by Tiffany Davis, University Communications Office, Marshall University
Marshall University has acquired the papers of the late political consultant Matthew A. Reese from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston.
Reese was a native of Huntington, West Virginia, and a 1950 graduate of Marshall. He came onto the national political scene in 1960 when he organized the West Virginia volunteer primary campaign for John F. Kennedy’s bid for the White House.
As recognized by The Washington Post, Reese was considered the founder and godfather of the professional political consulting business. During a career that spanned more than three decades, he worked in more than 450 political campaigns in the United States and abroad. Among his candidates were Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), Russell Long (D-La.), Charles S. Robb (D-Va.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va.) and John Glenn (D-Ohio); House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) and Nick Joe Rahall (D-W. Va.); as well as several governors and local officials.
“We are proud of Matthew Reese’s legacy and honored that Marshall is now the repository for this significant collection of papers,” said Nat DeBruin, head archivist for Marshall University Archives and Special Collections.
In 1980, Reese began donating the professional papers of Matthew Reese Associates, consisting mainly of candidate campaign materials, to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2015, the JFK Library contacted Marshall University’s Archives and Special Collections to determine the possibility of transferring the Reese collection to the University.
With the Reese family’s approval, the records transfer began in October 2015 and processing the collection began in January. Since then, the family has generously provided even more of Reese’s personal papers, awards and memorabilia to give the collection a more personal touch.
“Marshall University is very grateful for the gift of the Matthew A. Reese Collection,” DeBruin said. “We feel that it provides not only a valuable research tool to the students of the modern political process in this country, but also insight into the man who made it happen.”
University officials and members of the Reese family gathered at Morrow Library today, Tuesday, Oct. 4, on the Huntington campus for a ceremony officially welcoming the noted political figure’s papers to Marshall. The reception was hosted by Marshall University Libraries, the Library Associates and the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy.