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Bill Ratliff Records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UASC.MS.014

Scope and Contents

The collection includes documents collected or created by Senator William "Bill" Ratliff and his office from 1988-2006, during his tenure as Texas Senator and Lieutenant Governor. Correspondence received by Ratliff from individual constituents, interest groups, and organizations make up a majority of the collection. Drafts of Senate and House bills with analyses are present, along with reports on legislative committees and legislatures, and files and maps regarding redistricting. Additionally, contact sheets of Senate Media Services photographs spanning seven legislatures are present. Administrative documents from Ratliff's office are included, along with files from Ratliff's political campaigns. Awards and memorabilia given to Ratliff constitute a portion of the collection, with many of these materials found in the Ratliff Library Suite at The University of Texas at Tyler.


  • 1988-2006

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use. Materials in the Casework series contain restricted personal identifying and medical information. Materials in the Redistricting series may be restricted. Please contact University Archivist for more information.

Biographical / Historical

"Bill Ratliff was elected the 40th lieutenant governor of Texas by his colleagues in the Texas Senate on December 28, 2000, thereby filling the vacancy created when Rick Perry succeeded George W. Bush, the new president-elect of the United States, as governor. In addition to serving as lieutenant governor and as president of the senate, Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, continued to represent the First Senatorial District in Northeast Texas, a constituency he was first elected to serve in 1988.

Over the course of his career, Ratliff built a reputation for tackling tough issues, including public education, the state budget, and a comprehensive reform of Texas’ tort laws. During his first term in the senate, Ratliff passed a bill that allowed communities throughout Texas to levy a one-half cent sales tax, contingent on the approval of local citizens, to encourage economic growth, and he helped draft the first bill in Texas to improve deplorable conditions in the South Texas colonias. In his freshman term, he was also involved in resolving differences between the house and senate regarding workers’ compensation legislation.

Appointed chair of the senate committee on education in 1993, Ratliff served as the senate’s leader on public education legislation for the next four years. In 1994, he drafted a revision of the entire Texas public education code on his laptop computer, and his proposal passed both houses the following year. An advocate for stronger school standards, Ratliff developed one of the first and most comprehensive public school accountability programs in the country. From 1996 to 2000, he served as chair of the senate committee on finance.

Ratliff’s election to the lieutenant governor’s office represented the first time that senators had been called on to fill a vacancy in that post, a duty assigned to them by the Texas Constitution. During his tenure as lieutenant governor, Ratliff adopted the leadership philosophy of letting “the Senate work its will.” He also continued his longstanding bipartisan approach, in one instance appointing a Democrat to take over for him as chair of the finance committee, and he was noted by observers for the fair and even handed manner in which he carried out his new responsibilities.

While presiding over the senate, Ratliff’s most significant accomplishment, in his own view, was helping to draft and pass a $113.8 billion biennial budget at a time when economic conditions had turned sluggish. Other significant legislative achievements in 2001 included the creation of a state-subsidized health insurance plan for teachers and other school employees, the extension of Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of children, and the adoption of a number of reforms in the criminal justice system. After his term as lieutenant governor, Ratliff returned to the senate for one additional legislative session and served as chair of the senate committee on state affairs.

Born August 16, 1936, in Shreveport, Louisiana, Bill Ratliff moved to Texas as a young child and graduated from high school in Sonora. He holds a degree in civil engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, which named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 2004. The following year, he was honored with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Ratliff has also won a number of professional accolades and has served as state and national president of the American Consulting Engineers Council.

In addition, Ratliff has played a prominent role in community affairs in Mount Pleasant. He and his wife, Sally Sandlin Ratliff, have three children, Bess, Bennett, who served in the house of representatives in the 83rd Texas Legislature, and Thomas, who was elected in 2010 and again in 2012 to the Texas State Board of Education. Bill and Sally Ratliff are also the grandparents of eight grandchildren."

- Research Division of the Texas Legislative Council. (2016). Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature, 1846-2016. Austin, TX: Texas Legislative Council.


