Guide to the Edward J. McKenna. Jr. Collection 1942-1977 MG 1678


Descriptive Summary
Historical Note:
Scope and Content Note
Access Points
Related Material
Administrative Information

Series Descriptions and Container List

Series 1: Papers, 1942-1977.

Series 2: Photographs, 1943-1956.

Guide to the Edward J. McKenna. Jr. Collection
MG 1678

The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
© 2006 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Processed by Douglas Baldwin.

Finding aid encoded by Julia Telonidis. February 2007. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.Finding aid written in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: McKenna, Edward J., Jr.
Title: Edward J. McKenna. Jr. Collection
Dates 1942-1977
Abstract: This collection consists mostly of materials pertaining to the political career of Edward J. McKenna, Jr., mayor of Irvington,
NJ from 1954 to 1958.
Quantity: .83 linear feet (2 boxes)
Collection Number: MG 1678

Historical Note:

Edward J. McKenna, Jr. was born in Monahan County, Ireland, in 1902. His family emigrated to New Jersey from England (according to the 1920 US census) in 1903. They lived in Newark, NJ for most of his childhood. His father, Edward McKenna Sr. was a baker by trade. In 1916, McKenna Sr. opened his own business, Mrs. Mac’s Kruller Baking Co. Edward J Mckenna (from this point forward referred to as “McKenna”), and his younger brother Robert, went to work for the family business as young men. In 1929, McKenna moved to Irvington, NJ with his wife Rosemary.

McKenna was not only a local businessman in the community. In the early 1940’s he became actively involved with the local Democratic party in Irvington, holding fundraiser and sponsoring political events through the Edward McKenna Association. In 1942, McKenna was elected to serve as a town commissioner for Irvington, which at that time was run under the commission form of government. This government form, in accordance with the Walsh act of 1911, operated where five commissioners were elected by the public. The five elected commissioners would then choose one of the commissioners to serve as mayor.

Being elected as a town commissioner, he made director of the Department of Parks and Public Property. He served in this position for 12 years. During his tenure as director, he was instrumental in various recreational programming initiatives in the township which included starting youth athletic leagues for football, baseball and basketball. He was also involved in planning and implementation of several various youth activity organizations, park beautification efforts, as well as various projects to upgrade and build affordable housing.

In 1954, due to some political shifting in the makeup of the Irvington Township Commission, McKenna was elected major of Irvington. He served as mayor for four years, when in 1958 he was defeated by William Lovell. McKenna was the second to last mayor, behind Lovell, to serve in the position under the commission form of government, which was disbanded by the township in 1962. In 1964, McKenna again made a bid for public office when he ran as a Democratic candidate for the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

After 1964, there is very little known about McKenna’s life. It is known that while holding political office he did continue to operate Mrs. Mac’s Kruller Baking Company. He was the father of four children, two sons (John and Edward III) and two daughters (Maureen and Joan).

As of 1957, he was he grandfather to thirteen grandchildren. However, no more progeny information is known from that time on. According to the Social Security Index, and a mass card located in Box 1, folder 4 of this collection, McKenna passed away in August 1977. However, it should be noted that this has not been fully confirmed through an obituary.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the professional papers and photographs of Edward J McKenna. Correspondance, flyers, invitations, memberships lists, newspaper clippings, gala programs and by marriage record stubs from ceremonies he performed as mayor of Irvington represent the papers in the collection. Most of the photographs in this collection represent various public appearances and events McKenna attended as a political figure.

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This collection is organized into two series:

Series 1: Papers (1942-1977)

Series 2: Photographs (1943-1956)

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Access Points

The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.
Subject Names:
McKenna, Edward J., Jr., 1902-1977.
Subject Topics:
Fund raising.
Marriage service–New Jersey–Irvington.
Mayoral elections.
Political campaigns.
Subject Places:
Irvington (N.J.)
Document Types:

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Related Material

The following represent items that were removed from the collection and transferred to the museum (Museum ID# 2006.37.1-3)

1. Forty (approximate count) small election pins from McKenna mayoral campaign.

2. Three small campaign banners.

For other collections containing the papers of former NJ mayors see:

Manuscript Group 189, Isaac Williamson (1767-1844), Governor of New Jersey Legal Notebook, The New Jersey Historical Society

Manuscript Group 283, Ewing Family (Trenton, NJ) Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society

Manuscript Group 287, James Parker (1725-1797) and John Parker (1729-1762) Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society

Manuscript Group 546, James Parker Journal, The New Jersey Historical Society

Manuscript Group 1645, Edgar P. Deuell Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society

For other collections regarding Irvington see:

Manuscript Group 81, Guide to the Camp Family Record Books, The New Jersey Historical Society

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 1678, Edward J. McKenna Jr. Collection, The New Jersey Historical Society.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Robert J Bishop Jr., 2006.

