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Walter McVey Papers

Collection 44



Walter Lewis McVey Jr. served as the Third District Congressman from Kansas in the 87th Congress from January 3, 1961, to January 3, 1963. After McVey’s failure to win the 1962 Republican primary for the newly established Fifth District, he began to donate his correspondence to the Kansas Historical Society. By the end of the 87th Congress in January 1963 McVey had donated all of his Congressional papers to the Society. The collection consists of 24 “Hollinger” boxes and is divided into four series: Finder File, Legislative, General, and Departmental Correspondence (defined in the Series Description). There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

The collection consists almost entirely of correspondence received from or sent by McVey to people in this district, other members of the 87th Congress, and department heads within the federal bureaucracy. The letters range from friendly greeting to statements on McVey’s voting practices. Besides correspondence with constituents there are letters from and to other representatives, senators and department heads. This type of correspondence is minimal, but is of some importance. The remainder of the collection is composed of copies of legislative bills (mainly those sponsored by McVey) and questionnaires from McVey’s office to the constituents of the 3rd District.


Walter Lewis McVey, Jr., was born in Independence, Kansas, to Walter L. and Nona McVey on February 19, 1922. He attended public schools in Independence and graduated from the city high school in 1940. McVey’s father (Walter Lewis, Sr.) had practiced law in Independence since entering the Kansas Bar in 1907, after his graduation from Kansas University. McVey, Jr., started his college career in 1940 at Independence Junior College. After graduating from this local college in 1942 McVey joined the Army Air Force. He spent three and a half years in the service (as an aerial gunnery instructor) mostly at Buckingham Field, near Fort Myers, Florida. While at Fort Myers, McVey married Rose Mary Ayers on October 28, 1944. In February 1946 McVey was honorably discharged from the Army Air Force and, with his wife, returned to Kansas.

After his failure to receive the House nomination for the 3rd District in 1952, McVey became the Judge of the City Court at Independence, a job he held until 1956. In 1956 McVey ran for public office again, this time for the 12th District seat in the Kansas Senate. McVey was elected and completed his four year term. In 1960 McVey again made a bid for the 3rd District Congressional seat in the House, and this time he was victorious in both the primary and the general election.

McVey defeated incumbent Democrat Denver Hargis with a campaign that stressed conservatism: a balanced budget, reduced federal spending, opposition to federal aid to education and devoted opposition to communism and socialism in government and the United states. McVey received 12,074 votes in the August 2 primary and 49,429 votes to 47,127 votes for Hargis in the November 8 general election. McVey did seem to please his constituents of the 3rd District but in 1962 he had to run in a new district. The 1960 Federal Census had shown that Kansas had lost population and would lose one representative. McVey’s 3rd District was added to other southeast Kansas counties and made into a larger 5th District.

McVey lost the 1962 Republican primary to Joe Skubitz by 148 votes. McVey managed to win the counties of the old third district, but not by a wide enough margin to defeat Skubitz’s strength in the majority of the counties that were in the newly created 5th District. The remainder of 1962 was not much better for McVey. In October 1962 he toyed with the idea of running a write-in campaign against Skubitz and the Democratic candidate Wade A. Meyers, but popular opinion in the 5th District dissuaded him from this. In the fall of 1962 McVey planned to go to Europe on a House “fact-finding” tour, but again public outcry from the 5th District and all of Kansas caused him to change his plans and stay in Washington for the month. On December 9, 1961, McVey announced that Rose Mary and he had separated and on December 15 Mrs. McVey filed for a divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty. On October 11, 1962, the McVey’s divorce became official, with Rose Mary receiving a comfortable settlement and custody of the couple’s two sons: Walter Lewis and David Ayers.

After losing his seat in Washington, McVey did not return to his hometown of Independence. He stayed in Washington during 1963 and part of 1964 working as a management consultant. In 1964 McVey moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and worked in several fields of endeavor. From June 1964 to September 1965, he was the executive director of the Fulton County, Georgia, Republicans. In 1965 McVey was admitted to the Georgia Bar and entered law practice in Atlanta. In 1968 he was still teaching at Georgia State University, practicing law and running a Speaker’s Bureau in Atlanta.

