Lyle H. Boren Collection


53 cubic feet

portrait of Lyle Boren

Inventory to the
Lyle H. Boren Collection, 1885-1949
Carl Albert Center, University of Oklahoma

Table of Contents

Collection Summary

Information for Researchers

Preferred Citation Form

Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection

Scope and Content of the Collection

Index Terms

Detailed Description of the Collection

Collection Summary

Repository: Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, University of Oklahoma, 630 Parrington Oval, Room 101, Norman, OK 73019 USA.
Additional contact information.
Creator: Lyle Hagler Boren (1910-1992)
Title: Papers
Quantity: 47.83 cubic feet plus 9 oversized boxes and a number of maps
Abstract: This collection documents Lyle Boren's congressional career, but it also contains materials on his family, personal, and business affairs. Documents include correspondence, photographs, financial records, clippings, greeting cards, invitations, publications, speeches, drafts, galleys, and legislation. Most of the collection is constituent correspondence on legislation, New Deal projects in Oklahoma, and World War II.
Identification: okuwborenl

Information for Researchers

There are no restrictions on accessing this collection.

Preferred Citation Form

Item (include dates if they exist), Folder Number, Box Number, Lyle H. Boren Collection, Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, University of Oklahoma.

Example: Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyle H. Boren, November 11, 1943, Folder 9, Box 42, Lyle H. Boren Collection, Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, University of Oklahoma.

Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection

"The greatest problem in America today is to erase the question in the minds of men, 'What is the government going to do for me?' and replace it with the question, 'What can I do for my country.'" This was said in 1938 by Lyle Hagler Boren, a representative from Oklahoma's Fourth District to the U. S. Congress. Twenty-three years later, President John F. Kennedy burned similar words into the minds of Americans.

Lyle Boren was born May 11, 1910, in Ellis County, Texas. Due to heart problems early in his life, he had to remain relatively inactive until he started school at age seven. He learned quickly, though, and soon caught up with the other children. In 1917 the Boren family moved to Lawton, Oklahoma. Everyone in the large Boren family (nine children in all) had to work to help support the family; Lyle picked cotton and sold newspapers. In 1927, after a brief return to Texas, the family moved to a farm near Choctaw, Oklahoma, in time for Boren to graduate from high school.

Lyle Boren attended college at East Central State College in Ada, Oklahoma. Supporting himself by working as an assistant librarian, tax assessor, and book reviewer, he graduated in 1930 with a B.A. in history and government. He started professional life as a teacher but quickly, by age twenty, became a principal in Seminole County. In 1938 Oklahoma A. and M. College conferred on him a master of arts degree.

Times were hard in Oklahoma during the early 1930s; depression and drought made life a constant struggle for a vast number of its residents. Boren, wanting to become more involved in helping his state, decided to run for Congress in 1934. Having been involved in the Democratic Party as a student, he was familiar with politics and the challenge of government. The problem he had was his age. He was twenty-four, and the U.S. Constitution states that members of the House of Representatives must be at least twenty-five. Since he did not have a birth certificate to prove otherwise, he entered his birth year as 1909. He did not win that year, but he did when he ran again in 1936, this time being truly old enough to hold office. Appearances made it impossible to change his birth year of record, and in many biographical sources it remains 1909.

His first years in Congress were extremely busy. Two high points of his first term were the beginning of his long friendship with Speaker Sam Rayburn and his placement on the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. During World War II, he chaired this committee's Subcommittee on Newsprint and Brand Names.

Among Boren's legislative efforts were cancer research, old-age pensions, the Civil Aeronautics Board, newsprint and paper shortages, consumer product labeling, railroad freight rates, labor strikes, and municipal bonds. Among the issues confronting him during his first year in office was the proposed reorganization of the U.S. Supreme Court, a plan he favored. He generally supported Franklin D. Roosevelt but not all of the president's programs. He attracted national attention for his extreme criticism of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Calling it a "dirty, lying, filthy manuscript," the congressman believed that the book was an insult to farmers and was created by a "twisted, distorted mind." He also lobbied to keep Congressman Vito Marcantonio from getting committee assignments on the grounds that the member of the American Labor Party was too radical. Before Pearl Harbor, Boren opposed American intervention in World War II, believing that war did more harm than good and that the United States did not belong in foreign quarrels. After the attack, he wanted to leave Congress to join the military. Sam Rayburn convinced him to keep his congressional seat. During the war, the congressman voiced opposition to rationing strictures and price controls issued by the Office of Price Administration.

Lyle Boren served in the House of Representatives for five terms. During his campaign for the 1946 primary, several issues proved to be his undoing. That year veterans had great advantages running against incumbents, and Boren received criticism for not joining the armed forces during the war. Another trouble spot was the congressman's relationship with labor. He had strongly opposed wartime strikes and tried to outlaw them. He also had supported the suspension of a limit on the numbers of hours a person could work per day. Finally, he had tried to make it illegal for non-citizens to serve as union officials. In the 1946 campaign, organized labor organized against Boren. He lost his race in the primary to Glen D. Johnson, a youthful war veteran from Okemah.

Boren tried and failed to regain his seat in 1948. He returned to his old district with his wife Christine and children Susan and David, the latter a future Oklahoma governor, U.S. senator, and University of Oklahoma president. Lyle Boren became a cattle rancher and a founding member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. In 1957 he became a lobbyist for the railroads. He retired in 1969 and continued his ranching in Oklahoma. He died in Oklahoma City on July 2, 1992.

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Boren Collection comprises more than forty-eight cubic feet of papers dating 1885-1949, although the overwhelming majority date from 1933 to 1947. Most of the documents were created in or maintained by Boren's congressional offices (Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma), although items in the Personal and Family Files may have been kept at the congressman's home. Over the years a number of secretaries and assistants maintained the files, and the names of these people appear in the Office Files series. Boren donated the initial part of the collection to the University of Oklahoma in 1949, with additional accretions occurring through the 1970s.

The collection contains a wide variety of documents. Included are correspondence, telegrams, legislation, publications, brochures, flyers, speeches, press releases, newspaper clippings, campaign literature, lists, financial records, mimeograph and photostat copies, appointment and scheduling materials, office memos, phone messages, and notes. Well over half of the documents in the collection are constituent correspondence for the years Boren served in Congress (1937-1947). A number of other people also corresponded with the congressman, and the names of the more prominent and prolific appear in the series descriptions.

The collection also covers a wide range of subjects for the later part of the Great Depression and the entirety of World War II. Some of the broad topics include agriculture, armed services, Native Americans, newsprint supply, organized labor, politics (national and Oklahoma), price controls, railroads, rationing, stocks and bonds, strikes, and taxes. Some of Boren's legislative efforts are well documented; others are not. There are a substantial number of files on New Deal programs in Oklahoma, including the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the National Youth Administration (NYA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the terms listed below in the online catalog to the University of Oklahoma Libraries ( Additional indexing exists in a small online catalog that is only accessible at the Carl Albert Center.

Personal Names

Axton, Mae Boren.
Boren, Lyle Hagler, 1910-1992.
Boren, David, 1941-
Disney, Wesley Ernest, 1883-
Farley, James Aloysius, 1888-
Ferris, Scott, 1877-1945.
Finley, Ira Monroe, 1886-1981.
Gassaway, Percy L., 1885-1937.
Gaylord, Edward King, 1873-
Hopkins, Harry Lloyd, 1890-1946.
Pearson, Drew, 1897-1969.
Bassett, Mabel.
Key, William S.
Van Noy, George.

Corporate Names

Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.).
Democratic Party (Okla.).
United States--Farm Security Administration.
United States--National Youth Administration.
United States--Office of Price Administration.
United States--Works Progress Administration.
Veterans of Industry of America.


