During his time in the United States House of Representatives, W. R. Poage visited all seven continents. This exhibit, while not an exhaustive accounting of Congressman Poage’s international voyages, gives a broad overview of his travel during his 42 years in office. During this time, Poage’s work on the Agriculture Committee and with the InterParliamentary Union (among others) took him overseas where he met, befriended, and learned from hundreds of foreign peoples.

He remembered these experiences fondly, and in his memoirs wrote: “I have always felt that travel was absolutely essential to any well-rounded citizen, and I consider it to be of vital importance to a Member of Congress.” Similarly, Poage believed that congressmen who were too concerned about being on public business missed out on the opportunities for personal and professional growth international travel provided.

A report on Poage’s trip to Poland, Russia, India, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Nepal, and Australia for the use of the Committee on Agriculture. [Cover]

Poage’s passport application from 1960. Note the “Visible Distinguishing Characteristics” and “Occupation” fields.


Poage recalled visiting Tokyo, Japan, when the city was still in ruins. In his words, two of the great errors Americans made regarding Japan after World War II were only apparent in hindsight. The first of these was disallowing the Japanese from re-arming. While Poage agreed with the decision at the time, in later years he lamented the undue strain this placed on American forces stationed in Asia. The second, more tongue-in-cheek criticism was the military’s failure to institute the American custom of driving on the right side of the road.

Congressman Poage also noted a difference in the Chinese and American approaches to agriculture; while American farmers measured efficiency in terms of yield per man-hour, their Chinese counterparts measured it in yield per acre regardless of the human labor cost.

Poage visited Tashkent, Uzbekistan (U.S.S.R. until 1991) in 1959, which he spoke of as the center of Russian cotton-growing country. He recalled the Russians picking their cotton by hand and taking great pains to keep their product dry for future storage. At the time, the United States was using strippers and picker machines. The Russians placed their picked cotton along the roadside for up to two weeks, sometimes completely closing the road, to dry in the sun.

In India, Congressman Poage noted that the Indians were eager to work but had few resources. The smaller villages worked water buffaloes in place of mules and the people considered cattle sacred. This practice, he believed, hindered the Indians’ agricultural growth. He noted that the majority of their infrastructure at the time had been built by the British, including roads and railways.

(Click on the images below to view detailed records for each item in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.)

Congressman Poage visits a Korean warehouse. [Undated]

Mrs. Poage wore this nametage at the 1960 Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Tokyo, Japan.

Congressman Poage visits the Taoyuan Primary school in Taipei. [undated]

In this letter, Congressman Poage responds to a request from the Foreign Publications Service for an article on the Interparliamentary Union Conference in Tokyo. September 7, 1960.


Poage first visited Europe in 1944, just months after the Allied landing in France. He was, at the time, a guest of the British government, who wanted the American Congress to better understand the realities of the war. Poage recalled being impressed by the British citizens’ reserve during the war; the country seemed to be carrying on with daily life despite the fighting. At night, however, the streets and windows were dark to defend against German air raids. Bombings were so ubiquitous that British repair crews could be seen each morning rebuilding those structures that were hit the previous night.

The same could not be said of Germany after the war’s end. When Congressman Poage visited the country in 1946, he was struck by the lack of progress the country had made toward rebuilding itself. This visit influenced the implementation of the Marshall Plan, wherein the United States helped restore Germany’s economy. Poage believed that the plan prevented the inevitable fighting and looting that would have torn Germany apart.

In 1959, Poage traveled through Russia on an InterParliamentary Union trip. He described the experience of visiting Rostov-on-Don in terms of its similarity to central Texas’s blackland prairies. The farms he visited were either owned by the state or through a cooperative. While the state-owned farms utilized better machinery, he felt the cooperative farms were generally more successful. He remembered the Russians as being friendly and optimistic about their economic futures. Across the Soviet Union, Poage encountered pictures of Lenin on nearly every available wall. He recognized that most Americans would bristle under the Soviet form of government, but that at the time the Russians felt they were better off under Soviet rule than they had been under the Czars. However, he predicted that the next generation, removed from memories of the old empire, would be more open to criticizing the Soviet government and be instrumental in ensuring world peace.

