University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections

Kathryn J. Whitmire Papers

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Whitmire, Kathryn J.
Title: Kathryn J. Whitmire Papers
Dates: 1972-1992
Abstract: The materials contain information about Kathy Whitmire's public career as city controller and mayor of Houston, and materials of former husband Jim Whitmire's political career.
Identification: 2004-002
Quantity: 9 boxes; 9 ft., 4.5 inches
Repository: Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

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.

Scope and Contents

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.


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.

Index Terms

Terms are either Library of Congress Subject Headings or taken from local sources.

Subjects (Persons)
Whitmire, Kathryn J.
Whitmire, Jim
Women mayors
Houston (Tex.)
Personal papers

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

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


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

Processed by

Amanda R. Martinez, June 2006

Detailed Description of the Collection

box folder
1 1-13 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.
City Council Campaign Efforts, 1972-1973
box folder
1 1 Correspondence
2 Events
3 Houston City Charter- Study Materials
4-5 Memorabilia
4 Whitmire
OVS 1 Campaign buttons
1 Opponents
6 Poll Surveys
7 Proposals/Petitions
8-12 Publication Clippings
8 1971-1972
9 January - June 1973
10 July - September 1973
11 January 1974 - November 1975
12 No Date
13 Speeches/Speech Materials


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.
City Controller - 1977 - 1979
box folder
1 14 Amendments
14 Equal Rights
15 Correspondence
16 Events
17-18 Memorabilia
17 Whitmire
OVS 1 Campaign buttons
box folder
1 18 Opponents
19-21 Publication Clippings
19 September 1977 - December 1978
20 June 1979 - September 1979
21 No Date
22-23 Women's Affiliations
22 Houston Feminist Federal Credit Union
23 Texas Association of Elected Women


