Guide to the Ralph E. and William W. Becker Collection of American Political Campaign Materials, 1840 - 1972Manuscript MS-1147

Biography

Ralph E. Becker was born on January 29, 1907 in New York City. He attended night courses at City College and New York University and earned his law degree at St. John's University Law School in 1928. While working as a lawyer in Westchester County he became involved in Republican party politics and was a delegate to the 1936 convention. He served in the Judge Advocate Corps during World War II. After his service in the war he opened a law practice in Washington D.C. and became an avid collector of political memorabilia dating to 1790. In 1961 he donated the material to the Smithsonian Institution where it became the Ralph E. Becker Collection of Political Americana. From 1976-1977 he served as United States Ambassador to Honduras. He also helped create the National Center for the Performing Arts of which he was a founding trustee and served as its general council during the Eisenhower Administration. Ralph Becker died on Aug. 24, 1994 in Washington at the age of 87. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

William W. Becker graduated Dartmouth College in 1964. He worked as an attorney for the John F. Kennedy Center where he negotiated thousands of theater productions, television, licensing, recording, labor and other performing arts contracts and litigated numerous related issues. He left his law practice in 2001 to found TheatreDreams.

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