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Jim Westmoreland Papers

Identifier: MSS 0389

Scope and Contents

The collection spans the years 1974 to 1989, and features the papers and records of Jim Westmoreland, a City Councilman in Houston, Texas. The collection consists of correspondence, memorandums, work on codes of ordinances, meetings notes, and photographs.

The collection also contains reports concerning IAH parking, Houston billboards controversy, and many different committees, including aviation, civil service advisory, council rules, municipal golf course, and the billboard committee.

There are two document boxes of photographs, 8 framed items, and 14 scrapbooks.


  • Majority of material found within 1970s-1980s

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Jim Westmoreland Papers must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Jim Westmoreland was born in Houston, Texas on July 1, 1937. He attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned his Doctorate of Jurisprudence at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He married Mary Sue Burleson and together they had a son, Ted, and two daughters, Susan and Laura.

Westmoreland became a City Councilman for the City of Houston in 1973 in a runoff election in the At-Large Position 1. He continued to win reelection in that spot for the next 16 years, ending his public service career in 1989. While serving as councilman, Westmoreland kept working as an attorney in Houston.

Westmoreland was a controversial city official. Many of his opponents in elections campaigned on Westmoreland's low attendance record of city council meetings.[1] In response, he was unapologetic that his work as an attorney came first. In 1982 a grand jury decided not to indict him on the allegations that he knowingly accepted a $5,000 payoff in the FBI Brilab investigation into government and union corruption.[2]

Newspaper coverage of Westmoreland's time in office reveals he was known for his "off-color" and "insensitive" jokes around city hall.[3] During a reelection campaign in 1989, he made a remark regarding the proposal to name Intercontinental Airport Terminal D after Congressman Mickey Leland who had recently passed in a plane crash in Ethiopia. Many took this comment to be racially insensitive and ultimately cost him the election to then relatively unknown opponent Beverly Clark.

During his time in the City Council he was involved in many city issues, but paid special attention to the growth of Intercontinental Airport, the Emergency Wreckers Ordinance, Delinquent Tax Collection, and the Billboard Ordinance.


1.WestmoreLand Challeneged on Attendance, Houston Chronicle, October 17, 1981: 16, accessed October 09, 2019,

Attendance Still and Issue in Westmoreland Race; Houston Chronicle, October 14, 1985: 10, accessed October 09, 2019,

2. Westmoreland not Indicted by Jury, Houston Chronicle, April 23, 1982: 1, accessed October 09, 2019,

3. Westmoreland sereves notice he's making no headline grab, Houston Chronicle, January 26, 1986: 61, accessed October 09, 2019,

Joke may cost Westmoreland, Houston Chronicle, October 29, 1989: 78, accessed October 09, 2019,


31 Linear Feet (15 record storage boxes, 1 doc box, 1 half doc box, 8 framed items and 14 scrapbooks)

Language of Materials



Series 1: Council Papers

Series 1.1 City Council Files

Series 1.2 Municipal Files

Series 2: Personal Papers

Series 3: Framed Material

Series 4: Photographs

Series 5: Scrapbooks

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Jim Westmoreland in 1989

Processing Information

Regina Lorenz and Abra Schnur, Summer 2019

In Progress
Abra Schnur
September 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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