Texas Legislature, Joint Committee Investigating the Pink Bollworm Infestation in Texas:
An Inventory of the Stenographic Report at the Texas State Archives, 1920
The Joint Committee Investigating the Pink Bollworm Infestation in Texas was created by the Texas Legislature in 1920 (House Concurrent Resolution 1, 36th Legislature, 3rd Called Session, 1920) for the purpose of fully investigating the appearance of the pink bollworm in Texas and the methods needed to control and eradicate the pest.
The pink bollworm (Heliothis armigera) entered Texas from Mexico in 1916. The pest affected cotton production in many Texas counties, particularly along the Rio Grande. The pink bollworm is the larva of a small brown moth which eats the maturing seed within a cotton boll. The life cycle in midsummer is usually completed in twenty-five to thirty days, and as many as six generations of the insect may occur in a season. In 1917 the state legislature passed the Pink Bollworm Act (Senate Bill 7, 35th Legislature, 3rd Called Session), which established a quarantine zone along the Texas/Mexico border, established additional quarantine standards, and provided for the inspection and, if needed, destruction of infected cotton and cotton crops. The legislation was subsequently modified (House Bill 329, 36th Legislature, Regular Session, 1919) to provide regulations to control the worm and further restrict the infected area.
On May 8, 1920, Governor Hobby called a Third Session of the 36th Legislature, in large part to address the bollworm infestation. Apparently, the counties placed under quarantine during 1917 had shown no evidence of infestation in 1918 and had been replanted in 1919. An investigation during the fall of 1919, however, indicated that the infestation still existed and by early 1920, unless a quarantined no-cotton zone was established, the state faced a quarantine imposed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the Federal Horticultural Board on all of its cotton and cotton products. Thus, one of the major goals of the Third Session was to enact legislation aimed at establishing various regulated and/or prohibited cotton growing zones and to eradicate the infestation. Toward this end, House Concurrent Resolution 1 was adopted on May 21, 1920. The resolution created a joint committee composed of the members of the House and Senate's Agriculture Committees (the Senate, and possibly also the House, appointed its entire membership onto the Agriculture Committee). The Committee was to investigate and make recommendations regarding the current status of the bollworm problem, the methods needed to eradicate the pest, and the methods needed to prevent a federal quarantine of Texas cotton. The Joint Committee first met on May 24; Representative R.L. McDowra was Chairman and Senator William H. Bledsoe was Vice-Chair. The Joint Committee collected evidence and heard testimony from May 24 until May 31, at which time the committee went into executive session to consider House Bill 157, which had been referred to the House Agriculture Committee.
As a result of the committee's work, the legislature approved House Bill 157 on June 19, 1920 (still during the 3rd Called Session), continuing the quarantine regulations along the boundary with Mexico, but also providing for the creation of the Pink Bollworm Commission, composed of 5 members, to check on quarantined areas yearly, conduct hearings on infestations, and make reports to governmental bodies. The legislation also established a Compensation Claims Board, composed of three people with recognized practical experience in cotton production and costs, to conduct hearings and review and grant claims submitted by those farmers forced to destroy infected crops.
Records consist of a single bound volume of the stenographic report of the Texas Legislature's Joint Committee Investigating the Pink Bollworm Infestation in Texas, 1920. This particular volume, filed in the office of the Texas Secretary of State on June 18, 1920, contains the complete records of the committee, including testimony, exhibits, and letters entered into the official record. The committee was concerned with the infiltration of the pink bollworm into Texas from Mexico and its impact on the Texas cotton crop, particularly as it might result in a federal quarantine of all Texas cotton.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use
(Identify the page), Stenographic report, Joint Committee Investigating the Pink Bollworm Infestation in Texas, Texas Legislature. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1941/006
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Secretary of State on April 24, 1942.
Nancy Enneking, July 2000
The proceedings of the committee have been published in the journals of the Texas Senate and House.
Detailed Description of the Collection