Matthew E. Welsh

Matthew E. Welsh oral history transcript
1 transcript

Manuscripts & Rare Books Division
Indiana State Library

Processed by: Alessandro Meregaglia, May 2013

Biographical Note:

Matthew Empson Welsh was born on September 15, 1912 in Detroit, Michigan son of two native Hoosiers. During World War I, Welsh’s family moved back to Brownstown, Indiana and then to Vincennes in 1926. After graduating from Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Welsh attended the University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate degree. He matriculated at Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington but, after two years, transferred to the University of Chicago Law School and graduated in 1937.

A Democrat, Welsh entered public life in 1940 when he won a seat in the Indiana House of Representatives but resigned in 1943 to join the Navy. After returning from the war, he served as United States attorney (1950-1952) and state senator (1955-1960; floor leader from 1957-1960) before he was elected the 41st governor of Indiana in 1960.

His term as governor was dominated by state revenue issues. He called a special legislative session in 1963 to address the budget problem. This session produced a two percent sales tax, a two percent income tax, and a two percent corporate tax. These increases earned Welsh the nickname “Sales Tax Matt.” During his tenure, Welsh attempted to make the government more efficient by creating the Indiana Department of Administration and restructuring other agencies. Welsh’s administration also committed itself to supporting civil rights for African Americans by creating the Fair Employment Practices Commission as well as requiring a nondiscrimination clause in all state contracts. Constitutionally prohibited from seeking a second term, Welsh returned to his law practice in Indianapolis in 1965.

He died in the capital city on May 28, 1995 at the age of 82. He is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Vincennes.


Fadley, James Philip. “Matthew E. Welsh.” In The Governors of Indiana. Edited by Linda C. Gugin and James E. St. Clair. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006.
Indiana Department of Administration. “Matthew E. Welsh.” Accessed May 29, 2013.

Scope and Content:

Randall W. Jehs of the Indiana State Library interviewed Matthew E. Welsh three times: once in December 1970 and twice in January 1971. Welsh discussed his childhood in Vincennes, his education and entrance into politics in the first interview. He goes into detail about his two terms in the state senate and his election to the governorship. He spends the most amount of time speaking about his term as governor and his policy decisions as well as the organization of the Indiana Democratic Party at the time.

Two appendices follow the transcript. One contains the draft of a chapter of a book Welsh wrote about his administration but never published. The other appendix contains the outline for another unpublished chapter.

The transcript also contains a photograph of Welsh as well as his signature.

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Collection Inventory

Item Listing:

Transcript, 1970 Dec.-1971 Jan.

Collection Information:

Size of Collection: 1 transcript
Collection Dates: 1912-1971
Provenance:  Indiana State Library Oral History Project
Access: The Collection is Open for Research Use
Restrictions:  None (expired upon Welsh’s death in 1995)
Reproduction Rights: Permission to reproduce, exhibit, or publish material in this collection must be obtained from the Manuscripts and Rare Books Division, Indiana State Library.
Language: Materials are entirely in English
Alternate Formats: 
Related Holdings: Matthew Welsh Papers
Collection Notes: 

MA BA 7-3-2013