Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
Victor Eugene Wickersham was born on a farm near Lone Rock in Baxter County, Arkansas, on February 9, 1906. With his family, he moved to Greer County, Oklahoma, in 1915, where he attended public schools. At eighteen, he began two years' employment in the county clerk's office. He was elected Greer County clerk in 1926 and served in that capacity until 1935. In that year, he was named chief clerk for the state board of public affairs, serving for one year. He remained in the capital city as an Oklahoma City building contractor from 1937 to 1938, when he began selling insurance for the John Hancock Life Insurance Company.
After the death of Representative Sam Massingale, Wickersham won the special election to fill the Seventh District's congressional seat in 1941. Reelected in 1942 and 1944, he lost the Democratic nomination in the first post-World War II election to Preston E. Peden, a young attorney from Altus and returning war veteran. Wickersham remained in Washington, where he operated a real estate business and readied for a rematch. It came in 1948, and he defeated Peden by three thousand votes before winning the general election handily.
Re-elected in 1950, Wickersham became the last person to represent Oklahoma's Seventh District. The census of that year recorded a population decline of sufficient magnitude to cost the state two of its then eight congressional seats. In the redistricting that followed, Wickersham's district was folded into the new Sixth District. The vast district covered most of western Oklahoma and included portions of the old Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth districts. Wickersham, therefore, faced incumbent congressman Toby Morris, who had represented the old Sixth District. Wickersham won the 1952 contest for the new Sixth District seat and was reelected over much less serious opposition in 1954.
There then followed a series of tough campaigns with Morris. In 1956, Morris unseated him by a 5000-vote margin and won again in 1958--this time by 81 votes. In 1960, Wickersham reclaimed the Democratic nomination from Morris with a 402-vote edge. He then faced Republican Clyde A. Wheeler, Jr., in the heretofore dependably Democratic district. After what many regarded as partisan chicanery on the part of Democratic election officials, the official count favored Wickersham by fewer than a hundred votes. In 1962, Wickersham survived a close primary and general election (both against considerably weaker opponents) to earn his ninth congressional term. It was to be his last. Jed Johnson, Jr., the son of a former representative of the old Sixth District, beat Wickersham in the 1964 Democratic primary and did so again in 1966, finally ending his Washington tenure. This was not, however, the end of Wickersham's political career. His fellow citizens in Mangum, Oklahoma, sent him to the state legislature for eight years beginning in 1971. On his eighty-second birthday--February 9, 1988--he again took a seat in the state house. He occupied it only briefly as he died five weeks later on March 15, 1988, in Oklahoma City.
Scope and Content of the Collection
The Wickersham Collection is comprised of 16.3 cubic feet of material. The materials date from 1938 through 1956 with the bulk covering the period 1950-1956. The collection contains numerous topics of interest for research, including water conservation, federal aid to Oklahoma education, and Indian affairs. There is also material on the growth of Clinton-Sherman and Altus Air Force Bases as well as work performed at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. A small number of photographs are included in the collection.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following is a detailed listing of series, boxes, and folders that can be found in this collection.
Series 1: Departmental, 1941-1956
The largest of the series, the departmental files include 5.3 cubic feet of material. Arranged alphabetically by the appropriate department, these include constituent correspondence, speeches, agency reports, pamphlets, and other official publications. Topics include Oklahoma dams and reservoirs, federal aid to Oklahoma education programs, and Native Americans.
Series 2: General Correspondence, 1954-1956
Consisting of 1 cubic foot of material, this series is almost entirely constituent correspondence and is arranged alphabetically.
Series 3: Legislative, 1951-1956
Including 2 cubic feet of material, the legislative series is arranged alphabetically by committee name and contains correspondence, bills, and reports. Prominent subjects in this series include agriculture legislation and federal aid to Oklahoma education.
Series 4: Public Works, 1951-1956
This series of 1 cubic foot is concerned with various projects in western Oklahoma. The materials are particularly important for the growth of Clinton-Sherman and Altus Air Force Bases, construction of dams and reservoirs, and work done at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Series 5: Post Office, 1953-1956
This series of 0.5 cubic feet is arranged alphabetically by town where the post office is located. Included are materials related to post office closings, route changes, and construction projects.
Series 6: Legislation Correspondence, 1951-1955
A small series of 0.3 cubic feet, this material is concerned with legislation sponsored by Wickersham.
Series 7: Personal, 1941-1956
This series of 1 cubic foot is arranged alphabetically by topic and consists of assorted clippings, speeches, reprints, and personal correspondence. Also included are a few folders on the Washita River Basin Reclamation Project.
Series 8: Political Activity, 1938-1956
This series of 0.7 cubic feet of material contains correspondence, campaign materials, speeches, newsletters, and press releases.
Series 9: Bills, 1951-1956
Including 0.7 cubic feet of material, this series has bills authored or co-authored by Wickersham.
Series 10: Miscellaneous, 1950-1956
This series of 2.5 cubic feet contains correspondence, newsletters, notes, questionnaires, and surveys from constituents.
Series 11: Invitations and Printed Material, 1950-1956
Consisting of 1 cubic foot of material, this series includes invitations (both accepted and declined) as well as various printed material.
Series 12: Oversize, 1950-1956
This series of 0.3 cubic feet contains newspapers and other printed material.
A folder-level inventory can be accessed through the box below.