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Contributed by Arizona State University Library

The Many Personas of Stephen Shadegg: Political Strategist, Author, Actor, Businessman

Stephen C. Shadegg was the architect of Arizona Republican Party politics in the mid-twentieth century. His media savvy and campaign management style were harbingers of 21st century American politics. He defined a distinctive Western political conservatism that laid the rhetorical and tactical foundations for many politicians that followed. Shadegg was regarded as an astute political advisor and strategist whose influence extended to national politics and the Republican National Committee. Against the immense odds of four-to-one Democratic Party registration and powerful incumbent Ernest McFarland, he staged a stunning upset which brought Barry Goldwater to the Senate in 1952 and re-elected him again in 1958. He also managed the successful gubernatorial campaigns of Paul Fannin and Jack Williams, directed Eldon Rudd's five congressional campaigns and was Rudd's strategist and speech writer during his tenure in Congress. Shadegg was considered the most successful political advisor of his time. He managed six successful House of Representative and twenty Senate campaigns, including John Tower, Paul Laxalt and Margaret Chase Smith. Shadegg chaired the Arizona Republican Party, served on the Republican National Committee and ran (unsuccessfully) for the Senate in 1962.

The Shadegg Collection at Arizona State University is significant, not only for documenting a remarkably diverse career, but also for capturing the culture and commerce of modern day Phoenix. From 1932 when he first came to Phoenix until the 1980s, Shadegg pursued a wide range of occupations: mail order salesman; newspaper columnist; radio, film script, and pulp magazine writer; historian, biographer and novelist; actor and theatre director; polygraph expert and sheriff's deputy; insurance agent and a pharmaceutical company owner.

He also operated a longstanding public relations business representing such influential clients as the Salt River Project and the Phelps Dodge Corporation, and was considered an authority on Arizona water issues.

The Images
Embedded throughout the collection are numerous iconic twentieth century Arizona photographs that reflect Shadegg's wide-ranging activities throughout the state. This exhibit highlights 350 of the images.

The Writings
This exhibit also includes a sampling of Shadegg's writings (many unpublished) that vividly capture an under-documented time and place in Arizona history.

African Americans

  • African-American troops training at Fort Huachuca in 1943 during World War II
  • A 1938 letter from a New York magazine publisher refusing to consider Shadegg's submission of an African American murder story ("We never use cases involving Negro principals")


  • The Bumstead agricultural date business in Phoenix in the 1940's
  • A manufacturing plant operations in Phoenix during World War II, including, "Rosie the Riveter" women employees working on industrial equipment
  • Phoenix area businesses

Community and Recreation

  • The 1940 University of Arizona Intercollegiate Rodeo in Tucson
  • Phoenix Sun Tan Queen contestants in the desert circa 1940, and the 1939 Nogales High School Marching Band
  • The 1939 Arizona Exhibit at the Golden Gate International Exhibition at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay for which Shadegg was the publicity manager.
  • Arizona summer girls and boys camp activities in the mountains in the 1940's
  • 1950's Phoenix street scenes, schools, neighborhoods, malls and aerial views, and various other Arizona communities
  • Phoenix area hospitals, 1900-1970's, Shadegg collected while writing a history of Good Samaritan Hospital
  • The 1962 Women's Trans Mississippi Golf Association Tournament in Phoenix
  • Portraits of early Phoenix leaders and officials of the Salt River Project at the beginning of the twentieth century
  • "Summer Bachelor" is a 1930's humorous article about husbands remaining in Phoenix while wives and children escape the summer desert heat

Crime and Law Enforcement

  • The 1937 takeover of the Arizona State Prison by the Arizona National Guard following a prison break
  • Arizona law enforcement officials and judges in the 1940's, and a Maricopa County Sheriff's Department employee's party
  • "Memories of Our Sinful Past" is an unpublished 1986 article about crime, political corruption and prostitution in Phoenix fifty years before.
  • 1938 correspondence about Phoenix crime boss Jack Durrant's prostitution ring
  • 1938 correspondence about Shadegg's views of Winnie Ruth Judd, the most sensational twentieth century Arizona murder case
  • "The Community And Its Crime Problems" is a 1945 unpublished article about crime in Phoenix and Maricopa County

Dams, Canals, Mines, Power Plants

  • Arizona dams, canals, mines and power plants in the 1940's and 1950's

Navajo Reservation

  • Scenes of the Navajo Reservation in the 1950's


  • Clare Boothe Luce's previous congressional and diplomatic career that Shadegg collected writing her biography when she was a Phoenix resident in the 1970's
  • Surveillance photographs of union officials in Phoenix during Barry Goldwater's 1958 Senate campaign
  • From 1986 to his death in 1990 Shadegg unsuccessfully attempted to interest a national publisher in his memoir, "It Was Never Nothing." Included here is a 1986 draft of his unpublished typescript, as well as an earlier, briefer 1982 version that contains additional reminiscences. Both versions are rich in candid insider details about Arizona politics, and include information about the 1950 Carl Hayden Senate campaign, and the 1952, 1958 and 1980 Barry Goldwater Senate campaigns
  • "Is Goldwater Turning Right" is an unpublished article about Shadegg's unsuccessful 1962 Senate primary campaign against Evan Mecham
  • "For Freedom's Sake" is a 1955 film script involving Barry Goldwater and Joseph Stalin in a debate
  • Arizona Politicians, including Barry Goldwater, Jack Williams, Eldon Rudd, and Stephen Shadegg

Radio and Theatre

  • Phoenix Little Theatre stage productions, 1930's- 1940's, including a visit by Hollywood film actor William Bendix
  • Photographs of KOY Radio Station's staff and programs
  • A 1938 article about writing radio scripts
  • "Listen To This" is a 1937 radio script about confidence schemes
  • "An Easy Way To Make A Living" and other essays describe the operation of KOY radio station in Phoenix in 1939
  • Correspondence to Shadegg in 1938 from KCRJ in Jerome, Arizona, about activities of the radio station, including its important Spanish language component
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