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J. Roberts Dailey papers and photographs

Identifier: MSS-154

Scope and Contents

This collection includes campaign materials, correspondence, speeches, newspaper clippings, state election board reports, items from President Reagan's 1982 visit to the Indiana General Assembly, photographs, and other materials from J. Roberts Dailey in Indiana ranging from 1949 to 1992 regarding his political career as a legislator and speaker in the Indiana House of Representatives.


  • 1949-1992

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections.

Biographical Note

J. Roberts Dailey was born June 22, 1919 in Riley, Indiana. After graduating from Riley High School in 1937, Dailey entered Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University) where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1941. He entered the U.S. Army in September 1941 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant a few months later, after attending officer candidate school. In April 1946, following his discharge from the Army at the rank of captain, Dailey settled in Muncie to become manager of The Bender Company, a local real estate brokerage. He played an active role in the civic and social activities of Muncie, and became a prominent figure in various organizations including AMVETS, the American Legion, the Muncie Insurance Board, the Reserve Officers Association, and the Muncie Board of Realtors.

Dailey was active in politics in high school and college, and quickly became involved in Muncie's political scene. In 1951, Dailey switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican and worked on Joe Barclay's successful mayoral campaign. In January 1952, Dailey was elected to fill Barclay's unexpired term on the Delaware County Council. At 32, Dailey was one of the youngest people elected to the council. After his term expired in 1955, Dailey remained active in local Republican politics, serving as precinct chairman (1958-1978) and Delaware County Republican Finance Chairman (1963-1978). In addition, he also attended every state Republican convention between 1954 and 1980.

In 1976, Dailey defeated Democrat Richard Mark Hays to become the 37th district's representative in the Indiana House of Representatives. He won reelection in 1978. Between 1977 and 1980, Dailey served on the School Finance Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee. He also served on the Governmental Reorganization Committee (1977-1978); the Sunset Committee (1978-1980); and the Cities and Towns Committee (Ranking Member, 1979-1980).

In 1980, after winning election for his third House term, Dailey successfully ran for Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives. He defeated E. Henry Lamkin on the second ballot. Dailey's victory was impressive not only because of his relative lack of political seniority, but also because he defeated the man generally considered the heir apparent of former Speaker Kermit Burrous (Goshen News, Nov. 8, 1980). Dailey's years as Speaker were marked by his strong leadership. Dailey focused his efforts at limiting government spending and reducing taxes. Two issues in particular marked Dailey's tenure as Speaker. In 1983, Dailey led a successful campaign to defeat a resolution to institute a statewide lottery. Dailey originally stated he would refuse to hand down the bill to a floor vote, but relented after widespread protest (Indianapolis Star, Feb. 14, 1983). The bill eventually died in committee. A year later, Dailey refused to hand the same legislation down for a vote, effectively killing the measure until 1986 (Anderson Bulletin, Feb. 2, 1984).

A second important issue during Dailey's tenure regarded a multi-county banking bill. Dailey led efforts in 1984 to defeat legislation that would allow banking across Indiana county lines. Dailey opposed the bill despite strong support from Republican Governor Robert D. Orr and Republican Lieutenant Governor John M. Mutz. He maintained that the legislation would undermine the ability of small businessmen and individuals to obtain credit because of the possibility of many small, local banks being absorbed by larger statewide institutions. The bill was soundly defeated by a vote of 62-38.

Dailey's positions allowed to him provide many benefits for his constituents in Muncie and East Central Indiana. During Dailey's years in office, state funding for Ball State University more than doubled, and a four-lane expansion of Indiana 332 was completed. Dailey was also influential in initiating legislation for what eventually became the Indiana Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

In 1986, however, Dailey's political fortunes dramatically changed. Dailey's opposition to the lottery bill earned him some enemies within the state. Dailey also made enemies while exerting control over legislation that reached the house floor for votes. In addition, his opponent in the 1986 election, Democrat Marc Carmichael received strong support and funding from the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), which was angry with Dailey's efforts to limit state spending in education. In the November election Dailey was soundly defeated, losing to Carmichael who captured 59% of the vote.

After political defeat in 1986, Dailey concentrated his energies on Allardt, Dailey and Canan Realtors, his real estate business in Lunsford. In 1988, he published Mr. Speaker, which detailed his six sessions in the Indiana state legislature. Dailey remained an active part of the community as a member of many organizations. In 1992, Dailey, along with state representative Hurley Goodall and former state representative Patrick J. Kiely, were honored by Ball State University with the President's Medal for Distinction for their efforts in advancing Ball State University. Along with his business and other activities, Dailey was an avid golfer. He was also an accomplished amateur gourmet chef and was featured several times in local news stories with his wife Anita.


3.9 Cubic Feet (4 boxes, 1 oversize folder, 1 oversize photographs folder, 1 slide, 1 negative)

Language of Materials



Arranged in the following series:

Series 1: J. Roberts Dailey papers, 1949-1992

Series 2: J. Roberts Dailey oversized materials, 1980-1984

Series 3: J. Roberts Dailey photographs, 1949-1951

Series 4: J. Roberts Dailey negatives, undated

Series 5: J. Roberts Dailey oversized photographs, undated

Series 6: J. Roberts Dailey slide, undated

Custodial History

This collection was received by Archives and Special Collections as a donation from J. Roberts Dailey 1995/06/14.


No further additions are expected.

Separated Materials

J. Roberts Daily, Ball State University Weightlifting Club records were housed in RG.00.07.02. These separated materials were processed and are restricted. For more information contact Archives and Special Collections staff.

Processing Information

EAD finding aid created 2012/05/21 by Lisa Barney. EAD finding aid revised 2012/06/28 by Bethany Fiechter. EAD finding aid revised 2016/01/05 by Lindsey M. Vesperry.

J. Roberts Dailey papers and photographs
Under Revision
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Repository Details

Part of the Stoeckel Archives of Local History Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA