|Title: D. W. Brooks Oral History Collection|
Brooks, D. W. (David William), 1901-1999
|Collection Number: RBRL/013/DWBOH|
Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
|Abstract: D. W. Brooks was a major figure in American agriculture. He was the founder and leader of Gold Kist, a farm cooperative, for almost fifty years and also served as an agricultural advisor to several U.S. Presidents. This collection consists primarily of oral history interviews with D.W. Brooks conducted by Brian S. Wills. D.W. Brooks discusses his family background, his childhood in Royston, Ga., his education, and his involvement with the Methodist church. He speaks extensively about topics related to farming and agriculture in Georgia, including the founding and development of Gold Kist, the poultry industry, fish and cattle production, cotton farming, and the federal government's involvement with farming co-ops. Brooks also discusses his contribution as an agricultural advisor to United States presidents and world leaders. Complimentary interviews in this collection with individuals such as former President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Dean Rusk provide additional perspectives on Brooks and his contributions.|
David William Brooks (1901-1999), a farmer and cooperative executive, was born in Royston, Georgia. Brooks entered the University of Georgia (UGA) in 1918 and earned Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Agriculture. Concurrent to his Master's studies, Brooks taught agronomy at the university for four years and founded his first farm cooperative, the Georgia Cotton Growers Cooperative Association in Carrollton, in 1921, while he was teaching. In 1925, Brooks left UGA to devote all of his time to his cooperative. Due to a variety of factors, this cooperative failed. Upon the association's demise in 1933, Brooks immediately started another farm cooperative called the Georgia Cotton Producers Association. Renamed Cotton Producers Association (CPA) in 1934, and Gold Kist in 1974, this cooperative proved successful. By the late twentieth century, the company achieved Fortune 500 status and is currently a leading exporter of poultry in the world. Brooks started with CPA as the manager in 1933, and by his retirement at age 65, he was Chairman of the Board.
In 1941, Brooks also founded the Cotton Farmers Mutual Insurance Association, a company that provided fire and windstorm insurance to farmers. In 1955, Brooks set up a life insurance company for farmers, Cotton States Life and Health. Both companies have achieved continued success since their respective inceptions.
Brooks' agribusiness acumen and experience privileged him to serve as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations under Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Brooks also served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agribusiness Industry Advisory Committee. In 1954 he was a delegate to the American Assembly, which proposed changes in the United Nations Charter. He served as director of the Foundation for American Agriculture; Agricultural Missions, Inc., New York; and the National Council of Farmer Cooperative; and Chairman of the Board of Farmers Chemical Association in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At 86 years old, Brooks returned to the University of Georgia as a visiting professor of Agricultural Economics. Brooks' contributions to the University of Georgia prompted the university to name a pedestrian mall on South Campus after him, D.W. Brooks Mall.
D.W. Brooks was active in the Methodist Church and a member of St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Atlanta. He was a member of the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, NY, and vice president of its World Division. Brooks and his wife, Ruth, established an endowed chair in World Christianity at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Brooks was chairman of the Committee of One Hundred for the Candler School of Theology. Brooks served as a trustee at Emory University, Wesleyan College in Macon, Reinhardt College in Waleska, and the Lake Junaluska Assembly, Inc. in North Carolina. He was a member of the University of Georgia Foundation.
D.W. Brooks received numerous honors and awards during his lifetime. Highlights include: First inductee into the University of Georgia's Agricultural Hall of Fame (1972); WSB Television and Atlanta Gas Light Company's Shining Light Award (1977); elected to Cooperative League of the United States Hall of Fame (1979); Man of the Year in Community and Rural Development by Cooperative Extension Service at UGA (1979); honorary degrees from Morris Brown College and Emory University.
On August 6, 1930, D.W. Brooks married Ruth McMurray. They had two children, David William Brooks, Jr., and Nancy Ruth Brooks.
Scope and Content
This collection consists primarily of oral history interviews with D.W. Brooks conducted by Brian S. Wills. D.W. Brooks discusses his family background, his childhood in Royston, Ga., his education, and his involvement with the Methodist church. He speaks extensively about topics related to farming and agriculture in Georgia, including the founding and development of Gold Kist, the poultry industry, fish and cattle production, cotton farming, and the federal government's involvement with farming co-ops. Brooks also discusses his contribution as an agricultural advisor to United States presidents and world leaders. Complimentary interviews in this collection with individuals such as former President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Dean Rusk provide additional perspectives on Brooks and his contributions.
Organization and Arrangement
Interviews (both audio and transcripts) are organized by an Oral History (OH) number in a loosely chronological arrangement. The Oral History number is a combination of the abbreviation for “Oral History” (OH); the initials or an abbreviation of the name of the collection name—in this case, Brooks—(BRO); a number representing the sequence of the interview (01); and a letter indicating the segment of the interview. Examples: OHBRO05A is Part 1 of the 5th interview and Brian S. Wills first interview with D.W. Brooks comprises OHBRO1A, OHBRO1B, and OHBRO1C.
Administrative Information and Restrictions
User reference copies of the audiovisual recordings may be available upon request. Availability is dependent upon the condition of the recordings.
D. W. Brooks Oral History Collection, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.
Original and transfer media formats for this collection include audiocassettes and open reel tapes.
Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.
Finding Aid Publication
Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2011.
Revisions made by Russell staff, 2013.
D.W. Brooks Papers
Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection
Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 131 Abit Massey
James T. Laney Collection, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia