Lennie W. McLaughlin

Born: June 1, 1900

Died: May 21, 1988

Born Lennie Walls on June 1, 1900. She took the name McLaughlin when she married William McLaughlin.("Miss Lennie" 1988) Known as "Miss Lennie," she became a major player in Louisville politics.

In 1922 she began working for Frank Dugan, Jefferson Circuit Clerk and head of Louisville's Democratic Party.(Denning 1981) In 1923 she worked on Alben Barkley's campaign for the U.S. Senate.(Bulleit 1976)

Michael J. Brennan worked with McLaughlin to help rebuild the Democratic party. They forged a coalition of the Irish and German working class and East End liberals during the depression to strengthen the Democratic Party base. By 1933, when a Democratic mayor and judge were elected, much of the power resided with McLaughlin who held the loyalties of party workers.("'Miss Lennie'" 1988)

She served as secretary of the Democratic Party in Louisville from 1930 until 1939 and from 1947 to 1965.(Bulleit 1976) In 1939 she was ousted by a faction aligned with Mayor Joseph Scholtz.("'Miss Lennie'" 1988) During her contentious removal some believed she had removed records on precinct workers from the organization's files.(Hart, "McLaughlin" 1939) From 1940 to 1947 she served as chief clerk of Jefferson County Fiscal Court.(Bulleit 1976) McLaughlin regained her post as secretary in 1947 ("Mrs. Lennie McLaughlin and" 1947) [2680] and held it until she retired in 1965.(Dietz 1965)

[McLaughlin was] a legendary lady who schooled a generation of Louisville politicians in how to win elections.
William Greider ("'Miss Lennie'" 1988)

She was known for her extensive contacts and loyal following of Democrats who benefited from her patronage.(Dietz 1965) In 1955 the Democratic National Committee named her to the advisory committee on political organization which created an instruction program to train the party's workers.("Mrs. Lennie W." 1955)

As a power broker, McLaughlin promoted or held back candidates for office and created enemies along the way. In 1956, the leaders of the Kentucky Democratic Party changed election laws to make the secretary of state the ex officio chairman of the State Board of Election Commissioners (Reeves 1956) reducing the power of the Jefferson County politicians.


Bulleit, Paul. "Miss Lennie Recalls Power and Presidents." Courier - Journal, January 23, 1976, B1.
"Burke Replaces Party Worker." Louisville Times, April 20, 1939.
Connell, Thornton. "Living-Cost Rise Blamed in Balloting." Courier - Journal, November 6, 1947, 2, 1.
Dietz, Robert. "Democrats' 'Miss Lennie' Is Resigning." Courier - Journal, December 9, 1965, A1.
Denning, C. L. "The Louisville Democratic Party: Political Times of 'Miss Lennie" Mclaughlin.' University of Louisville, 1981.
Hart, Joe. "McLaughlin Resigns Post as Secretary." Courier - Journal April 26, 1939, 1, 1.
Hart, Joe. "Party Control Taken from Mrs. McLaughlin." Courier - Journal, April 20, 1939, 2, 1.
"'Miss Lennie' McLaughlin, Ex-Jefferson Politician, Dies." Courier - Journal, May 22, 1988, B1.
"Mrs. Lennie McLaughlin and Crimmins Share Democratic County Jobs." Courier - Journal, January 9, 1947, 2, 1.
"Mrs. Lennie McLaughlin of Louisville, Kentucky, 1933." 1994.18.2689, Herald-Post Collection, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
"Mrs. Lennie W. McLaughlin Named to National Advisory Committee." Courier - Journal, September 15, 1955, 1, 16.
"Mrs. McLaughlin, on Ouster Anniversary, Says She Wants to Get out, but People Won't Let Her While Democrats Squabble." Louisville Times, April 25, 1940.
Reeves, Ben. "It's 'Madame Labor' Vs. 'Miss Lennie' — and No Holds Barred." Courier - Journal, March 18, 1956, 4, 4.