(Click on the images below to view detailed records for each item in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.)

This packet contains guides for touring Vienna, including brochures for dining spots, museums, cultural landmarks and maps for traversing the city.

Congressman Poage observes his own reflection in a mirror during a tour of an Austrian palace, 1969.

Map of Copenhagen [undated]

Budapest Travel Brochure, undated

Congressman Poage poses with casks of wine in Spain, June 1976

In this entry from his extensive travel diary (dated September 7, 1949), Congressman Poage remembers the opening day of the IPU Conference in Stockholm. 


Poage enjoyed his time in Australia, chiefly due to his observation that the Australian people were much like Americans but spoke “British.” Though they visited the great cities of Melbourne and Sydney, his group spent most of their time in the outback. Tasmania reminded him of the English Midlands, both in terms of its people and its geography. Much of the Northern Territory was desert with poor quality cattle, sometimes with only one animal per 160 acres. According to Poage, Queensland, in the northeast, was the “land of opportunity” for Australian settlers. Restrictive title laws, however, hobbled the region’s development. In nearby New Zealand, Poage found “the prettiest grasslands of the world” where he said grass grew year-round.

(Click on the images below to view detailed records for each item in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.)

Map of TAA Inter-Capital Routes [Undated]

Australian Sugar 1970 brochure

Canterbury Agriculutral College Annual Review 1956 [cover]

Dairyfarming Annual 1956 [cover]

Sugar and Fiji [brochure cover]

Colony of Fiji Travel Brochure [undated]

Visitors Guide to Perth [cover]


Poage noted that Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia’s agriculture produced “magnificent” sugar and coffee as a complement to American agriculture. All three countries, he believed, should be good markets for domestic grain. The natives of Peru cultivated potatoes in the tradition of their ancestors, though exorbitant land prices strangled individual growth. Fruits were plentiful in Chile, but Poage was especially interested in Argentina, whose own beef and wheat industries were directly competitive with American agriculture. Argentinian beeves were prevented from being imported into the United States because of their proclivity to carry hoof and mouth disease — an affliction that could infect and kill many of their northern cousins. Congressman Poage likened the possible destruction to the plight of the native South American, many of whom were eradicated due to contact with European diseases.

In Paraguay, Poage was initially struck by the lack of contemporary structural components — many buildings still had dirt floors — but found that the country quickly modernized on his return trips. Paraguay’s rapid economic development helped convince Poage that “some countries are far better off with the economic stability of a benevolent dictator than under the turmoil of the constant change of a more democratic government.”

(Click on the images below to view detailed records for each item in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.)

Congressman Poage poses with two llamas outside the airport in La Paz, Bolivia, 1960

Congressman Poage observes earth-moving equipment in Guyana, November 26, 1972

Congressman Poage (in hat) and a group of onlookers observe a bull in Venezuela, 1960


In Palestine, now Israel, Poage observed irrigation techniques that he had never seen before. As he writes in his travel diary, “I have never seen such terracing, not even in China. Every hillside, no matter how rocky, was terraced, but there is little productive land even on the terraces.” His tour took him through Jerusalem, which he described as “surprisingly modern,” Bethlehem, Jericho, and the course of the Biblical Wise Men. Of the field where Ruth supposedly plowed the wheat, he writes, “Very rocky. I don’t see how wheat grew there.”

Poage, in 1972, observed that Khartoum — the capital of Sudan — was mostly mud huts with a few impressive buildings. The two branches of the Nile came together there, dividing it into three cities. He wrote that the bed of the river was planted with beans and peas as quickly as the water receded. In Bahrain, Poage was received by the Sheikh, who met them in the yard and spoke with them in his audience room. Poage writes that the man was a “very human sort of fellow” who assured them of his populist leanings despite being an absolute monarch. He was also very impressed with the alfalfa production of Oman and described Qatar as “a complete desert.”

(Click on the images below to view detailed records for each item in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.)

