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Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : administration of Governor William Henry Avery (1967-1969)

Creator: Kansas. Governor (1965-1967: Avery)

Date: 1965 Jan. 11-1967 Jan. 9

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Material Type: Government record

Call Number: See individual series

Unit ID: 442034

Restrictions: None.

Biographical sketch: 37th governor of the state of Kansas (Republican), 1967-69; of Wakefield.

Abstract: One series specific to Governor William Henry's administration consisting of letters received and copies of outgoing correspondence. Can also include petitions and other attachments and reference material related to topics in correspondence. Alphabetical correspondence (sub-series A) contains letters from specific individuals or about topics too diverse or incapable to include in the Subjects correspondence (sub-series D). Appointments correspondence (sub-series B) includes material relating to vacant state positions. The State agencies correspondence (sub-series C) consists of letters relating to the operation of State departments and organizations. Subjects correspondence contains letters on a large number of topics. Press releases (sub-series E), Proclamations (sub-series F), and Speeches and messages (sub-series G) are on a variety of subjects. Additional records of Governor Avery are in separate series common to several governors, described in the Contents section of this record.

Space Required/Quantity: 25 ft. (63 boxes + 3 oversize folders : 2 oversize)

Title (Main title): Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : administration of Governor William Henry Avery (1967-1969)

Titles (Other):

  • William Henry Avery administration, Jan. 11, 1967-Jan. 9, 1969 [Other title]
  • Correspondence files
  • Kansas Governor William Henry Avery correspondence files
  • Kansas Governor William Henry Avery records [Other title]
  • Records [Portion of title]
  • Records of the Office of the Governor of Kansas : William Henry Avery administration (1967-1969) [Other title]

Part of: Records of the Kansas Governor's Office.

Language note: Text is in English.


Biog. Sketch (Full):

William Henry Avery was born to Herman W. and Hattie Coffman Avery on 11 August 1911, near Wakefield, Kansas. Herman Avery was a farmer and rancher near what is now the Tuttle Creek Reservoir in north central Kansas. William Avery attended Wakefield High School and graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence in 1934 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. Following his formal education, Avery went back to the family farm to raise crops and livestock. Avery was a Flying Farmer who later served in World War II as a pilot.

Avery first entered politics in 1949 when he ran for election for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. He served in the House until 1955, also serving on the Legislative Council from 1953 to 1955. In 1955 Avery ran for and won a seat in the United States House of Representatives on an "anti-big dam" platform. In spite of winning a seat in Congress, Avery was unable to halt construction already begun on the Tuttle Creek Dam. Avery served in Congress until 1965, a period of ten years.

Avery ran for the Governor's Office in 1964 and won. However, he failed in his bid for re-election, to Robert Docking, son of the late Governor George Docking. After leaving office, Avery established a new home in Wichita, as his Wakefield ranch was mostly under water. He joined Garvey Enterprises from 1967 to 1968, then the Clinton Oil company from 1969 to 1971, and then the Real Oil Company. In 1968, he tried to re-enter politics in an attempt to win a seat in the United States Senate. This, however, he lost to Robert J. Dole.

Since then, Avery served on a fact finding tour in Africa for the Agency for International Development. He has also served in Washington, D.C., in a number of capacities, such as the Department of the Interior.

In his personal life, Avery married Hazel Bowles in 1940, and had four children: William, Barbara Ann, Bradley Eugene, and Martha Sue. He died in Wakefield on 4 November 2009 at the age of ninety-eight.

Administrative History

Administrative History:

When Kansas was first organized as a territory in 1854, it was the president of the United States who appointed governors of the Territory. The office of the governor of the state of Kansas was established and defined by the constitutional convention in Wyandotte (present Kansas City), Kansas, in 1859 and confirmed by the U.S. Congress on January 29, 1861. According to the Wyandotte Constitution, the governor would serve a two-year term, beginning on the second Monday in January of even numbered years. Kansas governors would continue to serve two-year terms until 1974, when the constitution was amended. Since that time, governors have served four-year terms.

According to the State constitution, the supreme executive power of this State shall be vested in a governor, who shall be responsible for the execution of the laws of this State. As the supreme executive of the State, the constitution does not specifically list all of the governor's duties. Instead, these duties are spelled out in a variety of statutes passed by the Legislature over the years. As required by the constitution, the governor delivers a message concerning the condition and well-being of the state to the Legislature at the start of each session. As a part of his message, the governor also conveys recommendations for addressing the State's highest priorities and greatest needs.

