Baylor University Poage Library


    II. U. S. House of Representatives, 1936-1978, 400 lin. ft.

    Following an unsuccessful attempt to unseat 11th district congressman O. H. Cross in the 1934 Democratic primary, Poage's second effort in 1936 succeeded. He quickly established himself as a supporter of the New Deal working exhaustively for rural electrification and rural telephone service during the 1930s and 1940s. Poage's tenure coincided with the rise to power of many fellow Texans, including Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn. Along with most other Texas congressmen, Poage opposed the efforts of the Dixiecrates in the late 1940s and remained loyal to the Truman administration.

    Poage's increasing political stature led to his being suggested as a candidate to succeed Senator Tom Connally in 1952. Instead, Poage remained in the House building up power and influence through seniority. Despite the defections of many prominent Texas Democrats to the camp of Republican Dwight Eisenhower, Poage steadfastly supported the Democratic ticket, advising Adlai Stevenson's campaign on farm issues and Texas politics in 1952 and 1956.

    With the election of John Kennedy to the presidency in 1960, Poage was the favorite of influential Texans in Washington, as well as southern Democrats, to become the Kennedy administration's Secretary of Agriculture. However, Poage bowed out of consideration. In 1967, following the election defeat of Rep. Harold Cooley of North Carolina, Poage became chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, holding that position until 1974. Poage's agricultural expertise and safe Democratic district allowed him to become one of the party's traveling campaign speakers in farm state congressional campaigns throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

    Serving in the House for 42 years, Poage naturally accumulated a mass of materials about a variety of subjects. While most of these files date from 1951 to 1978, some material are from the 1940s and even a few are from the late 1930s when Poage first went to Washington. This series is subdivided into six subseries:

    1. Agriculture
    2. Congressional Committees
    3. Bills sponsored by Poage
    4. Legislation, subject file
    5. Constituent correspondence
    6. House Administration

    There are also some early materials related to Poage's Congressional years in the Supplemental Materials.

    A. Agriculture, 1937-1978, 128 lin. ft.

    Because of Congressman Poage's long association with the House Committee on Agriculture, a large volume of materials are naturally devoted to the work of this committee. This information is divided into eight sub-sections. The first is really extraneous material related to two Texas specific items : Guayule and Texas tidelands. The next five sections deal with agricultural legislation in the 89th through the 93rd congresses. The next section deal specifically with the Committee on Agriculture and the last section is a subject treatment of agriculture legislation.

    1. Legislation related to Texas, 1941-53, [bk 1930-53], 2.5 lin. ft.
    During World War II, there was an increased need for alternative sources of rubber. Poage's interest in this is shown in these files on the Guayule plant. While one file is dated 1930, the remainder of the files, three boxes, date from 1941 to 1946. When the war was over, interest waned.

    Another topic of interest to Poage was the controversy surrounding the Texas tidelands. Under President Truman, the income from minerals, notably oil, was assigned to the Federal Government. Not until Eisenhower became president was this policy reversed. The files cover this period from 1948 to 1953.

    2-6. Legislation: 89th-93rd Congresses, 1965-78, 71 lin. ft.
    Each of these five legislative sections begins with a Finder File which contains carbon copies of replies to correspondence. The rest of the files in each section are arranged alphabetically by topic beginning with Agriculture Committee. Other topics covered include conservation, cotton, crackpot letters, dairy, farm programs, Food for Peace, forests, livestock, peanuts, potatoes, poultry, rice, REA, soybeans, sugar, tobacco, watershed projects, wheat and wool. The 89th Congress files also contain a number of materials related to Harold D. Cooley whose defeat in the 1965 election led to Poage's becoming chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

    7. Legislation : Agriculture Committee, 1941-1978, 7.5 lin. ft.
    Poage became a member of the House Committee on Agriculture in 1941, serving continuously until his retirement in 1978. These files contain only a small of material from the 1940, there are files for every year from 1949 to 1978. The topics covered are general in nature dealing with the operation of the committee rather than with specific legislation as in the earlier files. Subjects such as committee organization, personnel, news releases, staff payroll, and trips are found in chronological order.

    8. Legislation : Agriculture, by Subject, 1951-1978, 45 lin. ft.
    These files are in alphabetical order, then chronological within each topic. They deal with a variety of legislation handled by the Agriculture Committee from about 1951 to 1978 such as the Animal Human Act, cattle, conservation, cotton, dairy and poultry, farm programs, migrant labor, livestock and grain, oleomargarine, peanuts, pesticides, sugar, wheat, and wool. Files from some subcommittees are also included here : Conservation and Credit, Domestic Marketing and Consumer Relations, Family Farm, Forests, Farm Labor, Livestock and Feed Grains, and Oilseeds and Rice.
    B. Congressional Committees, 1951-1978, 87 lin. ft.

