Papers, mainly 1946-1973, of Melvin Laird, former Wisconsin state legislator (1947-1953), Seventh District congressman (1953-1969), and U.S. Secretary of Defense (1969-1973) documenting his political career. Also present are brief papers of Melvin R. Laird Sr. (1877-1946), also a Wisconsin legislator, and grandfather William D. Connor (died 1944), a former lieutenant governor and state Republican Party leader. Photographs received with the collection consist primarily of publicity shots of Laird, his family, office visitors, and state and national leaders (including Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon), as well as visual documentation of his interest in military and health care issues.
William D. Connor's papers contain political correspondence from Irvine Lenroot and Isaac Stephenson and congratulations from John J. Blaine and James A. Frear about Connor's management of the La Follette victory in 1904. Letters from John Spooner, James O. Davidson, and La Follette in 1906 relate to Connor's break with the Progressives. Papers of Melvin Laird Sr., primarily concern family finances and real estate.
The state legislative papers of Melvin Laird Jr., consist of correspondence with constituents, legislators, and advocacy groups and subject files on topics such as taxation and veterans. His congressional papers include correspondence and memoranda exchanged with national legislative and party leaders, governmental departments, advocacy groups, district staff, and constituents; files on committees on which he served such as the House Appropriations Committee, the Republican Conference, the Joint Committee on Republican Principles (1962), and several national platform committees; and subject files on dairy, defense, health care, and the Menominee Reservation. Additional files document political campaigns and support for Richard M. Nixon. There are files of speeches, writings, and publicity materials (some of which are present as audio or video recordings). In addition to John Byrnes, William Steiger, Clement Zablocki and other Wisconsin congressmen, the Laird's television program featured Gerald R. Ford, John Gardner, Arthur Goldberg, and Willard Wirtz. One recording is a speech by Joseph R. McCarthy.
Documentation of Laird's leadership on defense issues while in Congress continues in material available only on microfilm that was created as Secretary of Defense. This consists of daily schedules, public statements and interviews, scrapbooks, personal correspondence, and an oral history.
The information below has been drawn from sources outside of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. In most instances, the information will be from sources that have not been peer reviewed by scholarly or research communities. Please report cases in which the information is inaccurate through the Contact Us link below.