Joseph Herman Schauinger was born in Logansport, Indiana on June 26, 1912. He attended St. Meinrad Seminary from 1927-1934 and received his A.B. degree from the University of Indiana in 1935. In the next year he received his M.A. degree from the same university, having completed his thesis on "The History of Catholicism in Indianapolis, 1835-1855." In 1939 he attended Georgetown University where his doctoral dissertation centered on the life of William Gaston. He went on to study for an M.L.S. degree at the University of Michigan while working as a library assistant from 1941-1943. In subsequent years he held positions as an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho (1943-1944), a full Professor at Gannon College (1944-1945), and then as an Associate Professor at the College of St. Thomas from 1945 until his death in 1972. Schauinger's published works have centered on the early Catholic Church in America. In 1949 his dissertation topic was expanded into book form and was published as "William Gaston: Carolinian." Subsequent publications Include: "Cathedrals in the Wilderness,"(1952); "Stephen T. Badin: Priest in the Wilderness," (1956), "The History of St. Thomas College" and "Profiles in Action." He also authored a long list of articles, book reviews and edited works. In 1964 he was awarded the 175th Anniversary Medal of Honor by Georgetown University. Schauinger belonged to numerous associations including; the American Catholic Historical Association, the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, the Indiana Historical Association, the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers, and the Organization of American Historians.
Apart from his academic achievements, Schauinger was actively involved in civic affairs. As a close friend of Eugene McCarthy since 1946, Schauinger accepted the chairmanship of the Senator Eugene J. McCarthy Volunteers in 1948 and remained in that capacity until his death. In 1968 he was asked to participate on the McCarthy Historical Project Advisory Council. Over the years he served as a delegate to both county and state conventions, was twice elected a member of the State Central Committee, served as precinct chairman, and was a candidate for the state senate in 1962.