AUSTIN, Texas – Nov. 11, 2021
The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas is pleased to announce the launch of the Jack Brooks Digital Legacy Project.
The project website explores the life and public service of Congressman Jack Brooks through a digital repository of newly digitized primary source materials from the Jack Brooks Papers, part of the Briscoe Center’s collections.
Congressman Jack Brooks represented the Beaumont—Port Arthur—Galveston region for forty-two years, a period that spanned ten presidential administrations, from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. A close ally of powerful Speaker Sam Rayburn, Brooks was a key legislative decision maker during the Cold War, the space race, the Watergate scandal and the Iran-Contra affair. Under the traditional rules of the House, Chairman Brooks may have been the only (or one of the only) members to have ever chaired two full committees of the House.
The Jack Brooks Digital Legacy Project was supported in part by the Jack Brooks Foundation, a nonprofit organization that develops independent and nonpartisan activities designed to empower, educate and motivate individual Americans to participate in the voting process.
“Jack Brooks was an influential figure during most of his years in Congress. His extensive collection of papers are a cornerstone of the center’s congressional and political collections,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “This new site illustrates his many contributions to Texas and the United States through carefully selected primary source materials. Now, this evidence of Brooks’ legacy of public service is easily accessible to historians, researchers and the general public. We’re grateful to the Jack Brooks Foundation for their support of this significant project.”
“The Brooks Family would like to thank the Briscoe Center for bringing these important documents to the public,” said Jeb Brooks, chairman of the board for the Jack Brooks Foundation. “Jack Brooks, my father, crafted legislation that helps govern our country even to this day. Now everyone will have access to examples of the positive things government can achieve when representatives of goodwill work together.”
While the Jack Brooks Digital Legacy Project contains only a portion of the 860 linear feet of archival holdings in the Jack Brooks Papers, each item featured on the site was carefully selected by the project staff to fully represent his life and career.
The project team, led by historian Dr. Eric Busch and archivist Nina Tarnawsky, embarked on an extensive selection process, sifting through decades of materials covering various aspects of the congressman’s career. The materials were then organized in five broad themes: Personal, Politics and Elections, Legislation, Inquiries and Investigations and Government Operations.
The site contains more than 1,600 documents (adding up to more than 3,600 pages), dozens of still photographs and multimedia materials. The project team also created metadata for the digitized items, which allows users to search and find related documents with ease and accuracy. In addition, the digital legacy project includes a detailed biographical essay on Brooks.
Of particular note are digitized film reels, which include short television broadcasts filmed by Brooks in Washington, DC, to air on KFDM-TV in Beaumont every week. These broadcasts feature Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and House Majority Leader John McCormack, among others. The site also features radio broadcasts Brooks made for his constituents, which include interviews with Speaker Sam Rayburn and Congressman George Mahon.
The Brooks Digital Legacy Project was also supported in part by the center’s Janey and Dolph Briscoe Jr. Endowment for Texas History.
Media assets, including representative selections from the project, are available here: https://utexas.box.com/s/3degce7us0itmdb9x4dfwpgtn06vwe18