TABLE OF CONTENTS
Detailed Description of the Papers
A Guide to the Brooks (Jack B.) Papers, 1945-2002
Jack B. Brooks of Beaumont, Texas represented the 2nd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives from 1953 through 1966 and the 9th Congressional District from 1967 through 1995. Born in Crowley, Louisiana, on December 18, 1922, he moved to Beaumont at the age of 5. He attended public schools and received a scholarship to Lamar Junior College. He transferred to The University of Texas and earned a BA in journalism (1943). During World War II, Brooks enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving for approximately two years in the Pacific Theatre on Guadalcanal, Guam, Okinawa, and in North China. He continued his military service in the Marine Corps Reserves until retirement as a colonel in 1972.
In 1946, at the age of 24, Brooks, a lifelong Democrat, began his commitment to public service when voters elected him to represent Jefferson County in the Texas Legislature. He won reelection in 1948 without opposition. While a member of the legislature, he earned a law degree from the University in 1949.
Brooks made his initial run for Congress in 1952. Following his election he served for the next five decades in Congress. As a member of the influential Texas Congressional delegation, Brooks became a close friend of powerful House Speaker Sam Rayburn during the 1950’s. During his tenure in the Congress, Brooks held many leadership roles on congressional committees and subcommittees. His notable positions included the chairmanship of the House Committee on Government Operations from 1975 through 1988 and the chairmanship of the House Committee on the Judiciary between 1989 and 1995. Brooks became the senior member of the Texas Congressional delegation in 1979, a position he held until he left office in 1995.
In the 1960s, as a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Jack Brooks helped write the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. During the national turmoil surrounding the Watergate scandal in 1974, he played a major role during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard M. Nixon, who resigned as president as a result of revelations from his involvement in the scandal. As the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Brooks also sponsored significant pieces of legislation, including the Single Audit Act of 1984, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1991, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
On November 22, 1963, Brooks rode in the motorcade carrying President John F. Kennedy and many members of the Texas Congressional delegation through downtown Dallas. Following President Kennedy’s assassination, Brooks stood by during the swearing in of President Lyndon Johnson on Air Force One at Dallas' Love Field.
As the leader of the Government Operations Committee, Congressman Brooks oversaw legislation affecting budget and accounting matters and the establishment of departments and agencies. In this role, he also helped pass the Inspector General Act of 1978, the General Accounting Office Act of 1980, and the Paper Reduction Act of 1980.
Brooks sponsored the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The bill, which carried the federal assault weapons ban, has been credited with contributing to the drop in crimes committed in the United States during the 1990s. During his nearly half a century of service to the people of his district, Brooks secured support for many local and regional projects. These included funding for the Rayburn Dam and Reservoir and for making extensive improvements to deep water shipping channels along the Texas coast. He also helped pass legislation to provide flood insurance to individuals and businesses suffering losses due to hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Jack Brooks married Charlotte Collins in 1960. The couple’s three children are Jeb Brooks, Kate Brooks Carroll, and Kim Brooks and their grandchildren are Matthew Carroll and Brooke Carroll. Jack Brooks continues to live in Beaumont, Texas, and is actively involved in the Democratic Party.
Correspondence, printed material, creative works, legal documents, financial documents, minutes, photographic materials, sound recordings, and works of art make up the Jack B. Brooks Papers, 1945-2002. Brooks and his staff created the bulk of the material during his term as United States Representative from Texas (1953-1994), though the papers also contain records from Brooks’ previous service in the Texas State Legislature (1946-1952).
Some restrictions apply. Consult reference staff for further information.
This collection is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Jack Brooks Papers, 1945-2002, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection processed by Heather Trent and Kim Burpo, October 2007.
Subsequent revisions made by Megan Mummey, October 2009, and Evan Usler, May 2011 and February 2012.