John Leonard Pilcher Papers: Collection SummaryJohn Leonard Pilcher Papers: Collection Summary

John Leonard Pilcher Papers: Collection Summary

Descriptive Summary

Title: John Leonard Pilcher Papers: Collection Summary
Creator: Pilcher, John Leonard, 1898-1981.
Dates: 1940-1976
Extent: 148.0 boxes (69.75 linear feet)
Collection Number: RBRl/131/JLP
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: John Leonard Pilcher was a farmer, businessman, and politician, serving in multiple capacities in Meigs, Georgia, in the Georgia State Senate (1940-1943), and the U.S. House of Representatives (1953-1965). The papers primarily document his career in the U.S. House of Representatives and include constituent correspondence, legislative files, published materials, and campaign materials.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

John Leonard Pilcher was born in a two-room log cabin near Meigs, Georgia on August 27, 1898. Although Pilcher's father died when he was five, and Pilcher had to support his mother and two young sisters, he completed seven grades of public school and graduated from Massey Business College. In 1922, he married Dorothy Covington of Moultrie, Georgia. They had two sons: John Leonard, Jr., who in 1946, at the age of seventeen, was killed in a plane crash while serving as an ROTC air cadet at the University of Georgia; and Charles, who handled the family business while his father was in Washington.

Pilcher started working at the age of fifteen, and by the time he was twenty he was operating a small business. Involved in agricultural pursuits most of his life, Pilcher not only owned a farm, but expanded his holdings to include a general mercantile business, a fertilizer manufacturing plant, feed mill, corn elevator, cotton gins and warehouses, and a syrup canning plant. He was involved in many business organizations, such as the National Cotton Council and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and served as the director of the Thomas County PEA (production and marketing). He also became president of the Bank of Meigs, Georgia.

At the age of twenty--one, Pilcher was elected mayor of Meigs. During the years 1921 through 1940, he also served as a councilman and a public school trustee. In 1940, he was elected to represent the Seventh District in the Georgia State Senate. After his term expired in 1943, he returned to Meigs and was elected to the post of county commissioner of roads and revenue for Thomas County, a position he held from 1943 to 1947. During this same period he also served as a member of the Agricultural and Industrial Board for the county (1944-1948). From 1948 to 1949, Pilcher was the Supervisor of Purchases for the state of Georgia, serving under Governors Thompson and Arnall. In 1953, Edward Eugene Cox, the congressman representing the Second District, died and a special election was held to fill his seat. In spite of a large field of candidates and his late entrance into the race for the position, Pilcher won the seat in a hardworking campaign by a 2,000 vote margin over his nearest competitor.

Pilcher was a member of Congress from February 4, 1953 to January 3, 1965. He started on the House Committee on Government Operations, serving on the committee from 1953 to 1954. After an attempt to gain a seat on the House Agriculture Committee failed, he accepted a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee where he served from 1955 to 1964. He was a member of the Subcommittee on the Far East and the Pacific and became chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Economic Policy. Twice, in 1959 and 1961, Pilcher went abroad with other members of the subcommittee on Special Study Missions to oversee U.S. economic and technical assistance programs.

Pilcher did not run for reelection in 1964. Instead, he retired from his congressional career and took the post of Southeastern Regional Director of the Office of Emergency Planning. Pilcher died on August 20, 1981, at the age of 82.

Scope and Content

Pilcher's papers primarily document his career in the U.S. House of Representatives (1953-1965) and include constituent correspondence, legislative files, published materials, and campaign materials. Topics include farming and small business practices, social security, postal rates, education, and taxation.

Organization and Arrangement

This collection is divided into 11 series: I. Legislative, II. Meigs Office, III. Miscellaneous File, IV. Personal, V. Political, VI. Post Office, VII. Academies [CLOSED], VIII. Case Files [CLOSED], IX. Scrapbooks, X. Photographs, and XI. Artifacts and Memorabilia.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open with the following exceptions:

VII. Academies and VIII. Case Files are closed.

Restricted files have been removed from II. Meigs Office, III. Miscellaneous File, and VI. Post Office and are housed separately from the rest of the collection.

Preferred citation

John Leonard Pilcher Papers, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia 30602-1641

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Copyright Information

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Adriane Hanson and Jordan Graham (student assistant), September 2016.


Related Materials

Access Points

Agricultural laws and legislation--United States.
Civil rights --United States
Democratic Party (U.S.)
George, Walter F., (Walter Franklin), 1878-1957
Legislators--United States.
Presidents--United States--Election--1960.
Sanders, Carl Edward, 1925-
Small business--Law and legislation--United States.
United States--Foreign relations--Law and legislation.
United States. Congress--Elections.
United States. Congress. House.
Vandiver, S. Ernest (Samuel Ernest), 1918-2005.

Related Collections in this Repository

Iris F. Blitch Papers

S. Ernest Vandiver, Jr. Papers

Carl E. Sanders Papers

Herman E. Talmadge Collection

August H. Turnbull Collection of Carl Sanders Speech/Press Files

E. L. (Tic) Forrester Papers

Stephen Pace Post Office Files

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection

Democratic Party of Georgia Records

Related Collections in Other Repositories

Georgia Government Documentation Project, Series F: Marvin Griffin oral history collection. Special Collection Department, William Russell Pullen Library, Georgia State University

Stellanova Osborn papers, 1916-1992. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

Griffin Bell Papers, Mercer University


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

Series I. Legislative, 1941-1976

Extent: 26.0 boxes (12.5 linear feet)
Scope and Content: The series contains correspondence, bills, memos, news releases, reports, telegrams, and other printed material pertaining to legislation sponsored by Pilcher and other congressmen. There is some overlap with similar topics in the various subseries. There is also legislative correspondence filed by constituent name in the Miscellaneous series, which acts as a partial name cross-reference file to this and other series (for a more detailed explanation of this cross-referencing, see the description of III. Miscellaneous File). Topics include farming and small business practices, social security, postal rates, education, and taxation. There is also documentation of Pilchers activities as a member of the Subcommittee on Foreign Economic Policy and Subcommittee on the Far East and the Pacific.
Conditions Governing Access note: This series is open for research.
Arrangement note: The papers are organized into five subseries: A. Subject File, B. Foreign Affairs Committee, C. Copies, D. Bills, and E. Voting Record.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.



Subseries A. Subject File, 1951-1964

Extent: 17.0 boxes (8.5 linear feet)
Scope and Contents note: This subseries consists of constituents' letters dealing with various topics mainly concerned with farming and small business practices, although public issues such as social security, postal rates, education, and taxes are also common to the files. The subseries is arranged by year beginning with the earliest date first, arranged in four, and then two year increments (1953-1956, then 1957-1958, 1959-1960, etc.), then alphabetically by subject. Within each folder the correspondence, bills, newsletters, telegrams, memos, and other printed material are generally arranged chronologically. This subseries is cross-referenced by series III. Miscellaneous File, and a few of the folders contain notes that cross-index individual files.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries B. Foreign Affairs Committee, 1955-1964

Extent: 6.0 boxes (3 linear feet)
Scope and Contents note: This subseries contains correspondence, memos, releases, and printed material related to the Foreign Affairs Committee in which Pilcher was the chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Economic Policy (1955-1963) and a member of the Subcommittee on the Far East and the Pacific. It is cross-referenced by series III. Miscellaneous File to a minor extent.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries C. Copies, 1960-1962

Extent: 1.0 boxes (0.5 linear feet)
Scope and Contents note: Arranged alphabetically by subject , this subseries contains copies of Pilcher's replies (either by letter or telegram) to constituent letters found in the Subject File (Subseries A). It also includes Jules replies not found in the Subject File, copies of replies sent to Pilcher, copies of bills to which the replies relate, and a few unanswered letters. The sub­series is cross-referenced by series III. Miscellaneous File.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries D. Bills, 1955-1964

Extent: 1.0 boxes (0.5 linear feet)
Scope and Contents note: Subseries D contains bills introduced by Pilcher in the House of Representatives including those bills that became law, and also consists of reports on the bills and copies of the laws some of those bills became. A small amount of correspondence and other material, consisting primarily of telegrams but also including memos and speeches which relate to specific bills may also be found here. The material in this subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject or (in the case of private bills) by name and is found in the same box that contains copies (Subseries S), filed immediately after the copies. Series V. Political, subseries C. Georgia File, cross­references individual files in this subseries.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries E. Voting Record, 1947-1964

Extent: 2.0 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Scope and Contents note: This subseries, arranged alphabetically, contains mainly pamphlets and bound tablets on Pilcher's voting record while a member of the House of Representatives. These pamphlets and tablets are separated into subject headings and how he voted. A booklet outlining how Democrats and Repub­licans voted on major issues in 1955 and 1956 and a file containing a Congressional Record pertaining to Pilcher's views on foreign aid are also included.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.
 

Series II. Meigs Office, 1960-1964

Extent: 4.0 boxes (2 linear feet)
Scope and Content: This series consists of correspondence (primarily with constituents), notes, and printed material sent to or handled by Pilcher's office in his hometown of Meigs, Georgia. A few subject files contain notes that cross-index individual files.
Included in this series are such topics as Agriculture, the Democratic National Convention, and the 1960 Kennedy-Johnson Presidential Campaign and Election. Items of interest contained within the files include: Letters from John W. McCormack (Speaker of the House of Representatives), J. Edgar Hoover (Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation), Harry Truman (U.S. Presi­dent, 1945-1953), and Robert Kennedy (Attorney General and brother of President John F. Kennedy); transcripts of the Kennedy vs. Nixon Broadcasts, 1960; For­eign Affairs Committee notes; correspondence on impending legislation; and in­formation pertaining to the Flint River channelization, urban renewal, housing development, military schools and service, veterans administration, and Internal Revenue Service data processing in Georgia.
Arrangement note: The papers are organized into two chronological groups (1960-1964, 1960-1961) the files are arranged alphabetically by individual or corporate name, or by the subject contained, e.g., "Congressmen's Letters".
Conditions Governing Access note: Restricted files have been removed and are housed separately from the rest of the collection.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.
 

Series III. Miscellaneous File, 1953-1964

Extent: 85.0 boxes (41.5 linear feet)
Scope and Content: The Miscellaneous File acts as a partial name cross-reference file for Series I. Legislative, IV. Personal, V. Political, and VI. Post Office. It is a partial cross-reference file because not everything that is in the Miscellaneous File is in the series it cross-references, and vice versa. The Miscellaneous File may only have a copy of Pilcher's reply to a letter, the letter but no reply, or both the letter and its reply together. Individuals may be found under their own names or under the organization they represent. The files in the series reflect constituent opinions on the topics of the day, their requests for information and assistance, various projects for the benefit of the Second District that Pilcher undertook, and Pilcher's relationship with both federal and state agencies. Items of special interest include letters to and from U.S. and state legislators such as Richard B. Russell, Herman Talmadge, Carl Vinson, E. L. Forrester, Iris Blitch, and J. Willis Conger (State Senator, 8th District); material from Pilcher's Executive Assistant, John W. Ellis; a 1958 letter from Pilcher to the National Historical Wax Museum in Washington, D.C., detailing an anecdote about Carl Vinson; the Griffin Bell file, concerning his appointment to the 5th Circuit judgeship--he later became Attorney General (1977-1979) under President Jimmy Carter; and material about the Atlantic Union, a plan to create a commonwealth including North America and Western Europe in which Pilcher was interested, and about one of its most ardent advocates, Mrs. Chase S. Osborne.
Arrangement note: This series is divided into two subseries, 1953-1960 and 1960-1964, arranged alphabetically by name, corporate name, and subject. These dates are bulk dates only; items carrying later dates were sometimes inserted into earlier files, and earlier material was often brought forward into the later files if the file re­mained active or was reactivated at a later date.
Conditions Governing Access note: Restricted files have been removed and are housed separately from the rest of the collection.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.



