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Kathryn J. Whitmire Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Finding Aid/Inventory

Jim Whitmire Papers, City Council Campaign

Kathy Whitmire Papers, City Controller

Kathy Whitmire Papers, Mayor of Houston

Kathy Whitmire Papers, Post-Mayoral Documents

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Kathryn J. Whitmire Papers, 1972-1992 | University of Houston Libraries

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Collection Overview

Title: Kathryn J. Whitmire Papers, 1972-1992

ID: 02/2004-002

Primary Creator: Whitmire, Kathryn J.

Extent: 9.0 Boxes

Subjects: City council members - Texas - Houston, Mayors - Texas - Houston, Political campaigns - Texas - Houston, Politicians, University of Houston - Alumni and alumnae, Whitmire, Kathryn J., Women city council members - Texas - Houston, Women mayors - Texas - Houston, Women politicians

Forms of Material: Budgets, Clippings (information artifacts), Correspondence, Memorabilia, Personal papers, Records (documents), Souvenirs

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This set of papers documents Kathy Whitmire's long, active political career as the mayor of Houston throughout the 1980s. The collection is organized into four major series beginning chronologically with Jim Whitmire's political documents, Kathy Whitmire's career as city controller, followed by her mayoral campaigns and city business during each term, and documentation upon her defeat in 1991. The materials largely consist of Whitmire's campaign and city business documents including memorabilia, events, speech materials, financial budget information, correspondence, and publication clippings of interest illustrating her ten years served as Houston's first female mayor. The materials are housed in nine boxes, including one costume box. An oversized box holds large campaign signs and one small box containing campaign buttons. Each of the categories is prefaced by a detailed description.

Biographical Note

Kathryn "Kathy" J. Whitmire, a Houstonian born Oct. 29, 1946, graduated from San Jacinto High School as a Jones Scholar in 1964. She earned her degree in Business Administration from the University of Houston (UH) in 1968, magna cum laude and married Jim Whitmire, a business and accounting student. Kathy and her husband aspired to establish a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) practice together, so she earned a Master of Science degree in accounting in 1970. Whitmire became an executive with the accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand in Houston, where she remained for eight years. She served as a faculty member for the Department of Business Management at UH Downtown, and ran a certified public accounting practice with her husband. After ten years of marriage, Whitmire's husband died of juvenile diabetes complications.

Following her husband's death, Whitmire ran for mayor of Houston in 1981. She won the mayoral race to serve as mayor for a total of five consecutive two-year terms. Whitmire achieved many awards throughout her mayoral tenure including the Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Public Service Award from the Houston Chapter of CPAs. Furthermore, she was named the 1982 Woman of the Year by the Texas Women's Political Caucus. Whitmire served on numerous committees including the executive committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Literacy Task Force and Task Force on Drug Control and served as chair of the standing committee on the Arts, Culture & Recreation. In 1984, Whitmire received the Public Service Award from the American Society of Women CPAs then was awarded the International Business Award from the Houston World Trade Association and the Michael A. DiNunzio Award for Partnerships for Youth from the U.S. Conference of Mayors the following year. In 1986, Whitmire received the Institute of Human Relations Award from the International New Thought Alliance and was named the 1986 Distinguished Professional Woman by the Committee on the Status of Women at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. In 1987, she was honored with the Distinguished Sales Award by the Sales and Marketing Executives Society of Houston for her economic development efforts for Houston. She co-chaired the National League of Cities' (NLC) International Economic Development Task Force and was the 1987 chair of the NLC's Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations Steering Committee. She served as second vice-president on the board of directors of the Texas Municipal League and was a member of the board of trustees of the UH Foundation and executive committee of the Houston Economic Development Council. Upon her defeat by Bob Lanier in 1991, Whitmire embarked on various other activities and jobs. She was married in 2002 to Alan J. Whelms and moved to Hawaii.

Subject/Index Terms

City council members - Texas - Houston
Mayors - Texas - Houston
Political campaigns - Texas - Houston
University of Houston - Alumni and alumnae
Whitmire, Kathryn J.
Women city council members - Texas - Houston
Women mayors - Texas - Houston
Women politicians

Administrative Information

Repository: University of Houston Libraries

Access Restrictions: Open for research.

Use Restrictions:

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian.

Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis. Patrons are responsible for obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders.

Acquisition Source: Donated by Kathryn "Kathy" J. Whitmire in April, 2005.

Preferred Citation: Kathyrn J. Whitmire Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Jim Whitmire Papers, City Council Campaign, 1972-1973],
[Series 2: Kathy Whitmire Papers, City Controller, 1977-1979],
[Series 3: Kathy Whitmire Papers, Mayor of Houston, 1981-1991],
[Series 4: Kathy Whitmire Papers, Post-Mayoral Documents, 1991-1992],

Series 1: Jim Whitmire Papers, City Council Campaign, 1972-1973

Jim Whitmire graduated from Whitney High School as valedictorian in 1964 then earned his Bachelor of Science degree in economics and accounting from UH in 1968 and his Master of Business Administration in 1970. Whitmire was a member of the Houston Chapter of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, chairman of its committee on Co-operation with Educational Institutions, and a member of its Public Affairs Committee. Other notable memberships include the American Institute of CPAs and American Accounting Association. Sponsored by the Houston Chapter of the CPA's and Internal Revenue Service to educate taxpayers in preparation for tax returns, Whitmire was a volunteer instructor for the "Teaching Texas" program. Additionally, Whitmire was vice-chairman for the United Fund in the 1972 Campaign.

Among other honors, Jim served as vice-president and member of the board of directors of the Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce and Director of the Americanism and Governmental Affairs Committee. He was named the Most Outstanding First-Year Jaycee of the Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce for 1971-1972, chairman of the Fifth Annual National Pollution Control Conference and Exposition in April of 1972, and state chairman of the "Texas Jaycees for Constitutional Revision." Whitmire actively participated in Citizens for Texas, the organization for updating the Texas Constitution and the Houston Citizens for Texas Constitutional Revision. Whitmire ran and was defeated for Houston City Council in 1973. This series contains his political campaign documents.

