Collection Opening: John J. McNally, Jr. Personal Papers

By Jennifer Marciello, Archivist

The Kennedy Library is pleased to announce the opening of the John J. McNally, Jr. Personal Papers.

John McNally, known as “Jack,” served in many roles relating to John F. Kennedy’s political career. He started as a campaign worker during the 1956 Democratic National Convention. In 1959 he was Assistant Press Secretary to Senator Kennedy and when Kennedy was elected president, McNally became the Staff Assistant to the President for Congressional Liaisons, and a member of the White House special projects staff (1961-1963).

The collection spans the years from 1958-2018 and contains a wide range of personal and professional papers relating to McNally’s work in political campaigns, as White House Staff Assistant for Congressional Liaisons, as Director of the Small Business Administration, as well as other personal pursuits. 

John J. McNally, Jr. was born in 1928 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He graduated from Saint John’s Preparatory School in Shrewsbury and studied at the seminary of the Holy Cross Fathers in Notre Dame, IN. He later completed advanced courses at Northeastern University and at Becker College. In the late 1940s he served in the United States Army and then became President and Treasurer of Webster Enterprises, Inc., a distributor of heating supplies. 

McNally first began working for Senator Kennedy during the 1956 Democratic National Convention while serving as Director of the Young Democrats of Worcester County (Mass.). After McNally’s work on the 1960 presidential campaign, President-elect John F. Kennedy appointed him Staff Assistant for Congressional Liaisons, a position he held until 1965. McNally was responsible for public relations, scheduling and planning of all presidential travel, and the administrative and fiscal affairs of the White House. 

One of McNally’s primary jobs was the scheduling of White House tours and the presentation of gifts, which is documented in the collection through letters, memos and photographs. Tours became so popular that 1961 was the first year in the history of the White House that over one million people visited. Each year McNally coordinated and welcomed the Millionth Visitor to the White House with framed autographed photographs and a meeting with President Kennedy.

JJMCPP-029-008-p0008: William G. Nealy, Jr. had the honor of being the one millionth visitor to the White House in 1962, and his family Eleanor Carroll Nealy and daughter Eleanor Nealy met with President Kennedy, 26 July 1962.

In 1965 McNally left his position in the White House and returned to Webster, Massachusetts with his family and assumed the position of Director of the Economic Development Program of the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the New England area. After the election of President Gerald R. Ford, Mr. McNally was assigned to direct the operations of the “Whip Inflation Now” program. Upon the creation of the Small Business Administration’s Advocacy Program, he was named the Chief Advocate of the Small Business Administration for the Northeastern U.S. in 1976. In 1980, he was appointed Director of the SBA for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He served as Acting Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, as Chairman of the National Small Business Council and as Chairman of the Federal Government Performance Review Board. He retired from the Federal Government in November 1990. 

John J. McNally died on November 21, 2018 at the age of 88.

Because the Library is currently migrating to a new digital archives system, the John J. McNally, Jr. Personal Papers finding aid cannot be updated at this time to include the new information. However, researchers may consult and download a temporary PDF document. 

All are welcome to visit the Library to work with our collections, and you can make an appointment by contacting an archivist at

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