Register of the Papers of
Patrick Stanton (1907-1976) was a radio broadcaster in Philadelphia and one of the most prominent Irish-Americans in the city. He was best known for his work in radio and was one of the broadcast pioneers. He served as Press Secretary for former mayor James H.J. Tate from 1963 through 1971 and also served on a number of public service committees. He produced and distributed Irish films and did much to promote Irish culture in both his public and private life. A large portion of Stanton's time was devoted to aiding Irish individuals and organizations both in the Philadelphia area and other parts of the United States. The scope of these activities was so large that he was referred to at times as an "Irish consul without portfolio."
Born the eighth of sixteen children in County Cork, Ireland, on May 22, 1907, Patrick Stanton was brought to Philadelphia by his father's sister in 1912. At age fourteen, he entered Holy Ghost Seminary College in Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania. After three years of study he left school and joined the Mae Desmond touring stock company in 1924. He also worked in films at Edison studios in New York City.
In 1926 Stanton returned to Philadelphia and began work at radio station WIAD which later became WELK and then WDAS. Stanton rose from announcer to chief announcer, program director, general manager and eventually became vice-president. It was while at WELK that Stanton began broadcasting his Irish Hour. The best known of his programs, it ran consecutively for nearly fifty years. During this period, Stanton was editor-in-chief of the WDAS newsletter, "WDAS Merry Go Round News." He also wrote a column titled "Philadelphia Notes" from October 1936 through October 1937 for the Irish World and American Industrial Liberator.
In 1946 Stanton left WDAS and, in 1948 established his own radio station, WJMJ. The station featured religious programs, primarily Roman Catholic, and also devoted a considerable amount of time to foreign language programs. Stanton sold WJMJ in 1965 but continued to broadcast his Irish Hour on radio stations WKDN and WTMR in Camden, New Jersey.
After selling WJMJ Stanton turned to new activities. He served as headquarters manager for former mayor James H. J. Tate during his campaign for re-election in 1967 and served as Tate's Press Secretary from 1968 through 1971. Stanton was also a member of a number of public service committees such as those for Anti-Poverty, the Heart Fund, Law Day, the 1976 Bicentennial, and the American Cancer Society.
Stanton was active in the production and presentation of Irish films. He made numerous trips to Ireland and produced travelogues from footage that was shot during three of these trips. In 1936 he produced Seeing Ireland and in 1939, Here Is Ireland. A third film was produced between 1946 and 1950. (This third film is referred to as My Ireland in Stanton's biographies, but the only reference in the collection to a third film is for one entitled, Rambles In Erin. Whether these two films are the same or different cannot be determined.) Here Is Ireland was the first all color travelogue about Ireland and is considered a classic in its field. Besides producing and showing his own films, Stanton also distributed and presented other Irish films.
Stanton was a member of various clubs and organizations in Philadelphia. He served on almost every major communications organization in the city as either an officer or board member. He served in the same capacities at various times for the Poor Richard Club, the Saint Patrick's Day Observance Committee, and the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick.
Stanton was the recipient of many honors, awards, and testimonials during his lifetime. Most significant of these was the Star of Solidarity, presented to Stanton in 1950 by the Italian government in recognition of his service to Italian-Americans.
Stanton was married in 1937 to Mary C. DeMay and had two daughters and a son. He served as a Lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard Reserve during World War Two. He was also a longtime friend of the former Prime Minister and President of Ireland, Eamon de Valera. Stanton died in March 1976.
The Patrick Stanton Papers were presented to the Balch Institute by The Estate of Patrick Stanton and Mrs. Patrick Stanton, June 10, 1976 and December 6, 1976.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The bulk of the material in the Patrick Stanton collection covers the period from the late 1930's to 1976 and documents primarily Stanton's private life and radio and film activities as they relate to Ireland and the Irish-American community. Contained in the collection are biographies, correspondence, speeches, radio scripts, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, certificates, photographs, and a large amount of material on Irish history and culture, including a manuscript book of poetry written by an Irish Fenian during the years 1867-1872. The papers are divided into five sections: general papers, public activities, honors and awards, miscellaneous papers, and photographs.