Box 1
Folder 1: Correspondence
Folder 2: Events
Folder 3: Houston City Charter - Study Materials
Folder 4: Memorabilia - Whitmire
Folder 5: Memorabilia - Opponents
Folder 6: Poll Surveys
Folder 7: Proposals/Petitions
Folder 8: Publication Clippings, 1971-1972
Folder 9: Publication Clippings, January-June 1973
Folder 10: Publication Clippings, July-September 1973
Folder 11: Publication Clippings, January 1974-November 1975
Folder 12: Publication Clippings, undated
Folder 13: Speeches/Speech Materials
OVS_Box 1
Item 1: Memorabilia - Campaign buttons
Series 2: Kathy Whitmire Papers, City Controller, 1977-1979
Shortly after her husband's death, Kathy Whitmire was encouraged to run for her first public office. In 1977, with limited funds but a substantial volunteer base, she was elected Houston's first woman City Controller and was re-elected for a second term in 1979. The following series contains documentation from her campaign and activities during her tenure as City Controller for Houston.
Box 1
Folder 14: Amendments
Item 1: Equal Rights
Folder 15: Correspondence
Folder 16: Events
Folder 17: Memorabilia - Whitmire
Folder 18: Memorabilia -Opponents
Folder 19: Publication Clippings, September 1977-December 1978
Folder 20: Publication Clippings, June 1979-September 1979
Folder 21: Publication Clippings, undated
Folder 22: Women's Affiliations - Houston Feminist Federal Credit Union
Folder 23: Women's Affiliations - Texas Association of Elected Women
Series 3: Kathy Whitmire Papers, Mayor of Houston, 1981-1991
In 1981, Kathy Whitmire was elected Houston's first female mayor. She was inaugurated as the 48th mayor in 1982 and, after holding office until 1991 (five consecutive two-year terms), was defeated by Bob Lanier. During her tenure, Whitmire led the campaign to diversify Houston's economy and market the city worldwide, resulting in economic growth. She helped triple Houston's park space and expand cultural resources while reducing government cost by consolidating city departments, restructuring employee benefit programs, and privatizing many functions. Furthermore, she experienced widespread voter approval for more than $1 billion in bonds for capital improvements, spawning major improvements in the city's public transportation, emergency medical services, police services and wastewater treatment. To combat drug abuse, Whitmire established and chaired the Houston Crackdown, which has attracted millions of dollars in federal and state anti-drug grants to Houston. Whitmire was a professor at the University of Maryland where she taught government classes in the Burns Leadership Academy. She was the first mayor to appoint an African-American (Lee P. Brown) as Houston's police chief and the first Hispanic as the presiding Houston Municipal Court Judge Sylvia R. Garcia, who later ran for city controller and Harris County Commissioner. Whitmire drafted a Monorail mass transit plan, which was quickly abandoned by her successor. The series contains documentation from Whitmire's ten year tenure as Houston's mayor, with campaign efforts and official city business grouped respectively.
Sub-Series 1: First Term (1982-1983)
Sub-Sub-Series 1: Campaign, 1981
Box 1
Folder 24: Correspondence
Folder 25: Events
Folder 26: Financials
Folder 27: Media Planning
Folder 28: Memorabilia - Whitmire
Folder 29: Memorabilia - Opponent
Folder 30: Poll Surveys
Folder 31: Publication Clippings, April 1980-December 1981
Folder 32: Publication Clippings, undated
Folder 33: Reform Proposals/Views
Folder 34: Speeches/Speech Materials
Sub-Sub-Series 2: Official City Business
Box 1
Folder 35: Activities - Architectural/Engineering
Folder 36: Activities - Public works task force
Folder 37: Committees - Executive Committee (Advisory Board report)
Folder 38: Committees - Police Advisory Committee (PAC)
Folder 39: Correspondence - Citizens Assistance
Folder 40: Correspondence - Lance Lalor (Controller)
Folder 41: Correspondence - Phone Logs
Folder 42: Correspondence - General Correspondence
Folder 43: Development - Convention Center
Folder 44: Development - Housing Authority
Folder 45: Development - Library
Folder 46: Development - Parks
Folder 47: Development - Transportation
Folder 48: Financials - Budget Cuts
Folder 49: Financials - Expenses
Folder 50: Financials - Promotions/Layoffs
Folder 51: Judiciary Appointments
Folder 52: Legislative Motions/Amendments
Folder 53: Policies & Ordinances - Debt Service Reserve Policy
Folder 54: Policies & Ordinances - Utilities Ordinance
Box 2
Folder 1: Publication Clippings, January 1982-March 1983
Folder 2: Publication Clippings, April 1983-December 1983
Folder 3: Publication Clippings, undated
Folder 4: Schedules
Folder 5: Speeches/Speech Materials
Sub-Series 2: Second Term (1984-1985)
Sub-Sub-Series 1: Campaign, 1983
Box 2
Folder 6: Contributions - Whitmire, 1983