Depressions, 1929--Oklahoma.
Indians of North America--Oklahoma.
Labels-Law and legislation.
Labor unions.
New Deal, 1933-1939.
Political campaigns.
Price regulation.
Public works.
Rationing--United States.
Securities--United States.
Strikes and lockouts--United States.
Taxation--Public opinion--United States.
World War, 1939-1945--United States.
Oklahoma-Politics and government.
United States-Politics and government-1933-1945.

Detailed Description of the Collection

The Lyle Boren Collection is divided into eight major components called series. Each series is described in detail below.

Series 1: Personal and Family Files, 1885-1949 (bulk: 1934-1949), 3 cubic feet.

This series contains primarily correspondence between Boren and his family, friends and political colleagues. The majority of the items are arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent. Included are letters to and from his sister, the songwriter Mae Boren Axton, and his wife, Christine Boren. A few items on David L. Boren are also scattered throughout this series. Materials filed under Lyle Boren's name include biographical information and documents on his proposed resignation from Congress to enlist in the military after the Pearl Harbor attack. Rather than Boren correspondence, the first folder in the series instead contains letters from Mary J. Swafford and Judith Mackey and dated 1885-1908. The last folders in the series include materials on Boren's personal finances and his business dealings, the Oklahoma Democrats Fraternity, his fabric-content labeling book Fables in Labels (source material, drafts, galley proofs), his other writings (including poetry), and miscellaneous items. Similar correspondence exists in the Alphabetical Correspondence.

Go to Folder List

Series 2: Subject Files, 1935-1946, 10.75 cubic feet.

Contained in this series are correspondence, telegrams, legislation, publications, brochures, flyers, and newspaper clippings. Arrangement is alphabetical by topic, and a large number of subjects on the Great Depression and World War II eras are covered. This series holds a large amount of correspondence with or information about national and Oklahoma political and business leaders. Materials on the same topics as in this series can also be found in the Information Files, Legislative Files, and the Alphabetical Correspondence.

There are several topics that comprise more than one folder of material. These include the following: agriculture, New Deal agencies (especially operations in Oklahoma), aviation, Boy Scouts, broadcasting, China, anticommunism, Congress, Democratic Party politics (national and Oklahoma), the military draft, the economy, education, Great Britain, health care, Native Americans, Japan, Jews and Israel, labor, Boren's congressional subcommittee, wartime regulations, the oil industry, stocks and bonds, taxes, and water projects. Several folders labeled "War" contain information on constituent opinion about U.S. entry into World War II, defense projects in Oklahoma, and demobilization at the end of the war.

An entire 1.5 cubic feet of this series concern the WPA, especially its operation in Oklahoma. There are a number of files on administration, construction projects, and women's work. Correspondence in these files include Harry Hopkins, W. S. Key, George Van Noy, and Ira Finley.

Go to Folder List

Series 3: Campaign Files, 1934-1946 (bulk: 1936-1946), 1 cubic foot.

This series contains materials on seven of Boren's campaigns for the U.S. Congress. Included are correspondence, telegrams, campaign literature, lists, financial records, and newspaper clippings. Arrangement is by date. The first folder holds small political memorabilia. Unfortunately, little of the campaign literature remains, and there is nothing here on the 1948 race. Correspondents include Mabel Bassett, Wesley Disney, James Farley, Scott Ferris, E. K. Gaylord, P. L. Gassaway, and Drew Pearson. There are a few materials from the campaigns of some of Boren's opponents.

Go to Folder List

Series 4: Information Files, 1925-1946 (bulk: 1936-1946), 2.5 cubic feet.

Contained in this series are publications, mimeograph and photostat copies, brochures and flyers, other widely distributed materials, and newspaper clippings, probably obtained by Boren and his staff for reference or research purposes. There is a small amount of correspondence. Materials are arranged alphabetically by topic, except for the War Department materials, which have been filed first because of space considerations. Approximately one-half of this series are lists from the War and Navy Departments that indicate World War II casualties from Oklahoma, people missing in action, and prisoners of war. In addition to the war, other prominent topics include agriculture, business, Native Americans, the Office of Price Administration, petroleum, investment securities, unemployment, and water projects. Materials on the same topics found in this series can also be located in the Subject and Legislative Files and the Alphabetical Correspondence.