Scope and Content

The entire McVey Collection falls within the dates that he served as a congressman (January 3, 1961 – January 3, 1963) with no previous correspondence left by former Congressman Denver Hargis and apparently McVey left no correspondence for Fifth District Congressman Skubitz’s use.

McVey’s committee assignments were to the House Administration and Public Works committees. McVey would have preferred assignments to the Judicial and Foreign Affairs committees but since he was a freshman Republican Representative in a Democratic controlled House, he did not receive the appointments he wished. Although McVey was not on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, he had a strong interest in the legislation that came out of them, as did his constituents.

The correspondence in this collection can be broken into two broad categories in dealing with the major topics: legislation dealing with national issues and legislation dealing with regional or local issues. The major topics related to national issues are communism, education, foreign aid, a strong military, the Supreme Court’s decision on prayer in public schools, and taxes. As is any collection that deals with a state or national figure, the opinions of the times play an important part in what is considered important. In the early 1960s the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States was still a highly emotional issue. Added to this was the communist takeover of Cuba by Castro in 1959, which made the threat of communism more real in the United States. McVey’s correspondence dealing with national issues expresses this fear of communism. In the foreign affairs folders for 1961 and 1962, many constituents and McVey criticize the Kennedy administration for aiding communist countries by training their pilots or sending them monetary aid. The folders dealing with education also relate to the communists present in the United States. McVey and many of his constituents felt that the administration’s proposal of giving aid to state school systems was an attempt to increase federal control over education and was, innately, socialistic. The Supreme Court’s decision against prayer in public schools led many of McVey’s constituents to feel that atheistic communism was infiltrating the United States’ highest court and McVey tended to agree with them. Kennedy wanted to reduce the military budget. McVey and the 3rd District, however, felt this was opening the door to the USSR because we were not prepared to fight at a minute’s notice. Lastly, taxes do not really deal with the threat of communism in the U. S., but because Kennedy wanted to increase Social Security and start federal funding of schools, it was linked to socialism.

Regional issues of importance to McVey and the 3rd District include agriculture, education, flood control, and legislation dealing with mining, oil, and coal industries. Agriculture has always been the most important part of Kansas’ economy and this was true of the early 1960’s as well. The administration had proposed set aside programs and other controls over agriculture that McVey could not agree with. McVey felt that controls were not needed in agriculture but in other parts of the nation’s industries that wasted agricultural products and other raw materials. Education was both a local and national issue. Kennedy called for standardization of education in an attempt to give every child the right to better himself. McVey and his constituents saw this as an imposition on states rights and were deeply opposed to it. Another topic of importance to people in the 3rd District was pending legislation on flood control. In McVey’s district several dam projects were being considered. Among them were dam sites at Copan, Elk City, Fort Scott and Melvern. These dams were seen by the majority of the people in southeast Kansas as an insurance against devastating floods (one of which had struck the area in the spring of 1962). McVey supported these proposals and attempted to get them passed in any way he could. The last regional issue that received much attention in the correspondence of McVey was legislation dealing with local industries. In southeast Kansas clay production and coal, oil, lead, and zinc mining were very important. Any legislation dealing with these industries interested McVey and his constituents greatly.

These topics are only a small sample of the many subjects that appear in the McVey collection. It should be mentioned that the people that did have the desire to write McVey cannot, necessarily, be considered a representative section of the 3rd District. Mainly the people that wrote to McVey had economic or social reasons for writing their congressman. This fact could be considered a weakness, but this is considered standard for constituent correspondence of any congressional collection. The only other problem with this collection is that McVey rarely stated absolutely that he opposed the position of a constituent. He usually answered someone he disagreed with by saying he respected their position and when a certain piece of legislation came to the floor of the House, he would keep their position in mind when he voted. This policy does make it hard in some instances to decide if, indeed, McVey opposed a certain bill or if he was undecided on how to vote on it. The strength of the collection is that it is well organized with very few filing mistakes or conflicts between subjects. There are a few cases where a certain topic is handled several times or could be filed under several different subject headings than there actually were. Perhaps the best attribute of the McVey collection is that McVey answered his correspondence religiously, no matter how trivial the case. This aids the collection in that it is consistent throughout the collection and not just at the beginning or the end.

At this point it should be mentioned that during periods between July and October of 1962 McVey was in Kansas and not in Washington to answer his correspondence. Campaigning in July and August kept him in Kansas. In October his divorce from his wife became final and he, again, spent some time away from Washington. During these periods either his secretary Velma Graham Halett or his aide Bill Halsey answered the mail with McVey usually sending a follow-up letter for the more urgent requests.

Contents List

Series Description

As stated in the Introduction, there are four series in the collection: the Finder File, and legislative, general, and departmental correspondence. The most important thing to remember about the collection is that all of the materials are filed by subject in the correspondence series.

The first series is the “Finder File” and consists of seven boxes. The finder file is a finding aid that can be used by the researcher. It contains carbons of all the correspondence sent out of McVey’s office in 1961 and 1962. The file is split into the two years of 1961 and 1962 and then the correspondence is filed alphabetically by the name of the constituent or company. In some cases where a researcher may be searching for correspondence from a certain group, like the Kansas Livestock Association, it may be wise to also check the name of the president of the group. This situation can also be reversed; a person that is the president or secretary of a group may have his correspondence filed under the name of the group and not under his name. The purpose of the file was to aid the congressman in finding specific correspondence in his files and the same function can also serve the researcher.

Each carbon has a notation indicating where the correspondence is filed. For example, in the corner of a letter received from a constituent dealing with the 1961 Feed Grain Bill will be written Legislation, 1961-Feed Grain Bill. The finder is basically an aid and should be used as such.

The second series is titled “Legislative Correspondence" and consists of 11 boxes. As in the finder file, the legislative correspondence is divided initially by year and then filed alphabetically by subject. This series contains a great deal of research material. Material on education, agriculture and Social Security are the most abundant in this series. Each folder is concerned with fairly specific subjects with larger subjects like agriculture having many folders devoted to it. The legislation that McVey introduced is in this series. All of the bills that McVey introduced and the responses he received on them can be found under “McVey-Legislation.” In two years McVey obviously did not have that much of a chance to introduce legislation, but in some instances his bills are interesting and others shed light on his character.

The filing in this series is good, but sometimes subjects become interwoven and instead of placing them all in one file a subject becomes spread through the series. For example there are two files dealing with flood control that are on the same subject, but because of the system they are not in the same file. These are files on Flood Control—Caney and Flood Control—Copan Dam. Both deal with legislation concerning protection from floods for the Caney area, but because there are two separate bills in question, the two similar topics are divided. This type of repetition of subjects occurs rarely but the researcher is urged to check the box listing carefully.

The third series consists of four boxes and is the “General Correspondence.” As in the previous two series, the general correspondence series is divided first into years and then arranged alphabetically by subject. The topics in this section do not deal with legislation but issues such as constituents’ problems with the federal government or friendly correspondence with individuals or groups. This series is not in quite as good order as the series on legislation primarily because McVey’s office had little reason to refer to it as time passed.

Probably the most important part of this series to the researcher is the file of “McVey’s Weekly Calendar.” These calendars show, in general, all of McVey’s appointments and movements in his two years in Washington. These calendars can be very useful in tracing McVey’s steps throughout his Congressional career. Other areas touched upon in this series are all of the invitations McVey received to speak, including the ones he refused as well as those he accepted. Congratulations and condolences files are large, but of little research value. As indicated, this series is not well organized primarily because the materials in it were not viewed by McVey’s staff to be of great importance.

The final two boxes of McVey’s collection make up the series called “Departmental Correspondence.” This series consists of correspondence between McVey and departments within the federal bureaucracy. Differing from the other series, this series has both 1961 and 1962 material interfiled with the files placed in alphabetical order by the name of the department being contacted or returning correspondence. This series is important because it is possible to find references to the legislative series within this collection. For example material on flood control can also be found in the “Army Department-Corp of Engineers” folder. Information can also be found in legislative and departmental series concerning the Elk City Reservoir. All of McVey’s correspondence concerning appointments to academies are in this series with much biographical material available on the prospective appointees to the Air Force, Army, and Navy academies. Lastly, there are a few bills within this series, but only in cases where the bill in question is considered to be very important.

