DATES: 1957-1960

SIZE: 11.25 linear feet


ACQUISITION: The John E. Davis Papers were deposited in the Orin G. Libby Manuscript Collection by John E. Davis in 1970.

ACCESS: Available for inspection under the rules and regulations of the Department of Special Collections.


John Edward Davis was born on April 18, 1913, to James and Helen Davis, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although his family was from Goodrich, North Dakota, Davis was born in Minneapolis because other family members lived nearby. Ten days after his birth, the family returned to Goodrich.

After attending several years of high school in Fargo, Davis graduated from Bismarck High School in 1931. Later that fall, Davis enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. While at the University, Davis pledged for Beta Theta Pi, and was active in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). He was the ranking officer in Scabbard and Blade, an organization of select Senior ROTC cadet officers. He graduated from UND with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce in 1935.

Davis returned to Goodrich and took over management of his family's ranch and farm. In May 1941, he was drafted into the United States Army. He reported first to Fort Snelling, before being sent to Camp Robinson, Arkansas, where he became commander of Company C, 134th Infantry, First Battalion. He saw extensive combat duty in the European Theater, and was awarded a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Silver Star. He separated from the United States Army on July 31, 1945, from Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

In 1946, Davis was elected mayor of McClusky, North Dakota, serving until 1952. That year, he successfully ran for a position in the North Dakota State Senate. He served in the Senate until 1956, when he was nominated for Governor on the Republican ticket. He defeated the Democratic candidate, Wally Warner, in the fall election. He was re-elected in 1958, and served until 1960. He was a candidate for the United States Senate in 1960, bu was defeated by Quentin Burdick. He was again a candidate for the Republican nomination in 1964, but lost to Tom Kleppe. In 1966, Davis was honored with the Sioux Award, the University of North Dakota Alumni Association's highest honor.

Davis was elected the American Legion national commander from 1967-1968, and was appointed Director of the Office of Civil Defense by President Richard Nixon in 1969. The agency was renamed in 1972 as the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency. Following his retirement in 1976, he was awarded the Department of Defense Service Medal.

In 1977, Davis returned to North Dakota to operate the family ranch and resume presidency of the First National Bank of McClusky. In 1978, he received the Greater North Dakota Award from the Greater North Dakota Association. He was active in many organizations, including the Elks, Masons, and the Scottish Rite and the Shrine.

John Davis married Pauline Huntley in 1938. The couple had three children: John, Jr., Richard, and Kathleen. The couple divorced after forty years of marriage in 1978, after which he married Marilyn R. Westlie in 1980. John E. Davis died on May 12, 1990, in Rancho Mirage, California.


"'It Was Easy to Get Involved': An Interview with Governor John E. Davis." Edited by Gerald G. Newborg. Gerald G. Newborg. North Dakota History.v70, n1 (2003): 2-25.


The John E. Davis Papers date from 1957-1960, and consist of correspondence and office files from Davis' tenure as Governor of North Dakota. The files have been arranged alphabetically by folder subject title.


Box 1

  1. Abstracters Board of Examiners
  2. Adjutant General
  3. Agriculture - disaster
  4. Agriculture - disaster
  5. Agriculture and Labor
  6. Agriculture - Reduction of freight rates
  7. Atomic Energy
  8. Attorney General Opinions
  9. Board of Accounting
  10. Board of Barber Examiners
  11. Board of Budget
  12. Board of Registration for Professional Engineers
  13. Boy Scouts of America
  14. Civil Defense - Fallout protection and problems
  15. Civil Defense - Local and area organizations
  16. Civil Rights
  17. Commission, Dairy Products Promotion
  18. Commission, North Dakota Crippled Children's
  19. Commission on Alcoholism
  20. Commission on Small Business
  21. Committee on Children and Youth
  22. Committee on Children and Youth, Governor's
  23. Committee on Children and Youth, Governor's
  24. Committee on Children and Youth, Governor's
  25. Committee on Children and Youth, Governor's
  26. Consuls
  27. Congratulations
  28. Corps of Engineers
  29. Credit
  30. Dakota Territory Centennial Commission
  31. Dakota Territory Centennial Commission
  32. Department of Insurance
  33. Department of Public Instruction
  34. Directories
  35. Disaster Proceedings
  36. Disaster Proceeding

