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John Boehner Papers

Identifier: MS-009

Scope and Contents

The John Boehner Papers span from 1929 to 2021, with the bulk of the material from 1989 to 2015. The papers are organized into six series: Series 1, Office Administrative Records; Series 2, Personal and Political Papers; Series 3, Legislative Files; Series 4, Press and Media Records; Series 5, Political Campaign Records; and Series 6, Publications.

Papers contain office records in a variety of formats created and maintained by John Boehner and his staff that reflect the structure and functions of the U.S. House of Representatives, the functions and relationships of leadership within the Republican Party, and information about Speaker John Boehner and the matters with which he dealt. The records document official, political, legislative, administrative, and press and media activities of Speaker Boehner and his office. They contain materials gathered and maintained by Speaker Boehner from various sources for research and reference. The papers also include campaign records and artifacts.

The papers include legislative files, especially legislative background research but also including “dear colleague” letters, position papers, and correspondence with other legislators; press clippings, photographs, and videotaped TV appearances; staff weekly reports are included for years 1995-1999 and 2002-2004; Boehner’s daily schedule is included for years 1991-1995; committee leadership and party leadership files reflect the functions of Boehner’s changing role in Congress and the Republican Party, including strategy conversations and briefings. Other significant groups of the papers are John Boehner’s voting record, campaign materials including opinions surveys of voters in Ohio’s 8th district from 1989 to 2015, and newspaper clippings from papers based in and near the Ohio 8th congressional district from 1989 to 2016. Audiovisual materials are included throughout the collection and are mostly recordings of press appearances and special events, House floor coverage of speeches given by Boehner, and a few campaign advertisements. Photographs are also found throughout the collection (both prints and digital files), mostly of appearances and special events.

Other than a very small number of constituent and project files, the papers do not include case work files, issue mail, or other records relating to constituent services received by Boehner’s office or information about casework performed by the office.

The collection is highly interconnected; files related to a particular topic may be found in more than one location.


  • Creation: 1929-2021
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1989-2015


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research with select materials restricted. University Archives and Special Collections staff redacts files that contain sensitive personal information out of concern for privacy and confidentiality. All materials, including electronic records, must be viewed by appointment in the University Archives and Special Collections Research Room.

Conditions Governing Use

Donor transferred any applicable copyright to Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio) but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Copyright law of the United States governs the reproduction of copyrighted material. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Biographical Information

John Andrew Boehner was born November 17, 1949 in Reading, Ohio to Mary Anne (Hall) and Early Henry Boehner. He is the second oldest of twelve siblings in a Catholic family of German descent. He graduated from Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati in 1968. He enlisted in the US Navy in 1968 but was shortly thereafter discharged for medical reasons. He worked several jobs to pay tuition while attending the evening college at Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio) beginning in 1971. In 1973, he married Debbie Gunlack. He graduated in 1977 with a degree in business administration. After graduation, Boehner worked at Nucite Sales, a plastics & packaging company, and eventually became president of the company.

John Boehner has stated that he became a Republican in the late 1970s, inspired by Ronald Reagan. Boehner’s political career began in 1981, when he successfully ran for the Board of Trustees of Union Township, Ohio. He served on that body 1981-1984, including as president in 1984. He was then elected a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, 57th district and served in it from 1985 to 1990. Boehner was elected to the United States Congress in 1990 and assumed office on January 3, 1991 as the Representative of the 8th District of Ohio. He served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1991 to 2015. In his first term in congress, Boehner was one of the “Gang of Seven,” a group of freshman Republican Representatives who advocated strongly for congressional reforms on such issues as internal spending. Most notably, the group was vocal about the House Bank Scandal that broke in 1991 and the House Post Office Scandal that broke in 1992.

During these early years, Boehner also joined the campaign to ratify the 27th Amendment to the United States constitution, which states that any time congress votes to raise members’ own pay, the change cannot take effect until after the next election. After ratification in 1992, Boehner tried to stop congressional cost-of-living adjustments (sometimes called COLAs), arguing they were unconstitutional once the 27th Amendment was passed. The result was the Boehner v. Anderson lawsuit, which Boehner lost.