Congressman Poage shakes hands with an unidentified man in Beirut [undated]

Log of Inter-Parliamentary Union Trip, 1951

Congressman Poage with a group of visitors at a site in Iran [undated]

Schedule for Visit by American Congressmen November 26-27, 1972

Congressman Poage and a group of people in front of Persian ruins in Iran [undated]

Congressman Poage meets with dignitaries in Yemen. [Undated]


In 1947, Poage attended his first InterParliamentary Union Conference in Cairo, Egypt. While there, he realized the value in meeting and getting to know the leaders from other countries. He saw the pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx by the light of a full moon and was very impressed by them. He visited the Royal Palace, which was “much larger than the White House,” though he was unable to meet the King. On the Nile were small cotton fields, often less than a single acre in size, planted by hand in close rows. Poage also saw stands of alfalfa-like Egyptian clover, wheat, and other vegetables. The gardens of the Nile River were especially beautiful.

Poage observed peanuts to be crucial to Western Africa’s economy. The hulls were used for fertilizer and most were grown inland as the land near the coast was poor. Coconuts, bananas, coffee, cocoa, and papayas were also grown on small farms. He found the people of the area to be friendly and interesting, and spoke at length to them about their agricultural practices. Cattle were not raised near the coasts due to the prevalence of the Tsetse fly, which carried “sleeping sickness” and was not found in the higher, dryer interior.

While in Southern Africa, Poage recalled the majesty of the landscape: “We flew over big game country, but could see no animals. we could see the typical African water lakes with game trails going out in all directions … We could see the falls from a distance. At least, we could see the mist. At this time of the year, the flow of the river is low. Above the falls, the river is very wide and with a slight gradient. In fact, it looks much like the Llano, only is many times larger.”

(Click on the images below to view detailed records for each item in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.)

Congressman Poage shaking hands with citizen in Liberia, 1970

Congressman Poage observes two cheetahs in Liberia, 1970

French Equatorial Africa [brochure cover]

Congressman Poage is part of a group visitng the Sphinx [undated]

Congressman Poage and a group of men examine a construction site in Liberia, 1970


In celebration of Bob Bullock, an exhibit is currently on display at the W.R. Poage Legislative Library honoring his long and transformational political career. We encourage you to visit, however, if you cannot visit the exhibit in person this webpage will give you a good sampling of what is on display.

 Brief Biography

Robert “Bob” Douglas Bullock, Sr. was born in the small Texas community of Hillsboro on July 10, 1929. Bullock had a lengthy career as a Texas politician beginning in 1956 when he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives.

He resigned from the legislature in 1959 and did not return to public service until 1967 as an aide to Governor Preston Smith who eventually appointed Bullock Secretary of State from 1971-1972.

Bullock’s political career really took off when he became Comptroller of Public Accounts, a position he held for four terms. After serving as comptroller for 16 years, Bullock was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1990 and elected for a second term in 1994.

Bullock was considered by many to be the last giant of Texas politics whose years in the public service sector were filled with controversy; but they also serve as a powerful testament to his dedicated passion for making Texas a better place for all its citizens.

The personal responsibility of good government does not end at the ballot box, but lives in the heart and soul of all of us who want Texas to be the best it can be.” – Bob Bullock


BCPM ; Digital Projects Group


In 1975 Bob Bullock became Comptroller of Public Accounts, a position he proudly held for four terms. As comptroller, Bullock’s primary responsibilities were to collect tax revenue owed to the State of Texas, provide statements of the previous fiscal year and estimate current and future revenue. The comptroller certifies the amount of funds that the Legislature is allowed to use and they cannot, by law, use more.

“Bullock runs one of the few efficient operations in government. It’s the best place to learn about real administration.” – Garry Mauro

Although he gained a reputation for sometimes being abrasive and insensitive, he was highly respected even by those who disagreed with his methods. He has been credited with completely overhauling and transforming the comptroller’s office by making it more efficient. Many argued that he turned it into one of the best – if not the best – run departments in the state.

One of Bullock’s first priorities after being elected Comptroller was to crack down on business owners who had not paid their state sales taxes. This crack down led to his infamous and much feared “Bullock Raiders,” the term given to the individuals who visited businesses known to have delinquent accounts.

