October 29, 2022

William Henry O’Gara, 1877-1955 [RG1895.AM]


RG1895.AM: William Henry O’Gara, 1877-1955

Papers: 1913; 1930-1953, and undated
Laurel, Cedar County, Neb.: State Legislator
Size: 1.0 cu.ft.; 2 boxes


W.H. O’Gara, son of Roger and Bridget (Hayes) O’Gara, was born in a sod house in Cedar County, Nebraska on July 29, 1877. After attending Wayne State College, O’Gara took up farming and became known as a breeder of racehorses of the pacer and trotter type.

An attorney, W.H. O’Gara was first elected to the Nebraska House of Representatives in 1921. Representing District 46, O’Gara served seven successive terms. He was elected Majority Floor Leader in 1933 and Speaker of the House in 1935. He was the last Speaker of the House, as Nebraska implemented the unicameral system in 1937.

After an unsuccessful run for the office of Lt. Governor in 1938, O’Gara became active in the work of taxpayer’s organizations. In later years, he became head of the 1888 Blizzard Club and his research on that event culminated in the book, In All Its Fury. W.H. O’Gara died in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 27, 1955. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.


This collection consists of manuscript material arranged in three series: 1) Correspondence, 1913-1953 and undated; 2) Speeches and Writings; and 3) Miscellany. This material relates primarily to the legislative career of W.H. O’Gara, member of the Nebraska House of Representatives for seven terms, during the years, 1921-1936.

The correspondence in Series 1 consists of incoming and outgoing letters, 1913-1953 and undated, which relate to issues of importance to O’Gara and his constituents. During his early years in office, he was concerned with road improvements, taxation, and political appointments. On assuming the floor leadership in 1932, he had a voice on a wide range of bills before the legislature. Primary areas of interest were the state university, income and sales tax, farm moratorium bills, and the rebuilding and strengthening of the Nebraska Democratic party. O’Gara’s correspondence takes up the Unicameral issue after his election as Speaker of the House in 1935. O’Gara retired from political office after his defeat for the office of Lt. Governor in 1938. His later correspondence relates mostly to tax issues. Major correspondents include George W. Norris, Edward Burke, Hugh Butler, Karl Stefan, Harry B. Coffee, Terry Carpenter, and A.L. Miller.

The speeches and writings of Series 2 are comprised of presentations, rough drafts, and notes by W.H. O’Gara. Topics include the Unicameral, pensions, primaries, and safe highways.

Series 3 contains miscellany, including newspaper clippings, membership cards, and Sifting Committee minutes.

Note: See photo component [RG1895.PH] for photographs.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1913; 1930-1955; and undated

Box 1

  1. 1913; 1930 – 1932, Feb.
  2. 1932, Mar. – 1933, Jan. 13
  3. 1933, Jan. 14-31
  4. 1933, Feb. 1-8
  5. 1933, Feb. 9-16
  6. 1933, Feb. 17 – Mar. 9
  7. 1933, Mar. 10-24
  8. 1933, Mar. 25 – Apr. 6
  9. 1933, Apr. 7-19
  10. 1933, Apr. 20 – May 12
  11. 1934
  12. 1935, Jan. 1-4
  13. 1935, Jan. 5-11
  14. 1935, Jan. 12
  15. 1935, Jan. 22-31
  16. 1935, Feb. 1-8
  17. 1935, Feb. 12-21
  18. 1935, Feb. 13-19
  19. 1935, Feb. 20-28
  20. 1935, Mar.
  21. 1935, Apr.

Box 2

  1. 1935, May – Dec.
  2. 1936-1938
  3. 1939, Jan. – Apr.
  4. 1939, May – Dec.
  5. 1940-1941, Mar.
  6. 1941, Apr. – Dec.
  7. 1942, Jan. – June
  8. 1942, July – 1944
  9. 1945-1948, June
  10. 1948, July – 1949
  11. 1950-1951
  12. 1952-1953, and undated

Series 2 – Speeches and Writings


  1. Speeches
  2. Speeches
  3. Notes and Rough Drafts

Series 3 – Miscellany


  1. Newspaper clippings, membership cards
  2. Sifting Committee minutes, 1935

Subject headings:

Burke, Edward Raymond, 1880-1968
Butler, Hugh Alfred, 1878-1954
Carpenter, Terry McGovern, 1900-1978
Cedar County (Neb.) — History
Coffee, Harry Buffington, 1890-1972
Democratic Party (Neb.)
Laurel (Neb.) — History
Legislation — Nebraska — 1930s
Legislative bodies — Nebraska
Miller, Arthur Lewis, 1892-1967
Nebraska — Legislature
Norris, George William, 1861-1944
O’Gara, William Henry, 1877-1955
Taxation — Nebraska
Unicameral legislature

06-04-2007 Revised TMM/tmm

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