Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
John Conover "Jack" Nichols was born in Joplin, Missouri, on August 31, 1896. He attended college in Emporia, Kansas, before settling with his parents in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, in 1914. During World War I, he was a private in the Nineteenth Infantry stationed at Camp Travis, Texas. After the war, he engaged in various occupations, passed the bar exam in 1926, and formed a law practice with his brother Clark in Eufaula, Oklahoma.
A Democrat, Nichols represented Oklahoma's Second District in Congress from 1935 to 1943. He immediately became conspicuous for his leadership in legislation concerning Native Americans, soil conservation, old age pensions, Civilian Conservation Corp camps, and civil aviation. His committee assignments were Claims, District of Columbia, Rivers and Harbors, Territories, Merchant Marine and Fisheries, Elections No. 3, and Rules. In 1940 he chaired the Select Committee to Investigate Air Accidents.
On July 3, 1943, Nichols resigned from Congress to become vice president of Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc. (TWA). While in Africa negotiating contracts, he died in a plane crash on November 7, 1945.
Scope and Content of the Collection
The Nichols Collection contains 0.75 cubic feet and consists primarily of correspondence, memos, telegrams, and campaign materials. There are also invitations, Congressional Record reprints, a diary (1945), speeches, scrapbooks, voting records (1939-1940), congressional reports, and clippings. Although the collection covers the period from 1934-1949, most of the material documents Nichols's congressional career. Arrangement is alphabetical by name of person or subject. Topics covered include campaigns; aviation and air accidents, including the 1943 Board Reports of the Select Committee to Investigate Air Accidents; Nichols's biography; legislation of the late1930s, including the Gavagan Anti-Lynching Bill; and relief programs. Correspondents include Gene Autry, James Roosevelt, congressional colleagues, Democratic Party members, and constituents.
The collection is an accumulation of documents retained by members of the Nichols family and presented in 1952 to the University of Oklahoma by the congressman's sister, Mrs. Newton R. Graham.