The governor is the supervisory head of a large number of State agency heads. Those not under the governor's jurisdiction are other elected officials in the State, such as the attorney general, the secretary of State, the superintendent of public instruction, the insurance commissioner and the State auditor.

The governor exerts his power, in large part, by appointing officials to various State agencies. Appointees generally serve for four year terms, and a number of regulations safeguard against agencies from becoming too heavy with members of any one political party. By 1960, the governor had the power to appoint staff to 274 different positions. In addition, the governor is authorized to make appointments to vacancies that may occur in the U.S. Senate, Kansas district courts, and county offices. In order to reduce the tendency for cronyism, the governor may remove no more than one-fifth of appointed positions. Vacancy appointees hold office until the next general election.

One of the most fundamental duties of the governor is that of appropriations and fiscal control. Along with the budget director (a civil service appointee), the executive director of the department of administration (a governor's appointee), the Legislature, and the Finance Council, all negotiate to form an annual state budget. The budget director reviews budget requests made by State agencies, then sends budgetary recommendations to the director of the Department of Administration. Agencies needing more money than appropriated can appeal to the Legislature, however the governor can veto budget revisions made by the Legislature. In practical terms, it is the Finance Council that has the strongest voice in determining budget appropriations. The Finance Council is composed of the governor, the lieutenant governor, president pro-tem of the Senate, speaker of the House, the chairmen of the House and Senate finance committees, and the executive director of the Department of Administration. The governor is the chairman of the Finance Council, and the executive director of the Department of Administration is its secretary.

Organizational charts of the State government imply a distinct separation of roles between the governor and the Legislature. However, these two entities work closely in the legislative process. The governor introduces his agenda to the Legislature in his state of the state address. Then the governor closely monitors all of the bills making their way through both houses. The governor can send messages to the House and Senate threatening to veto certain bills. This is usually strong enough to kill bills before they reach the governor's office. Of those bills sent to the governor, he vetoes few of them, and of those vetoed, the Legislature seldom overrides them. The governor also has the power to convene special sessions of the Legislature if circumstances merit such a convocation. However, the cost of special sessions prevents this from happening unless the need is extraneous. In fact, there have only been twenty special sessions in the history of the State of Kansas.

During his or her tenure in office, the governor finds him- or herself either praised or criticized for the leadership of his or her party, and in directing his or her agenda through the Legislature. This is especially true when the governor is of the same party as the majority party in the House or Senate. During such times, the governor will often confer with the speaker of the House, the House majority leader, the president of the Senate--at that time the lieutenant governor--and the president pro tem. It is in conferences such as these that a great deal of bargaining and negotiating take place. This non-statutory power is actually one of the strongest, if handled properly. It is the esteem of the governor's office that enhances his or her constitutional authority.

The governor fulfills his law enforcement duties by extraditing fugitives to their State of origin, by pardoning and commuting sentences, by initiating special investigations into criminal matters, and by offering rewards for the apprehension of fugitives within the State. Several reward proclamations, also known as "wanted posters," dating back to 1881 are located in governors' records.

The Kansas Constitution has provisions for a militia which required the service of all able bodied males between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five until 1885. When Kansas was first admitted to the Union, a militia was necessary to defend against Indian depredations and Confederate raiders. Since 1885, the need for a militia has diminished, and the State militia is now staffed by volunteers exclusively. The governor is the commander-in-chief and appoints an adjutant general as chief of staff. It is the adjutant general who heads the National Guard. As commander-in-chief, the governor has the authority to order the Guard into active service to suppress insurrection, and to repel invasion, according to constitutional mandate. Local officials, such as mayors and sheriffs, may request National Guard troops to put down local disturbances if necessary.

The governor of Kansas interacts with other States and their governors on a wide variety of issues, most notably with river and water rights, oil and gas conservation, and interstate crime control. The governor is also concerned about the State business climate and strives to attract profitable businesses to the state. In addition, the governor is authorized to transact all business with federal agencies.

In the fall of 1964, William Henry Avery ran for and won the Governor's Office. Having spent time in the United States House of Representatives, he was not afraid of dealing with large budgetary appropriations, as national budgets were in the hundreds of billions of dollars in the 1960s. In order to improve State services, Avery asked the Legislature for unprecedented fiscal appropriations.

