Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
Wesley Ernest Disney, seven-term congressman from Oklahoma's First District, played a long and important role in Oklahoma politics. Reared and educated in Kansas, where he was born on October 31, 1883, Disney was admitted to the bar, and moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1908. While in Muskogee, Disney began his political career by becoming county attorney, and then went on to become a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
While in the State House (1919-1924) Disney, a Democrat, voted in favor of the 18th and 19th amendments and numerous progressive labor laws. He also assumed a leadership role in the impeachment proceedings against then Governor John C. "Jack" Walton. On the merit of his accomplishments he ran a successful campaign for the U.S. House in 1930. He remained in the House until 1944, at which time he commenced a long anticipated run for the Senate against incumbent Elmer Thomas. Disney, by this time an anti-New Deal Democrat, took on the Roosevelt-supporting Thomas, claiming that Thomas was backed by the "CIO goon squads." Disney lost in the primary and lived out his professional life as a lawyer in Washington, D.C. He died in 1961.
Scope and Content of the Collection
While in Congress, Disney served on the Banking and Currency and Ways and Means Committees, but the bulk of his legislative records have not survived. The George Schwabe Collection (Schwabe was Disney's successor) contains ten folders of Disney material from 1920-1939 pertaining to Indian Affairs, specifically the Osage Civilization Fund Bill and Pawnee land claims. Presumably, these files were left for Schwabe as background material.
The extant Disney Collection covers the period 1909-1958 with the bulk covering the congressman's tenure in the U.S. House from 1931-1944. The collection consists primarily of materials originally housed in scrapbooks but now in folders. For the most part, the arrangement is chronological. Clippings make up a majority of the material and cover national and local politics, current events, and policy issues. A feature of the collection is a column Disney wrote for the local papers entitled the "Washington Letter." While he discussed his stance on the issues of the day, Disney also intended his column to be entertaining. One time he reported that peas found in King Tut's tomb had been planted and were growing. Another time he discussed the painting Whistler's Mother. Among some of the topics represented in the collection are prohibition, party politics, the Grand River Dam, other members of the Oklahoma delegation, Franklin Roosevelt, the oil industry, labor policies, World War II, the Bonus Army, and the programs of the New Deal.
The collection also contains materials referred to as "lists." There are separate folders for every county in Disney's district and contain extensive data on his constituents. There are lists of city officials, teachers, lawyers, farmers, ministers, Democrats, Republicans, jurors, census enumerators, school board members, state highway employees, stamp club members, babies born, talkative farmers, registered voters, old-timers, and others. Also found in these county folders are telephone directories and maps.
Other items included in the collection are Disney's canceled checks, receipts, miscellaneous legal documents from his Muskogee law office, as well as a small amount of correspondence, which includes three letters from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also included in the collection are a few folders from Wesley V. Disney's career in the Oklahoma Legislature as well as his 1950 campaign for the U.S. House. Wesley V. Disney was the son of Wesley E. Disney. Oversized items consist of scrapbooks, two original cartoons, some campaign literature, and a Small Business Administration direct loan proposal for Green Engineering Corporation of Tulsa. In addition to the manuscript collection, there are also approximately one hundred photographs, which include studio portraits of Disney and other politicians, group delegation photos, street scenes, and candid shots.
A folder-level inventory can be accessed through the box list below.
For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the Carl Albert Center.