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Robert C. Hendrickson Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: JJ
Date: Jan 1971

Biographical History

Robert Clymer Hendrickson was an American lawyer and U.S. Senator from New Jersey. He also served on the New Jersey Constitutional Revision Commission and, as a senior legal officer in the U.S. Army in North Africa, Italy and Austria, worked on the re-establishment of civil rights and local courts, the implementation of de-nazification programs and the care of displaced persons.

Born on August 12, 1898, the son of Daniel and Emma (Megary) Hendrickson, he attended high school in Woodbury, New Jersey. After graduating, he enlisted in the United States Army, serving as an ambulance driver in World War I and receiving unit citations and the Medal of Verdun for service in the Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel and Aisne-Marne offensives. Following the war he obtained a law degree from Temple University, was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1922 and began his career as lawyer, legislator and diplomat.

During the 1920s and 1930s Hendrickson was corresponding attorney and a director of the Suburban Homes Building and Loan Association of Woodbury. In 1928 he founded Hendrickson and Company, a real estate insurance firm. As a specialist in municipal and public law, he entered a long partnership with John B. Wick, also of Woodbury, and together they acted as municipal attorneys for cities and towns in Gloucester, Sussex, Cumberland and Hudson counties for more than thirty years.

Hendrickson entered politics in 1934 when he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of a New Jersey state senator. He campaigned successfully for the same office in 1939 and 1941, gaining prominence as Republican Majority Leader and President of the Senate. Between 1938 and 1943 he represented New Jersey on the Council of State Governments, of which he was elected chairman in 1941. He was also an original member of the New Jersey Constitutional Revision Commission.

As the Republican nominee, Hendrickson was unsuccessful in his campaign for the governorship in 1940, but won re-election to the New Jersey Senate in the following year. A joint session of the legislature elected him State Treasurer in 1942 and again in 1946.

In 1943 Hendrickson asked for a leave of absence to join the armed forces. As a senior legal officer he followed allied armies through North Africa, Italy and Austria. Among his duties were the re-establishment of civil rights and local courts, the implementation of de-nazification programs and the care of displaced persons. He left the Army as lieutenant-colonel early in 1946, having been awarded the European-African-Middle East Theatre Service Medal with four bronze stars, the Army Commendation Ribbon and the Allied Government Medal.

Hendrickson returned to state politics and remained in New Jersey until 1948 when he was elected to the United States Senate. His most active committee work was performed in the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration. A determined anti-Communist, Hendrickson nevertheless was among the first congressmen to oppose the conduct of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin. Though a defender of American free enterprise, Senator Hendrickson voted for rent controls, federal aid to education, restricted use of injunctions against labor unions, an end to segregation in public housing, Point Four and extensions of the Marshall Plan. Youth in Danger (1955), Hendrickson's book which grew out of his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, traced the roots of crime to "slums of incredible squalor" and the "derelictions of our older generation."

Hendrickson did not seek re-election to the United States Senate, claiming that he had lost party support in his home state by concentrating on his work in Washington. In 1955 President Eisenhower appointed him Ambassador to New Zealand. After directing the American embassy in Wellington for two years, Hendrickson returned to his law practice in Woodbury, New Jersey.

Robert Hendrickson married Olga Bonsal in 1919; they had four daughters and a son. Hendrickson was a vestryman of Christ Episcopal Church, Woodbury; treasurer of the Gloucester County Bar Association; and a charter member of the William Stokes Bonsal Post of the American Legion. He died on December 7, 1964.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Robert C. Hendrickson Papers consist of professional correspondence, political, military and diplomatic records and legal case files. The papers span 1916 to 1964, with a concentration between 1938 and 1958. The collection is divided into four series.

Communications and writings (Boxes 1-63) consists of correspondence files, press releases, speeches and published writings of Robert C. Hendrickson. There are more than 40,000 letters, telegrams and postcards. The shelf list below serves as an index of important correspondence. Another list of correspondents is available from the card index (Package 1) used by the Hendrickson staff. Most of the letters are to or from Robert C. Hendrickson. A small number were also addressed to his wife Olga, a brother, Daniel, who was head of the National Cash Register Company, and to members of the Hendrickson office staffs in Woodbury, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The most significant correspondence dates from Hendrickson's years in the United States Senate, 1949-1955.

