Texas Governor's Committee and Consultants:
An Inventory of the Report on the Charles J. Whitman Catastrophe at the Texas State Archives, September 8, 1966
University of Texas (UT) college student Charles J. Whitman killed and wounded 46 people by sniping from the top of the University of Texas Tower in Austin, Texas on August 1, 1966. Following his death at the hands of the police, it was discovered that he had also killed his mother and wife sometime during the previous night. On August 4th, Texas Governor John Connally, through the UT Chancellor and Board of Regents, requested that Dr. R. Lee Clark and his staff at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute (and other appropriate UT biomedical staff) compile and analyze the medical information relating to Whitman. The governor also authorized Clark to obtain medical consultation from any source that might aid in the development of final analyses and conclusions. The goal of the process was a study that might aid in anticipating or preventing similar events in the future.
On August 8th, twelve staff members of M.D. Anderson held an organizational meeting in Houston, Texas to distribute research responsibilities. The group decided to hold a second meeting once the initial research had been completed, at which point they would decide upon consultants. In late August a variety of consultants were requested to come to Houston on September 6 and 7 to study the evidence and to summarize the results with Governor Connally on September 8. The specific objectives of the meeting were to: 1) determine the events and circumstances that surrounded the actions of Whitman on August 1; 2) explore the findings and make such additional examinations as might be indicated by the available factual information; 3) prepare the material for its maximal utilization in evaluating the problem for society; and 4) make recommendations aimed at the detection and prevention of circumstances that might lead to similar incidents. Ultimately, the committee was unable to find a definitive organic explanation for Whitman's actions and, lacking a recent psychiatric evaluation, found it impossible to make a formal psychiatric diagnosis.
The material consists of a single report by the Texas Governor's Committee and Consultants dated September 8, 1966. The report, entitled The Charles J. Whitman Catastrophe, contains recommendations, medical information, pathological reports, psychiatric reports, a Texas Medicine article, correspondence, minutes, and memoranda. The materials document the evidence used and results reached by a team of medical experts in their attempt to determine whether or not a medical explanation existed for the mass murder committed by Charles Whitman at the Tower on the University of Texas, Austin campus in 1966.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
The report is stamped "CONFIDENTIAL" on its cover and some sections within the report are marked "CONFIDENTIAL" as well. While the report contains a copy of the autopsy of Whitman - a medical record - it is predominantly an analysis by medical specialists, convened by the governor, of medical facts relating to Whitman. Because the report is publicly available elsewhere and because the information contained in the report has been widely circulated, the report is open to the public in spite of the usual 100 year restriction on medical records.
Restrictions on Use
(Identify the item), Report on the Charles J. Whitman catastrophe, Texas Governor's Committee and Consultants. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2002/210
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library on August 20, 2002. The report was originally part of the Papers of John B. Connally, Series 1[A], Box 22[a], held by the Johnson Library.
Nancy Enneking, September 2002
Detailed Description of the Records