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William M. Steger Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UASC.MS.003

Scope and Contents

Records and ephemera in this collection are divided into four series: Personal Life, Political Career, Legal Career, and Memorabilia. While a few items date back to Steger's childhood in Dallas during the 1920s and his service in World War II, the bulk of materials relates to both his political and legal careers. Personal materials include his pilot logs (from his service in the Army Air Corps) family photographs, and genealogy records. Also included in this series are correspondence(from prominent political leaders as well as from former law clerks and personal friends), and news clippings (mainly dealing with Steger's fishing hobby). While not collected by Steger per se, his obituary and items from his memorial services (collected by his wife, Ann Steger) are also incorporated within this series. The political series includes newspaper clippings, photographs, and campaign documents from the time Steger served as Gregg County campaign chair for President Eisenhower in 1952. Also present are materials marking Steger’s bids for Governor and Congress in 1960 and 1962 respectively, as well as his appointment as Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas in 1969-70. Interesting to note are the many photographs taken with political characters and autographed by them. In the series of materials concerning his legal career are news clippings and correspondence from his time as a United States Attorney, though the bulk of materials relates to his time as United States District Judge. The latter includes: photographs of Steger with current and former law clerks, case files, appealed cases, calendars, schedules, and statistical reports regarding trials. Ceremonial documents (marking anniversaries, official portrait presentations, etc) are also included. Lastly, the series includes payment and service records for businesses around Tyler, guest lists, signed guest books, and photographs from various events. The final series of memorabilia is not documentary, but rather contains ephemera relating to Steger's various interests, hobbies, and personal achievements. These include models of World War II Spitfires, bricks from Green Acres Baptist Church’s 50th Anniversary, political campaign buttons, portraits, robes, etc. Some of this material is on permanent display at the William M. Steger Federal Building and United States Courthouse and at the University of Texas at Tyler Archives and Special Collections.


  • Creation: 1920-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1952-2006


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Most documents are in the public domain. Copyright restrictions on some published materials may apply.

Biographical or Historical Information

William (Bill) M. Steger was born on August 22, 1920 in Dallas, TX. During World War II he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps as a fighter pilot, flying 56 missions over Italy. After the war, he served out his enlistment as a test pilot at Elgin Air Force Base. He was honorably discharged in 1945 and returned to Dallas where he enrolled in law school at Southern Methodist University. While working toward his law degree, Steger met Ann Hollandsworth; they were married on February 14, 1948. He graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1950 and, interested in the oil industry, Steger moved his family to Longview, Texas where he entered private practice. In 1952, Steger became the Eisenhower-Nixon campaign chair for Gregg County. After Eisenhower won reelection, he appointed Steger to the position of United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas in 1953. This appointment won the approval of the powerful Senate majority leader, (then) Senator Lyndon B. Johnson. Steger moved his family (now with a young son, Merritt "Reed" Steger) to Tyler, Texas - the primary seat of the district court. During his time as U.S. Attorney, Steger tried cases before Judge Bill Sheehy, who served as the sole judge for the Eastern District of Texas at that time. Steger spent much of his time prosecuting bank embezzlers, including the First National Bank of Lewisville case that resulted in the conviction of two female bank employees for five years. He resigned from his position as U.S.Attorney in 1959 to return to private practice and to run for Governor of Texas. In 1960, the race for governor pitted Steger against incumbent Price Daniel. While Texas was, at this point, a state which favored Democratic politicians, Steger performed well in the election. In fact, the support he garnered in the governor's race demonstrated the need for a Republican primary in Texas, something which had been heretofore deemed unnecessary. In 1962, Steger ran for United States Congress and - despite another respectable election performance - lost again to incumbent Congressman Lindley Beckworth. Notwithstanding these losses, Steger remained active and influential in Republican Party politics and was influential in the party's continued development. In 1969, he was elected Chairman of the Texas Republican Party. President Richard Nixon appointed Steger to the federal bench as a United States District Judge to the Eastern District of Texas on December 1,1970. During his time on the federal bench, Steger presided over 372 cases. Among these were several important RICO cases, the most famous being United States v. Rex Cauble. While he served most of his years at the Tyler location, he did hear cases for a brief time out of the Beaumont court (1971 - 1978). When reaching 65 years of age in 1987, he took senior status and continued to serve the Court on a full time basis. Steger died on June 4, 2006 and, in honor of his service to the community and the judiciary, the United States Congress passed a bill renaming the federal courthouse in Tyler, Texas as the "William M. Steger Courthouse and Federal Building."


11.00 Linear Feet

11.00 Linear Feet

2.00 Items

2.00 Items

2.00 Items

Language of Materials



Materials in this collection consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, World War II flight documents, pamphlets, campaign documents, financial and planning documents relating to special occasions from 1983 to 2005, case files and appealed cases, certificates, genealogical information, schedules and calendars from 1971 to 2006, and various memorabilia. Donated by Mrs. Ann Steger, most of these items fall under the years 1952-2006 and mainly reference Judge Steger’s judicial career.


The arrangement of the papers is topical, alphabetical, and chronological. The first series encompasses the entirety of Steger's personal life, while the second and third are arranged chronologically, following the natural break of his careers. Materials from the fourth series exist as an itemized inventory that locates individual items.

Physical Access Requirements

Scrapbook documents and photographs cannot be released from the pages and a few are glued together. Other documents, many of them newspaper articles, were displaced from the scrapbook, copied, and placed in appropriate files.

Related Materials

Vertical files of news clippings relating to federal, magistrate, and local judges (including Judge Steger and a number of his colleagues) are kept in the Genealogy Room at Tyler Public Library. An oral history of Steger’s role in World War II can be found through the Veterans History Project.

Separated Materials

Some materials stored at the William M. Steger Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Tyler, Texas.

Brandy Monts
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the The University of Texas at Tyler University Archives and Special Collections Department Repository