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William H. Natcher Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS224

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

This portion of the William H. Natcher Papers consists of 4.5 linear feet of materials, including correspondence, invitations, typed documents, and printed items accumulated during the professional career of William H. Natcher (1909-1994), a long-standing Democratic Congressman from the state of Kentucky. The bulk of its documents date to the years between 1972 and 1985, representing a slice of Congressional life in the 1970s and 1980s. Correspondence files comprise a large part of this archive and include letters sent to Natcher from White House officials; members of Congress; various U.S. Governors and Mayors; District of Columbia leaders; officials at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and other governmental agencies; corporate leaders; interest groups; foreign dignitaries; administrators and faculty at Western Kentucky University; and Kentucky constituents. Correspondents include Ronald Reagan, Edward I. Koch, Mario M. Cuomo, Warren E. Burger, Jimmy Carter, Sargent Shriver, George Wallace, Wendell H. Ford, Jackson Graham, Max L. Friedersdorf, Robert C. Strauss, James B. Cardwell, Fidel Castro, and Jacques Cousteau. Although almost all of the correspondence is incoming mail to Natcher, there are copies of several typed letters sent out by Natcher and a few typed and manuscript notes written by him. While many of the letters addressed to Natcher are part of a mimeographed mass mailing sent out by given individuals, some original letters are contained. Printed matter includes documents pertaining to Natcher's numerous Congressional voting records, including material on the casting of his 10,000th and 12,000th votes; excerpts from the Congressional Record; and newsclippings covering Natcher's work.

Western Kentucky University possesses a larger archive of the papers of William H. Natcher. Georgetown's portion supplements this lager collection and provides another good source of information about the work of this Congressman and the American political scene during the 1970s and 1980s.

The William H. Natcher Papers are divided into ten series as described below:

Series 1: Correspondence - Individuals. Contains correspondence, mostly from 1972 to 1985, sent by notable individuals to William H. Natcher. Correspondents include government agency administrators, members of Congress, U.S. Mayors, Kentucky state officials, corporate leaders, Democratic Party officials, District of Columbia leaders, union chiefs, and celebrities. Topics of discussion focus on Congressional appropriations and legislation. Individuals include William E. Brock, James B. Cardwell, Edward I. Koch, Charles T. Mannatt, George Meany, Arnold Miller, Robert Strauss, and John C. White. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Series 2: Correspondence - Governors. Contains correspondence from the 1970s and 1980s sent by various U.S. Governors to William H. Natcher. Most of the material pertains to funding for various programs and given Governors' opinions on the effects of various pieces of legislation on their home states. Correspondents include John Y. Brown, George Busbee, Hugh L. Carey, Julian Carroll, Martha Layne Collins, Mario M. Cuomo, Wendell H. Ford, Edward J. King, Richard W. Riley, Charles S. Robb, John D. Rockefeller, Dick Thornburgh, and George C. Wallace. Arranged alphabetically by Governor

Series 3: Correspondence - White House Officials. Contains correspondence from the Carter and Reagan years sent by various White House officials to William H. Natcher. Several telegrams from Jimmy Carter and one telegram each from Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are included. Other correspondents include Kenneth M. Duberstein, Stuart E. Eizenstat, Peter M. Flanigan, Max L. Friedersdorf, Alfred E. Kahn, Vernon C. Loen, Frank Moore, M. B. Oglesby, Esther Peterson, and Richard A. Pettigrew. Arranged alphabetically by White House official.

Series 4: Correspondence - International. Contains correspondence, mostly from the 1970s and 1980s, sent to William H. Natcher by various foreign diplomats, international officials, and citizens of foreign countries. Topics discussed include Canada's reaction to the Garrison Diversion Project, relations between Turkey and Cyprus, Taiwan's reaction to the normalization of relations between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China, and the Iran Hostage Crisis. This series contains one letter from Fidel Castro. Arranged alphabetically by nation

Series 5: Chronological Correspondence (1954-1993). Contains correspondence sent by various individuals and organizations; including Kentucky constituents, Western Kentucky University officials, companies, and interest groups; to William H. Natcher over the course of his Congressional career. Arranged chronologically.

