Fowler C. West, the Legislative Library, and Our Anniversary

This year marks the 37th anniversary of the W. R. Poage Legislative Library. In the time since its founding, our library has continually reinvented itself. What began as a repository for “Bob” Poage’s papers and the headquarters of Baylor’s Graduate School has grown into a nationally renowned legislative center encompassing Congressional collections, state and local leaders, judicial appointees and members of the bar, political parties, and other related collections. This year, we returned to our roots in the Graduate School by opening the Graduate Research Center, a space dedicated to supporting our university’s 2,600 graduate students.

Fowler C. West and Congressman W.R. "Bob" Poage.
Fowler C. West and Congressman W.R. “Bob” Poage.

Fowler West, the former staff director of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture and an alumnus of Baylor University, has been instrumental in this ongoing transformation. During the library’s initial fundraising, West coordinated the campaign among Poage’s friends nationwide and assisted Frank Mayborn, the Financial Chairman of the project’s steering committee. Today, West co-chairs the library’s standing committee with Skip Dowdy, another Baylor alum and son of former Congressman John Dowdy, serving as the library’s ambassadors.

In his memoirs, West writes fondly about the library that he helped found:

“Coming to the Poage Library is exciting for me because of the many things happening there daily. It is also exciting for the many memories the Library ignites for me. I was fortunate to be a part of much of what constitutes the Poage Library, and I will always cherish those years.

At the Library, I strongly feel Mr. Poage’s presence. I recall my friendship with his successor in office, Marvin Leath … Marvin’s papers are here. I remember the great friendship Mr. Poage shared with the late Clark Fisher, whose papers are here. I remember the late John Dowdy … his papers are also here.

The dedication of the W.R. Poage Legislative Library on September 21, 1979.
The dedication of the W.R. Poage Legislative Library on September 21, 1979.

My friends, the Poage Library is alive. It is alive because of our devotion to the wonderful and unique public servants whose papers tell us so much about history and the future. The Library lives because of our contributions and volunteer service.”

Today, we thank Fowler West, Frank Mayborn, and the numerous others who have taken our amazing library from dream to reality. Without their efforts, none of the work we do would be possible. Because of their dedication, W.R. Poage’s legacy lives on in a library that has become, as he put it, “a living institution with continuous additions” and will be celebrated for generations to come.

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