Bullock cared deeply for Texas’ wellbeing and often worked inhumanly long hours to ensure he was doing everything in his power to make it the best state possible. While Comptroller, Bullock made it a prerogative to actively recruit and hire women and minorities, he incorporated the newest computer technology which substantially increased the department’s productivity, he aggressively pursued the collection of delinquent sales tax from business owners giving rise to the much feared “Bullock’s Raiders” and he advocated for better water and sewer service for the economically depressed colonias along the Texas border, an effort he continued as Lieutenant Governor.

Bullock interviewed by a TV crew outside a Texas electronics store during a raid.

While reminiscing about his experiences working for Bullock, Bill Aleshire described how Bullock “gave us hope that if you can take something that old-fashioned, shake it up and make it work, it could be done elsewhere.”

“When you got a zinger, you knew he was personally interested. He would use them to let you know when he was unhappy with you, or that you had done a particularly good job on something. Either way, it would make or break your day to get one.” – Former Bullock employee

Bullock’s efforts in hiring women and minorities to make the comptroller’s office more equally representative of the state’s demographics was applauded and considered one of his greatest achievements during his time as Comptroller.


Bob Bullock continued his passion for improving the lives of all Texans when he assumed the second highest office in Texas. In 1991, Bullock became Texas’ Lieutenant Governor alongside its newly elected Governor Ann Richards. Four years later, he was elected for a second term during which he developed a strong bond and excellent working relationship with Governor George W. Bush despite their allegiances to opposing political parties. Bullock always insisted that politicians leave their politics at the door and adopt a bipartisan position to better allow them to make choices that were truly best for Texas and not just those that align with their party’s ideology.

Although there are various speculations as to why, Bullock and Ann Richards reportedly did not get along and experienced a tumultuous working relationship during their four years together.

Bullock and George W. Bush, on the other hand, worked well together despite coming from different political parties. Bullock believed that Bush truly cared for the wellbeing of Texas and wholeheartedly supported him when Bush ran for a second term as Governor against Democratic contender Garry Mauro.

During his first run for office, The Victoria Advocate published an editorial endorsing Bullock for Lt. Governor in which they insisted that “Mr. Bullock is a true leader, unafraid to take strong stands on controversial issues.” “He understands state finances better than anyone around and he has the vision to address the myriad thorny issues that confront Texas. He will hold legislative feet to the figurative fire and get the state moving” and he certainly did not disappoint.

As Lt. Governor, Bullock was partially responsible for urging lawmakers to undertake a major rewrite of the Public Education Code which happened in 1995 allowing schools increased local control. He also encouraged lawmakers to design a statewide water plan after a serious drought plagued Texas in 1997 which eventually led to the implementation of the state’s first water conservation management plan.

Chief Justice Tom Phillips swears in Bullock as Lt. Governor.

Despite heavy backlash against it, Bullock pushed for a state income tax but also enacted a constitutional amendment in 1993 that required voter’s approval before a state income tax could be enforced and also required that the funds from the tax be used to improve education.

In the spirit of his grandiose love for Texas, Bullock used his office to aid in the preservation of its past by securing funds for a state history museum as one did not yet exist. He also spearheaded the restoration and renovation of the Texas State Cemetery in which Bullock is now buried.

During his announcement that he would not run for another term, Bullock declared that he would leave office “with no ill will to anyone and with love, respect and admiration for all my fellow Texans. Only death will end my love affair with Texas.”

“God Bless Texas!” 

Handkerchief from the 1995 Inauguration

Invitation to the 1991 Inauguration

Paperweight with Bullock’s slogan


It was reported that some spectators wept on February 6, 1983 as they watched flames destroy their State Capitol building, a building significant not only because of what occurs inside of it but also because of what it represents. The Capitol building in Austin is a constant reminder and vigilant symbol of the indomitable spirit and inherent grandness of Texas.

Mark White, Texas’ governor at the time of the tragedy, was distraught about the incident but unfortunately due to a state budget crunch could not initiate a complete restoration project for the building. After the fire, however, the State Preservation Board was established to preserve and maintain the building and they were able to at least refurbish the legislative chambers, a few rooms, and the Goddess of Liberty statue atop the Capitol dome.