Darrell Garwood, Intern
August 1981

Box List

Box 1
Finder File, 1961 A – E

Box 2
Finder File, 1961 F – L

Box 3
Finder File, 1961 M – Sh

Box 4
Finder File, 1961 Si – Z

Box 5
Finder File, 1962 A – F

Box 6
Finder File 1962 G – N

Box 7
Finder File 1962 O – Z

Box 8
Legislation, 1961, Agriculture – Electoral College
Agriculture – H.R. 6400, Agriculture Act of 1961
Agriculture – Feed Grain Bill
Agriculture – Food Retailers License
Agriculture – General
Agriculture – Omnibus Farm Bill, Hir. 8230
Agriculture – Soybeans
Agriculture – Sugar
Area Re-Development Program
Banking and Currency – H.R. 6028 – Housing
Colorado River Project
DuPont Divestiture of Stock – H.R. 8190
Education, Federal Aid to Special – Anti-Church School Aid
Education, Federal Aid to General – Anti-Correspondence
Education, Federal Aid to General – Pro Correspondence
Education, Federal Aid to National Defense Education Act –
H.R. 8892, H.R. 9000
Education, Federal Aid to Special – Colleges and Universities of
Medicine, Dental, Veterinary, etc.
Education, Federal Aid to Unclassified
Education, Federal Aid to Unclassified
Education, Federal Aid to Unclassified
Electoral Vote

Box 9
Legislation, 1961, Flood Control – Highway
Copan Reservoir
Elk City Dam
Fall River Watershed Project
(Fort Scott Reservoir) Marmaton River Project
Flood Control – Neodesha Dam
Flood Control – Miscellaneous
Foreign Affairs – Disarmament Agency Bills – H.R. 7936 & S2180
Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs
Foreign Aid
Gasoline Tax
Highways, Federal Aid to
Highways, (Truck Tax)

Box 10
Legislation, 1961, Legislation – Mining
Legislation – H.R. 65 – H.R. 879 – Disabled Veterans Benefits
Legislation – H.R. 1132 – H.R. 1945
Legislation Miscellaneous – H.R. 2153 – H.R. 2732
Legislation Miscellaneous – H.R. 3229 – H.R. 3864
Legislation Miscellaneous – H.R. 4026 – H.R. 4994
Legislation Miscellaneous – H.R. 5080
Legislation Miscellaneous – H.R. 6390 – H.R. 6900
Legislation Miscellaneous – H.R. 7057 – H.R. 7984
Legislation Amendments to Registration of State Certificates with I.C.C. – H.R. 320
Legislation – Practical Nurses Training Federal Grant, H.R. 4104
Legislation – Auto Financing of Car Sales by Manufacturer – H.R. 71
Legislation – Voluntary Pension Plan by Self-employed – H.R. 10
Legislation – Rules Committee
Legislation – Reorganization Plan #5
Legislation – Miscellaneous – H.R. 8429 – H.R. 8935
Legislation – Miscellaneous – H.R. 9096
Labor Legislation
Legislation – Miscellaneous – A – I
Legislation – Miscellaneous – J – R
Legislation – Miscellaneous – S – A
Legislation – Training of Teachers for Deaf Children
Legislation – Mussling the Military
McVey’s Bill – H.R. 6416 – Blood Donations
McVey’s Resolution – H.R. Res. 481 – Equal Rights
McVey’s Bill – H.R. 5212 – Fort Scott Historic Site
McVey’s Bill – H.R. 4448 – Lead and Zinc
McVey’s Bill – Full Faith and Bredit
McVey’s Shorts Bill
Minimum Wage
Minimum Wage (continued)
Mining – Clay Products

Box 11
Legislation, 1961, Narcots – Taxes
H.R. 6245 – Pharmacy
Postal Rate Increase
Public Power
Railroad legislation
Savings and Loan Correspondence
Social Security Legislation
Tax; tires, tubes, tread, rubber, diesel
Taxes – Withholding Tax on Dividends

Box 12
Legislation, 1961, Un-American Activities Committee – W.W. I Pensions
Un-American Activities Committee
Unclassified Legislation
Unclassified Legislation
Unemployment Compensation
Varied Subjects
Veterans Affairs – G.I. Bill
World War I Pensions

