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Guide to the James J. Comerford Papers AIA 010

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Rebecca Altermatt

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 12, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: James J. Comerford Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1867-1985
Abstract: James J. Comerford was a well-known lawyer and judge in New York City. He also served as the Chair of the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee in New York City for 19 years. A recognized historian, his manuscript entitled My Kilkenny I.R.A. Days 1916-1921, along with writings on the history of Ireland are included in the papers as is correspondence between Mr. Comerford and well-known politicians and other public figures in New York and the United States. Many files pertaining to his work in the Ancient Order of Hibernians are included in the collection.
Quantity: 14.25 Linear Feet in 4 record cartons, 2 manuscript boxes, and 7 oversize flat boxes.
Location: Materials stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu at least two business days prior to research visit.
Language: Materials are in English. Some materials in Irish.
Call Phrase: AIA 010

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Historical/Biographical Note

James J. Comerford (1901-1988), a native of Co. Kilkenny was born on New Years' Day 1901 and died at the age of 87 in 1988. In his teens Comerford joined the Irish Republican Army and discusses his experiences in the year 1920-1923 in his memoir My Kilkenny IRA Days. In 1925 he immigrated to New York City and worked at a variety of jobs including as a ticket agent for the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) at night while attending college during the day. When Comerford was 33 he earned a high school diploma and then at the age of 34 matriculated at Columbia to earn his Bachelor's degree. He then went on to get his Master's and JD from Fordham University. Comerford retired as a Judge of the Magistrates Court in 1971. The Judge was active in many Irish organizations and was an outspoken Irish Nationalist. He served for 19 years as chairman of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade and was also a president of the United Irish Counties Association. Comerford was a member and National Historian of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) for 52 years and edited the organization's  Hibernian Digest.

Comerford was married to Vera Carr. They had no children.

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Scope and Contents

The collection documents James J. Comerford's career from the 1960s onward, specifically his nomination to a Federal Judgeship, his membership in Irish American and other associations, and his personal life. Career files include correspondence from notable figures written in support of Comerford's nomination to the Federal Court. Notable correspondents include politicians such as John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Tip O'Neill as well as labor union leaders such as Mike Quill of the Transport Workers Union and Harry Van Arsdale of the AFL-CIO. Of interest in the collection are Comerford's original handwritten drafts and typed manuscript for the memoir My Kilkenny IRA Days. Comerford joined the IRA in his teens and the memoir covers the years 1920-1923, providing an intimate look at the activities of this citizen soldier organization and as well as life in Ireland in the early 20th century.

Comerford kept some of his educational materials from obtaining his high school diploma, Bachelor's from Columbia University, and Master's and JD from Fordham, including course listings and grades, which can be found in Series I under Education.

Comerford was active in several organizations in New York, notably the Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee and the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). He was also the editor of the AOH's publication, the Hibernian Digest, and the collection contains several files on his activities in the Order, as well as photographs and negatives used in the  Digest. Newspaper clippings which are quite fragile and brittle with age document Comerford's career and personal life. Numerous photographs of Judge Comerford and his wife Vera are included in Series II, as are images of Comerford involved in activities pertaining to the St. Patrick's Day Parade, AOH and other associations.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into three series. Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Missing Title

  1. Series I. Papers and Correspondence, 1867-1985
  2. Series II. Photographs, 1957-1970, undated
  3. Series III. Realia, 1953-1982

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Van Arsdale, Harry, 1905-1986
  • Lindsay, John V. (John Vliet)
  • Quill, Mike.
  • Concannon, John

Document Type

  • Negatives (photographic)
  • Plaques (flat objects)
  • Correspondence.
  • Writings (document genre)
  • Pamphlets.
  • Black-and-white photographs.
  • Manuscripts (document genre)
  • Clippings (information artifacts)

Subject Organizations

  • Irish Northern Aid Committee
  • American-Irish Historical Society
  • Ancient Order of Hibernians

Subject Topics

  • Saint Patrick's Day.
  • Irish Americans -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Irish Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Politics and government.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in 1867-1985, are expected to enter the public domain in 2105.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; James J. Comerford Papers; AIA 010; box number; folder number;
Archives of Irish America, Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

United Irish Counties Association (AIA 003), contains a history Comerford wrote on the formation of the UICA in America (AIA 003, Box 3, Folder 18). Researchers may also be interested in the collections of the organizations of which Comerford was part, including the Collection on the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AIA 046) and the United Irish Counties Association Records (AIA 056).

