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Lawrence M. O'Rourke Papers

Identifier: OM/LMOR

Series List

I. Personal Papers II. Correspondence III. Newspaper articles written by Lawrence M. O'Rourke IV. Notebooks and Notes V. Wire Reports VI. Election Cycles VII. Presidential Administrations VIII.Department of Education IX. Gridiron Club X. White House Correspondents' Association XI. Other Professional Activities XII. White House. Office of the Press Secretary. Press Releases XIII.Pool Reports XIV. Miscellaneous XV. Photographs XVI. Realia XVII.Books


  • Creation: 1957-2005


Biographical/Historical note

Lawrence M. O’Rourke was born to Lawrence M. O’Rourke and Margaret O’Rourke (née Higgins) on March 12, 1938 in Philadelphia. O’Rourke married Patricia Coe on August 29, 1967 and they have four children: Christopher, Katherine, Jennifer, and Timothy. O’Rourke graduated from St. Thomas More High School in 1955, earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from Villanova University in 1959, and in 1970, graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with a J.D. He served in the U.S. army from 1960 to 1962 as director of the English language program at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. His long career in journalism began in 1955 when he started out as a clerk at the Philadelphia Bulletin. In 1957 he gained the rank of reporter. He served as a police reporter, composing room editor, Harrisburg legislative correspondent, political reporter, education editor, assistant city editor, poverty editor, and Washington correspondent. In 1970 he was promoted to the position of Washington Bureau Chief, a position which he held until 1980. In 1980 he joined the newly-created Department of Education under President Carter. There he served as deputy assistant secretary for policy and planning and as acting assistant secretary for public affairs. In late 1981, O’Rourke took a post at the St. Louis Dispatch as a White House Correspondent and Washington columnist. He also served as a congressional and national correspondent for McClatchy newspapers, retiring from the field of journalism in 2005. In addition to his journalism career, O’Rourke has practiced law in the District of Columbia court system since 1970. He has taken on many pro bono representations in child neglect and abuse cases. Throughout his career, O’Rourke became a member of many clubs and associations including the National Press Club, Overseas Writers, Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association, and the American and D.C. Bar Associations. O’Rourke served as president of both the White House Correspondents Association (1976) and the Gridiron Club (1989). His many awards include the second place Merriman Smith prize for White House reporting under deadline pressure, the National Award of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary for an examination of the presidency and the Constitution, the U.S. Bicentennial Commission Award for a series on the Constitution, and the Raymond Clapper award for distinguished journalism. He also gave many lectures as a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship visiting fellow. O’Rourke’s notable assignments include coverage of Nixon's trip to China,Watergate, conventions and campaigns since 1964, Internal Revenue Service abuses, and legal issues, including abortion and criminal justice. He is also the author of the book Geno: The Life and Mission of Geno Baroni (Paulist Press, 1991), coauthor of Cheating Our Children: Why We Need School Reform (National Center for Education Information, 1985), and assistant editor of The American Teacher by C. Emily Feistritzer (Feistritzer Publications, 1983).


55.0 Linear feet (112 boxes, 5 oversize boxes, 3 realia items, 358 books and pamphlets)

Language of Materials



Lawrence M. O’Rourke earned a B.A. from Villanova University in 1959 and a J.D. from Georgetown Law Center in 1970. He was a reporter with the Philadelphia Bulletin, served as its Washington Bureau Chief until the paper closed in 1980. O’Rourke served in President Carter’s newly-created Department of Education. Later O’Rourke served as White House Correspondent and Columnist for St. Louis Dispatch and other newspapers. The collection includes personal papers, correspondence, wire reports, copies of O’Rourke’s articles and notebooks, and papers relating to the Gridiron Club and to other professional activities.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated by Lawrence M. O'Rourke, 2007-2008

Lawrence M. O'Rourke papers
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Finding aid prepared by Bente L. Polites
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Falvey Library
800 E Lancaster Ave
Villanova PA