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Walt Riker Papers


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Pre-Press Secretary

Press Secretary

Post-Press Secretary

Published Material


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Walt Riker Papers, 1943-2003 | Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive and Special Collections

By Tessa Klink, Charles Welborn, Sarah D'Antonio, Erin Wolfe

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Collection Overview

Title: Walt Riker Papers, 1943-2003Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1981-1993

ID: 01/014

Primary Creator: Riker III, Walter F. (1947-)

Extent: 14.63 Linear Feet

Arrangement: The collection is arranged chronologically into four series based on major functions of Walt Riker’s career and includes Pre-Press Secretary, Press Secretary, Post-Press Secretary and Published Materials. All attempts have been made during processing to preserve the original order of the collection as it was received from Walt Riker. Subseries and individual folders within each series are arranged alphabetically first, and then chronologically if needed. The collection includes a fourth series, Published Materials, comprised of books, newspapers and magazines, which did not fit intellectually within the three preceding series. An attempt was made to incorporate any viable published materials into the first three series. Additionally, photographs, slides and audio visual materials have been housed separately from text materials for preservation purposes, although removal forms still link the materials intellectually to the corresponding series.

Subjects: Dole, Robert J., 1923-2021, Kansas, Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )

Languages: English, Russian, Chinese

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Walt Riker Manuscript Collection, which spans the years 1943-2003, consists of correspondence, photographic and audiovisual materials, invitations, press passes and badges, maps, newspapers and clippings, books and magazines.

The majority of the collection relates to his tenure as Press Secretary for Senator Bob Dole. Riker worked alongside Senator Dole from 1981-1993, as his media specialist. Included in the collection are photographs of political functions, press releases, drafts of speeches, notes and itineraries. Many of the items reveal Riker’s close relationship with Senator Dole and his responsibility to promote the Senator’s public image. Also documented are Riker and Senator Dole’s extensive travels with the Congressional Delegation wherein they met such figures as Saddam Hussein, Pope John Paul II, and Deng Xiaoping, among others. Additional items not only portray Riker’s interest in politics, but also events closer to home including the Kansas City Royals World Series championship in 1985 and the Kansas Jayhawks Men’s Basketball championship in 1988.

In addition to materials pertaining to Riker's role as Press Secretary, a small portion of the collection includes essays and coursework related to Riker’s academic career at The University of Kansas. These materials consist primarily of graded papers from his time as a student at the William Allen White School of Journalism and are restricted to patron access in accordance with FERPA. The collection also includes memos and correspondence Riker acquired as a radio and television journalist for WIBW in Topeka, Kansas, from 1978-1981.

Collection Historical Note

Walter Riker (1947- ) was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He attended the University of Kansas, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1970. Following his graduation from the University of Kansas, Riker toured the country as the drummer of “Thump Theater” before returning to Lawrence and the University of Kansas to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism. He graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism with a Bachelors of Science in Broadcast Journalism in 1978. Shortly after, he began his broadcast career in radio and television at Channel 13-WIBW Topeka, an affiliate of CBS. Riker rose quickly through the ranks at WIBW, becoming the State House political correspondent. This position provided him the opportunity to report from the center of Kansas politics in Topeka, where he was introduced to Senator Dole.

After working at WIBW for four years, Senator Dole hired Riker in 1981 to be his Press Secretary. As Press Secretary, Riker accompanied Senator Dole throughout his political career, including his leadership positions as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Majority and Minority Leader and as a Presidential candidate in 1988. In addition to these duties, Riker also served as the communications leader for numerous Congressional Delegations that traveled the world, eventually visiting 58 countries with Senator Dole.

After 13 years of service, Walter Riker resigned as Senator Dole’s Press Secretary in 1993 to pursue a career in public relations at McDonalds. Riker’s tenure at McDonald’s culminated in a nine year stint as Vice President of Global Media Relations before his retirement in 2010. He remains a close friend of Senator Dole and was present at the dedication of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in 2003.

Subject/Index Terms

Dole, Robert J., 1923-2021
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )

Administrative Information

Repository: Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive and Special Collections

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research, however, some materials within the Riker Papers are restricted because of their sensitive nature or because they contain personal or confidential information. These records are protected by federal laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Examples of restricted records are academic files and any materials containing personal information such as addresses and social security numbers. Restricted materials are identified at the box and/or folder level within the finding aid. Questions about these materials may be directed to the Senior Archivist of the Dole Archives.

Use Restrictions: Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different kinds of materials. Some of the documents and other historical materials in the Dole Archive are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. However, there are other materials that carry a copyright interest that must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Dole Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted materials.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Pre-Press Secretary, 1964-1981],
[Series 2: Press Secretary, 1981-1993],
[Series 3: Post-Press Secretary, 1993-2003],
[Series 4: Published Material, 1899-2001],
[Series 5: Objects],

Series 1: Pre-Press Secretary, 1964-1981Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: Academic Career, 1964-1978Add to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: College Exams and Assignments (RESTRICTED), 1976-1977Add to your cart.
Folder 2: KJHK Coursework and Correspondence (RESTRICTED), 1966, 1978-1979, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Trinity School Tuition Bills, 1964Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: Broadcast Journalism, 1978-1981Add to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Correspondence and Memos, 1978-1981Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Kansas Legislative Directory, 1981-1982Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Media Floor Pass, Republican National Convention, 1980Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Resume and Memos, 1978-1979Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Pre-Press Secretary, 1964-1981],
[Series 2: Press Secretary, 1981-1993],
[Series 3: Post-Press Secretary, 1993-2003],
[Series 4: Published Material, 1899-2001],
[Series 5: Objects],

The Dole Institute is committed to universal accessibility in all programs and resources. We are in the process of making all of our web projects fully accessible. An accessible version of the archival material represented on this site will be made available upon request. Please contact us at dolearchives@ku.edu to request the document be made available in an accessible format, or doleinstitute@ku.edu for general assistance.
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