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William Singer Moorhead Papers

Call Number: MS 1490

Scope and Contents

The William S. Moorhead Papers consist of professional correspondence, topical files, legislative files, speeches, writings, and memorabilia which document Moorhead's career as the Democratic representative of Pennsylvania's fourteenth congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1958 to 1980. The papers were the gift of Lucy Moorhead in December 1988.

The 21.75 linear feet of papers are arranged in four series:
Series I, CORRESPONDENCE AND TOPICAL FILES, consists of alphabetically arranged files containing material which documents Moorhead's professional activities. The majority of the correspondence was generated in response to Moorhead's announcement to retire from public service in 1980 and consists of congratulatory messages and letters of appreciation from constituents and colleagues for Moorhead's support and votes during his eleven terms as a House Democrat.

Moorhead's service on numerous congressional committees and subcommittees and his support and authorship of subsequent legislation are documented by topical files, consisting primarily of printed material, including those detailing the Carnegie-Mellon Bill, the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1977, the Energy Security Act, the Intergovernmental Emergency Assistance Act of New York City, the National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities Act, the New York City Financial Assistance Act, and the Urban Development Action Grants (UDAG) of Pennsylvania.

Series II, LEGISLATIVE FILES, is arranged in two sections, "Legislation introduced" and "Remarks inCongressional Record"."Legislation introduced" consists of copies of bills containing legislation which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Moorhead personally or on his behalf. Indices for the congressional sessions providing the title and H. R. number of the bill and its date of introduction are included in the papers. "Remarks inCongressional Record"contains annotated copies/photocopies of remarks made by Moorhead. Indices for the congressional sessions provide the date and subject of the remark and the corresponding page numbers inCongressional Record.A special edition ofCongressional Record,"Tributes to Congressman William S. Moorhead of Pennsylvania," was published on the occasion of his retirement and is included in this section.

Newsletters entitled "Congressman William S. Moorhead Reports" and service letters mailed to citizens of the fourteenth congressional district apprising them of local and national legislation are filed at the end of this series.

Series III, SPEECHES AND WRITINGS, consists of speeches presented to civic organizations, academic institutions, and political, professional, youth, and church groups. Indices provide the subject, date, and place of the speeches for each congressional session. Writings files contain articles in draft and/or published form written for various professional publications between 1956 and 1967.

Series IV, MEMORABILIA, consists primarily of files containing awards and certificates, calendars of Moorhead's daily appointments, printed campaign materials of Moorhead and other Democrats, congressional mementoes, photographs documenting his political activities, presidential pens (along with accompanying letters) used to sign legislation sponsored by Moorhead, and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings which trace Moorhead's political life from 1958 until his death in 1987.

There is a minimal amount of personal material in the papers. Series IV does contain Moorhead's diary from 1935, a folder of family photographs, and one folder of personal keepsakes.

dditional files within the series contain materials used by Lucy Galpin Moorhead, wife of William Moorhead, in the writing ofEntertaining in Washington.

Oversize materials from Series IV are filed at the end of the papers.


  • 1935-1988


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lucy G. Moorhead (Mrs. William S.), 1988.


Arranged in four series: I. Correspondence and Topical Files, 1958-1982. II. Legislative Files, 1959-1981. III. Speeches and Writings, 1956-1984. IV. Memorabilia, 1935-1988.


25.17 Linear Feet (55 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of professional correspondence, topical files, legislative files, speeches, writings, and memorabilia which document William Moorhead's career in the House of Representatives from 1958-1980.

Biographical / Historical

William Singer Moorhead was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on April 8, 1923, the son of a prominent local attorney. He studied at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh and at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Moorhead received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1944. Upon graduation, he received a Navy commission as a lieutenant junior grade aboard a destroyer in the Pacific. He served as a combat information center officer and navigator until after the Japanese surrender. He also served in China in 1946 and was released from service later that year. Moorhead graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1949.

Moorhead joined the law firm of Moorhead and Knox founded by his father. He served as assistant city solicitor of Pittsburgh from 1954-1957 and as a member of the Allegheny County Housing Authority from 1956-1958. He participated in the rejuvenation of Pittsburgh inspired by Richard K. Mellon and Mayor David Lawrence.

Moorhead was elected to Congress in 1958 and served as a Democrat for Pennsylvania's fourteenth district in the House of Representatives for twenty-two years. During his eleven terms, from 1958 to 1981, Moorhead served on numerous congressional committees and subcommittees.

In 1964-1965, Moorhead sponsored legislation to create the National Foundation for Arts and Humanities, the forerunner of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Often referred to as a "watchdog" of government overspending, Moorhead uncovered waste in foreign aid operations, especially in Southeast Asia, in his capacity as chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information. While serving on a subcommittee of the Government Operations Committee, Moorhead revealed cost overruns in the procurement process and in the construction of the C-5A giant transport in particular.

In 1973-1974, Moorhead sponsored amendments to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts which allowed the public greater access to government documents and limited government dissemination of information pertaining to citizens.

In response to the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, Moorhead was the chief sponsor of a bill that eventually established a synthetic fuels corporation. The enactment of the Energy Security Act of 1980 was regarded by Moorhead as the capstone of his legislative career, addressing not only the energy needs of the nation, but also the economic interests of western Pennsylvania, which is the home to great stores of coal, the raw material for synthetic fuels.

As chairman of the Economic Stabilization Subcommittee of the Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs Committee, Moorhead presided over the 1978 hearings for federal loan assistance to financially distressed New York City. He initiated federal loan guarantees to rescue New York City and the Chrysler Corporation from bankruptcy, despite critics' fears of setting the precedent for government bailouts.

Moorhead retired from the House in 1981 rather than run for a twelfth term. He joined the law firm of Coan, Couture, Lyons and Moorhead in Washington.

William S. Moorhead died on August 3, 1987, of lung cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. He is survived by his wife, formerly Lucy Galpin; a daughter, Perrin Moorhead Grayson; and three sons, William S. III, Stephen G., and James B. Moorhead.
Guide to the William Singer Moorhead Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Carol King, Nancy Lyon with Kate Lewis and Randall D. Law
June 1993
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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