The GENERAL PAPERS section documents primarily the period 1945-1965 and consists of those materials which relate to Stanton's private life and activities. However, since there was much overlapping of Stanton's private and public activities, a portion of the material in this section refers to matters of a less personal nature. There is some material here which relates to Stanton's informal work with individuals in the Irish-American community and in Ireland. For example, a folder of correspondence generated by a January 1958 Catholic Digest article on Stanton illustrates the type of requests for assistance which Stanton often received; a file on the Ballaghaderreen Orphanage in Ireland, from 1971, relates to an annual St. Patrick's Day service performed by Stanton in which he sold shamrocks for the orphanage. The correspondence files, both general and individual, pertain mainly to private matters on radio and film activities. The Father John O'Reilly correspondence contains letters of introduction for Stanton for his trip to Ireland in 1946. There are also a number of speeches by Stanton in this section, and a personal file contains several short biographies of him.
The remainder of the section pertains to private matters. Notable among these are a file of material relating to Stanton's friendship with Eamon de Valera, a folder of material on Stanton's close friend John McCormack, the famous Irish singer; and some material about the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick.
The PUBLIC ACTIVITIES section consists almost entirely of material relating to Stanton's radio and film activities. His acting and political careers are documented by only one folder each. His public service career is represented by a folder of material from the 1976 Bicentennial Corporation, and his activities with professional organizations are contained in two folders on the Poor Richard Club. There is a fair amount of material on Stanton's film activities covering the production, presentation, and distribution of films in the years 1939-1954. Most prominent here is a folder on Here Is Ireland.
Though there is a great deal of material on Stanton's radio career, coverage is incomplete. The bulk of the material relates to the Irish Hour and consists of listeners' letters, 1965-1971: social calendar material (a segment of the Irish Hour in which Stanton made free courtesy announcements for Irish organizations), 1969-1976; and 'Ramblin Mike' scripts which were written in Ireland by James O'Brien and broadcast by Stanton, approximately 1946-1952. A general file contains material on the establishment of WJMJ, 1946-1948, among others. Other important radio files are those containing letters in response to Stanton's refusal to air a probable anti-Semitic broadcast by Father Coughlin in 1938: a file on Michael Deegan, the program director at WJMJ, which contains material relating to the type of programming carried by that station: and several Hokus Pokus radio scripts (in which Stanton was Hokus), 1929-1930. A file on Richard Hayward pertains to film, radio, and personal matters from 1939-1942.
The HONORS AND AWARDS section contains certificates and other awards presented to Stanton, and testimonial dinners given in his honor. Among the awards are the Star of Solidarity, 1950; the Pro-Fide Medal of the Catholic Banking Employees of Philadelphia, 1954; the Sacred Heart Award, 1959; and various certificates from public and private agencies and organizations. Testimonial dinners were given by various Irish societies, 1960; the Poor Richard Club, 1968; and the Broadcast Pioneers, 1972.
The MISCELLANEOUS section contains material relating to Irish history, culture, and politics, as well as three scrapbooks and one folder of clippings on Stanton's life and activities. Included in the Irish material is a copy of the Constitution of Ireland autographed by Eamon de Valera. Prominent here also is a manuscript book of poetry written by Donal O'Herlihy, 1865-1872, while imprisoned in County Cork Jail for Fenian activities connected with the uprising of 1863. There is a significant amount of material on Irish history and culture, some collected by Stanton but most given to him by Edward Lee, the founder of the Four Provinces Orchestra, and by others. Histories of Irish songs, lyrics, and sheet music are also included.
The PHOTOGRAPHS section contains photographs of Stanton and the people he had contact with on both a personal and public level. Most prominent are former Philadelphia mayors James Tate and Frank Rizzo , and various Irish politicians, including Eamon de Valera. Located here are an alphabetical file of photographs, miscellaneous photographs, and a small album. Photos that were removed from other sections of this collection have also been placed here.
The box list of the Register of the Papers of Patrick Stanton is seven pages