In 1994, Boehner worked closely with Newt Gingrich on the drafting of the Contract with America, a Republican congressional platform for the 1994 midterm elections in which the Republicans gained the majority in congress for the first time since the 1950s. Boehner’s Chief of Staff, Barry Jackson, was heavily involved in the publicity campaign for the Contract with America signing event on September 27, 1994.

Boehner served as Republican Conference Chair from January 1995 to January 1999, the fourth-highest ranking position in the House Republican Conference. In that position, he helped shape congressional Republican platforms, strategy, and messaging. He was also involved in Boehner v. McDermott, a lawsuit resulting from an event his office designated “Tapegate.” In 1996 private citizens intercepted and recorded a phone call between John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, and several other members of Republican leadership. The private citizens gave the recording to Democratic Representative James McDermott, who then shared it with the press to shine a light on how Gingrich and Republican leadership was handling (or mishandling) an ethics investigation. Boehner (whose cell phone had been intercepted) sued McDermott for sharing a private phone call. The lawsuit was finally settled in 2008, with the ruling that McDermott had violated federal wiretapping law and owed damages to Boehner.

Boehner lost re-election for Conference Chair in 1999, at the same time Newt Gingrich was ousted as Speaker of the House of Representatives. From 2001 to 2006 he served as Chair of the Education and the Workforce Committee. During that time, he helped architect, sponsor, and pass H.R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The act reflected Boehner’s position as a longtime advocate for school choice.

In February 2006, Boehner was elected House Majority Leader. When the Democratic Party regained control of the House, he served as House Minority Leader (January 2007-January 2011). In these leadership roles, he shaped Republican congressional strategy and messaging. In January 2011, he was elected and sworn in as the 53rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He was re-elected Speaker in 2013 and 2015, but also faced challenges to his speakership from members of Congress in his own party, particularly the House Freedom Caucus, who argued that Boehner was not conservative enough. During that time, he was able to end and ban the practice of congressional earmarks, often called “pork barrel” spending. Also during that time, along with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, he invited Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress on September 24, 2015, the first papal visit to Congress in United States history. Shortly after that visit, he announced his intention to resign from Congress, and resigned at the end of October 2015.

He joined the lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs in late 2016, and as of September 2022, he served as a Senior Strategic Advisor. He published a memoir of his time in the House, especially as Speaker, in April 2021 titled On the House. Xavier University awarded Boehner a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in 2006 and the Charles P. Gallagher Leadership Medallion to Boehner in 2016.

Sources: Alberta, Tim. “John Boehner Unchained.” Politico. November/December 2017.

Boehner, John. On the House: a Washington Memoir. New York: St Martin's Press, 2021.

Cassidy, John. “John Boehner: A Man out of Time.” The New Yorker. September 25, 2015.

Gibbens, Sarah and National Journal. “John Boehner’s Career in Photos.” The Atlantic. September 25, 2015.

“House Minority Leader Wins $1 Million Plus in Suit,” CNN Politics, April 1, 2008,

“John A. Boehner.” Squire Patton Boggs. Accessed August 2021. “John Boehner Fast Facts.” CNN. December 1, 2021.

Malone, Matt. “John Boehner has no Regrets.” America Magazine. December 2, 2019.

Sloat, France Griggs. “Education of a Republican.” Xavier Magazine. Xavier University: Cincinnati, Ohio. January 2, 2003.

“Speakers of the House (1789 to present).” History, Art, & Archives, United States House of Representatives. Accessed September 16, 2022.

Xavier University. “Take Two.” Xavier University: Cincinnati, Ohio. July 1, 2006.

Xavier University. “Boehner Lands in School Chair.” Xavier Magazine. Xavier University: Cincinnati, Ohio. July 1, 2001.

Xavier University. “Speaking of Speakers.” Xavier Magazine. Xavier University: Cincinnati, Ohio. January 1, 2011.