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.
First Term 1982-1983, Campaign Efforts - 1981
box folder
1 24 Correspondence
25 Events
26 Financials
27 Media Planning
28 Memorabilia
28 Whitmire
29 Opponent
30 Poll Surveys
31-32 Publication Clippings
31 April 1980 - December 1981
32 No Date
33 Reform Proposals/Views
34 Speeches/Speech Materials
Official City Business
box folder
1 35-36 Activities
35 Architectural/Engineering
36 Public works task force
37-38 Committees
37 Executive Committee (Advisory Board report)
38 Police Advisory Committee (PAC)
39-42 Correspondence
39 Citizens Assistance
40 Lance Lalor (Controller)
41 Phone Logs
42 General Correspondence
43-47 Development
43 Convention Center
44 Housing Authority
45 Library
46 Parks
47 Transportation
48-50 Financials
48 Budget Cuts
49 Expenses
50 Promotions/Layoffs
51 Judiciary Appointments
52 Legislative Motions/Amendments
53-54 Policies & Ordinances
53 Debt Service Reserve Policy
54 Utilities Ordinance
box folder
2 1-3 Publication Clippings
1 January 1982 - March 1983
2 April 1983 - December 1983
box folder
2 3 No Date
4 Schedules
5 Speeches/Speech Materials
Second Term 1984-1985, Campaign Efforts - 1983
box folder
2 6-11 Contributions
6 Whitmire, 1983
7 All Candidates, 1981-1983
8 All Candidates
9 All Candidates
10 All Candidates
11 All Candidates
12 Correspondence
13 Events
14 Financials
15 Media Planning
16-17 Memorabilia
16 Whitmire
OVS 1 Campaign Buttons
box folder
2 17 Opponents
18 Poll Surveys
19 Poll Surveys
20 Poll Surveys
21 Poll Surveys
22-23 Publication Clippings
22 July 1983 - December 1983
23 No Date
24 Vote Tabulations
Official City Business
box folder
2 25 Bonds
25 Public Improvement
26-28 Committees
26 Harris County Sesquicentennial
27 Houston Committee for Private Sector Initiatives
28 PAC - Greater Houston Association
29-30 Correspondence
29 Metro
30 General Correspondence
31-32 Development
31 Economic Development Program
32 General Development
33-35 Events
33 City meeting
34 Community Workshop Seminar (Metro)
35 General Event Invitations
36-37 Financials
36 Budget History
37 City Contributions
38 Legislative Motions/Amendments
39 Mayor Survey
box folder
2, 3 40-41, 1-2 Publication Clippings
box folder
2 40 January 1984 - June 1985
41 July 1985 - September 1985
box folder
3 1 October 1985 - December 1985
2 No Date
3 Referendums
3 Gay Rights
4 Speeches/Speech Materials
Third Term 1986-1987, Campaign Efforts - 1985
box folder
3 5-7 Contributions
5 Whitmire
6 Whitmire
7 Opponents
8 Correspondence
9 Events
10 Financials
11-12 Memorabilia
11 Whitmire
OVS 1 Whitmire
box folder
3 12 Opponents
13 Poll Surveys
14 Poll Surveys
15 Poll Surveys
16-19 Publication Clippings
16 January 1985 - October 1985
17 November 1985 - December 1985
18-19 Louie Welch clippings
18 July 1960 - September 1985
19 No Date
20 Reform Proposals/Views
21 Schedules
22 Speeches/Speech Materials
Official City Business
box folder
3 23 Administrative
23 Job Performance Reviews
24 Correspondence
25-27 Committees
25 Electrical Board
26 Hispanic Advisory Committee
27 Houston Committee for Private Sector Initiatives
28-35 Development
28 Affirmative Action Advisory Commission
29 Health Benefits Trust Fund
30 Health Director's Report
31 Houston Area Women's Center
32 Houston Economic Development Council
33 Houston Job Training Partnership Council
34 Human Services Advisory Council
35 Waiting List Analysis (Housing)
36 Events
36 Asian Community Conference
37 Financials
38 Legislative Motions/Amendments
39 Memorabilia
40 Publication Clippings
40 February 1986 - October 1987
41 Schedules
box folder
4 1 Speeches/Speech Materials
Fourth Term 1988-1989, Campaign Efforts - 1987
box folder
4 2 Contributions
2 All Candidates
3 Correspondence
4 Events
5 Financials
6 Memorabilia
6 Whitmire
7 Poll Surveys
8 Publication Clippings
8 March 1987 - November 1987
9 Schedules
10 Speeches/Speech Material
11 Vote Tabulations
Official City Business
box folder
4 12-13 Administrative
12 Employee Information
13 Job training quarterly report
14-15 Committees & Clubs
14 Greater Houston Association & PAC
15 Women's National Democratic Club
16-23 Conferences & Meetings
16 APMA Meeting
17 Capital Hill Meetings
18 Mayor's Hearing
19 National League of Cities Annual Conference
20 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation AIDS Discussion
21 Texas Municipal League Conference
22 U.S. Conference of Mayors
23 U.S. Conference of Mayors
24-26 Correspondence
24 Metro
25 Progress Reports
26 General Correspondence
27-29 Development
27 Houston Development & Homebuilders
28 Solid Waste Management Plan
29 General Development
30 Financials
31-33 Legislative Motions/Amendments
31 70th Texas Legislature Session Package
32 70th Texas Legislature Session Package
33 General Legislative Motions/Amendments
34 Publication Clippings
34 March 1988 - October 1989
35 Schedules
36 Speeches/Speech Materials
Fifth Term 1990-1991, Campaign Efforts - 1989
box folder
5 1-2 Contributions
1 Whitmire
2 Opponents
3 Correspondence
4 Events
5 Financials
6 Memorabilia
6 Whitmire
3 oversize signs
box folder
5 7 Opponents
8 Poll Surveys
9 Poll Surveys
10 Poll Surveys
11 Poll Surveys
12 Poll Surveys
13 Poll Surveys
16 Poll Surveys
box folder
6 1 Poll Surveys
2 Poll Surveys
3 Poll Surveys
4 Poll Surveys
5-6 Publication Clippings
5 June 1989 - October 1989
6 November 1989
7 Reform Proposals/Views
8 Schedules
9 Speeches/Speech Materials
10 Speeches/Speech Materials
11 Vote Tabulations
Official City Business
box folder
6 12 Administrative
12 Personnel Reports
13 Committees
Land Use Strategy Committee
box folder
6 14-21 Correspondence
14 Highway Department
15 Metro
16 Metro
17 Metro
18 S.A. Education Partnership
19 General Correspondence
20 General Correspondence
21 General Correspondence
box folder
6,7 22-26, 1-3 Development
box folder
6 22 Albert Thomas Convention Center Redevelopment
23 City Planning & Development Department
24 Civil Service Workshop
25 Department Accomplishments Report (last 5 years)
26 Greater Houston Partnership
box folder
7 1 Houston Job Training Partnership Council
2 Houston Police Department
3 General Development
4 Events
5 Financials
6 Legislative Motions/Amendments
7-8 Publication Clippings
7 January 1990 - May 1991
8 June 1991 - December 1991
9 Schedules
10 Speeches/Speech Materials
Unsuccessful Campaign for Sixth Term, Campaign Efforts - 1991
box folder
7 11-13 Contributions
11 Whitmire
12 Whitmire
13 Opponents
14 Correspondence
15 Events
16 Financials
17-19 Memorabilia
17 Whitmire
18 Opponents
19 Opponents
20 Opponents
21 Poll Surveys
22 Poll Surveys
box folder
8 1 Poll Surveys
2 Poll Surveys
3 Poll Surveys
4-5 Publication Clippings
4 July 1990 - October 1991
5 November 1991 - December 1991
6 Reform Proposals/Views
7 Speeches/Speech Materials
8 Speeches/Speech Materials
9 Speeches/Speech Materials
10-12 Vote Tabulations
10 General Election
11 Special Election Charter Amendments
12 Special Election Public Improvement Bonds


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.
Post-Mayoral Documentation - 1992
box folder
8 13 Correspondence
14 Events
OVS 1 Memorabilia
OVS1 Sylvia Garcia U.S. Congress
box folder
8 15 Progress Reports
16 Publication Clippings
16 November 1991 - August 1992
9 Keepsake Apparel from High School
Twirling Costume (1960)
Golden Gaucho Uniform (1962-1963)