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Maurice J. Tobin collection

Collection MS-2001-042: Maurice J. Tobin collection


  • Creation: 1927 - 1953

Scope and Contents

The Maurice J. Tobin collection contains a comprehensive set of clippings about Tobin and his political career in Boston and Massachusetts. It also contains a scrapbook created by James E. Tobin. Additional materials include Tobin's writings, correspondence, and several speeches from his terms as mayor of Boston and governor of Massachusetts.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

Maurice Joseph Tobin was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on May 22, 1901 and raised in Mission Hill. He was the fourth child of carpenter James Tobin and Margaret Daly. He attended the Washington School at Quincy Point, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, and the High School of Commerce. He also took courses at Boston College, and, though he never officially graduated, considered the school his alma mater. Tobin married Helen Noonan in 1932, and they had three children.

Tobin's political career began in 1926, when he was elected to the state legislature as a Democrat, the legislative minority at the time. He was elected to the Boston School Committee in 1931 and 1935, and elected mayor of Boston in 1937 and 1941. Tobin was a moderate liberal. As mayor during the Great Depression, he strove to unify Democratic and Republican approaches by being both economically conservative and socially liberal, and by upholding progressive components of each party.

Tobin's popularity as mayor helped him get elected governor of Massachusetts in 1944. In that position he supported a fair employment practice bill that was among the first state laws to criminalize discrimination based on race, nationality, or religion. He was defeated for re-election in 1946, but his political career did not end. A New Dealer and a Fair Dealer, he defended Harry Truman's civil rights stance at the Democratic National Convention of 1948, which led Truman to nominate him as the sixth U.S. Secretary of Labor. Tobin accepted and campaigned diligently for the president, becoming one of the strongest advocates for Truman's social and foreign policy. He was also vocal in his support of labor unions, increased minimum wage, and stricter workplace safety codes, though he had limited success against the conservative majorities of his time.

Tobin died on July 19, 1953 of a heart attack at the age of 52.


Lapomarda, Vincent A. "Tobin, Maurice Joseph (1901-1953), sixth U.S. secretary of labor." American National Biography. 2000. Accessed 18 Jun. 2019.


1.75 Linear Feet (4 containers)

Language of Materials



This collection documents the Massachusetts political career of Maurice J. Tobin. Materials consist primarily of clippings but also include writings, correspondence, speeches from his terms as mayor and governor, and a scrapbook.


Arranged in three series: I. Clippings, II. Scrapbook created by James E. Tobin, and III. Writings, speeches, and correspondence.

Series I. is further divided into two subseries: A. Chronological, and B. Subject.


Because the current accessioning system was not used until January 1986, it is not possible to know exactly the dates of acquisition of materials received before that time.

Maurice J. Tobin Collection
Kimbery Percival, 1995; and Annesley Anderson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States