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Manuscripts by Subject - Politics / Government - #10139

Title: Kenneth A. Fitch Papers

Dates: 1905-1963

Collection number: 10139

Quantity: 3 ft.

Provenance:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the Kenneth A. Fitch Papers as a gift from Mrs. Lloyd Milner on June 17, 1975.  This collection was processed and the inventory prepared by Karen Mund, Grace Wanttaja, and Kari Rombs Kohlhoff, August 1988.

Property Rights:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights:  Mrs. Lloyd Milner has dedicated such copyrights as she possesses in this collection to the public.  Consideration of all other copyrights is the responsibility of the researcher.

Access:  This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation:  Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Transfer:  Seven feet of material were removed from the Kenneth A. Fitch Papers and transferred to the appropriate collection management area of the State Archives.  The majority of the transfer materials consisted of books, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, bulletins, reports, and published state and federal documents.

Transferred to the Photo Archives was 1 ft. of black and white photos, colored photos, and negatives.  The photos depict individuals, groups, farmsteads, family, snowstorms, grain elevators, towns in North Dakota, and state legislators.

Ten post cards were placed in the philatelic collection.

Two address card file holders were transferred to the ephemera collection.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Kenneth A. Fitch was born at Hickson, North Dakota, on September 10, 1898 to Charles A. and Susan Larkin Fitch.  He was educated in the Moorhead, Minnesota, public schools and became a bookkeeper.  After enlisting in the United States Army at Fargo on July 5, 1918, he served in France and was discharged at Camp Dodge, Iowa on January 25, 1919 as a bugler.  After his military service he moved to Bowman, North Dakota, where he was employed as a bookkeeper for the Western Lumber and Grain Company. He married Hazel Florence Starr at Bowman on July 23, 1919; one daughter, Kay Jean, was born to the marriage.  While in Bowman Fitch began his lifelong interest in sheep raising, but after several years of sheep ranching in western North Dakota, he sold and returned to Fargo where he entered the insurance business, eventually becoming vice-president of Warner and Company. 

His political career began with Republican precinct offices in Fargo in the late 1920's. He was chairman of the Cass County Republican Committee for many years.  Fitch was first elected to the House from the 9th District of Cass County in 1930.  He served in the 1931 and 1933 sessions but was defeated for re-election in 1934.  Elected again in 1936 he served continuously until retiring after the 1963 session.  He was elected Speaker of the House in 1955 when the GOP defeated the Democratic-Nonpartisan League by a wide margin in 1954.  While Fitch served on many legislative committees, including Appropriations, his principle interest was the House Industry and Business Committees.  Among the departments created by legislative acts during his years as a legislator were the Department of Health, Public Welfare Department, and Legislative Research Committee.  He was considered the "dean of legislators" after serving for 16 legislative sessions and was honored in January 1963 at a "Ken Fitch Day" during which he was presented a plaque from the legislature.

Kenneth A. Fitch was active in activities other than legislative. He held memberships in the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars; he guided activities of the state's American Legion band, including four national championships, and led the 40 et 8. Also a member of the Lion's Club, Elks, Masons, and Eagles, Fitch played an important role in his community and held many voluntary public posts.  He died September 12, 1963.

Sources:

Roster of Men and Women Who Served in Army, Navy, and Marines in World War I., 1917-1918.  Vol. 1. Bismarck Tribune, 1931.

Speakers of the House Biographies, 1984.  MSS 10443.

North Dakota Blue Book, 1932, 1942, 1954, 1961.
Fargo Forum, January 7, 1958, January 31, 1963, September 14 & 15, 1963.

Bowman County News, July 24, 1919.

Many articles on Kenneth A. Fitch are available in the state's newspapers.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Kenneth A. Fitch Papers date from 1905 to 1963, with the bulk dating from 1939 to 1963, and measure 3 ft.  This collection documents Fitch's years as a state legislator, Speaker of the House, and Republican County chairman.  He set a record in 1963 for service in the North Dakota House of Representatives by serving 16 sessions. 

The collection consists of subject files containing reports on trends in livestock numbers and improvement in North Dakota creameries; newspaper clippings of his rescue from a sinking ship during World War I, legislative affairs, bills before the House, and his death in 1963; certificates of election from 1930 to 1962; awards he received; and correspondence asking assistance in introducing bills, for and against legislation, appreciation for work at election with fellow Republicans both state and national, inquiries for employment, and congratulations for winning elections and being elected Speaker. 

Fitch received many letters and telegrams for and against legislation, such as bills for education for the handicapped, moving the School for the Blind, gas and mineral taxes, outlawing of premium stamps, advertising cigarettes and liquor on radio and television, small loan agency bill, and the liquor-food divorcement law.  Arrangement of the subject files is alphabetical by keyword.  Oversize material consists of two resolutions, one expressing appreciation for service in the House of Representatives and the other for his services as Chairman of the Industry and Business Committee, a colored folder of scenes at Hot Springs, South  Dakota, and a colored print of Dwight Eisenhower.

BOX / FOLDER INVENTORY

Box 1:
1 Address Index Files                         
2 Agriculture Reports          1957-1963           
3 Awards               1905-1959           

Cass County Republican Central Committee Records

4 Attendance Record                         
5  Contributions   1956-1960           
6  Correspondence              1956-1960           
7  Drivers License Renewals              1959      
8  Financial Records           1954-1957           
9  Financial Records           1958      
10 Financial Records          1959      
11 Financial Records          1960      
12 Financial Statements    1954-1959           
13 Magill, Frank  1959      
14 Meetings          1958-1959           
15 Membership    1958      
16 Miscellaneous 1944      
17 Miscellaneous 1955      
18 Officers of Committee  1954      
19 Pamphlets       1939-1954           
20 Precinct Committee Lieutenants                1958      
21 Receipts and Bills          1956-1957           
22 Receipts and Bills          1958-1959           
23 Receipts and Bills          1960      
24 Receipts and Bills          1960      
25 Television and Radio    1960      
26 Certificate of Election   1930-1962           
27 Clippings, Dean of Legislature    1963      
28 Clippings, Death of Kenneth A. Fitch        1963      
29 Clippings, Miscellaneous              1931-1965           
30 Clippings, World War I      1919 
31 Congratulations on Election as Speaker   1955      
32 Correspondence             1952-1959           

Box 2:
1 Correspondence, For/Against Legislation    1939-1953           
2 Correspondence, For/Against Legislation    1955      
3 Correspondence, For/Against Legislation    1957      
4 Correspondence, Legislative          1953-1954           
5 Correspondence, Legislative          1955      
6 Correspondence, Legislative          1955      
7 Correspondence, Legislative          1957      
8 Correspondence, Legislative          1959      
9 Correspondence, Legislative          1959      
10 Correspondence, Miscellaneous 1958-1959           
11 Elks Convention Badges              1940-1947           
12 Farm Bureau  1954-1955           
13 Grain Storage HB 742  1959      
14 House Bills                     
15 Invitations       1932-1959           
16 Journal of Senate Inserts              1957      
17 Legislative Committee Members                               
18 Legislative Files              1950-1955           
19 Legislative Files              1956      
20 Legislative Files              1957-1963           
21 Legislative Members     1950-1955           
22 Legislative Orientation  1954      
23 Memoriam to Fitch, President Kennedy   1963      
24 Memoriam to Susie M. Fitch       1918      
25 Military Service              1918-1919           
26 Miscellaneous 1910-1954           
27 Oil and Gas Legislation 1959      
28 Photo Inserts   1919-1963           
29 Publication Inserts         1952-1957           
30 Republican Convention               1958      
31 Republican File              1956-1957           
32 Republican, Primary Election      1958      

Box 3:
1 Small Loan Legislation   1956-1957
2 Small Loan Legislation   1956-1957
3 Telegrams          1955      
4 Telegrams          1955      
5 Telegrams          1955      
6 Telegrams          1955      
7 Telegrams          1955      
8 Workman's Compensation Bureau Report 1956      
9 Scrapbook         1956-1957           

Oversize - 990407
Resolutions and Color Prints             1959      

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