Marvin Leath papers: An Important Link in Successive Waco Congressional Representation

This blog post was written by Amanda Fisher, Processing Archivist.

At the W. R. Poage Legislative Library, we are proud of the fact that we have continuous documentation of Congressional representation of Waco and the surrounding areas from 1937-2011. Once in the 11th Congressional District of Texas, and now the 17th District after redistricting in 2005, Waco and the surrounding area was represented by W. R. Poage from 1937-1978, Marvin Leath from 1979-1991, and Chet Edwards from 1991-2011. The Poage Library is the repository for these three men’s papers, and we are excited to announce the opening of the Marvin Leath papers.

After inventory work begun by History graduate student Scott Anderson in 2016, History graduate student Jake Hiserman took over processing the Marvin Leath papers in 2017. The finding aid, written by Jake, is now available for research use in the Baylor Archival Repositories Database (BARD). The collection is approximately 222 linear feet, or 431 document boxes and 36 oversized boxes. It contains materials that document Leath’s US House of Representatives career, including administrative materials, constituent correspondence, and agencies, departments, boards, and commissions files. There is a small subseries of executive files that contains correspondence between Leath and Ronald Reagan on Reagan’s economic plans. Legislative files make up the bulk of the collection and cover legislative topics, legislation authored by Leath, and bills from the 96th-101st Congresses. The collection also holds Leath’s newsletters, radio tapes, press releases, trip materials, voting records, awards, and photographs.

Leath served as a Southern or “Boll Weevil” Democrat, thus was ideologically aligned with Republican representatives regarding fiscal matters. He supported free market policies, spending cuts, and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. He also supported peace through strength and increased defense spending and nuclear armament. Leath was heavily involved in the U.S. Army installation of Fort Hood in his district, including the lobby to keep the TCATA program there. The visitors center at Fort Hood is named in his honor.
Leath’s committee assignments were the Armed Services and the Public Works and Transportation Committees. He chaired the House Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Budget Committee.

We are excited that the processing of the Leath papers is complete and provides easier research access to the collection. We are also grateful to Jake for his hard work in this endeavor!

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