285 Linear Feet (521 boxes ) : Collection comprised of paper documents, photographs, maps on paper in a variety of dimension, bound volumes, VHS tapes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, framed art and documents, awards, scrapbooks and binders, and three-dimensional objects and mementos.


William "Bill" Roark Ratliff was a Texas senator representing Senate District 1 from 1989-2003, who was elected President Pro Tempore Ad Interim of the 75th Legislature and then lieutenant governor of Texas in December of 2000. In addition to chairing the Senate Education Committee, Ratliff, a civil engineer, played a role in getting legislative approval of an engineering program at The University of Texas at Tyler. Materials in this collection consist of correspondence, issue research, legislative files and research, newspaper clippings, photographs, ephemera, and published reports spanning the 71st through 78th Texas Legislature.


Records are arranged into twenty series with thirty-nine subseries. Most series and subseries are arranged by subject, with some arrangements by date or media type. Arrangement by prior UASC staff was retained when possible. Series titles were kept when present. Unprocessed materials were integrated into existing series or placed into created series and subseries. Series and subseries are as follows, I. Correspondence: A. District, B. Federal, C. Protocol, D. Form Letters, E. Organizations, F. Constituents, G. State Legislature, H. Subject Files, II. Subject Files: A. Publications and Reports, B. Directories, C. Schedules, Message Books, Registries, D. Sunset Advisory Commission, E. Education, F. Finance, G. Healthcare, H. Senate Committees and Working Papers, I. Legislation, J. Lawsuits, K. Ratliff Administrative, III. News Clippings, IV. State Senate, V. District Issues, VI.Agency, VII. Casework, VIII. General Counsel, IX. Legislative Records, X. State Affairs: A. Senate Bills, B. House Bills, XI. Office of the Lieutenant Governor, XII. Lieutenant Governor Appointments, XIII. Fiscal Policy, XIV. Redistricting, XV. Senate Office, XVI. Photographs: A. Photo Albums, B. 71st Legislative Texas Senate Media Services Contact Sheets, C. 72nd Legislative Texas Senate Media Services Contact Sheets, D. 73rd Legislative Texas Senate Media Services Contact Sheets, E. 74th Legislative Texas Senate Media Services Contact Sheets, F. 75th Legislative Texas Senate Media Services Contact Sheets, G. 76th Interim Legislative Texas Senate Media Services Contact Sheets, H. 77th Legislative Texas Senate Media Services Contact Sheets, I. 77th Interim Legislative Texas Senate Media Services Contact Sheets, XVII. Campaign Materials, XVIII. VHS Tapes: A. TV Clips, B. Committee of the Whole, C. Reporting on Ratliff, D. Awards Ceremonies and Tributes, E. Enclosed with Correspondence, XIX. Discs, XX. Memorabilia: A. Awards, B. Framed, C. Artifacts, D. Ephemera and Bound Volumes.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Materials in the collection are in good condition. A majority of the collection is comprised of paper documents and requires no special means to read. DVDs, CD-ROMs, and VHS tapes require appropriate equipment to view.

Physical Location

N:6.c-1.3, M:1.b-7.f, L:1.b-7.f

Custodial History

Materials in the Bill Ratliff Records collection are state records that reside at The University of Texas at Tyler as depository through an agreement with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The collection was received by the University Archives and Special Collections in August 2007. Various UASC staff members have worked to process the collection. Archives Assistant Aaron Ramirez completed processing.

Processing Information

Efforts were made to retain the existing order and titles of series, sub-series, and folders. In doing this, similar content is found in multiple series. Various forms of correspondence are found throughout the collection, and could likely be placed in alternate series or sub-series. To minimize disruption of the existing collection order this correspondence remains in its original series and/or sub-series. Unprocessed materials were either integrated into existing series or made a part of new series. Material types other than paper documents were found separated in most cases. These materials were placed in series and sub-series determined by media type.

Bill Ratliff Records
Aaron Ramirez
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

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