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Audiovisual materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The James J. Comerford Papers were donated to the Archives of Irish America in 2004 by John Concannon. The accession number associated with this collection is 1997.051.

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Container List

Series I. Papers and Correspondence, 1867-1985

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Ancient Order of Hibernians
1936, 1946
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Ancient Order of Hibernians
1950s
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Ancient Order of Hibernians
1960s
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Ancient Order of Hibernians
1970s
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Ancient Order of Hibernians
1980s
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Ancient Order of Hibernians
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Ancient Order of Hibernians: By-Laws
1867
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Ancient Order of Hibernians: Anti-Partition Committee
1956-1958
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Ancient Order of Hibernians: Comerford, James J. - Speech on Partition of Ireland
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Ancient Order of Hibernians: History
1965-1980
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Ancient Order of Hibernians: Ledger
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Ancient Order of Hibernians: National Historians Bulletin/National Historian Bulletin
1954-1959
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Ancient Order of Hibernians: National Hibernian Digest Documentation
1958-1970
Box: 1 Folder : 13A Ancient Order of Hibernians: National Hibernian Digest Images (see Series II Photographs for photographs and negatives)
1957-1970
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Ancient Order of Hibernians: Newspaper Clippings
1959-1985
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Associations: American Irish Historical Society
1967-1983
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Associations: American Irish Immigration Committee
1965-1971
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Associations: Catholic Press Association I
1969-1970
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Associations: Catholic Press Association II
1969-1970
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Associations: Democratic State Committee of New York
1960
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Associations: Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher
1967
Box: 12 Folder : 1-2 Associations: Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher - Certificate (oversize); two items - James Comerford and Veronica Comerford
1947
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Associations: Irish Northern Aid Committee
1977
Box: 1 Folder : 22 Associations: Various
1957-1982
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Associations: Various
1958-1980
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Associations: Various
1965-1981
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Associations: Various-Newspaper Clippings
1960-1971
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Career I
1949-1974
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Career II
1949-1971
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Career III
1949-1971
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Career: Biographical Information
1964
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Career: Newspaper Clippings
1965-1971
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Career: Publications and Articles
1949-1963, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Coolbawn Ambush History
1921
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Manuscript: A Bit O' Irish History-Drafts
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Manuscript: A Bit O' Irish History-Drafts
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Manuscript: Clippings/Index
1978, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Manuscript: "My Kilkenny I.R.A. Days 1916-1922"-Drafts
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Manuscript: "My Kilkenny I.R.A. Days 1916-1922"-Drafts I
undated
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Manuscript: "My Kilkenny I.R.A. Days 1916-1922"-Drafts II
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Personal
1971-1983
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Personal
1954-1974
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Personal
1932-1984
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Personal
1965-1971
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Personal
1958-1979
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Personal: Education I
1931-1965
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Personal: Education II
1931-1965
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Personal: Education III: transcripts from school in Ireland
1908-1915
Box: 3 Folder : 8A Personal: Education IV: Class notes "Contracts"
1942
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Personal: Ephemera: Certificate of Appreciation from the City of New York, signed by Mayor Lindsay
Mar 5, 1968
Box: 3 Folder : 9A Personal: Ephemera (coat of arms)
1972, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Personal: Newspaper Clippings
1916-1949
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Personal: Newspaper Clippings
1951-1966
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Personal: Newspaper Clippings
1951-1970
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Personal: Newspaper Clippings
1953-1969
Box: 3 Folder : 14 Personal: Newspaper Clippings
1970-1983
Box: 3 Folder : 15 Personal: Newspaper Clippings
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 16 Personal: Newspaper Clippings-Catholic Worker
1955-1957
Box: 3 Folder : 17 Personal: Pamphlets and Publications
1935-1970, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 18 Personal: Pamphlets and Publications: Humorous Irish Readings. McClennon's Penny Recitors and Readings
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Personal: Pamphlets and Publications-Eire Ireland
1966, 1968
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Personal: Writings - History of Ireland, 19th Century
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 2A Personal: Writings "Only One Man's Little Opinion"
Nov 1971
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Personal: Writings "Some Unusual Facts About Past Gaelic Games in America"
circa 1970, undated
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee
1960-1979
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee
1960-1980
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee I
1961-1980
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee II
1961-1980
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee
1963-1982
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee I
1965-1983
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee II
1965-1983
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee I
1966-1983
Box: 4 Folder : 12 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee II
1966-1983
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee: Newspaper Clippings
1960-1983
Box: 4 Folder : 14 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee: Ribbons
1961, 1965, undated
Box: 4 Folder : 15 Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Celebration Committee: Rules and Regulations for the Conduct of the Parade
1976
Box: 4 Folder : 16 Speeches
1947-1948

