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Martin J. Quigley Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS142

Collection level scope and contents note

The Martin J. Quigley Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs and related printed ephemera regarding Quigley Publications, the Production Code, and the Legion of Decency. The papers, dating from 1917 to 1970, comprise 4.5 linear feet of material, arranged into 4 boxes and 260 folders. The collection is organized into series as follows:

Series 1. Individual Correspondence. Files of correspondence from individuals arranged alphabetically. Includes notables such as Barney Balaban, Howard Hughes, Spyros Skouros, and Joseph Kennedy. There are many letters from Joseph Breen, Will Hays, and Eric Johnston, regarding the Production Code. The series includes correspondence from members of the Catholic hierarchy, regarding the Legion of Decency. There are letters from Rev. Daniel A. Lord, who at Quigley's request wrote the Production Code; as well as letters from Rev. Paul Facey, Rev. Patrick Masterson, Rev. Thomas Little, and Rev. John McClafferty. Included are numerous letters from the Archbishop of Cincinnati, John t. McNicholas; William Scully, Bishop of Albany; Francis Spellman, Archbishop of New York; and Samuel Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago.

Series 2. Subject Correspondence. Correspondence and related material regarding the Legion of Decency, the Production Code, Quigley Publications and testimonials. Correspondence regarding the Legion of Decency is organized alphabetically by location, e.g., Buffalo, Chicago, Massachusetts, Mexico, Philadelphia, and New York. The series includes correspondence from Rev. Wilfrid Parsons, Will Hays, Mary Looram, and Archbishop Amleto Cicognani. Notable items in this series include a document identified as the original Production Code, as well as files relating to specific projects, "The Cardinal," "La Dolce Vita," "Lolita," and "Of Love and Desire," among many others. Material on Quigley Publications includes business files and correspondence relating to the publications "Motion Picture Daily," "Hollywood Herald," and "Exhibitors Herald." An extensive file of testimonials includes letters from notables such as Louella Parsons, Herbert Yates, Darryl Zanuck, Joseph Schenck, Adolph Zukor, Sam Katz, and Samuel Goldwyn.

Series 3. Manuscripts. Collection of Martin J. Quigley's writings and addresses arranged chronologically.

Series 4. Personal. Quigley's personal correspondence. Includes honorary degrees, merits, photographs, and ephemera.

Series 5. Newspaper Clippings. Articles regarding Quigley Publications, the Production Code, and the Legion of Decency.

Series 6. Miscellaneous.


  • 1917 - 1970


Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical Note

Martin J. Quigley (1890-1964) was a distinguished publisher and editor of motion picture trade journals, including "Motion Picture Herald," "Motion Picture Daily," "Motion Picture Almanac" and "Fame." Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 6, 1890, he was educated at Niagara University and Catholic University of America. He entered the motion picture industry in 1915 with the founding of the "Exhibitors Herald." He was especially concerned with the problems arising from the impact of the cinema on the the pubic's mind, and was closely associated with the motion picture industry's own efforts to adjust to its moral and social responsibilities.

Indeed, in 1929, Quigley originated a code to govern the moral and social implications of entertainment films. His influential position among those in the industry made it possible for the code to be adopted by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America in March 1930.

Furthermore, Quigley was also influential in the origins and development of the Legion of Decency, an organization sponsored by the Catholic Church. The Legion of Decency, through movie reviews and classifications, identified motion pictures deemed morally objectionable to the viewing public.


4.5 Cubic Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Martin S. Quigley, 1987.

Related Materials

Serial publications that belonged to Quigley have been transferred to the Booth Family Center for Special Collections Rare Books unit.

Martin J. Quigley Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023-10: Edited for DACS compliance by John Zarrillo

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057