Appointed Kenny to Municipal Court of Los Angeles in 1931.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Rolph, September 28, 1931.
    Arvin B. Shaw

    Note

    Assistant Attorney General. Worked on U.S. Mexican Water Treaty.

    Note

    See Shaw letter to Kenny, April 8, 1943.
    James C. Sheppard

    Note

    Prominent Democrat in Southern California who helped direct Kenny's 1946 campaign for Governor.
    James G. Smyth

    Note

    Collector of Internal Revenue in San Francisco and political associate of Kenny.

    Note

    See Kenny telegram to President Roosevelt, February 28, 1945.
    Tallant Tubbs

    Note

    Republican politician whom Kenny supported for U.S. Senate in 1932.

    Note

    See Kenny's letter to Tubbs, July 5, 1940.
    Cornelius Vanderbilt

    Note

    Writer and friend of Kenny.
    Jerry Voorhis

    Note

    U.S. Congressman from California and a Democrat.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Voorhis, June 15, 1944.
    Frank Walker

    Note

    Chairman, Democratic National Committee.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Walker, November 8, 1943.
    George W. Walker

    Note

    Kenny's uncle.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Walker, September 24, 1931.
    Earl Warren

    Note

    Governor of California during Kenny's term as Attorney General and Kenny's predecessor in that office.
    Walter White

    Note

    Secretary, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    Note

    See White letter to Kenny, May 2, 1946.
    Leon R. Yankwich

    Note

    U.S. District Judge and personal friend of Kenny.

    Note

    See Kenny letter to Yankwich, February 17, 1944.

    Appendix C. List of Individuals and Organizations Corresponding with Kenny

    (Appendix B, a selected list of public and private offices held by Robert W. Kenny, was moved to the Biographical Information section of this electronic finding aid.)
    Please note: This list does not include every individual who wrote to Kenny. It is a list of the folder headings of Boxes 13-39 of the collection. It will not include the names of many persons who wrote as members of organizations (some of these names will appear on added entry cards in the Manuscripts Catalog), nor of many persons from whom there is only one letter in the collection. Single letters from persons or organizations are filed in the appropriate miscellanies.
    Miscellaneous folder
    20 letters. 1939-46
    Association of Highway Patrolmen
    2 letters. 1944-45
    Boys State, Inc.
    2 letters. 1943-46
    Citizens Against 30 Thursday
    4 letters. 1939
    Club, Los Angeles
    2 letters. 1932-45
    Congress of Parents and Teachers
    5 letters. 1939-45
    Eagle, Los Angeles
    3 letters. 1943-46
    Farmer-Labor-Consumer Committee to Combat Inflation
    3 letters. 1944
    Housing and Planning Association
    5 letters. 1942-44
    Indian Rights Association, Inc.
    5 letters. 1943-45
    Joint Immigration Committee
    38 letters. 1938-40
    Producers and Growers, Inc.
    1 letter. 1943
    Real Estate Association
    3 letters. 1931-43
    Safety Council, Inc.
    4 letters. 1944
    State Association of Optometrists
    3 letters. 1944-46
    State Bar Association and Committee of Bar Examiners
    13 letters. 1939-46
    State Chamber of Commerce
    4 letters. 1938-45
    State Employees Association
    5 letters. 1940-46
    State Federation of Labor
    5 letters. 1943-46
    State Nurses Association, Inc.
    2 letters. 1939
    State Teachers' Association
    4 letters. 1943-46

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Judges--California
    Lawyers--California
    Prohibition
    World War, 1939-1945--Evacuation of civilians
    Japanese--California
    Water-supply--California
    Indians of North America--California
    Sexually transmitted diseases
    Civil rights--California
    Minorities--California
    California--Politics and government
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--Politics and government
    California--Economic conditions
    United States--Foreign relations--Mexico
    Kenny, Robert Walker, 1901-
    Wallace, Henry A. (Henry Agard), 1888-1965
    California. Legislature. Senate
    Republican Party (Calif.)
    Democratic Party (Calif.)
    National Lawyers Guild
    California. Office of the Attorney General