Page H. Belcher Collection

1951-1972

182 cubic feet

portrait of Page Belcher

Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection

Page Henry Belcher was born in Jefferson, Grant County, Oklahoma, on April 21, 1899. Educated in the public schools of Jefferson and Medford, he later studied at Friends University in nearby Wichita, Kansas, as well as at the University of Oklahoma. After military service in World War I, Belcher returned to the state university, where he studied law. Admitted to the bar in 1936, he began a legal practice in Enid.

The portion of Oklahoma that included both Jefferson and the city of Enid lay in Oklahoma's old Eighth District, one of the few dependably Republican areas for most of the state's history. Drawing the bulk of its earliest settlers from Kansas and other midwestern areas, it had been faithfully Republican right up until 1932, when Ernest Whitworth Marland captured the congressional seat as part of Franklin Roosevelt's landslide. It was 1940 before the district elected another Republican when Ross Rizley won the seat. Belcher originally went to Washington with Rizley, as the congressman's secretary. Belcher's own role in elective politics had begun in 1934, when he had been elected county clerk of Garfield County. He subsequently had served on the Enid Board of Education. In addition, Belcher had headed the Republican Party at both the congressional district and the state levels. In 1948, Representative Rizley gave up his House seat in favor of a promising bid for the United States Senate. Harry Truman's stunning upset probably helped Democrat Robert S. Kerr defeat Rizley in the general election. George Howard Wilson was certainly indebted to Truman. Wilson's surprising victory over Milton Garber, Jr., briefly returned the Eighth District seat to the Democrats. Wilson was to serve a single term, for Belcher defeated him in 1950.

Sizable population losses that were recorded in the 1950 census cost the state two of its House seats. The Democratic legislature eased the burden upon the majority party by combining the Eighth with the First District, thereby forcing a contest between the state's only two Republican representatives, Belcher and George B. Schwabe. Belcher was the victor in 1952, and he continued to win until announcing his retirement in 1972. The lone Republican in the state delegation for most of that time, Belcher steadily rose on the House Agriculture Committee to become its ranking minority member.

Following retirement, Belcher resided in Midwest City, where he died on August 2, 1980.

Scope and Content Note

The Page Belcher Collection consists of 182 cubic feet of material. The bulk of the collection is organized by Congress, with files within each legislative session arranged in alphabetical order by topics. Although legislative, departmental, and general material is found together, the folder title reflects the type of material found within each. Often, folders with general information simply list the topic without the qualifying label of "general."

Materials on a wide range of topics can be found in these congressional files. The more prominent ones include agricultural legislation, wheat, meat inspection legislation, federal aid to education, tax legislation, social security amendments, civil rights, school prayer, oil legislation, the Vietnam War, the Republican Party (both national and Oklahoma), Oklahoma state government and politics, soil conservation, the Farmers Home Administration, and rural electrification.

A group of special series complete the collection. Among these are Water Projects (arranged by river basin), Post Office, and Belcher Bills (arranged by committee). The Water Project Files contain materials on the legislation and construction of dams and reservoirs primarily in the Arkansas River Basin but also, to a lesser extent, in the Red River Basin. There are also 56 maps in the collection.

Belcher gave his papers to the University of Oklahoma in 1972-1973.

Access to this collection is particularly enhanced by a folder-level inventory that describes topically the content of each file. In addition, researchers will want to check the Page H. Belcher Photograph Collection. For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the Carl Albert Center.


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