Baylor's Poage Legislative Library to Commemorate 30th Anniversary During National Archives Week

Oct. 14, 2009

Oct. 15 open house highlights new exhibit, celebrates historic library holdings

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Baylor University will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the W.R. Poage Legislative Library with an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, during National Archives Week. The open house will highlight a new exhibit in the W.R. Poage Exhibit Gallery: "Remembering and Honoring: Poage Library at 30." The exhibit will run through fall 2009.

A native of Waco, W.R. "Bob" Poage (1899-1987) received his bachelor's and law degrees from Baylor. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1924, served as a State Senator from 1931-1937 and was elected as a U.S. Representative in 1936. He served as the 11th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. Congress for 42 years and helped shape the future of Central Texas. Poage was known as "Mr. Agriculture," and the entire agriculture complexion of the nation reflected his influence and leadership as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 1967-74.

When the library was dedicated in 1979, it was the only congressional library associated with an institution of higher education that honored an individual for his service wholly in the U.S. House of Representatives. This unique status has not changed in 30 years, said Ben Rogers, director of the Baylor Collections of Political Materials. The construction of the library was a joint project of Baylor, the Poage Library Project Board and the Baylor/Waco Foundation. Board members included W.W. Callan, Roane Lacy, 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, who serves as the chair of The Standing Committee.

The library houses the papers of 11 former U.S. Congressmen, eight Texas legislators, the late Texas Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and five judges, as well as several ancillary collections. In addition to Poage, other Texas Congressmen whose collections are in the archive include John V. Dowdy Sr., O.C. Fisher, Ed Lee Gossett, Sam B. Hall Jr., Jack Hightower, Marvin Leath, 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, a major addition to the library, was opened to researchers in 2004.

Ancillary papers include editorial cartoons, campaign materials and buttons, USDA maps, JFK research materials and Project 9-11. Approximately 20,500 volumes are in the book collection. In addition to the various collections, the W.R. Poage Exhibit Gallery features items from Poage's home office, as well as rotating exhibits. The library also houses the John and JD Dowdy Digital Lab and the Jack Hightower Book Vault.

The 30th Anniversary Open House on Oct. 15 is open to the public, and refreshments will be served. More information on the Poage Library and the anniversary celebration is available at

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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