Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
Preston Elmer Peden was born in Duke, Oklahoma, on June 28, 1914. His family moved to Altus in 1920, and he graduated from high school in 1932. Peden attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received his B.A. in 1936 and L.L.B. in 1939. He was admitted to the bar later that year. He established his law practice in Altus and served for three years as the attorney for the State of Oklahoma Insurance Fund. In 1942 Peden enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army and rose through the ranks to captain. He served in France, Belgium, and Germany as the forward observer for a field artillery unit. Shortly after V-E Day, Peden was assigned to the Allied Military Government for Germany and served as prosecutor and as judge in the Bavarian courts. He was discharged May 5, 1946.
While still overseas, Peden sent notification and declaration for the office of U.S. Representative to the state election board. Friends in the seventh Oklahoma district began his campaign two months before he arrived back in the country. He won the Democratic nomination and was elected to the 80th Congress defeating incumbent Victor Wickersham in a close race. Peden was unsuccessful in his bid for renomination in 1948.
In the House of Representatives, Peden served on the Public Lands Committee. He voted for the Taft-Hartley Labor Bill and also voted to override President Truman's veto of that bill. He voted against income tax reduction, but at the same time voted to sustain the presidential veto. Peden was also a supporter of the Marshall Plan.
After his unsuccessful bid for renomination, Peden served as a staff member on the Public Lands Committee until he was appointed counsel for the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska. He spent the bulk of his remaining professional years as the director of governmental affairs for the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry. He died in 1985.
Scope and Content of the Collection
The Peden Collection covers the period 1946-1948. Consisting of 8 cubic feet of material, the collection consists primarily of correspondence. Constituent correspondence, which is arranged geographically, includes such subjects as utility concerns, issues, and personal requests. General non-constituent correspondence, arranged alphabetically, includes letters on the Taft-Hartley Bill, taxes on oleomargarine, aid for public schools, veterans benefits, Alaska homesteading, and dams. The remaining correspondence, arranged by subject, is a good source for the issues of the day. Subjects include the Agriculture Department, Indian affairs, the Equal Rights Amendment, foreign affairs, the Marshall Plan, the Public Lands Committee, and socialized medicine. The subject files also contain pamphlets and bills to supplement the correspondence. In addition to correspondence, the collection contains Peden's newsletters. Subjects include labor, foreign relations, federal departments, Un-American Committee investigations, the Marshall Plan, communism, and agriculture. A small photograph collection is included in the collection.