“On and off for 40 years, I have walked through the halls of this magnificent Capitol building, 40 years in partnership with the people of Texas….” – Bob Bullock

It was not until December 1988 that a design team was assembled to create a master plan for the restoration of the building including blueprints for the construction of an underground expansion that would create more space for employees. In May 1989, the Legislature voted to fund the whole project which was completed six years later.

The Capitol was re-dedicated on April 21, 1995.

Limestone from Capitol walls

Original floor tile from Capitol

The State Capitol building has been through numerous renovations and restorations since its completion in 1888. The pieces above were taken during one its renovations in the 1970’s.


Bob Bullock received many gifts throughout his years as a politician but the gift he was given most frequently were books dedicated to Texas history. Bullock had a fierce, unabating love for his state and everyone knew it; and on Congress Avenue stands a museum that serves as a triumphant, constant reminder of this deep devotion.

The 35-ft. tall bronze star adorning the Lone Star Plaza is a beacon for the Museum assuring nobody misses it as they wander by.

Thanks to Bullock’s efforts, visitors can now experience three floors of Texas history with over 700 original artifacts including the preserved hull of the sunken expedition ship La Belle in one of the museum’s most popular exhibits. Visitor’s museum experience is further enhanced with rotating special exhibits dedicated to specific topics such as Texas’ role in World War II, an exploration of Big Bend National Park, or their current exhibit Purchased Lives which utilizes personal accounts and artifacts to tell the story of the American slave trade.

Bottles commemorating the Museum’s opening

Bullock was the guest of honor at the groundbreaking ceremony in April, 1999 but unfortunately died before the museum opened to the public in April, 2001. In his honor, a bronze statue of him was placed at the head of the staircase on the second level where it still overlooks the two-story glass entrance of a state history museum that is surely “something that Texas can be proud of.”


On Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, Americans across all 50 states will cast their votes. They will, collectively, elect 435 members to the House of Representatives, 34 Senators, 12 state Governors, 1 Vice President and 1 President. This date – the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November – was set by Congress in 1845 and has remained constant ever since. This year, we’re commemorating Election Day with a brand new digital exhibit. We’re calling it our #ElectionCollection, and throughout the month of October leading up to Election Day, we’ll be digging into our collections and pulling out some of our most interesting Congressional election-related materials.

Why Congressional materials? Because the legislative branch, more than the executive or judicial branch, is “the branch of the people.” Congressmen and Senators represent the interests of their constituent states and districts at the federal level, crafting legislation that will impact the daily lives of Americans in a very real way. These men and women know their constituents more intimately than any other federal elected official, communicating with them over months and years to learn what they find important and how they expect government to perform.

Learn more about the NARA campaign that inspired our exhibit here.


Baylor Collections of Political Materials, Digital Projects Group


Campaign buttons are a fun and easy way for constituents to support their candidate. The buttons in this collection cover elections from many campaigns and districts across Texas. Campaigns often design their buttons to communicate pithy slogans and use bold colors to help possible voters remember a candidate. Some buttons, particularly those of incumbents, simply feature a candidate’s name. The buttons in our #ElectionCollection were donated by voters and campaigns to preserve the historicity of the election process.

Lloyd Bentsen campaign button [undated]

Lloyd Bentsen was a United States Senator who represented Texas from 1971–1993. His most famous moment came during the 1988 vice presidential debate, when he chided his opponent, Dan Quayle, by telling him that “You’re no Jack Kennedy” in response to Quayle’s claim that he had as much experience as Kennedy did when he was elected.

Lloyd Bentsen campaign button [undated]

Lloyd Bentsen campaign button [undated]

Blakley for Senate campaign button [undated]

Campaign button for Jack Hightower, Democratic Party candidate, Bexar County, Texas [undated]

Bexar (pronounced “bear”) County is a county in Texas that contains San Antonio. Although he did not represent Bexar County directly, Jack Hightower had supporters there who wore this button to show their support for his candidacy.

John Dowdy campaign button [undated]

Born in Waco, Texas, John Dowdy was a member of the United States House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas from 1952-1967 who later served the 2nd District as their congressman.

Gordon McLendon for U.S. Senate campaign button [undated]

W. R. “Bob” Poage campaign button [undated]

With a career spanning 42 years of service, W. R. “Bob” Poage was one of the longest-tenured members of Congress. Poage utilized several different campaign slogans, and this particular one — “Poage is Proven” — was used near the end of his career.