Subseries A. 1953-1960, 1953-1960

Extent: 48.0 boxes
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries B. 1960-1964, 1960-1964

Extent: 33.0 boxes
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.
 

Series IV. Personal, 1946-1970

Extent: 8.0 boxes (4 linear feet)
Scope and Content: This series reflects three aspects of Pilcher's life while a congressman: the financial, the invitations he received from both dignitaries in Washington and people in the Second District, and some of the routine tasks in running his office. The subject file is composed of cor­respondence (including congratulatory letters and thank yous), bills, re­ceipts, and forms, which are primarily concerned with financial matters-­insurance, paid bills, and the operation of Pilcher's businesses in Meigs by his son Charles.
Arrangement note: This series is organized into three groups: A. Subject File, B. Invitations, and C. Office File.
Conditions Governing Access note: This series is open for research.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.



Subseries A. Subject File, 1953-1970

Extent: 2.0 boxes
Scope and Contents note: Arranged alphabetically by subject, the subseries is composed of correspondence (including congratulatory letters and thank yous), bills, receipts, and forms, which are primarily concerned with financial matters-­insurance, paid bills, and the operation of Pilcher's businesses in Meigs by his son Charles. There is some purely personal correspondence, however, and this subseries holds the largest amount of material on Pilcher's son Charles and wife Dorothy, aside from series II. Meigs Office and some isolated pieces of correspondence in III. Miscellaneous File (which does cross-reference this subseries).
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries B. Invitations File, 1953-1964

Extent: 6.0 boxes
Scope and Contents note: As the title of this subseries suggests, it contains invitations, in the form of letters, memos, notices, and formal engraved invitations, arranged chronologically. It must be noted here that Pilcher included notices of congressional committee and subcommittee meetings in this file. This subseries has been sampled, using the following scheme: All invitations extended by J. L. Pilcher, those that have substantive personal correspondence, or resulted in speeches or televised appearances, have been kept. All invitations extended by the president or government officials of Cabinet rank have been retained. All notices of meetings of congressional committees and subcommittees, and those invitations, either formal or informal, to discuss congressional business (as opposed to the purely social) are in this subseries, as are all memoranda of invitations.Two to three engraved invitations in each of two categories-­declined and accepted-- have been retained per month for each year.Two to three invitations in each of two categories--declined and accepted --have been kept in each of the following divisions and their subdivisions per year: Political, Economic, Education, Civic Organizations and Events, Veterans, Military, and Personal.
Appraisal note: As a result of the sampling, 2.5 boxes (approximately one linear foot) of material has been discarded.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries C. Office File, 1958-1974

Extent: 1.0 boxes
Scope and Contents note: Filed immediately after IV. Personal B. Invitations File, this subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject. It consists of correspondence and material, primarily concerned with requests for photographs and the creation of photo-cards (calling cards with a photograph on it) and photographs.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.
 

Series V. Political, 1952-1965

Extent: 12.0 boxes (6 linear feet)
Scope and Content: Series V: Political is concerned with Pilcher's involvement in the Democratic Party in Georgia and the Second District, his campaigns and speeches, and his interest in local projects. It is composed of a wide variety of materials, including correspondence, telegrams, reports, and speeches. Topics include Flint River Project, mutual security, postal pay increases, civil rights, and campaign expenditures for Pilcher's congressional campaigns.
Arrangement note: This series is organized into four subseries: A. Subjects, B. Campaigns, C. Georgia File, and D. Speeches.
Conditions Governing Access note: This series is open for research.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.



