Photo by Charles Wainwright

James T. Walsh


Day in a Life
Hancock Field
Irish Affairs
Onondaga Lake
The Collection
SBU Archives


Overview of the James T. Walsh Collection

          The James T. Walsh collection is located in the St. Bonaventure University Archives in Friedsam Memorial Library. The collection includes the papers that Congressman Walsh accumulated during his time as a Syracuse Common Councilman and his 20 years of service in the United States Congress. Included in the collection are Walsh's congressional papers relating to appropriations, Central New York, the Ireland peace process, infant hearing screening, and other issues. There is also correspondence, campaign material, photographs and other media within the collection.

          St. Bonaventure University received the collection from Congressman Walsh in January of 2009. The University was chosen as its repository because of Walsh's relationship with the school. He graduated from St. Bonaventure with a degree in history, and other members of his family are also alumni of SBU.

Biography of James T. Walsh

Bonadieu 1970, St. Bonaventure Archives
          Congressman James T. Walsh was born on June 19, 1947 in Syracuse, NY. He is the son of William and Mary Walsh. Walsh grew up in Syracuse and has remained a part of the community. Not only has he lived there most of his life, he has worked to improve Syracuse as a politician. He did this by serving on the Syracuse Common Council and representing Syracuse as a United States Congressman.

          Walsh’s education began at St. Patrick’s school in Syracuse. For high school he attended Christian Brother’s Academy, graduating in 1966. Next he went to St. Bonaventure University where he graduated as a history major in 1970.  Walsh followed that with two years in the Peace Corps from 1970-1972.  He spent this time in Nepal teaching a small village modern agricultural techniques. 

          Walsh did not enter politics immediately after his Peace Corps experience. He first worked for Social Services in Onondaga County as an income examiner and was there for 18 months. Next he became a telephone company executive for AT&T in 1974. After the break up of AT&T, he worked for NYNEX Telecommunications. In 1986 he became the director of the Telecommunications Institute at SUNY in Utica/Rome.

   In 1978, Walsh began his political career in the city of Syracuse by becoming a councilor for the 3rd district on the Syracuse Common Council. For the next ten years, Walsh established himself as a Republican politician and supported legislation for parks, recreation and the environment in Syracuse. In 1986, Walsh became the president of the Common Council and continued to serve in this capacity until he was elected to Congress in 1988.


Congressional Baseball Game

         Walsh ran for congressional office in 1988 for the first time. At the time he was really only well recognized by the people served by the Syracuse Common Council. Over the years, his popularity grew and he was recognized throughout his district for his congressional service. Walsh had a group of supporters who helped to push his campaigns to victory in every election. His campaigns were very successful and well organized. Walsh was known for knocking on doors and finding out the needs of the people he represented.

          As a congressman, Walsh seized many opportunities to provide aid to Syracuse and other areas of Central New York. He promoted innovative technology strategies. During his two decades in Congress, Walsh became a leading advocate for Central New York businesses as a part of his long-term plan to help renovate the area's economy. He wanted to help move the region from an old-line manufacturing economy to one that focuses on creating technology and knowledge-based jobs.     

        One of the other major projects that Walsh became involved in to help improve Syracuse and Central New York was the clean-up effort of Onondaga Lake. The lake had become very polluted over the years from a combination of industrial waste and sewage overflow. It had become so polluted that it was a public health hazard and having a negative effect on the area surrounding it. Walsh used his position in Congress to gain federal appropriations to aid the clean-up effort. The clean-up involved the efforts of the local, state and federal governments to push forward and fund projects. Walsh was able to bring $160 million to Onondaga County to help clean-up the lake. The projects completed thus far have increased the clarity of the lake, helped reduced contaminants in the lake, improved sewage treatment and reduced combined sewage overflows which were polluting the lake.

Bayou Meta Trip, Stuttgart, AK, 2005

           Another project that Congressman James T. Walsh worked on was the Hancock Air Force Base, which is located outside of Syracuse, NY. Hancock was used during the Second World War. It was commissioned to be built on December 31st, 1941and cost $16,000,000. Walsh proposed and voted on various laws that have contributed to the funding of Hancock Air Force Base. Today it is Syracuse Hancock International Airport serving over two million people  a year.


Jim and Dede Walsh in Ireland, 2007

         While Walsh was in office, he was involved in other projects that did not pertain directly to Syracuse and Central New York. One of these was the on-going peace process in Northern Ireland. His intent here was to help protect Irish Catholic communities against Irish Protestant violence and to help both sides reach a peaceful settlement to their problems. Through the institution of the Walsh Visa program, and his work with other major political figures, Walsh was able to have a direct affect on the accomplishment of peace between these two religious communities in Ireland.

        Walsh served on several committees in Congress. One of them was the Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee (VA-HUD).  He was appointed its Chairman in 1999. Walsh served there for multiple terms and was responsible for some of the largest consecutive increases in the annual budget for VA healthcare. This committee was responsible for the appropriation of billions of federal dollars that went to Veterans Affairs, Urban Development, NASA and science initiatives. Through his position, Walsh was able to aid his district and other areas of New York State.

Jim Walsh on Air Force One with President George W. Bush

Jim Walsh and his father Bill Walsh

Jim Walsh and his wife Dede Walsh


Friedsam Memorial Library
St. Bonaventure University
St. Bonaventure, NY  14778
Phone:  (716) 375-2322
Fax:  (716) 375-2389
Archives Index Page

Created by the History 419 Class, Spring 2009
From left to right: Rachel Barthomay, Anthony DePrimo, Greg Shugrue, Kate Meyer,
Danielle Butler, Matt Agan, Kristie Bemis and Brian Kelvie,
and also by History 495 intern Kristie Bemis, Spring 2009.

Changes, other than minor editing are noted at the bottom of each page.