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William H. Avery papers

Creator: Avery, William Henry, 1911-2009

Date: 1955-1965 (bulk 1960-1962)

Level of Description: Coll./Record Group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Ms. Coll. 137

Unit ID: 40137

Biographical sketch: Farmer & rancher, U.S. representative (1955-65, Republican), later (1965-67) Kansas governor; of Wakefield.

Abstract: This collection contains the congressional papers of William Henry Avery's terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1955-1965. Most of the material covers the years of 1960-1962. There is very little material documenting the other years. Most of the papers deal with constituent correspondence on a variety of subjects, legislative bill files, and veterans' case files.


General Files

Inasmuch as constituent correspondence contains valid insights into understanding a public official’s position or policy development process, Avery’s papers are of value to researchers. In most subject areas the researcher is generally limited to gleaning information on Avery from his correspondence (often form letters) to constituents. There are very few memoranda or official papers in the collection. Major subjects in this series are: Air Force; Army; Federal Communications Commission; Health, Education and Welfare Department; Social Security Administration; State Department; watersheds; and Ways and Means.

Legislative Files

The files contain constituent correspondence and various reports concerning proposed legislation and resolutions. Each file also contains a printed copy of the bill. These are arranged in a chronological order by Congress, congressional session, and numerical order by bill number. These files are limited to the proceedings of the 85th, 86th and 87th Congresses with the bulk of material reflecting activity in the years 1960-1962.

Veterans’ Files

These files represent constituent and veteran inquiries into a variety of problems. They are arranged alphabetically by name.

Oversized Materials

Those materials too large for storage in boxes were placed in a separate folder. These are comprised of maps, blueprints and broadsides. Each item removed has been noted and cross referenced to the appropriate materials in the collection guide.

Space Required/Quantity: 21.67 cubic feet

Title (Main title): William H. Avery papers

Titles (Other):

  • William Henry Avery collection : congressional papers
  • Congressional papers
  • William Henry Avery congressional papers
  • William H. Avery congressional papers collection
  • William Henry Avery congressional papers collection


Biog. Sketch (Full):

William Avery was born on August 11, 1911, near Wakefield in Clay County, Kansas. After attending Wakefield High School, he graduated from the University of Kansas in 1934. He returned to farming and ranching in Wakefield and married Hazel Bowles in 1940. He had four children. Governor Avery died in 2009.

A Republican, Avery was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1950 and served to 1955. In 1954, he campaigned for the Republican nomination for the U. S. House of Representatives on an "anti-big-dam" platform, opposing the Tuttle Creek Dam project on the Blue River. He won both the nomination and election, beginning a congressional career which would span the next 10 years. In 1964 Avery left the U. S. House and was elected 37th governor of Kansas. He served one term as governor, losing a re-election bid to Robert Docking in 1966. In 1968 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination to the U. S. Senate. Avery returned to private life and settled in Wichita, Kansas. He was with Garvey Enterprises (1967-1968), the Clinton Oil Company (1969-1971), and later served as president of the Real Oil Company.

Highlights of Congressman Avery’s legislative activities include membership on the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee (1957-1960), House Committee on Rules (1961-1964), Select Committee on Small Business (1959-1965), Republican Policy Committee (1955-1957, 1961-1965), and was ranking Republican on the Private Calendar Committee (1955-1965). In addition, Avery chaired the Missouri River States Committee and was a member of the President’s Civil Defense Advisory Council.

Scope and Content

Scope and content:

This collection contains the congressional papers of William Avery’s terms in the United States House, 1955-1965. It should be noted that the limited chronological scope of the material is a weakness of the collection. Much of the material falls between the years 1960-1962. There is very little material documenting the very early and last few years of Avery’s tenure in office. This limitation could potentially hinder research in the broadest examination of Avery’s career.

The William Avery gubernatorial papers (1965-1967) are part of the Kansas State Historical Society's State Archives holdings.

Contents: General files (boxes 1-22) -- legislative files (boxes 22-37) -- veteran files (boxes 38-41) -- oversize materials.


Locator Contents
005-08-05-06 to 005-09-03-04   

Related Records or Collections

Other Finding Aid/Index: Finding aid available in the repository and on its website, http://www.kshs.org/p/william-henry-avery-collection/13975

Related materials:
Clyde Hill ms. collection, no. 213; http://www.kshs.org/archives/40213
Chester Mize ms. collection, no. 106; http://www.kshs.org/archives/40106

Index Terms


    Kansas. Governor
    Kansas. Legislature. House of Representatives
    United States. Congress. House
    Clay County (Kan.)
    Kansas -- Politics and government -- 1951-
    United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989
    Wakefield (Kan.)
    Avery, William Henry, 1911-2009
    Legislators -- Kansas
    Legislators -- United States
    American letters -- Kansas -- History -- 20th century
    Legislation -- Kansas
    Legislation -- United States

Creators and Contributors

Additional Information for Researchers

Use and reproduction: Information on literary rights available from the Kansas Historical Society (Topeka).

Cite as: William Henry Avery congressional papers collection, 1955-1965, Ms. Coll. 137, Kansas State Historical Society


General Note: Title from archives boxes.