Box 13
Legislation, 1962, A – Education
A.E.C. Authorization Bill
Agriculture – Cropland Retirement Act H.R. 2822
Agriculture – Dairy
Agriculture – Migratory Workers
Agriculture – Omnibus Farm Bill
Agriculture – Packers and Stockyard Act
Agriculture – Soil Conservation
Alcoholic Beverages or Planes
Antitrust Matters
Banking and Currency – Savings and Loans
Banking and Currency Commissions
Civil Service
Civil Service Retirement
Columbia River Channel
Common Market
Communist Mail
District Home Rule – H.R. 11327
Dove Protection Act H.R. 9882
Education – Exceptional Children’s Act of 1962 – H.R. 10125
Education and Labor King Bill – H.R. 7640
Education – General Anti-Federal Aid to Education
Education – General Pro-Federal Aid to Education
Education – Federal Aid to – General

Box 14
Legislation, 1962, Education – Guns
Education – Federal Grants to Colleges and Universities – H.R. 8900
Education – Federal Aid to Education
Education – Sex Education in Schools
Encroachment of Executive on Power of the Legislation
Equal Opportunity
Equal Pay
Extent of Remarks – Unemployment
Federal Control and Spending
Federal Pay Raise
Fiscal Matters
Flood Control (Water Soil Conservation)
Flood Control – Arkansas River Basin
Flood Control – Caney
Flood Control – Copan Dam
Flood Control – Crooked Creek Project, Arkansas
Flood Control – Fort Scott Reservoir
Flood Control – Kaw Basin
Flood Control – Knowles Dam
Flood Control – Marais des Cygnes
Flood Control – Verdigris River
Foreign Affairs – Inter-American Affairs
Foreign Affairs – Peace Corps
Foreign Affairs – United Nations
Foreign Aid
Frying Pan – Arkansas Project
Government Inspected Meat

Box 15
Legislation, 1962, Highways – Medicare (anti)
Humane Treatment of Lab Animals
Inland Waterways
Labor Legislation
Lead and Zinc
Liquor being served in Government offices
McVey – H.R. 582
McVey’s Concurrent Resolution number 427
McVey’s Concurrent Resolution number 453
McVey – Fallout Shelters
McVey – Fort Scott Commemorative Stamp
McVey – Fort Scott H.R. 5212
McVey – Dr. Garzon – H.R. 12150
McVey – Investigation of Agriculture Employees – H.R. 636
McVey’s Lead and Zinc Bill – H.R. 10625
McVey – Prayer Decision Members Bill – H.R. Res. 814
McVey’s Shorts Bill
Manpower and Training Act – H.R. 8399
Medical Care (Social Security) Anti [January– May 23]
Medical Care (Social Security) Anti [May 24 – 29]
Medical Care (Social Security) Anti [May 30 – June 30]

Box 16
Legislation, 1962, Medicare (Pro) – Postal Mileage Pay for Carriers
Medicare – Pro- H.R. 4222
Medicare – Compulsory Vaccination
Medicare – Fluoridation of Water
Medicare – General
Member’s Pending Bill
Merchandise Mart
Mines and Mining
Minimum Wage
Multiple Subjects [January– March 15]
Multiple Subjects [March 16 – May 31]
Multiple Subjects [June – October]
National Debt
National Wildlife Refuge
Nuclear Testing
Oiland Gas
Personal Legislation
Postal Mileage Pay for Mail Carriers

Box 17
Legislation, 1962, Postal Pay Raise – Taxes
Postal Pay Raise – H.R. 9531
Postal Rate Increase
Quality Stabilization Bill – H.R. 10325
Railroad Retirement Amendment – H.R. 578
Roosevelt Memorial
Small Business Ballot
Social Security Legislation
Space Program
Supreme Court
Tarriff – General
Taxes – Co-ops
Taxes – President’s Power to
Taxes – Herlong Baker Bill – H.R. 2030 – 2031
Taxes – Tax Credit
Taxes – General
Taxes – Withholding Tax on Savings Accounts