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Series II. Photographs, 1960-1970, undated

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Ancient Order of Hibernians
1969-1970, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Ancient Order of Hibernians
1969-1970, undated
Box: 6 Ancient Order of Hibernians - negatives and newspaper clippings (photocopies)
1969-1970, undated
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Comerford, James J. (portraits)
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Comerford, James J. and Vera - Trips to Ireland
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Comerford, James J. with New York City Mayor John Lindsay (autographed by Lindsay)
circa 1966-1973
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Comerford, James J. with Others
circa 1960-1970
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Comerford, James J.: Personal, unidentified
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Comerford, Vera (many with James)
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Group photographs
undated
Box: 7 Folder : 5 Group photographs
undated
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Kilkenny, aerial view
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Personal, unidentified
1966, undated
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Personal, unidentified
Box: 5 Folder : 10 St Patricks Day Parade
1970, undated
Box: 7a St Patricks Day Parade (segregated photographs)
1965
Box: 7 Folder : 3 St Patricks Day Parade (several oversize photographs; include images of Ed Koch, Roslyn Carter, Daniel Moynihan plus many aerial views from 630 5th Avenue) 7 photographs
1965-1980
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Unidentified Speaker with Comerford, behind Harp
undated
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Workers Union of Ireland
undated

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Series III. Memorabilia, 1953-1982

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Book: "History of Europe: Our Own Times" by James Harvey Robinson and Charles A. Beard. Inscribed: James J. Comerford, February 1930, School Y.M.C.A. Brooklyn"
1927
Box: 6 Book: "Cushing's Manual of Parliamentary Practice" 1928. Inscribed "James J Comerford"
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 7 Commendation: NYU Founders Day Award
1968
Box: 6 Daybook Calendar
1953
Box: 6 Scrapbook and Daily Calendar; includes newspaper clippings, mention of Vera's death and other notes
1980-1984
Box: 8 Plaques (8) : including 3 on retirement from bench, one a letter from Mayor Lindsay on retirement; contributions to Irish Culture and chairmanship of SPD Parade
1963-1982
Box: 10
Box: 9
Box: 6 Plate: Ancient Order of Hibernians Honorary Lifetime Membership
Aug 6, 1964
Box: 13 Plaque: Ancient Order of Hibernians in America Testimonial
May 11, 1963

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Series IV. Audio, 1937-1938

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 11 Item : 1 Aluminum Disk: Side 1: 1. JJC; 2. "Haynes Speech Reply" 2nd Record Part 1; Side 2: "A fox looked at his shadow" 1st Record, 2 parts,
Mar 1937 - May 1937
Box: 11 Item : 2 Aluminum Disk: Side 1: 1. Extempo, Speaking Purpose "To Stir the Emotions"; 2. Mr. Halliday Hospital Scene onf blank side of record no makes [?sic[ name... / Recorded at Columbia University; Side 2: "Advertising" on side of makes name of record
Nov 8, 1937
Box: 11 Item : 3 Aluminum Disk: Side 1: Track 1. "What is your language?" ... ? ... German and French; Track 2. poem [...?...] 1938; Track 3. Burke [?] - narrow side Side 2: 1. Burke, 2. Webster, 3. Webster wide side; Webster too fast (legislation); Burke too fast (soil)
Mar 2, 1938 - May 18, 1938
Box: 11 Item : 4 Aluminum Disk: Play with ... [?] ... Thomas Davis Players Side 1. 7. Mary O'Neill, 8. John Duffy 9. David Donaghy; Side 2. 9. David Donaghy (continuted), 10. Martin Walsh
Apr 19, 1938

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