Go to Folder List

Series 5: Office Files, 1934-1946 (bulk: 1936-1946), 1.25 cubic feet.

This series contains administrative files from Boren's congressional offices. They are arranged alphabetically by folder title. Included are appointment and scheduling materials, speeches, office memos, phone messages, financial records, letter drafts, notes, brochures, and correspondence. There are nine folders of correspondence to and from Boren's staff members, including Margaret Eakin and W. Rudolph Black. Other correspondents include members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation and the Oklahoma Democrats Fraternity.

Go to Folder List

Series 6: Legislative Files, 1896-1946 (bulk: 1933-1946), 6 cubic feet.

Contained in this series are correspondence, telegrams, legislation, clippings, brochures, and flyers. Covered here are a wide variety of topics mainly concerning legislation and government policy. There are multiple folders on the following: agriculture, flood control, aviation, banking and currency, consumer protection, education, health, sexually transmitted diseases, Native Americans, insurance, labor, the military, the movie industry, price controls, petroleum, public utilities, racial and ethnic issues, railroads, the Securities and Exchange Commission, social security and old-age pension plans, the Supreme Court, taxation, federal government reorganization, postal service and employees, veterans, and war. There is a folder containing information on Boren's voting record. Materials are arranged alphabetically by subject. Correspondents in this series include a number of congressional colleagues, and executive branch officials. Materials on many of the topics found in this series can also be located in the Subject and Information Files and the Alphabetical Correspondence.

Go to Folder List

Series 7: Alphabetical Correspondence, 1934-1946, 23.33 cubic feet.

This series contains correspondence, telegrams, newspaper clippings, publications, brochures, and flyers. Arrangement is alphabetical by correspondent. At the end of the series are folders containing greeting cards (Christmas, Easter, birthday) and postcards. A wide variety of topics are covered in this material, but certain ones reappear frequently. These include railroad employee retirement, wartime regulations, civil service, Native Americans, World War II, labor, rural electrification, Shawnee (Oklahoma), taxation, old age pensions, land grant railroad freight rates, New Deal agencies, airports, post office buildings, water projects, military bases, and defense industries. A small amount of material on Boren's finances and property is also located here. V-mail and other letters from soldiers can be found in these files.

Correspondents include members of Congress, national and Oklahoma politicians, members of Boren's staff, and numerous constituents. Particularly prolific ones are civic leaders, local political associates, and friends. Scattered throughout the series are several letters with members of the Veterans of Industry in America. Materials from some of the same correspondents and/or on many of the same topics also exist in the Personal and Family, Subject, Information, and Legislative Files.

Go to Folder List

Series 8: Oversize Materials, 1894-1947 (bulk: 1936-1947).

This series consists of eight scrapbooks and one box of newspapers, magazines, posters, advertisements, maps, mimeographed newsletters, and handwritten notes. The scrapbooks primarily contain clippings on Boren's career, political campaigns, state and local politics, business, labor, the New Deal, and the World War II home front. They have been arranged chronologically. The other materials concern many of the same topics and have been organized alphabetically by subject. One folder contains Boren's newsletter to his constituents. Some of the magazines contain photographs of world economic conditions and military build up in the 1930s.

Go to Folder List

Lyle H. Boren Collection Box and Folder Lists

Boxes 1-5

Boxes 6-10

Boxes 11-15

Boxes 16-20

Boxes 21-25

Boxes 26-30

Boxes 31-35

Boxes 36-40

Boxes 41-45

Boxes 46-49

Oversize Boxes 1-5

Oversize Boxes 6-8

Oversize Box 9


List of Collections, Congressional Archives, Carl Albert Center
Contact Archival Staff, Carl Albert Center