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Mayor Kevin H. White records

Identifier: 0245.001

Scope and Contents note

When Mayor Kevin H. White left office in 1983, he gifted the records of his administration to the Boston Public Library, as at that time there was no city archives. The records were closed sometime after that by the Attorney General and research was restricted. In the early 1990s, Dick Dray, a former advisor under Mayor White, doing business as Boston Research Associates, attempted to organize and describe the records with the intention of writing a book on Mayor White. At some point, this project was discontinued and the records remained in the library and closed to the public. The records were transferred to the Boston City Archives in 2012, as the proper repository for official City of Boston records. Because of this history, the original order of the collection was difficult to detect and it appeared that some materials had been lost or removed from the collection. Archivists attempted to recreate series, as much as possible, to provide the most efficient access to the materials.

The collection has been divided into 12 series: Correspondence, Subject files, Briefings, speeches, etc., Press releases, Proclamations, Alphabetical files, Survey files, Boston Committee files, Reports and publications, Audi-Visual material, Photographs and Memorabilia.

The majority of the correspondence dates from 1968-1976. It is unknown what may have happened to correspondence from the later years of the administration. Correspondence has been arranged by both subject and by location. Much of the correspondence from other states relates to the desegregation of the schools. Also includes: communications with City Council which is comprised of records dating from January 1968 to April 1982. This correspondence include information on appointments to various offices with applications, orders, budget information, grant information, appropriation requests, communications with various members of the city, crime statistics and information about Home Rule Petitions. Documents of interest include the MGH Development Plan, The Boston Plan and the Massachusetts Growth Policy Development Act. The MGH Development Plan file documents a plan to expand Mass General Hospital. Land acquisition, clearance, rehabilitation and construction are covered in these records. The Boston Plan is another part of the series that encompasses four smaller plans seeking Federal Assistance for urban development. The plans are for Lafayette Place, Boston Marine Industrial Park, Blue Hill Avenue and Charlestown Shipyard. A photocopy of the Massachusetts Growth Policy Development Act, along with a letter to the city council can be found in the June 1977 folder; and communications with Departments which dates from 1968 to 1978 and is comprised of routine correspondence between various city departments and the Mayor’s Office. The Purchasing Department, and the Public Improvement Commission created the majority of records in this series. Other departments include: Administrative Services, Assessing, Auditing, Auditorium, Building, City Clerk, City Messenger, Courts, Development, Election, Fire, Government Center, Health and Hospitals, Housing Inspection, Law, Licensing, Parks and Recreation, Penal, Police, Public Facilities, Public Library, Public Works, Real Property, Registry, Retirement Board, Traffic, Treasury, Veterans Services and Youth Activities. Most records pertain to personnel, budget or planning needs.

The subject files include general files, files of Dick Dray, Cultural Affairs files, Education files, Policy files, files of the Communications Office and files on the Classification project. The records of Dick Dray were left in his temporary office at the Boston Public Library in the early 1990s and include both records from the administration of Mayor White and records of Dray's research.

The Briefings, speeches, etc. are arranged chronologically and may include schedule, background information, and remarks at events attended by Mayor White. Press releases and proclamations are arranged chronologically. The press releases from 1975 are missing and the proclamations from 1968-1975 are missing.

The Alphabetical files include files on a variety of topics relating to Boston during the administration and include clippings, reports, notes, etc. The survey files represent numerous surveys that were undertaken during the administration to find out about the quality of various city services. The Boston Committee was formed by Mayor White in 1980 to work towards better human relations. These files document the work of the Committee. Reports and publications include works both by and about the City of Boston.

The Audio-visual material includes video footage, audio recordings, photographs, slides and negatives. Video and audio include events attended or hosted by the Mayor such as the Papal visit and also includes news footage from various stations documenting campaigns and other topics. Photographs, negatives and slides are arranged in two sub-series: chronological files and subject files. Photographs are described in more detail in a separate finding aid. The memorabilia series include a wide variety of items, gifts, posters, etc. given to the Mayor.


  • 1929-1999 (bulk, 1968-1983)


Biographical note

Kevin H. White was elected the 45th Mayor of Boston on November 7, 1967. He was elected to a second term on November 2, 1971, a third term on November 4, 1975 and a fourth term on November 6, 1979.

Kevin H. White was born in Jamaica Plain on September 25, 1929 to Joseph and Patricia Hagan White. His father, father-in-law and grandfather all served as presidents of the Boston City Council and were long active in many areas of Boston political life. He attended Boston public schools and graduated from Tabor Academy, Williams College and Boston College Law School. He also studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration. He married Kathryn Galvin in 1956 and they had five children.

From 1956-1960, he served as assistant district attorney for Suffolk County. In 1960, he became the youngest man in the history of Massachusetts to be elected Secretary of State. He was reelected in 1962, 1964 and 1966. As Mayor, White initially attempted to decentralize city government by creating "Little City Halls". After a hard fought campaign in 1975, White reversed course and closed the "Little City Halls" again re-centralizing city government downtown. Following Martin Luther King's death in 1968, White helped to prevent rioting in the City of Boston by allowing a James Brown concert to go on as scheduled and be broadcast over local television stations. Mayor White ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts in 1970 losing to republican Francis Sargent. Mayor White led the city during the school desegregation crisis of the 1970s and oversaw revitalization of the waterfront, downtown and financial districts. He is responsible for the redevelopment and renewal of Quincy Market in 1976. Mayor White's administration was also marked by charges of corruption including misappropriation of funds for community grants, bribery, fraudulent disability pensions and perjury. The investigations led to the conviction of a number of city employees. Mayor White was never charged with wrongdoing.

On May 26, 1982, Mayor White announced he would not seek reelection for a fifth term as Mayor of Boston. From 1984-2002, White served as Director of the Institute for Political Communication at Boston University and as a professor of communications and public management. Mayor White passed away on January 27, 2012.


270.0 Cubic feet

Language of Materials


Guide to the Mayor Kevin H. White records
Kerry Fleming, Irene Gates, Olivia Mandica-Hart, Ryan Miniot, Kayla Zaremski and Kristen Swett
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
With grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)

Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

201 Rivermoor St.
West Roxbury MA 02132 United States
617-635-1194 (Fax)