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William H. "Bill" White Collection

Identifier: MSS 0324

Content Description

This 27-box collection contains the selected professional papers of William Howard “Bill” White, reflecting his career as mayor of Houston from 2004 to 2010. Materials of particular interest include those related to “Get Houston Moving,” “Cooler Houston,” “Houston Hope” and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike.


  • Other: 1996-2011
  • Majority of material found within 2003-2010

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public.

Biographical / Historical

Born in San Antonio in 1954 to public schoolteachers Bill and Gloria Avalon White, William Howard “Bill” White served the City of Houston as Mayor from 2004 to 2010. Mr. White graduated from Churchill High School, was accepted to Harvard University on scholarships and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. He was admitted to the University of Texas, Austin, School of Law and graduated with high honors. He practiced law in the City of Houston for 14 years before joining the Clinton administration in 1993 as Deputy Secretary of Energy. Mr. White was elected as mayor in 2003, replacing Mayor Lee P. Brown, who stepped down after serving the maximum three terms. In 2007, he was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage award and the Public Official of the Year Award by Governing magazine for his leadership in response to Hurricane Katrina. Mr. White was twice reelected and stepped down as mayor in 2010, after serving the maximum three terms. He was succeeded by then City Controller, Annise D. Parker. After an unsuccessful run for governor of Texas against Republican incumbent Rick Perry in 2010, Mr. White returned to the private sector.

Biographical / Historical

Upon his election as Houston mayor in 2003, Mr. White was called to address a number of issues, including a significant traffic congestion program, a climate and air quality issue that made the city a “heat island,” and an urban deterioration problem. His program “Get Houston Moving” was a multi-faceted approach to reducing traffic congestion and improving mobility on Houston’s highways, his “Cooler Houston” program was focused on urban heat island mitigation, and his initiative “Houston Hope” reinvested funds to stabilize and redevelop older Houston neighborhoods through home repairs and new housing projects, public safety programs, and infrastructure improvements.

His mayoral service is most associated his leadership response to three significant weather events that occurred during his terms as mayor: Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Hurricane Rita in September 2005, and Hurricane Ike in 2008. Although Hurricane Katrina did not directly impact Houston, approximately 250,000 evacuees from New Orleans, where Katrina made a direct impact, came to Houston for shelter. Hurricane Rita, one month later, barely missed the Houston Metropolitan area, making landfall in rural east Texas; however, predictions indicated a storm more destructive than Katrina, and a citywide evacuation was called. The evacuation was chaotic and resulted in the stranding of thousands on the highways during the storm. Hurricane Ike in 2008, as predicted, made landfall on Galveston Island and directly impacted the Houston Metropolitan area; however, when evacuation of the affected areas was ordered, the evacuation was conducted in an orderly fashion with little negative impact.

Two other notable initiatives from Mayor Bill White are “Digital Houston,” a program to make the metropolitan area Wi-Fi accessible, and the creation of the Julia Ideson Building Preservation Foundation for the preservation Houston’s first central public library built in 1926.


27 Linear Feet (27 record storage boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is organized into 16 series. Most folders within a series or subseries are organized chronologically in ascending order, as are items within folders, with the exception of series 16, “Boards and Commission Appointments” which is organized alphabetically by board or commission name.

Series 1 Contains 2003 mayoral campaign, election, and transition materials and communication. Series 2 Contains City of Houston Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) reports. Series 3 Contains City of Houston proposed and adopted budgets, financial and operation reports, and operational readiness reports. Series 4 Contains City of Houston Capital Improvement Plans. Series 5 Contains a collection of reports presented to Mayor Bill White. Series 6 Contains reports, communication, and papers documenting the activities of the Houston Police Department. Series 6.1 Contains reports and circulars concerning the Houston Police Officers’ Pension System. Series 6.2 Contains reports and memoranda concerning HPD staffing and recruiting, including hiring of HPD Police Chief. Series 6.3 Contains HPD budgets and financial reports. Series 6.4 Contains memoranda regarding HPD management and operations. Series 6.5 Contains policies, circulars and directives for the HPD. Series 6.6 Contains communication and press coverage concerning immigration and homeland security. Series 6.7 Contains a collection of documents regarding complaints against the HPD. Series 6.8 Contains a report and recommendations on HPD Quality Assurance. Series 6.9 Contains reports and communication concerning crime rates and criminal investigation. Series 7 Contains City of Houston activities regarding Affirmative Action and contract compliance. Series 8 Contains reports and communication regarding legal actions against Houston and Mayor Bill White. Series 9 Contains citizens’ correspondence with Mayor Bill White. Series 10 Contains conference itineraries for travel for economic and business development. Series 11 Contains project reports from the Parks and Recreation Department. Series 12 Contains reports and memoranda on the Houston weatherization project known as Cooler Houston. Series 13 Contains reports, communication and press coverage during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike. Series 13.1 Contains emails, reports, and communications with state and federal government agencies concerning Katrina and Rita management and recovery. Series 13.2 Contains emails and reports, and press coverage concerning Hurricane Ike management and recovery. Series 14 Contains reports, benchmarks, and communication regarding Houston traffic congestion and mobility, including Project SAFEClear. Series 15 Contains collection of proposals, reports, and communication concerning the activities of Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO). Series 15.1 Contains a collection of mass transit plans and proposals presented to and by METRO. Series 15.2 Contains contracts and operating agreements between METRO and City of Houston. Series 15.3 Contains METRO financial reports. Series 15.4 Contains METRO reports on performance and customer service. Series 15.5 Contains communication to Houston residents concerning METRO operations. Series 15.6 Contains environmental impact report on the implementation of light rail. Series 15.7 Contains Metro Solutions Program Phase 2 proposal and reports on light rail extension. Series 16 Contains resumes of board appointees and memoranda for board and commission appointments.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by William Howard “Bill” White on June 12, 2014.The contents of this collection were selected for donation by Mayor Bill White.

Related Materials

MSS 0127 Katrina Relief Effort in Houston Collection; Bill White oral history interview OH E 300:

Separated Materials

3 Oversized items 4 Photographs MSS0324.001—MSS0324.075

Patricia S. Vredenburg
August 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Houston History Research Center Repository


African American History Research Center
Houston Public Library
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston History Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002