In his first inaugural address, Avery recognized that the demographic profile of the State was continuing its shift from rural to urban, and that State services would also have to follow this trend in order to provide those services where they were needed most. Avery also was aware that state government, education and private business in Kansas were competing with other States, and not just in the central plains but nationwide. That being the case, Kansans and the State of Kansas would need to form long range goals for growth. Avery looked upon the State Water Resources Board, the Highway Commission, the Governor's Economic Advisory Commission, the Kansas Economic Development Commission, and the Governor's Advisory Council on Recreation as being the principal agents for positive change. Avery was successful in attracting 234 new industries to the state, generating over nine thousand new jobs.

Avery's proudest accomplishments were in the area of education. By enacting his School Foundation Program, Avery was able to increase spending on education at all levels, while at the same time, reducing property taxation. It was Avery's administration that established the state-wide community college system.

Birth control was a new and controversial issue in 1965 when a bill permitting the issuance of contraceptive information was introduced to the Legislature. The governor received correspondence concerning this bill encouraging him to veto it when it arrived at his office. Rather than take sides on the issue, Avery allowed the bill to become law without his signature.

Kansas acquired national recognition in 1965 when a young woman named Debbie Bryant of Overland Park became Miss America. During his election campaign, Avery identified himself as "Kansas' Number 1 Salesman," but surrendered this title when Miss Bryant became Miss America. Miss Bryant was the first Kansan to achieve this title.

The shifting population demographics and a United States Supreme Court decision eventually required legislative reapportionment, and in 1966 the Legislature established 75 districts replacing the constitutional guarantee of one seat per county, a provision that had been in effect since 1873.

On 18 June 1966, one of the worst tornadoes in United States history swept through the State. Two days later, Avery made arrangements for 200 Job Corps participants to assist in the clean-up of debris in the Topeka area. He also requested that Congress invoke Public Law 875, to provide supplemental federal assistance for disaster relief.

During Avery's time in office, the United States was experiencing a great deal of social and political discord, as American involvement in Vietnam grew and the civil rights movement was achieving its goals. On one occasion, Avery called upon the Kansas Highway Patrol to evict civil rights demonstrators from his office who were demanding the passage of a fair housing bill.

William Avery was the first Republican governor to serve only one term. It was primarily his tax withholding legislation that angered voters. When Avery discovered that nearly one tax payer in ten was in arrears in paying taxes he pushed legislation for a withholding tax. By 1967, revenues were up significantly. "Quite obviously, I didn't endear myself to those people who weren't paying their taxes," Avery remarked. Though his income tax initiatives were unpopular, Avery was the first governor in over twenty years to reduce property taxes.

Scope and Content

Scope and content:

The arrangement and description of the correspondence of the Governor's office is structured according to the arrangement, duties, functions and responsibilities of the Governor and the executive branch of the Kansas State government.

The Correspondence series is subdivided into an Alphabetical sub-series, an Appointments sub-series, a State Agencies sub-series, and a Subject sub-series.

The Alphabetical sub-series contains routine correspondence from both concerned citizens about routine subject matters or from important correspondents, arranged by name.

The Appointments sub-series contains a wide range of correspondence involved in fulfilling vacancies in State agencies. One of the governor's most important activities was to appoint people to State positions. Often a group, such as the Kansas Teachers Association, would send letters of endorsement for a particular individual for a certain position. In some case, such as the Supreme Court Nominating Committee, the position or a nominee to a position was particularly controversial. In such cases the amount of correspondence is considerable. A significant portion of correspondence came from high ranking officials in the Republican Party. Naturally, Republican governor William Avery had an interest in filling vacancies with staff loyal to his party.

The State Agencies sub-series contains routine correspondence to and from nearly all of the bureaus of State government. This is the appropriate sub-series for research into State agency activities and history. Agencies are listed in a hierarchical manner. For example, Kansas State University is listed under Regents, State Board of. Variations in the arrangement of these files typically takes place from one administration to another as the structure of State government changes.

The Subject sub-series contains a wide array of files on every important subject at the time. Some of the more noteworthy issues at hand during Avery's tenure were capital punishment, water resources (listed under Civil Works), prayer in public schools, the School Foundation funding formula, the tornado of 1966, and the Vietnam conflict. Researchers investigating these or other issues of time, either state or national, should examine the Subject sub-series of the Governors' Correspondence.