The press releases (Boxes 58-59) stem from Hendrickson's work as Treasurer of New Jersey and his campaigns for governor and United States Senator. There is a large file of political speeches, holograph and typescript, presented mainly between the years 1940 and 1954 (Boxes 60-63). The subjects include campaign issues, regional planning, parimutuel racing, taxation and finance and other matters of significance to New Jersey voters. During the Washington years, Hendrickson's speeches were on the topics of national defense, European recovery, federal-state relations and juvenile delinquency. The senator's statements and insertions in the Congressional Record were gathered into four large scrapbooks by his staff in Washington. There are three phonodiscs of Hendrickson's radio interviews in 1952 and 1953. Publications (Box 63) consist of about ten magazine articles and a typescript of Youth in Danger (1955).

Organization records are subdivided into Private Agencies, New Jersey, United States Army, United States Senate and United State Department of State. New Jersey records (Boxes 63-69) concentrate on financial policies, interstate relations and a revision of the state constitution. Hendrickson's campaign files and scrapbooks, which date from 1940, are rich in anti-New Deal literature, such as pamphlets, handbills and broadsides which identify the Roosevelt administration with radicalism, pacifism, socialism and communism. Items of interest among his military records (Box 69) include refugee investigations, de-nazification policies and monthly histories of United States military government units in Austria.

The papers from Hendrickson's term as a United States senator (Boxes 70-80) exceed all other organizational records in quantity and general interest. There is one box of legislative bills written or sponsored by Senator Hendrickson between 1949 and 1954. Several of the bills are annotated and accompanied by supporting data. A card index of Hendrickson bills is included among the papers. There are miscellaneous papers and transcripts of hearings for each of the committees to which Hendrickson was appointed, among them the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations; the Judiciary Committee with its subcommittees on the Bricker Amendment, Immigration and Naturalization, Internal Security, Refugees and Escapees, and Juvenile Delinquency; the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Rules and Administration with its Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections. As a member of this last committee, Hendrickson acquired the report of a preliminary investigation into the conduct of Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin. An inquiry was set in motion when William Benton (D-Conn.) rose to denounce McCarthy in the Senate on August 6, 1951. This report, about one hundred pages long and dated January 1952, is identified as "Copy 3" of eight copies distributed to members of the Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections.

The most important materials among Hendrickson's State Department records (Box 81) relate to the Baguio Conference (March 1955) in the Philippines and the Tokyo Conference (March 1956) but in each instance the quantity is slight. A folder labeled "Social Functions" provides an insight into the entertainment expense borne by the embassy staff in Wellington.

Legal records (Boxes 82-277) contained municipal files and client files. The municipal files were accumulated by the firm of Hendrickson and Wick, which was retained as solicitor and municipal finance officer for ten cities and towns in New Jersey, and comprised several types of documents relating to municipal affairs, such as public utility contracts, budgets, deeds, applications to state agencies, annual debt statements, bills, by-laws, resolutions, assessments, tax notices, affidavits, bankruptcy files and street maps. The client files (Boxes 109-277) contained papers created by the private practice of Hendrickson and Wick. All legal records in boxes 82-277 were originally closed until the year 1990, but were destroyed in their entirety in 1991 to preserve attorney/client privilege.

Memorabilia (Boxes 278-281) contain Hendrickson's appointment books between 1933 and 1961, awards and citations, biographical data, itineraries, newspaper clippings, both unmounted and in oversize scrapbooks, and a small number of photographs.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically, then chronologically, under the names of the writers. Approximately half of the correspondence is filed in general initialed folders, while correspondence of significance or quantity is placed in individual folders which carry the names of the correspondents. Press releases and speeches are arranged chronologically. Writings are subdivided into articles and books and within that arranged alphabetically by title. Organization records and Memorabilia are arranged alphabetically by topic or title.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Hendrickson, Robert C. (Robert Clymer), 1898-1964 -- Archives.

Corporate Bodies

New Jersey. Constitutional Revision Committee.
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Rules and Administration. Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections.
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency.
United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Small Business.
United States. Embassy (New Zealand)

Associated Titles

Youth in danger.


Denazification -- Austria.
Denazification -- Italy.
Denazification -- North Africa.
Juvenile delinquency.
Republican party (N.J.)


New Jersey -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.
New Jersey -- Politics and government -- 1951-
New Jersey. Legislature. Senate.

Genres and Forms

Appointment books.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Press releases.
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Robert C. Hendrickson Papers ,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Olga Bonsai Hendrickson, 1965. Additional Portia Spears correspondence, gift of Leonard C. Dill, 2004.

Table of Contents

Communications and writings

Organization records

Legal records