Jim Barker Collection


35 cubic feet

portrait of Jim Barker

Jim Barker Collection Box List

Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection

Jim Barker was the longest-serving Speaker of the Oklahoma House, being elected to an unprecedented four terms. 

Barker was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma on June 20, 1935.  He graduated from the Oklahoma Military Academy and went on to earn a degree in business administration from Northeastern Oklahoma State University in 1957.  From 1957 to 1959 Barker served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division, commanding a tank battalion.   Following his military service Barker founded Muskogee Restaurant Supply and was president of that company throughout his career in politics.  He was married to the former Kay Tucker, and had two children, Janet and Brad.

Barker was first elected to one term in the Oklahoma House in 1968, and was later elected for seven more terms, from 1977 to 1990. He served District 13, which covers Muskogee and parts of Muskogee County.  As a member of the House, Barker had a seat on the Appropriations and Budget Committee and was vice-chairman for four years.  He also served on the joint House-Senate General Conference Committee on Appropriations.   

In 1983 Barker was elected as Speaker of the House after a federal felony conviction forced the previous Speaker, Dan Draper, to leave office. His tenure as Speaker coincided with a difficult period in Oklahoma history as energy prices collapsed, state revenues were in shortage, and the Democratic legislature was often at odds with the Republican governor, Henry Bellmon.  It was a period marked by efforts toward government reform, tax increases, revenue restructuring, and economic development.   Despite these challenges, Barker was generally regarded by Democrats and Republicans alike to be a strong and effective leader.

On May 17, 1989, Democratic members of the House voted for Barker’s removal as Speaker, citing a need for a change in leadership and policies to match the changing times, as well as disapproval of Barker’s majority floor leader, Guy Davis.  Barker’s composure during the ouster proceedings and the personal respect he had achieved among his colleagues earned him a standing ovation as he left the House chamber that day.  Barker served the remainder of his term but declined to run for reelection in 1990.  After leaving the House, Barker moved to Edmond, Oklahoma and became a lobbyist, representing banks, the insurance industry, and advocates against domestic violence.  Barker died of a stroke on April 25, 2005, at the age of 69.


Scope and Content of the Collection

This collection is composed of the following series: legislative, departmental, general, press, speeches, campaign, office, invitations, and correspondence.  In addition to these papers, there are photographs, maps, and a small audiovisual collection.

Series 1: Legislative, 1977-1990 (20 cubic feet)

This series contains correspondence from constituents, staffers, members of the state legislature, state agency personnel, and governors concerning legislation and issues.  Also present are government publications, bill texts, memos, clippings, and background information.  Material is arranged alphabetically by topic.

Topics especially well-represented in this series include budget and appropriations, education, education funding, House business and administration, taxes, and ad valorem reform.  Other topics with significant material are alcohol laws, banking and securities, crime and the criminal justice system, economic development, energy, health care, member files, state employees, and workers’ compensation.

Go to Legislative Series

Series 2: Departmental, 1977-1990 (4.5 cubic feet)

The Departmental Series contains documents from state agencies arranged by the title of the agency.  The files contain correspondence, reports, memos, and official publications.  Departments with a large volume of material include Attorney General, Corrections, Human Services, Mental Health, Regents for Higher Education, Tax Commission, and Transportation.

Go to Departmental Series

Series 3: General, 1977-1990 (4 cubic feet)

These files contain topical material about a variety of subjects and are arranged alphabetically.  Material consists mainly of correspondence, clippings, and publications.  Many of the files concern events and institutions in and around Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Go to General Series

Series 4, 5, 6: Press, Speeches, and Campaign, 1977-1990 (2 cubic feet)

The Press Series consists of press conferences and press releases issued by Barker and press releases issued by the governor's office. The Speech Series contains transcripts of speeches written or delivered by Barker and is arranged chronologically. The Campaign Series includes files on Barker's campaigns for office, contributors to Barker, Barker's contributions to other candidates, expenditures, and literature from or about other candidates.

Go to Press, Speeches, and Campaign Series

Series 7, 8, 9: Office, Invitations, and Correspondence, 1977-1990 (4.5 cubic feet)

The Office Series is arranged alphabetically and contains material on the administration of Barker’s House and Speaker’s offices, including files on constituent contact, calendars, notes and tasks, and events such as the annual Speaker’s Ball.  The Invitations Series contains invitations Barker received between 1977 and 1989, and the Correspondence Series contains letters of a personal or general nature received from friends, colleagues, and constituents.  Barker received a large volume of correspondence following a heart attack, hospitalization for an angioplasty, the death of his father, and elections to and ouster from the Speakership.  The Invitation and Correspondence Series are arranged chronologically.

Go to Office, Invitations, and Correspondence Series

Photographs, Maps and Audiovisual Materials

There are nearly three hundred photographs in this collection, a small number of audio and visual recordings, and a few maps.

Go to Photograph Inventory
Go to Audiovisual Inventory
Go to Map Inventory

Jim Barker Collection Box List

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