The Press Releases sub-series, like the governor's sub-series on speeches, is arranged chronologically, and provides a record of the governor's activities. Most press releases announce a gubernatorial appointment or the signing of a bill into law.

The Proclamations sub-series documents routinely made announcements or commemorations. These are also arranged in chronological order. The topics of proclamations range from such things as Army Nurse Corps Month to Kansas Chamber of Commerce Week.

The Speeches & Messages sub-series lists Governor Avery's addresses and remarks chronologically. This sub-series documents not only his opinions of the matters on which he spoke, but also record his schedule and activities.

In nearly all areas of governors' correspondence, there are oversize items. Oversize items are inventoried in the back of each register, giving their original folder location and the oversize storage location where they have been transferred. When examining the folders that held oversize items, the researcher will find a transfer form, identifying the item, and giving information on its oversize location.

Contents: Records specific to this administration: Correspondence files, 1965-1967, 25 ft. 25 ft. (63 boxes + 3 folders : 2 oversize); http://www.kshs.org/archives/193446 . Records that include this administration: Executive proclamations, 1861-1987, 4 ft. (7 boxes + 8 oversize boxes); http://www.kshs.org/archives/193450 -- Pardon and parole files, 1863-1983, 215 cubic ft.; http://www.kshs.org/archives/193659 -- Extraditions, 1877-1994, 163 cubic ft.; http://www.kshs.org/archives/191789 -- Receipt books and deposit vouchers : fees collected, 1939-1973, 1 cubic ft.; http://www.kshs.org/archives/192243 -- Renditions, [ca. 1955]-1995, 59 cubic ft.; http://www.kshs.org/archives/191915 -- Inmate files, [ca. 1956-ca. 1983], 62 cubic ft.; http://www.kshs.org/archives/192246 -- Indexes and logs, [ca. 1962-ca. 1972], 2 cubic ft.; http://www.kshs.org/archives/191790 -- Monthly reports of correctional institutions, [ca. 1966-ca. 1979], 2 cubic ft.; http://www.kshs.org/archives/195576

Portions of Collection Separately Described:


Locator Contents
028-01-06-02 to 028-02-06-08   
072-05-07-01  Oversize storage 
937-22-08-00  Oversize materials 

Related Records or Collections

Related materials:

  • Records of the Office of the Attorney General, 1871-[ongoing], ca. 5450 cubic ft., Record Group 82; http://www.kshs.org/archives/214224

  • Records of the Office of the Secretary of State, 1861-[ongoing], ca. 4600 cubic ft., Record Group 622; http://www.kshs.org/archives/216312

  • William H. Avery papers, 1955-1965 (bulk 1960-1962), 17 ft. (41 boxes + 1 oversize folder), Ms. Coll. 137; http://www.kshs.org/archives/40137
  • Index Terms


      Kansas. Governor (1965-1967: Avery) -- Archives
      Kansas. Governor (1965-1967: Avery) -- Records and correspondence
      Records (documents)
      Kansas -- Officials and employees
      Kansas -- Politics and government -- 1951-
      State agencies
      Governors -- Kansas -- Archives
      Governors -- Kansas -- Records and correspondence
      Administrative agencies -- Kansas
      Bureaucracy -- Kansas
      Finance, Public -- Kansas
      Government correspondence -- Kansas
      Legislation -- Kansas
      Patronage, Political -- Kansas
      Public institutions -- Kansas
      Public officers -- Kansas
      Public records -- Kansas
      Public welfare -- Kansas

    Creators and Contributors

    Agency Classification:

      Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Specific Administrations. Avery, William Administration.
      Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Specific Administrations.
      Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office. Pardon Attorney.
      Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office. Pardon and Extradition Attorney.
      Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office.

    Additional Information for Researchers

    Restrictions: None.

    Use and reproduction:

    This material may be protected by copyright law (title 17, U.S. Code).

    Government records are not normally covered by copyright law. However, due to the nature of the correspondence addressed to and emanating from the Governor's office, this record group could contain copyrighted material. It is the responsibility of the author or his or her publisher to secure permission of the owner of literary property rights in unpublished writing.

    Cite as: Footnotes attributed to this record group should include Correspondence of the Governor, Avery Administration, State Archives, Kansas State Historical Society.

    Action note: Inventory written by Robert A. McInnes, 2001.

    Accumulation/Freq. Of Use: No additional records are expected.

    Holder of originals: State archives, Kansas Historical Society (Topeka).