Box 2

  1. District Judges
  2. District Judgeship - State
  3. Economic Development Commission
  4. Economic Development Commission
  5. Economic Development Commission
  6. Economic Development Commission
  7. Economic Development Commission
  8. "A" Fan (General Correspondence)
  9. "B" Fan (General Correspondence)
  10. "C" Fan (General Correspondence)
  11. "D" Fan (General Correspondence)
  12. "F" Fan (General Correspondence)
  13. "G" Fan (General Correspondence)
  14. "H" Fan (General Correspondence)
  15. "I" Fan (General Correspondence)
  16. "L" Fan (General Correspondence)
  17. "M" Fan (General Correspondence)
  18. "P" Fan (General Correspondence)
  19. "R" Fan (General Correspondence)
  20. "S" Fan (General Correspondence)
  21. "T" Fan (General Correspondence)
  22. "W" Fan (General Correspondence) (See box 9 for "U" Fan)
  23. Education, Federal Assistance to
  24. Emergency Commission
  25. Employment Services
  26. Fargo Disaster
  27. Farm Bureau
  28. Farmers Home Administration
  29. Federal Administration
  30. Flags - 1960
  31. Flood Problems, River Water
  32. Fort Lincoln
  33. Game and Fish Department
  34. Garrison Dam Project, 1957
  35. Garrison Dam Project, 1958
  36. Garrison Dam Project, 1957
  37. Garrison Dam Project, 1957
  38. Garrison Dam Project, 1958
  39. Garrison Darn Project, 1959

Box 3

  1. Garrison Dam Project, 1959
  2. Garrison Dam Project, 1959
  3. Garrison Dam Project, 1960
  4. Garrison Dam Project, 1960
  5. Garrison Diversion conservation District
  6. Governor's Mansion
  7. Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Association
  8. Greater North Dakota Association
  9. Handicapped, Employment of physically
  10. Health Planning Committee
  11. Health Planning Committee
  12. Higher Education, State Board of
  13. Higher Education - Agricultural College
  14. Higher Education - Dickinson Teachers College
  15. Higher Education - Ellendale Normal
  16. Higher Education - Jamestown College
  17. Higher Education - Mayville State Teachers College
  18. Higher Education - School of Forestry
  19. Higher Education - Minot State Teachers College
  20. Higher Education - Valley City State Teachers College
  21. Higher Education - Wahpeton, State School of Science
  22. Highway Construction and Repair Requests, 1958-59
  23. Highway Improvement
  24. Highways, Interstate
  25. Highways, Interstate
  26. Highways, Interstate
  27. Highways, State
  28. Highways, State

Box 4

  1. Indian Affairs Commission
  2. Indian Affairs Commission
  3. Indian Affairs Commission
  4. Indian Affairs Commission
  5. Indian Affairs - General
  6. Indian Affairs - Industry
  7. Indian Affairs - Industry
  8. Indian Affairs - Meetings
  9. Intergovernmental Relations
  10. International Peace Garden
  11. Labor, Committee on Migratory Farm
  12. Labor Legislation, Special Legislative Committee to Study
  13. Labor Disputes Board
  14. Labor Disputes - Drivers Union No. 74 vs. Voelher Furniture, Minot, N.D.
  15. Labor Disputes - Parker Hotels vs. Local No. 632, Minot, N.D.
  16. Labor Disputes and Problems in State Departments and Offices
  17. Labor Disputes - State Highway Department
  18. Legislature and Legislation
  19. Legislature and Legislation
  20. Legislature and Legislation
  21. Legislature and Legislation
  22. Legislative Research Committee
  23. Legislative Research Committee
  24. Lignite and Uranium
  25. Livestock Sanitary Board

Box 5

  1. Medical Center Advisory Council
  2. Medora Restoration Committee
  3. Memorial to the 7th Cavalry
  4. Mental Health
  5. Merit System Council
  6. Merit System Council
  7. Merit System Council
  8. Messages
  9. Mine inspector
  10. Missouri River States Committee
  11. Missouri River States Committee
  12. Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee
  13. Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee
  14. Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee
  15. Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee
  16. Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee
  17. Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee
  18. Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee
  19. Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee
  20. Mother of the Year
  21. Motor Vehicle Department

Box 6

  1. National Guard
  2. National Guard - General
  3. National Guard - Reorganization
  4. National Memorial Park, Theodore Roosevelt
  5. Natural Resources
  6. Natural Resources Council
  7. News Releases
  8. North Dakota Mill and Elevator
  9. North Dakota Mill and Elevator Reports
  10. North Dakota State Health Council
  11. North Dakota Stockmen's Association
  12. North Dakota Water User's Association
  13. Oil
  14. Oil
  15. Oil
  16. Pacific War Memorial Project
  17. Peace Garden, International
  18. Potato Development Commission
  19. Presidential Elections, 1960
  20. Public Service Commission
  21. Public Service Commission
  22. Public Service Commission
  23. Public Service Commission
  24. Public Welfare Board
  25. Real Estate Commission
  26. Reclamation
  27. Reclamation
  28. Reclamation Association
  29. Records Management Survey