Subseries A. Subjects, 1952-1964

Extent: 1.0 boxes
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries B. Campaigns, 1952-1964

Extent: 1.0 boxes
Scope and Contents note: Composed of note cards for speeches, membership lists, notarized affidavits of election results, campaign button and poster promotional material, rules for primaries, memos, correspondence (including congratulatory letters), telegrams, newspaper clippings, and disclosures of campaign expenditures arranged alphabetically by subject. The subseries focuses on the Democratic Party in the Second District and its committees, although there is some material on the party outside of the Second District. There is some material on various pieces of legislation, such as the Flint River Project, Mutual Security, postal pay increases, and Civil Rights, which will be found in the folders titled "Miscellaneous". This subseries is cross-referenced by series III. Miscellaneous File.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries C. Georgia File, 1954-1973

Extent: 8.0 boxes
Scope and Contents note: The Georgia File could almost be considered a subset of series III. Miscellaneous File (which cross-references this subseries). The subject matter in both is similar, and the arrangement is identical--alphabetical by name or subject. This subseries has cross-references to individual files within the subseries, and partially cross-references I. Legislative D. Bills. It is composed of correspondence, telegrams, reports, memos, news releases, newspaper clippings, and other printed material which tend to concentrate (more than III. Miscellaneous File) on economic projects, such as government contracts and programs or the establishment, inprove­ment, or demolition of government facilities, and on personal cases in­volving Georgia and Georgians, especially those residing in the Second District. The Flint River Channelization Project is extensively dealt with here, as are the Dry Creek Watershed of Georgia and the city of Albany, Georgia.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.



Subseries D. Speeches, 1955-1964

Extent: 1.0 boxes
Scope and Contents note: The subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject or document type, and consists of speeches (both drafts and final copies), Congressional Record and congressional committee statements, speaking invitations, news/press releases, correspondence and telegrams relating to speeches, and background mate­rial used in composing speeches, such as correspondence, reports, articles, and newspaper clippings.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this subseries, visit the finding aid for this subseries.
 

Series VI. Post Office, 1941-1961

Extent: 5.0 boxes (2.5 linear feet)
Scope and Content: The Post Office series consists of correspondence, memos, regulations, reports, and telegrams, the series is concerned with the opening, closing, or construction of post offices; routes; constituent comments on and postal investigations/inspections into service; legislation pertaining to the operation of post offices; and the appointment of postmasters and rural carriers in the Second Congressional District.
Arrangement note: The series is arranged alphabetically by community name or subject.
Conditions Governing Access note: Restricted files have been removed and are housed separately from the rest of the collection.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.
 

Series VII. Academics [CLOSED]

Conditions Governing Access note: These series is closed.
 

Series VIII. Case Files [CLOSED]

Extent: 16.0 boxes
Conditions Governing Access note: This series is closed.
 

Series IX. Scrapbooks, 1941-1976

Extent: 3.0 boxes
Scope and Content: The scrapbooks consist primarily of newspaper clippings that chronicle Pilcher's state senate and congressional careers. The news clippings contain information about Pilcher's speeches, public appearances, campaigns, platform, and appointments to military academies. The scrapbooks also contain speeches, letters, certificates and photographs.
Arrangement note: The scrapbooks are arranged in chronological order.
Conditions Governing Access note: This series is open for research.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.
 

Series X. Photographs, 1940-1964

Extent: 3.0 boxes (1.25 linear feet, 167 photographs)
Scope and Content: This series consists of photographs, primarily black and white, covering civic events Pilcher attended and various trips he made as a congressman. Because Pilcher played an important role in federal construction in his distriction, the series also includes views of the Moultrie post office and the town of Cavalry, among others. Among the some the more notable individuals appearing in the photographs are: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert H. Humphrey, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Francisco Franco, and Chiang Kai-shek.
Arrangement note: The photographs are arranged in loose chronological order.
Conditions Governing Access note: This series is open for research.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.
 

Series XI. Artifacts and Memorabilia, 1941-1976

Extent: 2.0 boxes
Scope and Content: The artifacts and memorabilia document the career of John L. Picher and include plaques, certificates, commissions, newspaper articles, drawings, and a Somerville political cartoon.
Arrangement note: This series is arranged by format.
Conditions Governing Access note: This series is open for research.
Other Finding Aids note: To view more detailed information or to request materials from this series, visit the finding aid for this series.