Political Collections and Conventions

Political collections are often very large, particularly when they come from politicians who spent numerous years in office. Yet, within these collections is a rich array of material that researchers use to understand the process in which political decisions were made. Collections which retain constituent mail reveal even more about the sentiment of Americans, provide a sense of ideological change or tradition, and serve as indication of pressure placed on the politician to accurately represent his/her district .

The Archives of Appalachia is home to several political collections. Our biggest political collections include those of B. Carroll Reece, William L. Jenkins, and James H. Quillen. All three were Republicans who served in the House of Representatives for the state of Tennessee.

However, we have several other collections regarding local politics. To name a few, these collections include the Alfred Alexander Taylor Family Papers, 1815-1950, the Blaine Taylor Papers, 1896-1935, and the William Henley Nelson Family Papers, 1861-1990. These “family papers” include correspondence and campaign memorabilia from family members who ran for political office.

Next week is the start of a two week period in which the Republicans and Democrats will officially announce their candidates for the 2012 U.S. presidential election. So, we dug out a couple of programs from past conventions.

The first program is found in the Cox-Painter-Adams collection. Judge Cox’s secretary, Carrie M. Pace, was heavily involved in politics and the mementos she saved from the 1930s and 1940s were donated with the collection. Here is a sample of the Democratic National Convention program from 1936. (Note: The Democratic candidate in 1936 was Franklin D. Roosevelt.)

Click the images to enlarge:

The second sample is a selection of pages from the 1948 Republican National Convention and is from the B. Carroll Reece Papers. Not only was Reece a congressman from Tennessee, but he also served as a delegate at the Republican National Conventions between 1928-1940 and 1948. He was also Chairman for the Republican National Committee from 1946-1948.  (Note: The Republican candidate in 1948 was Thomas E. Dewey who ran and lost to incumbent President Harry Truman.)

As you can see, the programs include a variety of information, such as the history of America and/or the political party, advertisements from corporate donors, and party platforms. Also included in the programs are listings of political candidates, items of interest for the delegates while in Philadelphia, and political biographies.


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