Box 7

  1. Red Cross
  2. Resolutions
  3. Resolutions
  4. Riverdale
  5. Rural Electrification
  6. Safety, 1960
  7. Safety, 1960
  8. St. Thomas, North Dakota - Alternate Highway No. 81
  9. San Haven Sanitorium - Administration
  10. Saving Bonds, U.S.
  11. School District Reorganization
  12. Secretary of State
  13. Securities Commission
  14. Selective Service - Request for Deferments, etc.
  15. Soil Conservation
  16. State Athletic Commission
  17. State Board of Architects
  18. State Board of Equalization
  19. State Geologist File
  20. State Bank of North Dakota
  21. State Banking Board
  22. State Board of Chiropractic Examiners
  23. State Board of Chiropodists
  24. State Board of Dental Examiners
  25. State Electrical Board
  26. State Board of Embalmers
  27. State Board of Hairdressers & Cosmetologists
  28. State Board of Health
  29. State Board of Higher Education
  30. State Board of Massage
  31. State Board of Medical Examiners
  32. State Board of Medical Examiners
  33. State Board of Nursing Education and Nurse Licensure
  34. State Board of Pardons
  35. State Board of Pardons
  36. State Board of Pardons
  37. State Board of Pardons
  38. State Board of Pardons
  39. State Board of Pardons
  40. State Board of Pharmacy
  41. State Board of Physical Therapy
  42. State Board of Optometry
  43. State Board of Osteopathic Examiners
  44. State Board of Plumbing
  45. State Board of Poultry Improvement
  46. State Board of Public School Education
  47. State Board of Public School Education

Box 8

  1. State Department of Accounts and Purchases
  2. State Department of Accounts and Purchases
  3. State Examiners
  4. State Health Department
  5. State Highway Department
  6. State Highway Department
  7. State Highway Department
  8. State Highway Department
  9. State Historical Society and State Library Commission
  10. State Historical Society
  11. State Investigation by Congress
  12. State Library Commission
  13. State Laboratories Department
  14. State Mill and Elevator
  15. State Mill and Elevator
  16. State Penitentiary
  17. State Printer
  18. State Psychiatric Clinic
  19. State School at Grafton
  20. State School for the Blind
  21. State School for the Deaf
  22. State Seed Department
  23. State Soldiers Home
  24. State Special Elections
  25. State Tax Commissioner
  26. State Training School
  27. State Treasurers
  28. State Water Conservation Commission
  29. State Water Conservation Commission
  30. State Water Conservation Commission
  31. State Wheat Commission
  32. States' Rights
  33. Statuary Hall of Fame Commission

Box 9

  1. Teachers Retirement Fund
  2. Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park
  3. Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park
  4. "H" Fan (Correspondence-Missouri River Development)
  5. "U" Fan (Correspondence-Missouri River Development)
  6. Uranium
  7. Unemployment Compensation Division
  8. United Nations
  9. Veteran's Affairs
  10. Veteran's Affairs
  11. Veteran's Affairs - Advisory Committee
  12. Veterans Aid Commission
  13. Veteran's Bonus
  14. Veterinary Medical Examiners, Board of
  15. Veterans, Disabled War
  16. Vocational Rehabilitation
  17. Yellowstone - Missouri Fort Union Commission
  18. Yellowstone River Compact Commission
  19. Youth
  20. Youth, Governor's Committee on Children and
  21. Youth and Youth Conservation
  22. Youth Conservation and Juvenile Delinquency
  23. "Youth Fitness" Program
  24. Young American Medals Committee
  25. Washington Memorial Chapel, Valley Forge, PA - North Dakota representation
  26. Watershed
  27. Watchmaking, Board of Examiners in
  28. Workmen's Compensation Bureau
  29. National Energy Board - Application of Matador Pipe Line Co. Ltd.
  30. Undated manuscript of a history essay written by Davis while at UND
  31. Newspaper clippings - 1960 and 1966
  32. Program honoring Governor John E. Davis by the University Russian Club, October 21, 1959
  33. Correspondence and publications for the campaigning of former Governor John E. Davis for the U.S. Senate, 1960

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