Box 18
Legislation, 1962, Taxes – Wheat Problems
Trade Expansion Act – H.R. 11970
Un-American Activities
Urban Affairs
Veteran’s Affairs
Veteran’s Affairs – Veteran’s Pensions
Veteran’s Affairs – Pensions – WWI – H.R. 3745 and H.R. 4611- (December 29, 1961 – April 30, 1962)
Veteran’s Affairs – Pensions – WWI – H.R. 3745 and 4611 (May 1 – August 24, 1962)
Veteran’s Affairs – Pensions Benefits of Veteran’s Widows – H.R. 701
Wheat Problems in Kansas

Box 19
General Correspondence, 1961, Clerk Hire – Newspapers, Radio, Television
Clerk Hire
Condolences – Deaths
Congratulatory Letters
Kansas – Appointments
Kansas – Mid-America
Kansas - Recommendations
Kansas – State Matters
Kansas Republican Women
Letters to Congressmen
Library of Congress
McVey Autographs
McVey – Invitations Accepted
McVey – Invitations Declined
McVey – Invitations Out of the District
McVey – Weekly Calendar
McVey – News Releases
Newspapers, Radio, and Television

Box 20
General Correspondence, 1961, Office – Telegram & Telephone –
Young Rep., Clubs
Office – Telegram and Telephone
Out of District (Miscellaneous)
Out of District (Thank You)
Public Relations
Request – Congressional Record
Requests – Farmers Bulletin
Requests – General
Requests for Information
Requests for Legislation Information
Miscellaneous Requests
Requests – Miscellaneous – Job Information
Requests by Office
Requests for Publications
Requests for Yearbook
Thank You’s
Thank You’s
Thank You’s
Young Republicans Clubs

Box 21
General Correspondence, 1961-62, Congressmen, Letters – McVey – Invitations
Congressmen, Letters to
Congressmen, Referrals to
District – Chamber of Commerce, General
District, Highways in
District – Post Office Deliveries
District – Post Office Possible Deliveries – Completed Counties
New Citizens
Religion, Freedom of
Religion in Spain
Request for Flags to be flown over Capitol
Television Industry
Thank You for Material and Information
Kansas Appointments
Kansas Industry
Kansas Legislative Bills
Kansas Pecan Industry
Kansas – Republican State Committee
Kansas – State Matters
Kansas – Watershed Program
Kansas – Watershed Program
League of Women Voters
Veterans of Foreign Wars
1962 Campaign Correspondence, January – September, 1962
McVey – Invitations – Accepted January – June 1962
McVey – Invitations – Declined May – November 1962

Box 22
General Correspondence, 1961-1962, McVey Invitations – Young Republicans
McVey – Invitations – Speaking Engagements
McVey – Lincoln Day Dinner
McVey – Political Philosophy
McVey – Possible Political Support
McVey – Requests for Photos
Miscellaneous – Commendations and Congratulations
Office – Out of District – Miscellaneous
Office – Out of District – Requests
Office – Out of District – Thank Yous
Public Relations
Republican Congressional Committee
Republican National Committee
Republican Women’s Club
Requests – Farmer’s Bulletin
Requests – Information – General
Requests – Miscellaneous
Requests – Publications
Thank You
Young Republican Club

Box 23
Department Correspondence, 1961-1962, Academies – Civil Defense
Academies – Applicants 1961
Academies – Applicants 1962
Box 23 (continued)
Academies – Correspondence, 1961-1962
Agriculture – Department of
Air Force, Departments
Area Redevelopment (Department of Commerce)
Army, Department
Army, Department (Corps of Engineers)
Budgets – Federal 1962
Civil Aeronautic Board
Civil Defense

Box 24
Departmental Correspondence, 1961-1962, Civil Service – Veterans Administration
Civil Service Commission
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Housing Administration
General Services Administration
Health, Education and Welfare
Housing and Home Finance Agency
International Cooperation Agency
Justice (Immigration and Naturalization)
Library of Congress
National Guard
Post Office
Selective Service
Small Business Administration
State, Department of
State, Department of – Pending
State, Department of: Visas – Whinory, William D., Parsons
Treasury – Internal Revenue
Veteran Administration

Subject cards under the following headings have been made for this collection.


Subject cards (continued)