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Gene Tunney Papers

Identifier: MSSP 2013

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the personal papers of boxer Gene Tunney. Materials cover his boxing career in the 1920s until his retirement in 1928, his marriage and honeymoon in 1928-29, and his charity work with youth groups in the 1930s and 1940s, especially the American Youth Group, of which he was chairman in 1940. The collection includes both personal and business correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks of his career, personal account books and calendars, and various boxing-related ephemera. Also included are photographic stills of Tunney's lost 1926 film, The Fighting Marine. Notable correspondents include Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Thornton Wilder, Booth Tarkington, Ed Sullivan, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Edsel Ford, William S. Knudsen, William Randolph Hearst, Bernard F. Gimbel, and various American governors. There are also letters to and from boxing confidantes like trainer Bill McCabe, sparring partner Eddie Egan, manager Billy Gibson, and promoter Tex Rickard. Materials include letters, photographs, scrapbooks, account books, appointment books, calendars, pamphlets, business records, postcards, telegrams, and a pair of boxing gloves.


  • Creation: 1858 - 1955
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1918 - 1945


Conditions Governing Access

Folders 811 and 853 are restricted for conservation.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

James Joseph “Gene” Tunney (1897-1978) was the undefeated professional heavyweight boxing champion from 1926 to 1928. He is best remembered for his dual victories over Jack Dempsey, particularly for the rematch, known as "The Long Count," held at Chicago’s Soldier Field, September 22, 1927. The fight was the first to earn over $1 million at the gate, ultimately taking in over $2.6 million from its more than 100,000 spectators. Tunney retired in 1928 after defending his title against New Zealand’s Tom Heeney. Tunney was born to Irish immigrants in Greenwich Village, New York and took up boxing as a teenager. He joined the Marines on the U.S. entry into World War I and became the American Expeditionary Force light heavyweight champion while in France. He turned professional after the war, and was American light-heavyweight champ before fighting Dempsey. After his retirement in 1928, he married Connecticut socialite, Mary “Polly” Lauder, a Carnegie heiress. During his retirement from boxing, Tunney became active in several anti-Communist causes, including the National Foundation for American Youth, for which he served as national chairman, and the American Youth Day. Despite not finishing high school, Tunney was a voracious reader and struck up many friendships with notable writers, including George Bernard Shaw, Thornton Wilder, W. Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, John P. Marquand, and Yale English Professor William Lyons Phelps. Tunney died at the Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut at the age of 81.


12.35 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian



This collection is arranged into six series: I. Correspondence; II. Photographs; III. Scrapbooks; IV. Personal Materials; and V. Miscellaneous Publications and Ephemera. Series I is subdivided into three subseries: i. Organizational Correspondence; ii. Personal Correspondence; and iii. Correspondence Regarding American Youth Day.

Gene Tunney Papers
Hannah E. Sabal
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556