Folder 7: Contributions - All Candidates, 1981-1983
Folder 8-11: Contributions - All Candidates
Folder 12: Correspondence
Folder 13: Events
Folder 14: Financials
Folder 15: Media Planning
Folder 16: Memorabilia - Whitmire
Folder 17: Memorabilia - Opponents
Folder 18-21: Poll Surveys
Folder 22: Publication Clippings, July 1983-December 1983
Folder 23: Publication Clippings, undated
Folder 24: Vote Tabulations
OVS_Box 1
Item 1: Memorabilia - Campaign Buttons
Sub-Sub-Series 2: Official City Business
Box 2
Folder 25: Bonds - Public Improvement
Folder 26: Committees - Harris County Sesquicentennial
Folder 27: Committees - Houston Committee for Private Sector Initiatives
Folder 28: Committees - PAC - Greater Houston Association
Folder 29: Correspondence - Metro
Folder 30: Correspondence - General Correspondence
Folder 31: Development - Economic Development Program
Folder 32: Development - General
Folder 33: Events - City meeting
Folder 34: Events - Community Workshop Seminar (Metro)
Folder 35: Events - General Event Invitations
Folder 36: Financials - Budget History
Folder 37: Financials - City Contributions
Folder 38: Legislative Motions/Amendments
Folder 39: Mayor Survey
Folder 40: Publication Clippings, January 1984-June 1985
Folder 41: Publication Clippings, July 1985-September 1985
Box 3
Folder 1: Publication Clippings, October 1985-December 1985
Folder 2: Publication Clippings, undated
Folder 3: Referendums - Gay Rights
Folder 4: Speeches/Speech Materials
Sub-Series 3: Third Term (1986-1987)
Sub-Sub-Series 1: Campaign, 1985
Box 3
Folder 5-6: Contributions - Whitmire
Folder 7: Contributions - Opponents
Folder 8: Correspondence
Folder 9: Events
Folder 10: Financials
Folder 11: Memorabilia - Whitmire
Folder 12: Memorabilia - Opponents
Folder 13-15: Poll Surveys
Folder 16: Publication Clippings, January-October 1985
Folder 17: Publication Clippings, November-December 1985
Folder 18: Louie Welch clippings, July 1960-September 1985
Folder 19: Louie Welch clippings, undated
Folder 20: Reform Proposals/Views
Folder 21: Schedules
Folder 22: Speeches/Speech Materials
Sub-Sub-Series 2: Official City Business
Box 3
Folder 23: Administrative - Job Performance Reviews
Folder 24: Correspondence
Folder 25: Committees - Electrical Board
Folder 26: Committees - Hispanic Advisory Committee
Folder 27: Committees - Houston Committee for Private Sector Initiatives
Folder 28: Development - Affirmative Action Advisory Commission
Folder 29: Development - Health Benefits Trust Fund
Folder 30: Development - Health Director's Report
Folder 31: Development - Houston Area Women's Center
Folder 32: Development - Houston Economic Development Council
Folder 33: Development - Houston Job Training Partnership Council
Folder 34: Development: Human Services Advisory Council
Folder 35: Development - Waiting List Analysis (Housing)
Folder 36: Events - Asian Community Conference
Folder 37: Financials
Folder 38: Legislative Motions/Amendments
Folder 39: Memorabilia
Folder 40: Publication Clippings, February 1986-October 1987
Folder 41: Schedules
Box 4
Folder 1: Speeches/Speech Materials
Sub-Series 4: Fourth Term (1988-1989)
Sub-Sub-Series 1: Campaign, 1987
Box 4
Folder 2: Contributions - All Candidates
Folder 3: Correspondence
Folder 4: Events
Folder 5: Financials
Folder 6: Memorabilia - Whitmire
Folder 7: Poll Surveys
Folder 8: Publication Clippings, March-November 1987
Folder 9: Schedules
Folder 10: Speeches/Speech Material
Folder 11: Vote Tabulations
Sub-Sub-Series 2: Official City Business
Box 4
Folder 12: Administrative - Employee Information
Folder 13: Administrative - Job training quarterly report
Folder 14: Committees & Clubs - Greater Houston Association & PAC
Folder 15: Committees & Clubs - Women's National Democratic Club
Folder 16: Conferences & Meetings - APMA Meeting
Folder 17: Conferences & Meetings - Capital Hill Meetings
Folder 18: Conferences & Meetings - Mayor's Hearing
Folder 19: Conferences & Meetings - National League of Cities Annual Conference
Folder 20: Conferences & Meetings - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation AIDS Discussion
Folder 21: Conferences & Meetings - Texas Municipal League Conference
Folder 22-23: Conferences & Meetings - U.S. Conference of Mayors
Folder 24: Correspondence - Metro
Folder 25: Correspondence - Progress Reports
Folder 26: Correspondence - General
Folder 27: Development - Houston Development & Homebuilders
Folder 28: Development - Solid Waste Management Plan
Folder 29: Development -General
Folder 30: Financials
Folder 31-32: Legislative Motions/Amendments - 70th Texas Legislature Session Package
Folder 33: Legislative Motions/Amendments - General Legislative Motions/Amendments
Folder 34: Publication Clippings - March 1988 - October 1989
Folder 35: Schedules
Folder 36: Speeches/Speech Materials