Processing Information:

The photographs and papers in this collection were removed from several large ledger books. The photographs were rehoused into individual mylar sleeves for preservation. The photographs have been processed and retained in the order in which they appear in ledgers. Surrogates were created for newspaper clippings that were in poor condition.

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Siegal, Alan A (1974).Out of Our Past: A History of Irvington NJ. American Graphics Inc. Irvington, NJ. Pp. 356-361, 375

“McKenna Seen as New Mayor.”

“Meet the Mayor: He Has a Sweet Job.” Newark Sunday News. July 21, 1957. (Box 1, Folder 10)

“The Tuesday Election – Choices.”Irvington Herald. Oct, 1964. (Box 1, Folder 10)

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Series Descriptions and Container List

Series 1: Papers, 1942-1977.

Scope and Content:

This series consists of ten folders of documents representative of McKenna’s professional career. The folders containing his correspondence largely deal with letters of congratulations on his successful election as township commissioner in 1950 as well as letters of congratulations from McKenna to local politicians in 1950 and 1952. However, the correspondence in this series also includes fundraiser and event invitations, form letters to township constituents, geographic health information, and other administrative business.

There are also three folders containing miscellaneous documentary items which include a mass card, flyers from fundraising and charitable events, an election returns sheet, Democratic Club memberships lists, a radio address script, a check book, a certificate and several copies of a local newspaper “Spotlight on Essex”.

Two additional folders contain papers related to marriage ceremonies McKenna performed as mayor during the mid-1950s. There are some blank forms pertaining to the marriage ceremony and a a small bridal book containing short poems which may have been used during ceremonies. The second folder of this group has RESTRICTED ACCESS due to the personal information that is contained in them. This folder contains marriage certificate stubs that contain personal information about the bride and groom.

Additionally, there are two folders that contain surrogate copies of original newspaper clippings McKenna collected during the 1940s and 1950s. These clippings are mostly related to business and social news occurring in the township of Irvington during this time period. Topics include taxes, school and library funding, housing, social events, commission and board meetings, the local Democratic party, and various township initiatives.

Finally, there are two folders of gala programs from for the “Annual Gala Broadway Show and Dance” which was organized by the Edward J McKenna Association. Each program is largely filled with paid advertisements purchased by various boosters.

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Correspondence, General 1949-1953, 1964, 1968
1 2 Correspondance, Mayoral Elections 1950, 1952
1 3 Withdrawn checks ledger 1969
1 4 Mass card and three (3) copies of the “Spotlight on Essex” newspaper 1945-1946, 1977
1 5 Miscellaneous papers 1949-1950
1 6 Marriage ceremony related blank papers, the booklet “Bridal Bells” ca. 1950ajaaaa
1 7 **RESTRICTED ACCESS** Marriage license stubs from ceremonies perfomed by Edward J. McKenna, Jr. 1954-1957
1 8 Edward J. McKenna Association Annual Gala Broadway Show and Dance programs 1943, 1945, 1948
1 9 Edward J. McKenna Association Annual Gala Broadway Show and Dance programs 1951-1952, 1955, 1957
1 10 Newspaper clippings 1942-1964
1 11 Newspaper clippings 1942-1964

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Series 2: Photographs, 1943-1956.

Scope and Content:

This series contains four folders of mostly 8×10 photographs and prints. Most of the photographs appear to represent McKenna’s participation in social functions, fundraisers, youth athletics sponsorship and political appearances. The majority of the photographs are in black and white. However, there are 32 photographs in box 2, folder 3 which are in color and are smaller than 8×10 (approximately 3×5) that appear to be personal photographs of family trips.

Unfortunately, the photographs for the most part are not labeled either with dates or descriptive information, therefore it is difficult to provide this information about them. The date range used from this series was derived from the limited number of photographs for which descriptive information was present.

Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Photographs 1943-1956
2 2 Photographs 1943-1956
2 3 Photographs 1943-1956
2 4 Photographs 1943-1956
2 5 Photographs 1943-1956
2 6 Photographs 1943-1956

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