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Jim Wright Papers

 Collection — Box: 1-1385
Identifier: MS 2

Scope and Contents

The papers document Jim Wright’s career in the U.S. House of Representatives. Wright’s House committee work, in particular as a member of the Public Works Committee, is most thoroughly detailed in Series I. The constituent correspondence contained in Series I provides insight into Wright’s constituents’ opinions about the issues of the day. Wright’s relationship with his colleagues in the House is best-documented by the correspondence in Series II. The subject files in Series II provide information regarding foreign relations, Democratic Party issues, legislation introduced by Wright, and Wright’s campaigns. In addition, many of his speeches and writings are in Series II. This series constitutes the bulk of the Wright Papers and provides information on the day-to-day activities of Wright and of his staff. Some of Wright’s speeches as well as the majority of the photographs in the collection may be found in Series III. In addition, Series III contains biographical information on Wright and numerous scrapbooks of news clippings, making this series the best place to look for a broad overview of Wright’s career. Series IV consists of VHS tapes featuring television interviews Wright gave as well as documentaries done on him, campaign ads, and coverage of various events he attended.

Scope and Contents

**a transcript of a conversation between Daniel Ortega and Jim Wright can be found in the "Nicaragua" folder of Box 1019.


  • 1911-2004
  • Majority of material found in 1960-1989


Conditions Governing Access

Copyright has been transferred to TCU. Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is stored offsite. Researchers should contact Special Collections staff at least 24 hours prior to their visit to request box numbers.

Biographical / Historical

Jim Wright was born in Fort Worth in 1922 and spent his childhood in Texas and Oklahoma before attending Weatherford College and the University of Texas. Wright enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II and received his flyer’s wings and an officer’s commission at the age of nineteen. He flew combat missions in the South Pacific and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit.

Wright began his political career after the war. He joined the Young Democrats of Texas and, in 1946, was elected to the State Legislature. While a member of the State Legislature, he supported lowering the voting age to eighteen, allowing women to serve on juries, and other similar issues that challenged the status quo. In 1950, he became the mayor of Weatherford, Texas, a position he held until 1954, when voters from the Twelfth Congressional District elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Wright was a member of Congress for thirty-four years, from 1955 to 1989, a tenure that spanned eight presidents. During that time, he authored major legislation in the fields of foreign affairs, economic development, water conservation, and energy. The Interstate Highway System, Clean Water Program, and flood control are a few examples of the programs and issues he helped to advance while in office. Over time, he rose in stature within the Democratic Party. He was the House Majority Leader from 1976 to1986 and Speaker of the House from 1987 to 1989. As Speaker, Wright presided over the 100th Congress, one of the most productive in terms of legislation passed in the House’s history. Speaker Wright’s efforts included working to reduce the national deficit and finding a way to bring peace to Central America.

Wright has authored numerous books and articles and he currently writes columns and book reviews for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He taught a course in Political Science at TCU each fall entitled “Topics in American Politics: Congress and the Presidents.” from 1991 until 2010. He received the Golden Deeds Award from the National Exchange Club in 2014. He died on May 6, 2015. In 2016, the Special Collections department of Texas Christian University received his original, handwritten journals, spanning the years 1971-1991. These have been digitized. His legacy has been immortalized on the 3rd floor permanent exhibit by the Special Collections Department in the Mary Couts Burnett Library, Texas Christian University.


1074 Linear feet

1385 Archives boxes

Language of Materials



Arranged in four series: I. Legislative,1955-1989. II. Subject Files, 1938-2001. III. Personal Papers and Photographs, 1911-2004. IV. Audiovisual Materials, 1958-2000.

Physical Location

Wright storage: 1A1-10F5; 11A1-11A2; 14A5-14A6; 14B5-14B6 AV Cabinets 1-15 Accession 2015: Wright storage: 10F5-11A6 Accession 2017: Wright storage: 11B2 - 11C1

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jim Wright in 1989.

Processing Information

The four series listed in this finding aid represent the majority of the Jim Wright Papers. However, the papers also include additional audiovisual material, case files (closed until 2010), an addition that includes correspondence from 1989 forward, and research material relating to his books. Please consult an archivist for a more detailed description of, and access to, this material.

Guide to the Jim Wright Papers
In Progress
Mike Strom, Glenda Stevens, and Special Collections staff
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library Repository

TCU Box 298400
2800 S. University Drive
Fort Worth, Texas 76129-0001
Fort Worth Texas 76129
(817) 257-4566
(817) 257-7282 (Fax)