Purcell for Congress campaign button [undated]


Matchbooks remain a popular advertisement for business today due to their versatility and longevity, though this popularity has decreased as commercial lighters have become more widespread. For campaigns, matchbooks provided a way for voters to start political conversations while sharing a cigarette break. These matchbooks included similar design elements to campaign buttons and bumper stickers, though with the added bonus of everyday use by constituents.

Promotional matchbook for the Oscar B. Englert campaign [undated]

Promotional matchbook for the George Hensel campaign [undated]

George Hensel ran for California’s 26th District congressional seat in 1978. Although unsuccessful, his strategy of promoting his business experience and distancing himself from politics rewarded him with a second place finish.

Promotional matchbook for the Ross E. Hershberger campaing [undated]

Promotional matchbook for the Lyndon B. Johnson campaign [undated]

Lyndon B. Johnson was one of the most prolific politicians in United States history, one of only four people to have served as President, Vice President, and in both houses of Congress.

Miscellaneous Items

Some of our items defy easy categorization. These items span the breadth of the election process from voter mobilization to actual vote casting. Each item in this collection provides insight into the democratic process and how it candidates approached their pursuit of public office.

Promotional flashlight keychain issued by the Jake Pickle campaign [undated]

In one of the most egregious examples of utilizing their last name to do the campaigning for them, James “Jake” Pickle would pass out items in the shape of pickles to drum up awareness of his campaign. He passed out buttons, stickers, squeaky toys, and flashlights that were all pickled shaped during his 32-year long congressional career.

Promotional pin issued by the Jake Pickle campaign [undated]

Bumper sticker from the Chet Edwards for Congress campaign [undated]

Campaign advertisement for Ed Gossett campaign [undated]

Voting machine from the 1940 national elections

This voting machine is from the 1940 presidential Election. Included on the ballot is an option for governor, comptroller, United States Senator, and Representative in Congress. An interesting feature of this machine is the ability to either vote Democratic or Republican for each individual position or to vote strictly for whichever party you support all at once.

Text of talking points for speech by U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards [undated]

While many members of Congress have every speech completely written out, some people — such as former congressman Chet Edwards — prefer to improvise. This fascinating text shows which talking points Edwards considered significant enough to discuss while thanking his supporters after another successful campaign.

Photo of Texas Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock on the campaign trail [undated]

Text of first page of speech by U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, November 2, 2004


Campaigns designed their posters for display in both public and private arenas. As such, they had to appeal to a variety of possible voters. They had to be simple enough to convey information about a candidate’s policies but interesting enough to catch voters’ attention. Walking this fine line continues to be a difficult process, and campaigns today sometimes employ cutting-edge graphic designers to create their posters.

Poster for the W. R. “Bob” Poage campaign [undated]

This informative campaign poster shows a picture of W. R. Poage and lists all of the counties he would represent in the 11th Texas District. This poster was another success for Poage, who served in Congress for 42 years

Poster for the W. R. “Bob” Poage campaign [undated]

Poster for the Dunn for Congress campaign [undated]

Poster for “Get Out the Vote Rally” for Lloyd Doggett, [undated]

Rallies are an important part of campaigning, and this poster promotes a rally for Lloyd Doggett. Events such as these helped propel him to a seat in the House of Representatives in 1995.

Poster for Bill Crook for Congress [undated]

Poster for Rudy Dockray for Congress campaign [undated]

Poster for Ben Boothe for U.S. Congress campaign [undated]

Poster for Olin “Tiger” Teague for Congress campaign [undated]

Olin “Tiger” Teague was a WWII veteran who represented Texas in the House of Representatives. He focused his campaign on veteran affairs reform, a topic his protégé Chet Edwards continued to campaign for during his congressional career.’

Poster for Bob Bullock for Congress campaign [undated]

Although best known as being the Comptroller of Texas, Bob Bullock started his political career as the Texas State Representative of the 54th District. While supplementing his campaign with posters such as this, Bullock found most of his support by walking door-to-door and talking to his future constituents.

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