F. Clyde Duffy was born March 20, 1890, in Devils Lake, North Dakota. He was the son of Maurice and Margaret (Flood) Duffy. He graduated from Devils Lake High School, before entering the University of North Dakota. While at UND, Duffy was active in the A.D.T. Literary Society, the University Catholic Association, the Varsity Bachelor Club, the Bruce Law Club, and the Debating Board of Control. He also represented the University at two international debates with the University of Manitoba in 1910 and 1911. He graduated from UND with a Bachelor of Laws degree on June 12, 1912.
Duffy acted as city editor of the Grand Forks Herald in 1913, before opening a law firm with Torger Sinness in Minnewaukan, North Dakota. He married Exzelia Beauchamp in Fargo on September 11, 1915. The couple had two daughters: Margaret and Patricia.
Sinness and Duffy moved their law firm to Devils Lake in 1925. He served as Special Assistant Attorney General from 1925 to 1930, and was appointed by North Dakota Governor John Moses in 1939 to investigate irregularities at the State Hospital for the Insane, the Motor Vehicle Registration Department, and the State Mill and Elevator. Duffy also acted as Code Commissioner, 1939-1944, and as the city attorney for Devils Lake for many years.
Duffy was an active member of the Republican party, and served as precinct committee, chair of the Ramsey County Republican Committee, and member of the state Republican Central Committee. He was also a representative to the 1936 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He was elected to the North Dakota Senate in 1948, serving until 1956. He acted as minority floor leader in 1953 and 1955, before being elected as Lieutenant Governor in 1956. In 1958, he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for United States Senator versus the incumbent William Langer.
Duffy was the director of the Otter Tail Power Company, the Ramsey National Bank, and the Northern National Insurance Company. He served as president of the North Dakota Bar Association, in addition to being active with the Kiwanis, the Knights of Columbus, and the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Duffy retired in 1970, and died December 17, 1977, in Santa Clara, California. He is buried at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Devils Lake.
The Clyde Duffy Papers, 1911-1973, consist mainly of correspondence. Duffy was an active member of the North Dakota Republican Party, and this is reflected in the large amount of political correspondence in the collection. Also included are correspondence, reports, and legal materials related to his service as a Special Investigator appointed by Governor John Moses. Other materials include texts of his speeches, legal documents, and a 1973 autobiography titled “Observations Along the Way.”
The collection was reprocessed in January 2005; materials housed in Boxes 5 and 6 were rearranged and placed into acid-free folders. Researchers should note that some items listed as being in these two boxes were not found when the collection was reprocessed. The items in question consisted mainly of various political pamphlets collected by Duffy.
Several publications were separated and added to the North Dakota Book Collection. These includes four issues of The Red Flame, as well as several publications of the United States Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections. In 1941 and 1942, this committee investigated claims the Langer was not entitled to his Senate seat due to misconduct “as a public officer and as an attorney at law.” The committee ultimately recommended that Langer should not be seated, although the entire Senate voted 52-30 to seat Langer.