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Brendan Byrne papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Mss 0007
The Brendan Byrne papers consist primarily of materials related to Byrne's campaigns for governor of New Jersey, as well as some personal materials documenting his time as governor and his activities with the Democratic party.

A large portion of the collection relates to Brendan Byrne's campaign for governor in 1973 against Charles Sandman. These materials include position papers, information on appearances, finances, issue and research files, information on opponent Charles Sandman, and Byrne's public statements and releases.

The collection also includes materials related to Brendan Byrne's campaign for re-election as governor in 1977 against Raymond Bateman. These materials include financing, issue and research files, information on opponenet Ray Bateman, and public statements and releases.

The remainder of the collection relates to Democratic committees at the state and national level, ephemera such as awards, plaques and newsclippings, and audio-visual materials including audiotapes and photographs. Audiotapes include some recordings of speeches given by Brendan Byrne.

A portion of the collection was housed in the New Jersey State Archives until the 1980s, when it came to Seton Hall. The collection has been partially processed by both the State Archives and the Archives and Special Collections Center, and arrangement information is based on this initial processing. As the collection is processed further, this arrangement may change. The official documents of Brendan Byrne's time as Governor of New Jersey are held in the State Archives in Trenton.

Dates

  • 1960-1982 (bulk 1973-1977)
  • Majority of material found within 1973 - 1977

Conditions Governing Access

Photographic negatives may only be viewed with the assistance of the archivist.


This collection includes audio-visual materials. Access copies of audiotapes, audio cassette tapes, video cassette tapes, film reels, or other audio-visual materials may need to be ordered prior to on-site research. Please contact us to inquire about access to audio-visual materials.
Otherwise, materials are available for research at the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center. Advance appointments are required for the use of archival materials.

Conditions Governing Use

All materials available in this collection (unless otherwise noted) are the property of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center and Seton Hall University, which reserves the right to limit access to or reproduction of these materials. Reproduction of materials or content is subject to United States copyright restrictions and may be subject to federal or state privacy regulations. Permission to publish exact reproductions must be obtained from the Director of the Archives and Special Collections Center.

Extent

55 Linear Feet

Overview

Brendan T. Byrne was the governor of New Jersey from 1974-1982. A native of West Orange, NJ, Brendan Byrne attended Seton Hall University, Princeton University, and Harvard University, and was an attorney and a judge before becoming governor as a Democrat. During his two gubernatorial campaigns, Byrne was considered the underdog, yet achieved decisive victories each time. The Brendan Byrne papers consist primarily of materials related to Byrne's campaigns for governor of New Jersey in 1973 and 1977, as well as some materials documenting his time as governor and his activities with the Democratic party.

Biographical / Historical

Brendan T. Byrne was born 1 April 1924 in West Orange, NJ, the fourth child of Francis A. Byrne (1888–1973) and Genevieve (Brennan) Byrne's five children. Brendan Byrne attended Seton Hall University before leaving to enroll in the Army Air Corps in 1943 and serving in World War II. He was a navigator and received a Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals. After returning from the war, he graduated from Princeton University in 1949 and received his LL.B. from Harvard University in 1951. He worked as an attorney in New Jersey and married Jean Featherly in 1953.

Brendan Byrne's public career began in 1955 when Governor Robert B. Meyner named him Assistant Council for his administration. The next year he was promoted to Executive Secretary, a position he held for three years. In 1959 he was appointed Essex County Prosecutor. While serving in this capacity, Byrne gained recognition for prosecuting dishonest contractors and powerful underworld figures. He was the prosecutor for nine years. From 1968-1970, Byrne served as president of the State Board of Public Utility Commissioners, having been appointed by Governor Richard Hughes. He left this position when he was appointed to the New Jersey State Supreme Court in 1970 by Governor Cahill. In 1971, he handed down a decision that declared the state law on capital punishment unconstitutional. He resigned from the Supreme Court in 1973 to run for governor.

Byrne’s platform in the gubernatorial election of 1973 was based on the slogan “one honest man can make a difference.” Between the years of 1970 and 1973, seventy-eight New Jersey public officials were indicted by federal grand juries, and Watergate was still in the news. Byrne ran on a platform of restoring public confidence in the government after these events. Byrne’s opponent was Republican candidate Charles Sandman, who criticized Byrne throughout the campaign for his reluctance to publicly state his position on controversial issues such as abortion and the environment. Byrne preferred to make his statements in position papers. On November 6, 1973, Brendan T. Byrne won, by over 721,000 votes, an election that Newsweek called the “biggest gubernatorial victory in the state’s history.”

In 1977 Byrne ran for re-election against Republican candidate Raymond H. Bateman. Despite being considered the underdog in the race, Byrne won again by a large majority.

Brendan Byrne’s time as governor created a legacy that includes the Meadowland Sports Complex, development of the casinos of Atlantic City, dedication to the environment exemplified in the Pinelands Preservation Act, and a commitment to improving public education.

After stepping down as governor in 1982, Byrne returned to working as an attorney, co-wrote a column in the Star-Ledger with his gubernatorial successor Thomas Kean, and has taught classes at Princeton University and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He lives in New Jersey with his second wife, Ruthi Zinn.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into five series:

Preservica Internal URL

Preservica Public URL Preservica Access

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection is the gift of Brendan T. Byrne to the Archives and Special Collections Center, 1983 and 1986, via the State Archives of New Jersey. Accession numbers 1983.x and 1986.0001.Mss.

Related Materials

The Papers of Brendan T. Byrne, MC 1215, at the Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries. This collection includes materials from Brendan Byrne's career before, during, and after his time as Governor of New Jersey as well as personal papers, photographs, and audiovisual materials.

Governor Brendan T. Byrne (served 1974-1982) - Counsel's Office and Governor Brendan T. Byrne (served 1974-1982) - General Filings and Non-Counsel Staff, at the New Jersey State Archives. These materials were produced by Brendan Byrne as Governor of New Jersey and are primarily related to his functions in that office.

Richard J. Hughes papers, Mss 0003, in the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center, Walsh Library, Seton Hall University.

Processing Information

This collection came to the Archives and Special Collections Center in several parts. The bulk of the materials came from the State Archives of New Jersey and were processed prior to arrival. Some preliminary re-processing was performed by the Archives and Special Collections Center in the 1980s and 1990s. Collection is currently being fully processed for preservation and description (2012).
Title
Brendan Byrne papers, 1960-1982 (bulk 1973-1977)
Author
Tracy M. Jackson and the Archives and Special Collections Center
Date
2012
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
  • TypeCollection

Repository Details

Part of the The Monsignor Field Archives & Special Collection Center Repository

Contact:
Archives, Walsh Library
400 South Orange Ave
South Orange NJ 07079 US
973-761-9476