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Papers of Doctor Robert C. Harder

Call Number: RH MS 607


The papers of Dr. Robert C. Harder reflect Harder's experience as a native Kansan who became a leader in both Kansas state government and the Topeka community.


  • Creation: 1954 - 2009


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 Robert C. Harder

Robert C. Harder was born on 4 June 1929 at Horton, Kansas to the Reverend and Mrs. Clarence Harder. After graduating from Troy High School in 1947, he attended Baker University (Kansas), receiving his A.B. in 1951; he then went on to earn a Master of Theology at Southern Methodist University in 1954 and a Doctor of Theology at Boston University in 1958. After graduating, Harder returned to Kansas, serving as pastor of the East Topeka Methodist Church from 1958-1964. During his time as a pastor, Harder was active in various community groups, such as the Topeka Day Care Association and the East Topeka Civic Association, with which he continued to work even after leaving the pulpit.

Harder soon became involved in Kansas state politics. From 1961-1967, he served as a State Representative, a position that led to other government positions. Those positions included: Director of the Topeka Office of Economic Opportunity; the Technical Assistance Coordinator for Governor Robert Docking; Projects Administrator of Topeka State Hospital; Secretary of the Department of Health and Environment; and Director of the State Department of Social Welfare, which was later reorganized into the State Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services where Harder was appointed as the new department's first Secretary. His consumer advocacy regarding Medicaid, welfare, social services, and state health programs continued beyond his retirement, as a volunteer lobbyist for the Kansas United Methodist Church and as an advocate for children, families, and the poor.

At various times throughout his career, Harder also worked as a research assistant and, later, as a consultant for the Menninger Foundation; as an instructor at Washburn University; and as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Kansas. Harder's numerous service organizations have included the Topeka Association for Retarded Citizens and the Shawnee County Association for Mental Health. His leadership in various organizations included membership on the Board of Trustees of Baker University and on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the Kansas Statewide Independent Living Council. Harder's many awards for service include the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living the Dream Humanitarian Award (1997) and the Kansas Friends of Education Community Leader Award (2004).

Harder married Dorothy Lou Welty in 1953. Their children are Anne and James David.


5.25 Linear Feet (6 boxes + 5 cassettes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Dr. Robert C. Harder Papers date from 1954 to 2005 and are arranged in three series: Business Papers, Personal Papers, and Scrapbooks. Folder arrangement within each series is generally alphabetical by topic, with chronological arrangement of items within each folder. Within Business Papers are items relating to Dr. Harder's career, including clippings, correspondence, publications, and sermons and speeches. Personal Papers include information regarding various awards, Dr. Harder's education, organizations, and publications. Within this series are also a small number of folders concerning his wife, Dorothy Lou Harder, and his brother, Richard C. Harder. Within Scrapbooks are items concerning both Dr. Harder's career and his personal life; these items were removed from binders, with original order of papers retained. Items from a later addition, listed at the end of the Collection Description, follow these same series.

Photographs from the Dr. Robert C. Harder Papers are located at RH MS-P 607. Five audio cassettes of Dr. Harder discussing his life and work are at RH Cass. Tape 16-20.

Series List

Business Papers, 1958-2005 Personal Papers, 1954-2004 Scrapbooks, 1958-2000

Physical Location

RH MS 607

Physical Location

RH MS-P 607

Physical Location

RH Cassette Tape 16-20

Physical Location

RH MS 1252

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Dr. Robert C. Harder, 2005, 2011

Related Materials

People and buildings / with an introduction by Robert C. Harder. Topeka, Kan. : Kansas Dept. of Social and Rehabilitation Services, 1987., at RH C8022, Spencer Library, Kansas Collection

Harder, Robert, The care and nurturing of a bureaucracy : an executive's perspective / by Robert Harder. [Topeka, Kan.] : Capitol Complex Center, University of Kansas, [1984], at KFK435 .H3, Law Library and RH C7795, Spencer Library, Kansas Collection.

Guide to the Robert C. Harder Collection
Papers of Doctor Robert C. Harder
Finding aid prepared by mbw, 2005; revised by skt, 2010; revised by mbw, 2012; Finding aid encoded by mbw, 2005; revised by skt, 2010; revised by mbw, 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Support for the processing of this Collection was provided by the Dana and Sue Anderson African American Collecting Program Endowment Fund.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Robert C. Harder Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 607, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

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

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States