Skip to main content

Harry Hines Woodring papers

Call Number: RH MS 202


The papers of Harry Hines Woodring span the years 1893 to 1967, with the bulk of the material falling within the years 1930 to 1940. The collection consists of genealogical records, personal and official correspondence, speeches, reports, photographs, newspaper clippings, and a variety of miscellaneous material.


  • Creation: 1887 - 1967


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Harry Hines Woodring

Harry Hines Woodring was born in Elk City, Kansas, on May 31, 1887, the son of Hines and Melissa (Cooper) Woodring. His siblings included Louisa Effa (Woodring) Caroll, Claudine (Woodring) Piper, Linda Cooper, and Grace E. (Woodring) Shaffer. After attending Elk City and Montgomery County high schools, he enrolled in Lebanon Business University, Lebanon, Indiana, where he stayed for ten months. Returning to Elk City in the spring of 1905, he accepted a job as bookkeeper at the First National Bank. In 1909, he was offered, and accepted, a job as assistant cashier in the First National Bank of Neodesha, Kansas, a career interrupted in 1918 when he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. Assigned to the Tank Training Center, Camp Colt, Pennsylvania, he was later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Mustered out of the service in December, 1918, he returned to a career in banking, serving as assistant cashier at the Mid-West National Bank, Kansas City, Missouri. In 1922, he was named managing director of the First National Bank in Neodesha, Kansas, a position he held for seven years. Woodring became increasingly active in the American Legion after joining Neodesha's Seward-Ayers Post in 1919. In 1927, he was made chairman of the State Membership Committee, and the following year he was elected State Commander. His increasing interest in Legion activities was paralleled by a declining interest in banking, and in 1929, he retired from his career as a banker. In 1930, Woodring, a Democrat, ran for and was elected to the position of governor of Kansas. In 1932, he was again chosen to be the democratic nominee for governor, but was defeated in the general election by Alf Landon. Woodring was appointed Assistant Secretary of War in March 1933, a position he held until September of 1936. At that time, due to the death of Secretary of War George Dern, Woodring was temporarily appointed acting Secretary of War. In April 1937, he was officially confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of War. He resigned from this post in June 1940 because of an increasing difference of opinion with President Roosevelt concerning Allied rearmament and U.S. military readiness. After the resignation, he returned to Topeka, Kansas. Entering politics again in 1946, Woodring was successful in securing the democratic nomination for governor, but was defeated in the general election by Frank Carlson. In 1956, he again entered the political arena where he attempted to secure the democratic nomination for governor of Kansas. Woodring was defeated in the primary by George Docking, after which he returned to private life in Topeka until his death on September 9, 1967. Woodring married Helen Coolidge. Their children included Marcus Coolidge, who died in 1946, Melissa, and Cooper C.


Born in Elk City, Kansas
Attended Elk City High School; Montgomery County High School, Independence, Kansas; and Lebanon Business University, Lebanon, Indiana
Bookkeeper, First National Bank, Elk City, Kansas
Assistant cashier, First National Bank, Neodesha, Kansas
Enlisted as a Private in World War I and was sent to the Tank Training Center, Camp Colt, Pennsylvania. Commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Personnel Section at Camp Colt
Assistant cashier, Mid-West National Bank, Kansas City, Missouri. Became a charter member of Neodesha's Seward-Ayers Post of the American Legion
Managing director, First National Bank, Neodesha, Kansas
Chairman of the State Membership Committee of the American Legion
State Commander of the American Legion
Retired from banking
Won the Democratic primary and then was elected Governor of Kansas
Again won the Democratic nomination for governor but was defeated in the general election by Alf Landon
Assistant Secretary of War
Temporarily appointed Secretary of War
Appointed Secretary of War
Resigned as Secretary of War. Returned with his family to Topeka, Kansas
Won Democratic primary for Governor of Kansas but was defeated by Frank Carlson in the general election
Defeated by George Docking in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Kansas
Private citizen in Topeka, Kansas


23.75 Linear Feet (49 boxes + 11 oversize boxes, 7 oversize folders, 35 volumes, 1 folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The papers of Harry Hines Woodring span the years 1893 to 1967, with the bulk of the material falling within the years 1930 to 1940. The collection consists of genealogical records, personal and official correspondence, speeches, reports, photographs, newspaper clippings, and a variety of miscellaneous material. The arrangement of the papers is chronological in fashion, where pertinent, according to the type of document. The above material is organized into seven major groups: (1) genealogical material, which includes correspondence, family records, genealogical charts, and several biographical sketches of Harry Hines Woodring compiled by various agencies; (2) personal correspondence, which includes the private letters both written and received by Woodring; (3) official correspondence, indicative of Woodring's duties, obligations, and activities while serving in an official capacity as governor of Kansas, Assistant Secretary of War, and Secretary of War; (4) speeches, which includes gubernatorial campaign speeches, numerous addresses to civic organizations and political groups, addresses concerning the activities, the attitude, and the needs of the War Department, and addresses on state and national politics and the world situation; (5) official reports, which includes War Department news releases, 1933 to 1940, and intelligence reports compiled by various United States Army units during World War Ii, including the Vii Corps headquarters G-2 periodic reports, 2nd infantry Division G-2 reports, tank destroyer disposition reports of the 3rd Tank Destroyer group, field artillery reports of the Vii Corp Artillery, and anti-tank bulletins of the Vii Corp Artillery; (6) photographs, which include pictures of Woodring's family and those of an official nature while Woodring served as governor, Assistant Secretary of War, and Secretary of War; (7) miscellaneous, which consists of newspaper clippings, various speeches, reports and letters, insurance receipts, deeds, printed material and artifacts. Less extreme groups of material include Woodring family correspondence, invitations, acceptances and regrets, and Woodring's individual income tax returns, 1933-1942. Also within the collection are numerous diaries Woodring kept, many serving as appointment books, newspaper clippings about Woodring and his family, and some volumes that had been kept by other Woodring family members. There are no apparent gaps within the collection. Organizationally, the correspondence, both personal and official, and the speeches, are filed so as to create parallel categories within the scope of the entire collection. For example, personal correspondence from 1937 to 1940 may be used in conjunction with the official correspondence of the same time period. This kind of organization allows for a more complete view of Woodring's activities while functioning not only in an official capacity but as a private individual as well. Of further significance are the War Department news releases and the reports of several United States Army units, both of which reflect the official stance of the War Department on matters of defense, armed services needs and readiness, strategy, troop movements, and so on. Although the bulk of the collection's material falls under official headings, the papers are not devoid in illustrating aspects of Woodring's life before, during, and after his service to state and nation. In this respect, the collection retains a balanced perspective on Woodring's life and career.

Physical Location

RH MS 202

Physical Location

RH MS A38 - RH MS A39

Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS C56 - RH MS C57

Physical Location

RH MS D178

Physical Location

RH MS E115

Physical Location

RH MS Q38 - RH MS Q41

Physical Location

RH MS Q406

Physical Location

RH MS R17 - RH MS R20

Physical Location

RH MS P337

Physical Location

RH MS-P 202

Physical Location

RH MS-P 202(f)

Other Finding Aids

See attached pdf for an inventory of the materials located at RH MS 202: ksrl.kc.woodringhpapers.ead.pdf.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper Woodring and Mrs. Melissa W. Jager, April 1976.

Related Materials

Gubernatorial records from Woodring's administration are located at the Kansas Historical Society in the State Archives.

Processing Information

Leather folio originally housed in Box 46 (Artifacts) has been moved to new location RH MS Q406 and is now housed in Box 49.

Boxes formerly located at RH MS Q42 and RH MS Q43 removed from the collection for preservation reasons. Much of the rest of the collection was treated for mold in 2018-2019.

Guide to the Harry Hines Woodring Collection
Harry Hines Woodring papers
Finding aid written by sp, js, 1976-1977. Finding aid encoded by mg, 2004. Revised by mwh, 2015, 2019.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Harry Hines Woodring Collection, RH MS 202, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States