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Guide to the Robert Blackwell Docking Collection

Robert Blackwell Docking papers, 1966-1975


Creator:Docking, Robert Blackwell, 1925-1983
Title:Robert Blackwell Docking papers
Quantity:299.5 linear ft, 2 photographs
Abstract:The papers of Robert B. Docking, governor of Kansas 1967-1974, date from approximately 1966 to 1975 and reflect his official duties and activities. These duties and activities include correspondence with State agencies and departments, constituents, and state Democratic party officials. The collection also reflects Docking's involvement, as governor, in the legislative process and in a variety of regional and federal programs and contains copies of his speeches and press releases.

Call Number:

RH MS 167

Call Number:

RH MS 753

Repository:University of Kansas
Kenneth Spencer Research Library
Kansas Collection
1450 Poplar Lane, Lawrence, KS 66045-7616
Phone: (785)864-4334
Fax: (785)864-5803
URL: http://spencer.lib.ku.edu
Finding aid prepared by mh, pm,jw, am, 1975-1977; amc, aw, 2006; revised by skt, 2010
Finding aid encoded by amc, aw 2006; revised by skt, 2010

BIOGRAPHY of Robert Blackwell Docking

Robert Blackwell Docking served as the thirty-eighth governor of Kansas. He served an unprecedented four two-year terms from January, 1967 to January, 1975. Docking was a Democrat, the first to unseat an incumbent Republican, which he did in 1966 by defeating Governor William Avery. Winning reelection (in 1968) he was only the second Democrat to serve two terms. The only other Democrat to serve as governor for two terms was his father, George Docking, who held the post from 1957 to 1961.

Robert Docking was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 9, 1925. He attended elementary and high school in Lawrence, Kansas. Following high school, Docking attended the University of Kansas and received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in 1948. He later received a certifi-cate of graduation from the Graduate School of Banking, University of Wisconsin. He entered the family banking business in Lawrence in 1950. In 1956, he and his family moved to Arkansas City, Kansas, when Docking became vice-president of the Union State Bank. He was named president of the bank in 1959, a position he held until his election as governor. Prior to his entrance into state politics, Docking served as mayor and as city commissioner in Arkansas City.

Docking married Meredith Gear on June 17, 1950. She was also a graduate of Kansas University and a member of Chi Omega sorority. The Dockings had two sons, William Russell and Thomas Robert.


The "Robert B. Docking Papers" contain a wide variety of materials that document Governor Docking's years in office, 1967 to 1974. The inclusive dates for the collection are November, 1966, to January, 1975, and the bulk of the material falls into the same period. The materials from November --to December, 1966, are filed with January, 1967, and from January, 1975, with December, 1974, unless otherwise indicated.

The collection consists of correspondence, newspaper clippings, appointment books, weekly schedules, press releases, speeches, copies of legislation, working notes about legislative proposals, political newsletters, campaign materials, and notes on strategy.

These materials, in various combinations, form six major series of material which are as follows: 1) general filing (the term used by the Governor's office) which indicates correspondence, memoranda, and other material relating to the numerous State agencies and to communications with constituents; 2) legislative, which includes copies of all bills for each legislative session with related notes and correspondence; 3) political, which includes campaign material, political correspondence, and miscellaneous political material; 4) patronage, which contains information about appointments to the various state boards and agencies, correspondence concerning appointments, and general requests for non-appointive jobs; 5) speeches and press releases of the governor and his assistants; 6) appearances and declines, which consists of requests for appearances by the governor and correspondence indicating his response. The collection also contains several minor series which are as follows: assistant's files, which consist of the correspondence of several of Docking's staff members; Ozark Regional Commission files, which include information on the Ozark Regional Commission and other coopera-tive programs; Governors' Conference materials; files of the Legal Advisor, including pardon and extradition materials; and some miscellaneous materials that do not fit into any of the preceeding series.

This collection not only documents the actions of Robert B. Docking as governor of Kansas, but also reflects the issues that were important to Kansans during Docking's eight years in office. Concern about specific issues, with the exception of legislative matters, is generally found in the general correspondence division of the general files. Docking's first years in office correspond to the last years of the United States involvement in Vietman. The collection, in the "Adjutant-General" portion, contains correspondence from Kansans reacting to American involvement and to the activation for duty in Vietnam of a unit of the Kansas National Guard. Campus protests of the war and the accompanying security problems are reflected in the "Regents," "Kansas Highway Patrol," and "Civil Disorders" files of the general correspondence. A growing concern about pollution is reflected in "Department of Health" files until the creation of an "Environment" file under "Health" in 1969. Concern about the proposal to establish an atomic waste disposal plant in Kansas is reflected in "Atomic Energy" files. The Governor's Committee on Criminal Administration was established in 1968 and was involved in improving law enforcement in the state and in handling drug abuse education programs. The "Social Welfare" files contain correspondence that illustrates some of the problems of low income families and, in 1971, contain protests about a wage reduction for employees in state health institutions. The general correspondence in 1971 and 1972 includes a file for "Wage-Price Freeze" which consists primarily of information about federal guidelines for implementing the freeze. The issue of cross-busing is reflected in the "Education" files for 1972. The fuel allocation problems of 1973 and 1974 appear in the "Kansas Department of Economic Development" files. Correspondence from national politicians and officials on specific issues (excluding election congratulations and get well messages) are filed either in "U.S. Officials," "U.S. Senators and Representatives," or in the appropriate subject files (such as Volpe--"Highway").

For the most part correspondence concerning such items as taxes, liquor by the drink, education funding issues, and daylight savings is in the legislative files.

No major gaps exist in the papers. Newspaper clippings are fairly sparse for 1969-1972 and "Appearances and Declines," with a few exceptions, before 1970 were disposed of by the Governor's staff because of storage problems. Some materials in the 1968-1969 files were damaged and others were destroyed during a water leak in the basement of the State Capitol and this accounts for the deterioration of some of the materials in these two years and for any gaps that might be apparent.


Restrictions on Access


All materials are open to researchers unless otherwise designated by Mr. Docking.

Restrictions on Use

The literary rights on any unpublished writings of Robert Docking in this collection are dedicated to the public.

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

Related Material

Supporting material for any of the State agencies, departments, and commissions might be found by consulting the official State publication holdings of the Kansas Collection or by contacting the specific group in Topeka. Supplementary material regarding the Regents and the University of Kansas can be found in the University Archives, Spencer Library.

There is also material related to Robert Docking in the Clyde Hill collection located at the Kansas State Historical Society.



Brindle, Jerry.
Burnau, Patrick.
DeCoursey, James H.
Docking, Robert Blackwell, 1925-1983
Hanfelt, Mary.
Ivan, John.
Malloy, Dick.
McCartney, Dennis.
Sanborn, Ted.
Shaffer, James.
Williams, Calvin.


Kansas -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
Governors -- Kansas.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Robert Blackwell Docking Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 167, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift, Robert Docking, 1975