James F. Cunningham
Manuscripts & Rare Books Division
Indiana State Library
Finding Aid by: Sarah Pfundstein, August, 2012
James Frances Cunningham “Mr. Democrat” was born August 5th 1902 in Indianapolis. His parents were Thomas J. and Ella A. Cunningham. He had three siblings Bob, Carey, and Mary Cunningham. James graduated from St John’s Catholic High School and attended the University of Notre Dame for two years before dropping out. He started in politics in1922 as a polling clerk, and in 1934, he was elected to Center Township assessor a position he held for 36 years. He was also elected to the sheriff’s office in 1948 for a single term. Cunningham retired from office on December 31, 1978 after losing bid for a tenth term. Despite the loss, Cunningham remained involved in politics, serving on the Marion County Liquor Board in 1979. Mr. Cunningham passed away October 9th 1989.
Information Found within Collection _
In an interview recorded on February 9, 1977, James Cunningham discusses his parents and their Irish heritage, his father’s work at the Pennsylvania railroad and move to the near South Side. He talks about attending St. John’s Catholic school, the brothers of the Holy Cross and school life in the early twentieth century. He talks about growing up in the near south side, the sports he participated in as a child and part time jobs he held growing up.
He mentioned dropping out of the University of Notre Dame and starting his first job, his eventual start in politics and how his brother influenced his career choice. Cunningham also talks about living in Indianapolis in the twenties and the social atmosphere downtown. His continual love of sports comes up as he recalls riding around the speedway with Wild Bill Cummins and living across the street from Reb Russell’s family. He ends the interview talking about his love for the city and its people.
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2-9-1977 One transcript
Size of Collection: One transcript
Collection Dates: 1977
Access: The Collection is Open for Research Use
Reproduction Rights: Permission to reproduce, exhibit, or publish material in this collection must be obtained from the Manuscript and Rare Books Division, Indiana State Library.
Language: Materials are entirely in: English