My Experiences Processing Bob Poage’s Personal Papers

This blog post was written by Ricky Shull, a master’s student in the Journalism Department.

Hello there! I am Ricky Shull, a second-year graduate student in Baylor’s Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media, and I plan to enter the world of corporate communication or public relations when I graduate in the spring. While being an archival assistant at Poage Library might be a little unexpected for a journalism student, I have had a great time so far and have had the opportunity to learn a very interesting perspective on Waco’s history and several aspects of government.

Photograph of Bob Poage smiling
Bob Poage at his house during his retirement announcement, September 1977

During my first year as a Poage graduate assistant, I processed the W. R. Poage Personal papers. This project had me inventory the collection, process the materials, and create a finding aid. If you are reading this post, chances are that you know who Bob Poage is. If not, let me explain briefly. W. R. “Bob” Poage was a Waco native, Baylor alumnus, lawyer, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was a member of Congress for 42 years, and before that, he served in the Texas Senate and House. Bob Poage also practiced law in Waco and taught at Baylor briefly. He was a staunch defender of agriculture and much of the policy he introduced reflected his care for rural America.

Photo of travel pamphlets to Spain
Pamphlets from Spain (found in the Travel series)

The items in this collection are diverse and reflect unique aspects of Poage’s life and career, the history of Waco, and even the world at large. Poage was a member of the House Committee on Agriculture and a delegate to the Interparliamentary Union – two positions that allowed him to travel the world. He collected postcards, brochures, and many other items from his travels, and you can find beautiful images and fascinating souvenirs from Antarctica, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the U. S. National Parks, Paris and so many more parts of the world. This collection also includes a series of photographs, a series of speeches, and a series of law practice correspondence. Bring it all together, and you have a unique snapshot on life of Waco and Washington, D.C. in the mid-twentieth century.

The Biographical Materials series of the collection was perhaps the most interesting of all. From his birth in 1899 to his death in 1987, I was introduced to almost every part of his life through this project. Childhood letters, Baylor Law notebooks, letters from family and friends, photo and newspaper scrapbooks, and legal documents all painted a unique and comprehensive look at the personal life of “Mr. Agriculture.”

This archival project was a great experience that allowed me to branch out a bit from my studies, while also sharpening project management skills that can be useful in many ways. If you like learning about new things, are interested in the inner workings of government, and thrive in process-driven work, then a job at Poage would be a great opportunity!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top