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City of Toledo - City Manager Records

Identifier: MSS-308

Scope and Contents

The collection includes materials from the City Manager’s Office from 1947 to 1982: administrative materials, correspondence with city departments, and correspondence with local businesses and corporations. Original order was maintained where possible, with materials filed by year and arranged alphabetically by folder. Folder names reflect the original naming convention of the City Manager’s Office. Of note are materials relating to the day-to-day operations of the city, including files on Weed Control, Utilities, Gun Laws, the Toledo Zoo, Handicapped Access, the Red Cross, and many more municipal departments. Also of note are correspondences with local companies, including large glass companies like Libbey-Owens-Ford, Owens Corning, and Owens-Illinois. There are many miscellaneous files arranged alphabetically within the collection that contain records not applicable to any department in particular. This collection will be of great interest to local historians of Toledo, as well as to historians of American municipal government.


  • 1947-1982

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials may be accessed by request at the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections on the fifth floor of the William S. Carlson Library on the main campus of the University of Toledo. Materials do not circulate.

Conditions Governing Use

In most cases, the Canaday Center does not own the copyright and literary rights to items in its collections; it is the responsibility of the researcher to adhere to U.S. Copyright and Fair Use laws, including seeking permission from the copyright holder and payment of any royalty fees, in the reproduction and use of archival materials. Providing copies or scans does not constitute a license to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form.

Biographical / Historical

The Office of the City Manager (1936-1993) was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the City of Toledo and answered directly to the City Council. Under the “commission-manager” form of government, the Mayor served as the highest ranking elected office holder while most duties of chief executive were carried out by the city manager. In 1993, the city voted to implement a “strong-mayor” form of government in which the Office of the Mayor held sole executive power.

The city manager system in Toledo dates to the early 1920’s. Concerns about corruption and partisanship during the Great Depression led many Toledo citizens to value nonpartisan government that was immediately accountable to the people. The appeal of the commission-manager system for many was that if the manager was not fulfilling their duties, the city council could fire them immediately and hire a new manager without the need for a lengthy recall election. A commission was formed in 1928 to draft a charter for the city under a city manager system. The charter was not approved by the electorate until 1934. The amendments regarding administrative and executive changes took effect on January 1, 1936 and the city council hired the first city manager, John N. Edy, on January 13 of that year.

Concerns about the city manager system emerged by the 1950’s. In 1955, Vice Mayor Ned Skeldon wrote a proposal to abolish the city manager’s office. In response to this, The League of Women Voters of Toledo sent a letter to the mayor’s office expressing support for the city manager system. The letter argues that any perceived failure of the city manager system was due to “the failure of council to live up to it.” It also held an invitation for the citizens of Toledo to attend an event to “refresh” them on the benefits of the city manager system. Despite their efforts, disagreements about the city manager system would continue for several decades.

From the 1960’s to the 1980’s the city manager’s office faced controversy and harsh public criticism. Perhaps most controversial was Philip Hawkey (1986-1990). He inherited many problems from his predecessor who “had lost $19 million in city money that had been placed illegally in a Florida real estate brokerage that went belly-up.” In addition, Hawkey faced controversies of his own ranging from allegations of racial discrimination in his hiring practices, to an unsuccessful attempt to increase Toledo’s tax base by secretly purchasing 1,200 acres of land in Monclova and Springfield townships. Hawkey left Toledo for a city manager position in Pasadena, California in 1990. Only two years later in 1992, the electorate voted to return to a “strong-mayor” system of government. In 1993, Carty Finkbeiner, former city councilman and advocate for the strong-mayor system, was elected Toledo’s first “strong mayor” in almost sixty years.

References: Benton, Joshua. “Former city manager Hawkey is dismissed from his Pasadena job,” Toledo Blade, December 11, 1997

Curry, G. Burman. “Toledo's fight for a city manager” National Civic Review, April 1935 Vol. 24, no. 4, pp 202-205.

Toledo City Journal, Vol. 6, no. 27, July 2, 1921

“Toledo City Manager Correspondence Collection” June 2007, Finding Aid at the Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH

“Toledo Mayoral Papers,” MSS-061, Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections

Torres, Vicki, “The City Manager Brouhaha,” Los Angeles Times, April 26, 1990


67 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Julie Gibbons, Assistant Clerk, Toledo City Council, June 2016

City of Toledo - City Manager Records, 1947-1982 (ID: MSS-308)
Tom Smith; updated by Sara Mouch, 2020-12
June 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections Repository

2801 West Bancroft Street
William S. Carlson Library, Fifth Floor
Toledo Ohio 43606 United States