Baylor University Poage Library

Collection Statement

Papers of JOHN DOWDY
Member of Congress, 1952-1972

The bulk of Dowdy's congressional papers were originally deposited with the Texas Collection at Baylor University at about the same time Dowdy retired in 1972. At that time, these papers were stored in 849 Hollinger boxes and an initial inventory was made. These materials contained the basic series from a typical congressional office: Agencies, Commissions, Legislation, Subjects, Correspondence, and Case Files. There were no personal materials, artifacts or memorabilia, only correspondence and printed materials.

After the initial deposit, additional Dowdy materials were added to the collection which documented his Court Reporter and District Attorney years (1935 to 1952). Most of these materials were arranged by Dowdy in a numerical sequence beginning with file one in 1935. The material in these files included court cases, divorces, income tax files, wills, murder cases, farm publications, and insurance policies. The numbered folders ended in 1952 when Dowdy was elected to Congress. These have been included under Legal Papers and the numbering system has been retained.

The final installment of the Dowdy Papers came in 1995 when Dowdy died. Kent Keeth, the Director of the Baylor Collections of Political Materials, and Ben Rogers, Collections Manager, traveled to Athens, Texas on two occasions to meet with Dowdy's children, Carol Sue and John, Jr., to decide which materials were to be depositted and which would be retained by the family. Sixty-seven 10"x12"x15" archive boxes were transported to Waco. These materials included many early personal papers such as correspondence from family members beginning with the death of Dowdy's first wife in 1943, framed photographs, reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, vinyl recordings, speeches, and urban renewal correspondence. Missing files from Dowdy's earlier numbered files were also found in this group along with all of the materials Dowdy had collected related to his trial and imprisonment in the early 1970s.

With the addition of new materials, the BCPM staff undertook the task of processing the entire collection and of creating a box listing of all file titles. This involved the sampling and discarding of much of the materials filed under Ballots & Questionnaires, Requests, and Invitations. During processing, news clippings were photocopied, paper clips and envelops discarded, and publications removed for cataloging. Smaller publications were retained in the files and have been listed individually in the Finding Aid.

The materials received in 1972 were grouped in the following series: Agencies, Departments, Legislation, Casework, Correspondence, General Subject Files, and District Attorney files. The original Legislation series has now been divided into two series: Committees and Legislation. Casework has been moved to the end of the collection since these materials will be discarded after being listed in the Finding Aid. With the addition of the new materials, a Personal series has been added which includes General family information, Media materials, Political Materials, and Speeches. A Trial and Imprisonment series has also been added and is divided into four sub-series: trial Correspondence, trial Exhibits, General court case files, and trialTranscripts.

When an item was removed from the collection, a separation sheet including a photocopy of the title page was inserted into the file. Another copy of the separation sheet and title was placed in the Separation Box. A BCPM book plate stamped "Dowdy Papers" was placed inside each item before it was sent to cataloging.

When files were sampled, a Sampling Sheet was filled out indicating the method used for sampling and the number of items or files discarded. The Sampling Sheet was then filed with the remaining sampled items.