Series 6 - Correspondence - Invitations. Contains invitations received by William H. Natcher from various organizations and individuals over the years during his career in the U.S. House. Some programs from events are also included. Most of the invitations are from the 1970s and 1980s. Arranged chronologically.

Series 7 - Subject Files. Contains typed and printed materials related to the Congressional career of William H. Natcher and political issues of the day. Of particular note are documents pertaining to Natcher's voting records, including the casting of his 10,000th and 12,000th votes. Arranged alphabetically by topic.

Series 8 - Press Releases. Contains press releases from various individuals collected by William H. Natcher during the course of his Congressional career. Press releases from Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, Gerald R. Ford, Coretta Scott King, and Ronald Reagan are among those found in this series. Arranged alphabetically by name of person issuing press release

Series 9 - Printed Matter. Contains excerpts from the Congressional Record, printed legislation, newsclippings covering Natcher's work, published newsletters, pamphlets, political advertisements, political cartoons, and a speech by Bill Clinton collected by William H. Natcher during his time in Congress. Arranged alphabetically by document type

Series 10 - Miscellaneous. Contains a few miscellaneous manuscript notes, one piece of memorabilia, and some typed documents collected by William H. Natcher during his term in the House. Arranged alphabetically by document type.

ABBREVIATIONS: ALS - Autograph Letter Signed TC - Typed Card TCS - Typed Card Signed TEL - Telegram TL - Typed Letter TLS - Typed Letter Signed WHN - William H. Natcher


  • 1949 - 1994
  • Majority of material found within 1972 - 1985

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

William Huston Natcher (1909-1994) was a long-standing Democratic Congressman from Kentucky. Serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1953 until his death in 1994, Natcher became an influential member on matters of appropriations, the District of Columbia budget, and health and education issues. Born on September 11, 1909, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, William Natcher received his education from local public schools. He graduated from high school at the Ogden Preparatory Department of Ogden College, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. After receiving a B.A. in 1930 from Western Kentucky State College, also located in Bowling Green, Natcher attended law school at Ohio State University, where he received an L.L.B. in 1933. Admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1934, Natcher embarked upon a legal career and worked in a private law practice in Bowling Green. Between 1936 and 1937, he served as Federal conciliation commissioner for the western district of Kentucky. From 1938 through 1950, Natcher was a county attorney for Warren County, Kentucky. During World War II, he had served in the U.S. Navy. Natcher then worked as commonwealth attorney for the 8th judicial district of Kentucky from 1951 until 1953. Natcher married Virginia Reardon on June 17, 1937. The couple had two daughters: Celeste and Louise. Natcher's long career in the U.S. House of Representatives began when he won a special election as a Democrat to the 83rd Congress to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Garrett L. Withers. Representing the heavily Democratic and largely rural 2nd District of Kentucky, Natcher served in the House from August 1, 1953, until his death on March 29, 1994. Congressman Natcher held several powerful positions during his tenure in the House. From 1961 to 1979, he was the Chairman of the House Appropriations District of Columbia subcommittee, where he exercised control over spending on the city government of the nation's capital. Natcher headed a panel with authority over each line item in the D.C. budget. Over the years, he had frequent clashes with D.C. officials about crafting the District's budgets. Between 1979 and 1994, Natcher was Chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health, and human services. In that role, he held sway over funding the government's social services, health, and education programs, and he became a highly regarded expert on topics concerning education and health. In particular, Natcher presided over the growth of the National Institutes of Health, which broke ground in 1992 on a new office building complex bearing his name. Natcher's fellow Democrats elected him to be the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee in 1992. In that post, he had a great deal of influence on discretionary spending. Aside from becoming a major player in Congressional appropriations, Natcher left his mark through his perfect attendance and faithful service in Congress. He made Congressional history by not missing a single roll call or vote for over forty years from his first day in the House on August 1, 1953, until March 3, 1994. He amassed a Congressional record 18,401 consecutive votes. Natcher prided himself on accepting no political contributions, and he used his own money to fund his campaigns. In addition, he kept a small staff and read his own mail. Through his dedicated service, Natcher earned a reputation as an able politician. William Natcher died on March 29, 1994.


4.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


William H. Natcher Papers
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057