Poage Library to Celebrate 25th Anniversary

Sept. 28, 2004

W.R. 'Bob' Poage

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the W.R. Poage Legislative Library at Baylor University, the Baylor Collections of Political Materials (BCPM) has scheduled two events in October. An open house for the public will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21, during National Archives Week. A private program is planned Oct. 8 for the family and former staff members of those who deposited their papers in the collection, said Ben Rogers, director of the BCPM.

When the library was dedicated in 1979, it was the only congressional library associated with an institution of higher education which honored an individual for his service wholly in the United State House of Representatives. This unique status has not changed in 25 years, Rogers noted. Native of Waco

A native of Waco, W. R. 'Bob' Poage (1899-1987) served as the 11th Congressional District representative in the U.S. Congress for 42 years and helped shape the future of Central Texas. The entire agriculture complexion of the nation reflected his influence and leadership as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 1967 until 1974. Known as 'Mr. Agriculture,' he received his bachelor's and law degrees from Baylor University. Poage was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1924 and served as a state senator from 1931-1937 before his election as a U.S. representative in 1936.

The construction of the library was a joint project of the University, the Poage Library Project Board and the Baylor-Waco Foundation. Board members included W.W. Callan, Roane Lacy, S. Spencer Brown and Frank W. Mayborn.

When the library was organized, Poage encouraged his fellow congressmen and staff members to deposit their papers and many of them did including Hyde Murray, legal counsel for the Agriculture Committee, and Fowler West, commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. BCPM Collections

The library houses the papers of 12 former U.S. congressmen, seven Texas legislators, Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and five judges as well as several ancillary collections. In addition to Poage, congressmen whose collections are in the BCPM include John V. Dowdy Sr., O.C. Fisher, Ed Lee Gossett, Sam B. Hall Jr., Jack Hightower, Marvin Leath, Reid Murray, Thomas Pickett, W.R. Smith, Hatton Sumners and Alan Steelman. Texas legislative papers represent Don Adams, Chet Edwards, Ray Kirkpatrick, George Moffett and Allen Place Jr. The Bullock Archive is a major addition to the library.

Ancillary papers include editorial cartoons, campaign materials and buttons, USDA maps and newspapers. Approximately 14,500 volumes are in the book collection. In addition to the various collections, the ground floor of the library features Poage's office and a newly renovated exhibit area where a permanent display about Bob Bullock will be placed along with rotating exhibits. Special Program Participants

Participants on the special program Oct. 8 will include John Dowdy Jr., a mediation lawyer in Arlington, Texas; Ben Guttery, senior program manager for Texas Airports Development Office in Fort Worth; Jack Hightower of Austin, former congressman and Texas Supreme Court justice; Michelle Jackson of Lubbock, Ph.D. student at Texas Tech University; and Fowler West, legal counsel for The Washington Group in Washington, D.C.