Sub-Series 5: Fifth Term (1990-1991)
Sub-Sub-Series 1: Campaign, 1989
Box 5
Folder 1: Contributions - Whitmire
Folder 2: Contributions - Opponents
Folder 3: Correspondence
Folder 4: Events
Folder 5: Financials
Folder 6: Memorabilia - Whitmire
Folder 7: Memorabilia - Opponents
Folder 8-16: Poll Surveys
Box 6
Folder 1-4: Poll Surveys
Folder 5: Publication Clippings, June-October 1989
Folder 6: Publication Clippings, November 1989
Folder 7: Reform Proposals/Views
Folder 8: Schedules
Folder 9: Speeches/Speech Materials
Folder 10: Speeches/Speech Materials
Folder 11: Vote Tabulations
Sub-Sub-Series 2: Official City Business
Box 6
Folder 12: Administrative - Personnel Reports
Folder 13: Committees - Land Use Strategy Committee
Folder 14: Correspondence - Highway Department
Folder 15-17: Correspondence - Metro
Folder 18: Correspondence - S.A. Education Partnership
Folder 19-21: Correspondence - General
Folder 22: Development - Albert Thomas Convention Center Redevelopment
Folder 23: Development - City Planning & Development Department
Folder 24: Development - Civil Service Workshop
Folder 25: Development - Department Accomplishments Report (last 5 years)
Folder 26: Development - Greater Houston Partnership
Box 7
Folder 1: Development - Houston Job Training Partnership Council
Folder 2: Development - Houston Police Department
Folder 3: Development - General
Folder 4: Events
Folder 5: Financials
Folder 6: Legislative Motions/Amendments
Folder 7: Publication Clippings, January 1990-May 1991
Folder 8: Publication Clippings, June 1991-December 1991
Folder 9: Schedules
Folder 10: Speeches/Speech Materials
Sub-Series 6: Unsuccessful Campaign for Sixth Term, Campaign Efforts, 1991
Box 7
Folder 11-12: Contributions - Whitmire
Folder 13: Contributions - Opponents
Folder 14: Correspondence
Folder 15: Events
Folder 16: Financials
Folder 17: Memorabilia - Whitmire
Folder 18-20: Memorabilia - Opponents
Folder 21-22: Poll Surveys
Box 8
Folder 1-3: Poll Surveys
Folder 4: Publication Clippings, July 1990-October 1991
Folder 5: Publication Clippings, November-December 1991
Folder 6: Reform Proposals/Views
Folder 7-9: Speeches/Speech Materials
Folder 10: Vote Tabulations - General Election
Folder 11: Vote Tabulations - Special Election Charter Amendments
Folder 12: Vote Tabulations - Special Election Public Improvement Bonds
Series 4: Kathy Whitmire Papers, Post-Mayoral Documents, 1991-1992
Upon retiring from the mayor's office in 1992, Whitmire joined Rice University as the Director of the Rice Institute for Policy Analysis and held the Tsanoff Lectureship in Public Affairs teaching public policy, management, and political science courses. In addition, she was a commentator on public issues for KHOU TV and a talk show host for KPRC Radio in Houston. In 1994, she was appointed President and CEO of Junior Achievement, Inc. in Colorado. In 1995 and 1996, Whitmire served as lecturer on Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and was a Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics. She has lectured extensively on local government, economic development, and women's issues in various countries in Eastern Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East. In 1993 and 1996, she chaired policy development panels for Join Together, a national resource for communities fighting substance abuse. Whitmire served as a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange and advisor to the Kellogg Foundation's National Leadership Program. She was the Director of Abt. Associates, Inc., an international research corporation in Massachusetts and serves as vice-chair of the Board of Scenic America, a national advocacy group for the scenic environment, and as a member of the Board of the Police Foundation, a research organization in Washington, D.C. She served on the National Health Tracking Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and was a member of the Board of the American Leadership Forum. Whitmire married again in 2002 to Alan J. Whelms and currently resides in Hawaii. This series contains materials documenting Whitmire's last days as Houston's mayor and her activities within the year following her defeat.
Box 8
Folder 13: Correspondence
Folder 14: Events
Folder 15: Progress Reports
Folder 16: Publication Clippings, November 1991-August 1992
Box 9
Item 1: Keepsake Apparel from High School

Twirling Costume (1960)

Golden Gaucho Uniform (1962-1963)

OVS_Box 1
Item 1: Memorabilia - Sylvia Garcia U.S. Congress

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Jim Whitmire Papers, City Council Campaign, 1972-1973],
[Series 2: Kathy Whitmire Papers, City Controller, 1977-1979],
[Series 3: Kathy Whitmire Papers, Mayor of Houston, 1981-1991],
[Series 4: Kathy Whitmire Papers, Post-Mayoral Documents, 1991-1992],

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