UNC Charlotte Special Collections J. Murrey Atkins Library - Special Collections & University Archives

Skip to main content

Frank McNinch papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS0426

Scope and Contents

The Frank McNinch papers contain a small assortment of documentation primarily concerning his work with the Federal Power Commission from 1930 to 1937, and the Federal Communications Commission from 1937 to 1939. A few other files in this collection concern a few personal matters, such as an article about him published in Who’s Who, his affiliation with the Presbyterian Church, his investments with the Sharon Waer Company, and his retirement pension. There is also a file at the end of this collection concerning his death in 1950 and the administration of his estate. Frank McNinch was the mayor of Charlotte, NC from 1912 to 1917, and later was appointed to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in 1930, becoming its Chairman in 1933. In 1937, President Roosevelt appointed McNinch to be the Chairman of the Federal Power Commission. The collection contains mostly the papers he generated while working for these two federal commissions.

Dates

  • 1925 - 1951
  • 1930 - 1951

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Frank Ramsay McNinch was born to Franklin Alonzo and Sarah Virginia Ramsay McNinch on April 27, 1873. He attended Barriers Military Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina until he was seventeen. After finishing his secondary education, he worked as a traveling salesman for businesses in Charlotte, Richmond, Virginia and New York City.

Late in the nineteenth century he began studying law on his own and then enrolled in law school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, in 1898. Having prepared himself in law prior to enrolling in law school, he only spent one year in law school and was licensed to practice law in North Carolina in 1899. He began his law career the following year in Charlotte. A few years later, in 1904 he was elected to the North Carolina general Assembly. His agenda was to promote Prohibitionism and to reform the North Carolina divorce laws to make it more difficult to obtain a divorce.

From 1917 to 1921 he served two terms as the Mayor of Charlotte and the Commissioner of Finance. He resigned as mayor in 1917 in order to accept an appointment as the regional director of the National recreation Association of America.

In the 1928 election McNinch campaigned on behalf of republican candidate Herbert Hoover, even though McNinch was a democrat. McNinch supported Hoover because the democratic candidate, Alfred Smith, was Catholic and “wet” on the issue of Prohibition. It was during this time that McNinch’s skill as an orator became noticeable to his peers.

He began his career in public service at the national level beginning in 1930 when President Hoover named him to serve as a member of the Federal Power Commission. By law, the President is required to appoint at least one member from the opposing party. In 1933, President Roosevelt appointed him to serve as its Chairman. His agenda as chairman was to ensure availability of cheap electric power. In 1935 he traveled to the World Power Conference at the Hague in the Netherlands as the delegate from the United States. McNinch had the distinction of being appointed to high federal offices by both Democratic and Republican presidents.

On October 1, 1937, President Roosevelt requested that McNinch resign from his position as the Chairman of the Federal Power Commission to take a new position as the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission. As the new chairman, his agenda was to prevent censorship and to ensure that all had equal time on radio stations, irrespective of position or opinion. McNinch remained in the FCC until 1939, when he became the Special Assistant to the Attorney General—a position he held until 1946.

He married Mary Groome, of Greensboro, NC on June 21, 1905. With her, they had two children: Frank Ramsey McNinch, and Mary Groome Ariel McNinch. Following his wife’s death, McNinch married Huldah Groome of Greensboro, NC, on February 12, 1917. With her, he had two children: Huldah Groome and Robert Groome McNinch.

In his personal life, McNinch was a member of the Presbyterian Church, a freemason, and a member of the United American Mechanics.

McNinch died on April 20, 1950.

---------------------- Sources: Frank McNinch papers, mss 426, University of North Carolina Charlotte Library. Powell, William S., ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.

Extent

1 Linear Feet

Overview

Frank McNinch was the mayor of Charlotte, NC from 1912 to 1917, and later was appointed to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in 1930, becoming its Chairman in 1933. In 1937, President Roosevelt appointed McNinch to be the Chairman of the Federal Power Commission. The collection contains mostly the papers he generated while working for these two federal commissions.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into eight different series (some with subseries) in a mostly chronological order.

The first series contains materials of a personal nature; the second and third series contain papers generated by McNinch’s work for the Federal Power Commission and the Federal Communications Commission in the 1930s. The fourth series contains a small assortment of miscellaneous materials. Series V contains the pages of a scrapbook that date from 1935 to 1938 and mostly concern his work at the federal level. This item has its own series because it transcends the period of time when McNinch served in two different federal commissions. The sixth series contains two undated speeches that McNinch delivered to the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill—apparently at graduation ceremonies. The last two series concern McNinch’s retirement in 1945, and his death in 1950 and estate settlement.

The collection also contains ten photographs of McNinch, and two sketches (self portraits) of his daughter, Huldah Groome McNinch.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Frank R. Theis (2008), Mr. and Mrs. John M. Hunter III (2014) and Tony Crumbley (2016).

Related Materials

WBT/WBTV Corporate Records, mss 324.

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, in September 2010.

Source

Creator

Title
Frank McNinch papers
Status
Completed
Author
Robert A. McInnes
Date
2010
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Contact:
Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte 28223 United Stated