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Douglas and Mabel McKay Papers, 1901-2014

By Finding aid prepared by Karl McCreary and Elizabeth Nielsen.

Collection Overview

Title: Douglas and Mabel McKay Papers, 1901-2014

Predominant Dates: 1917-1970


Primary Creator: McKay, Douglas (1893-1959)

Extent: 20.0 cubic feet. More info below.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Douglas and Mabel McKay Papers document Douglas McKay's student years at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC), his military service during World Wars I and II, and his political career. Douglas McKay graduated from OAC in 1917 with a BS in Farm Crops and married Mabel Christine Hill that same year. McKay was a successful businessman and politician, serving as an Oregon State Senator, Oregon Governor, and Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Scope and Content Notes

The Douglas and Mabel McKay Papers consist of materials created and assembled by the McKays that document Doug McKay's student years at Oregon Agricultural College, military service, political career in Oregon, and service as Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The collection includes appointment calendars, artifacts, books, certificates, correspondence, diplomas, drawings, event programs, greeting cards, guest books, a map, military records, newspaper clippings, photograph albums, photographs, plaques, a poster, ribbons, scrapbooks, speeches, and ticket stubs. The bulk of the collection consists of scrapbooks with clippings and ephemera documenting the years 1949-1957. Chronological and subject files comprise another major component of the collection and include newspaper clippings, event programs, and photographs. These extend from McKay's student years at OAC to the death of Doug in 1959 and Mabel in 1970.

The Papers include approximately 850 photographs, primarily b/w prints. Portrait photographs of Doug, Mabel, the McKays' children and grandchildren, the McKays' parents, and members of the Eisenhower Cabinet are part of the collection. Many of the images document events and activities associated with McKay's political career and depict him at ceremonies, receiving visitors in Washington D.C., socializing at dinners and parties, and campaigning for office. Several of these photographs feature the McKays together. Images of Camp Adair during World War II are also available in the collection.

Artifacts within the collection reflect McKay's military service, student experience, and political career and include belt buckles, bullet casings, buttons, medals, flags, ribbons, patches, and a lawn sign.

A small addition to the collection (Accession 2014:036) consists of I Baked a Cake for Ike and Mamie: A Memoir of Douglas and Mabel McKay - Letters from Washington, D.C. (2014), written by the McKays' granddaughter, Eileen Hadley Givens. Givens draws upon letters written by Mabel McKay to describe the McKays' life in Washington, D.C. while Doug McKay served as Secretary of the Interior from 1953 to 1956. The book describes interactions between the McKays and Eisenhowers and the duties of the Secretary of the Interior as well as family history.

Another addition to the Douglas and Mabel McKay Papers (Accession 2014:051)is made up of an identification card, newspaper clippings, photographs, a radio script, speeches, and schedule notes. These materials primarily reflect the various social engagements of the McKays during Douglas' position as Secretary of the Interior from 1953 to 1956. The clippings, schedule notes, and speeches by Mabel document official trips undertaken by the McKays, ceremonies attended, and social events with First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, Patricia Nixon, and other cabinet wives. The clippings and photos also reflect the McKays as a part of public events and ceremonies during Douglas' term as governor of Oregon (1949 to 1953). Numbering 82 prints in total, the photographs depict Douglas and Mabel in portrait shots and at various events, such as the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival, the Barcelona International Faire, a visit with members of the Blackfoot Indian tribe, and a luncheon party for Mamie Eisenhower. Others featured in these images include Jimmy Stewart, Senator Mark Hatfield, Ginger Rogers, and Pope Pius XII. Most of these items were gathered together by McKay Granddaughter Eileen Hadley Givens in the course of research and writing the book "I Baked a Cake for Ike and Mamie."

Chronological folders from Box 01, including folders documenting McKay's military service in World Wars I and II and his time at OSU, have been digitized and are available upon request.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Douglas (Doug) McKay, born James Douglas McKay, graduated from Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) in 1917 with a BS in Farm Crops. After serving in World War I, McKay became a successful businessman in Salem, Oregon, and a politician -- serving as an Oregon State Senator, Governor of Oregon, and Secretary of the Interior during the Eisenhower administration.

Doug McKay was born in 1893 in Portland, Oregon. Mabel Christine Hill was born in 1896 in Bloomfield, Nebraska. They met in Corvallis while McKay was attending Oregon Agricultural College and they were married in 1917. During World War I, First Lieutenant Douglas McKay of the 91st Division, known as "The Wild West Division", was severely wounded on October 3, 1918, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. McKay received the Purple Heart for his service and was partially disabled for the rest of his life. After the war, McKay worked in car sales and established his own Chevrolet and Cadillac dealerships in Salem beginning in the late 1920s.

McKay's political career began in 1932 with his election as mayor of Salem, Oregon. He subsequently served four terms in the Oregon State Senate from 1934 until 1948, with an interruption for military service. With the outbreak of World War II, Doug McKay enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Camp Adair just north of Corvallis. After the war, he resumed his political interests and was elected Governor of Oregon in 1948, a position he held until December 1952. McKay was active in the Republican Party and drew the attention of President Dwight Eisenhower, who named him as Secretary of the Interior. After three years in Eisenhower's Cabinet, McKay resigned in 1956 to run for the U.S. Senate against Wayne Morse. McKay lost the race and never campaigned for political office again. Early in 1957, President Eisenhower appointed McKay as Chairman of the International Joint Commission, which dealt with US-Canada water and boundary issues. Doug McKay died in 1959 and Mabel McKay died in 1970. They had three children: Douglas, Shirley, and Marylou.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 850 photographs; 28 boxes, including 18 oversize boxes, and 2 map folders

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The bulk of the materials were donated to the Special Collections & Archives Research Center by the family of Shirley McKay Hadley, the daughter of Douglas and Mabel McKay, in 2013; a small addition was received in 2014.

Related Materials: The Special Collections and Archives Research Center's collections include many photographs of McKay taken during his student years and especially during his term as Oregon Governor. The Camp Adair, Oregon, Maps and Aerial Photographs (MAPS Adair) provide additional documentation about Camp Adair during World War II. The Special Collections and University Archives in the University of Oregon Libraries holds the Douglas McKay Papers, which include extensive correspondence files and materials documenting McKay's campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Preferred Citation: Douglas and Mabel McKay Papers (MSS McKay), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Processing Information: This collection is not fully processed; this guide is preliminary.

Other URL: A preliminary container list was created for this collection on or before November 14, 2014. An inventory for Accession 2013:061 is also available online.


McKay, Douglas (1893-1959)
Givens, Eileen Hadley
McKay, Mabel C. Hill

People, Places, and Topics

Camp Adair (Or.)
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
McKay, Douglas, 1893-1959
McKay, Mabel C. Hill
Natural Resources
Oregon--Politics and government.
Oregon. Legislative Assembly. Senate
Oregon Agricultural College
Political campaigns--Oregon.
United States--Politics and government--1945-1953.
United States--Politics and government--1953-1961.
United States. Department of the Interior
University History

Forms of Material

Photograph albums.
Photographic prints.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.