65 Cubic Feet (39 record cartons, 7 VHS boxes, 2 CD boxes, 15 oversize boxes, 5 framed items, 1 flat file, and 2 rolled tubes)

176 Gigabytes (Digital image files of photographs and scanned newspaper clippings)

Language of Materials


Collection Summary

John Boehner served as the United States Representative from Ohio’s 8th District from 1991-2015 and Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2011-2015. Papers contain administrative, legislative, personal, political, and press records of Speaker Boehner and his office, primarily from 1989-2015. The papers also include campaign materials and memorabilia.

System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged into six series, with subseries reflecting more specific functions or topics within that series.

Series 1: Office Administrative Records Subseries 1.1: Schedule (chronological by congressional session) Subseries 1.2: Weekly Reports (chronological by congressional session) Subseries 1.3: Constituent Services and District Projects Series 2: Personal and Political Papers Subseries 2.1: Congressional Reform Papers Subseries 2.2: Party Leadership Papers Subseries 2.3: Personal Papers Series 3: Legislative Files Subseries 3.1: Voting Record Subseries 3.2: Legislative and Issue Research Files (chronological by Congressional Session) Series 4: Press and Media Records Subseries 4.1: News Updates, Weekly Columns, and Clippings Subseries 4.2 Clipping Files (arranged in original order, chronologically) Subseries 4.3: Audiovisual Series 5: Political Campaign Records Subseries 5.1: Surveys of Ohio Voters Subseries 5.2: Campaign Strategy Files Subseries 5.3: Campaign Artifacts Series 6: Publications

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Audiovisual materials are not yet digitized and will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, contact University Archives and Special Collections staff with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. UASC staff will respond to you with further information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift from John Boehner, 2016.


Additional materials were donated to University Archives and Special Collections by John Boehner in 2017 (XUA-2017-028) and in 2021 (XUA-2021-008).

Existence and Location of Originals

Original photographs can be found in the White House Photograph Office Collection, National Archives and Records Administration.

Related Materials

Boehner, John A. Official Campaign Web Site – John A. Boehner. 2002. Archived Web Site.

Boehner, John A. Member of Congress Official Web Site – John A. Boehner. 2001. Archived Web Site.

Carl Albert Center Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Collection, University of Oklahoma

Committee Papers, Committee on Education and the Workforce/Education and Labor, Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration. .

Congressional Record, 1994-Present. Bound Edition 1998 and Prior:

Congressional & Federal Government Web Harvests, 109th-113th Congresses. National Archives and Records Administration. .

Nancy Pelosi Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Newt Gingrich papers, 97th Congress, POL-0001-03. University of West Georgia Special Collections.

Paul Ryan Collection and The Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Miami University Libraries. .

Richard K. "Dick" Armey Collection. Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections.

Processing Information

The collection was donated to UASC, Xavier University with a complete inventory supplied by the donor and his office staff. The box inventories were verified by UASC staff against folder contents. The majority of the records were removed from their original office file folders and housed in archival-quality housing. UASC staff retained original folder labels in the majority of cases. For those folders found without titles, archivists supplied titles. Materials were also removed from three-ring binders and rehoused in their original order in archival-quality folders. Some materials were preservation photocopied depending on their original physical condition.

Oversize items and published bound materials were separated for storage. When found among paper records, audiovisual materials were removed from original folders and housed separately.

Digital image files (clippings and photographs) were transferred from external storage drives to secure archives electronic storage by UASC staff.

The collection originally contained a large quantity of newspapers. Major newspapers that Xavier University Library has digital access to have been deaccessioned and a list of these items has been retained. Newspapers and magazines that Xavier University Library does not have access to were retained in the collection. UASC staff assessed these newspapers for relevancy to John Boehner and only articles featuring him were retained. Materials deaccessioned included commentary sections, editorials, sports, and news articles not related to John Boehner.

Guide to the John Boehner Papers
In Progress
UASC Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023-05-17: Additions and revisions to description

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Special Collections, Xavier University Library Repository

3800 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati Ohio 45207 US