    When Poage first went to Washington, he was assigned to four committees : Census, Immigration and Naturalization, War Claims and Claims. Two years later in addition to these four, he was added to Flood Control and the District committees. However, in 1941 when he was assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture, the assignment he had originally wanted, Poage did not serve on any other committees during his remaining 38 years in the House.

    Unfortunately, there are no records remaining from these early committee assignments. The following files from twenty four committees reflect Poage's interest in keeping materials sent to him from other committees as they related to his service as a congressman outside the Agriculture Committee. There are generally from 1951 to 1978. Each committee's files are in chronological order.

    1. Appropriations, 1952-1978
    2. Armed Services, 1951-1978
    3. Banking and Currency, 1942-1978
    4. Budget, 19521978
    5. Defense, 19511959
    6. District of Columbia, 1956-1978
    7. Education and Labor, 1951-1978
    8. Foreign Affairs, 1951-1978
    9. General, 1951-1978
    10. Government Operations, 1956-1978
    11. House Administration, 1959-1978
    12. Interior and Insular Affairs, 1951-1978
    13. Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 1951-1978
    14. Judiciary Committee, 1951-1978
    15. Merchant Marine and Fisheries, 1956-1978
    16. Post Office and Civil Service, 1951-1978
    17. Public Works and Public Transportation, 1955-1978
    18. Rules Committee, 1957-1978
    19. Science and Aeronautics, 1961-1978
    20. Standards of Official Conduct, 19371977
    21. Veterans Affairs, 1951-1978
    22. Ways and Means, 1951-1978
    23. Special Committees, 1966-1978
    C. Bills Sponsored by Poage, 1937-1978, 22 lin. ft.

    Beginning with his first term as a congressman, Poage sponsored/cosponsored many pieces of legislation. The first part of these files provide correspondence in chronological order concerning a number of these bills. Following this, there are copies of all the bills Poage sponsored from 1937 to 1978.

    Major legislation passed while Poage was a member of Congress includes the following:

    • Rural Telephone Service Act, 1949
    • Watershed Protection & Flood Prevention, 1954
    • Food for Peace Act, 1954
    • Humane Slaughter Act, 1958
    • Great Plains Conservation Act, 1960
    • Poage-Aiken Rural Water & Sewer Act, 1965
    • Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, 1966
    • Agricultural Act of 1970
    • Food Stamp Act Amendments, 1970
    • Farm Credit Act of 1971
    • Rural Telephone Bank Act, 1972
    • Rural Development Act, 1972
    • Environmental Pesticide Act, 1972
    • Agriculture and Consumer Protection, 1973
    • Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 1974
    • Food and Agriculture Act of 1977
    D. Legislation, subject file, 1978, 13 lin. ft.

    The last year Poage served in the House, 1978, his staff maintained a legislative subject file . A wide variety of bills are covered from abortion to women's rights and everything in between including aging, agriculture, anti-vivisection, aviation, business, crime, drug abuse, energy, environment, and foreign policy. Some of these topics offer a sharp contrast to Poage's first Congress in 1937. At the end of this section are the files of the Agriculture Committee Administration Assistant, John Baise, for 1978.

    E. Constituent Correspondence, 1958-1978, 130 lin. ft.
    1. Publication Requests 1958-1978
    A major portion of any congressman's mail is letters from constituents. Poage was no exception and was careful to make sure each letter received a timely reply. Many wrote only to request a publication. Poage distributed numerous agriculture related publications and agriculture yearbooks.
    2. Position Recommendations 1946-1978 and
    3. Post Office Position Recommendations 1937-1971
    Others wrote requesting recommendations for positions, especially as the local post master. These post office position recommendation files are further divided into urban and rural post offices. Recommendations are requested for post offices in 123 towns and 67 rural routes.
    F. House Administration, 1970-1978, 17 linear feet

    The day-to-day operations of the U.S. House are documented in this section which covers only Poage's last four terms of service. Dear Colleague letters encouraged Poage to co-sponsor specific legislation. The Legislative Calendar, Whip Advisory, and Doorkeeper Schedules all serve to show how the House conducted business during this period.

    • General, 1970-1978
    • Dear Colleague letters, 1971-1978
    • Legislative Calendar, 1971-1980
    • Whip Advisory, 1971-1978
    • Doorkeeper Schedules, 1971-1977