Jonathan R. Cunningham, a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, served as Director of Planning for the City of El Paso from 1958-1978. He received an undergraduate degree from New Mexico State University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico. He later studied Public Administration and City Planning at the University of Chicago. He taught political science and coached track and field at Las Cruces High School. In 1940 he joined the United States Air Force and retired later from the Air Force Reserve as a colonel. Before coming to El Paso, he worked as Director of Planning for Spokane County in Washington from 1952-1956, and taught political science at Whitman College. While in the northwest he also worked as a consultant for local cities. As the Director of Planning for El Paso, Cunningham was instrumental in the Chamizal Settlement which set the boundary between the United States and Mexico. He also taught classes in municipal planning at the University of Texas at El Paso, the International City Managers Association, and the Texas Municipal League. He was married to Anne Cunningham and died in 1980.
The collection consists of correspondence, copies of speeches, and reports concerning areas such as city planning and zoning, the Chamizal, relocation of the Rio Grande, the El Paso International Airport, urban land use, community development, United States/Mexico border improvement and development, the environment, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Park, Pueblo de la Ysleta del Sur, historic preservation, local history, population and housing trends, transportation and traffic projections, and international relations. Some coverage of areas outside of El Paso such as Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; Spokane County, and Walla Walla, Washington is included.