A Guide to the J.J. Jake Pickle Papers, [ca. 1910s]-2010
James Jarrell "Jake," Pickle (1913-2005) represented the Texas 10th District for 30 years in the House of Representatives from 1963 to 1993. Pickle was born in Roscoe, Texas on October 11, 1913 to Joseph Binford Pickle and Mary Theresa Duke, and had five siblings. He grew up in Big Spring, Texas, and was an active Boy Scout, achieving the distinction of Eagle Scout. In 1932 Pickle moved to Austin to attend The University of Texas (UT). While at UT, he befriended future Texas Governor, John B. Connally. He was elected Student Body President as a senior in 1937, and began to consider politics as a career path. After graduation, he went to work for the National Youth Administration, where he met Lyndon B. Johnson, who would become his political mentor. Pickle married Ella Nora "Sugar"Critz in 1942. Shortly after their marriage, he received a commission as an officer in the United States Navy. Pickle served on gunboats in the Pacific theatre for the next four years and was discharged as a senior lieutenant.
Upon his return to Austin in 1945, Pickle co-founded a local radio station, KVET, along with seven other World War II veterans. Sugar and Pickle’s daughter, Peggy, was born in 1946. In 1949, Pickle left KVET to co-establish the public relations and advertising firm of Syers-Pickle & Winn. Through his work conducting smear campaigns at Syers-Pickle & Winn, Pickle became embroiled in the Texas political scene.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, Pickle participated in or managed the political campaigns of several state and national officials, including Meade Griffin, Lyndon Johnson, Price Daniel, Allen Shivers, and John Connally. Throughout the 1950s, Pickle served on the State Democratic Executive Committee. In 1960, Texas Governor Price Daniel appointed Pickle to serve on the Texas Employment Commission. That same year, eight years after he lost his first wife to breast cancer, Pickle married Beryl Bolton McCarroll, a widow with two teenage sons.
With the support of Lyndon Johnson, Pickle won a special election in December 1963 to fill the 10th District Congressional seat vacated by Congressman Homer Thornberry. Pickle represented the Texas 10th District for the next 30 years until his retirement in 1995. A Democrat, Pickle voted for many of the major legislative and social reforms put forward by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Proving his loyalty to Johnson, Pickle was one of only five Southern Congressmen to vote for the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, and recalled it as the vote of which he was most proud. Other significant legislation that he supported includes the Social Security Reform Bill of 1983 and the Pension Reform Act of 1994. Pickle worked hard to protect The University of Texas at Austin by making sure "his university" received favorable tax legislation. While in Congress, Pickle served on the Social Security Subcommittee and the powerful Ways and Means Committee. During his tenure Pickle formed close working relationships with Presidents (Johnson, Nixon, Carter, and Clinton) and other Congressmen and politicians, and was a respected veteran legislator.
In January 1995, at age 80, Pickle retired from Congress but continued to exercise his political spirit. Back in Austin, Pickle served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Bergstrom and dozens of other projects. Pickle and his daughter Peggy co-authored an autobiography titled Jake (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997).Pickle’s philanthropy can be seen in many Texas and Austin institutions and buildings that bear his name. In 1991, Pickle was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and in 2001 he developed lymphoma and began chemotherapy treatment. In 2002, Pickle and his wife Beryl moved into a Central Austin assisted living home called Westminster Manor, where he and his daughter Peggy hosted his 90th birthday party in 2003. Pickle died in 2005 at age 92.
Source: Cox, Patrick. "Pickle, James Jarrell [Jake] (1913-2055)."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed February 3, 2010http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/PP/fpi47.html.
Correspondence, case files, constituent mail, legislation, campaign materials, photographs, newspaper clippings, financial documents, scrapbooks, artifacts, and awards and honors compose the J.J."Jake" Pickle Papers,depicting Pickle’s activities from his early years in Big Spring, Texas, through his service as a Congressman and his eventual retirement and death. The bulk of the collection dates between 1963 and 1995, documenting Pickle’s more than three decades in Congress. The papers are primarily organized chronologically by congressional session. Each congressional session is subdivided by topic and arranged alphabetically. Of particular interest are materials relating to Pickle’s tenure on the House Ways and Means Committee and chairmanship of the sub-committee on Oversight.
A 2011 addition to the papers consists of materials used by Congressman Pickle and his daughter Peggy in the course of writing Pickle’s biography. Peggy Pickle attached written descriptions to a number of materials and also included items collected after Pickle’s death. Consisting of seven and a half linear feet, this addition is arranged into four distinct series: Personal, Professional, Photographs, and Scrapbooks. The Personal series illuminates Pickle’s familial relationships, including those with his first and second wives and daughter Peggy. The Professional series encompasses Pickle’s career in both the private and public sectors, primarily his tenure in Congress and campaigns. Notable correspondents include John Connally, Hubert Humphrey, Bill Clinton, and Pickle’s mentor Lyndon B. Johnson, including a long letter celebrating the success of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Photography and Scrapbooks series pertain to Pickle’s professional and personal life, particularly Pickle’s relationship with the family of Lyndon B. Johnson through photos and letters.
This collection is open for research use.
Use of reel-to-reel materials by appointment only; plese contact the sound archivist for more information
The majority of these papers is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
J.J. "Jake" Pickle Papers, [ca. 1910s]-2010, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Revised by Laurel Rozema, January 2010 and March 2011; Jessica Gauthier, Emily Perkins, Eliot Scott, and Melissa Wopschall, October-November 2011; Mark Firmin, October 2012; Keelee James, January 2014.
Detailed Description of the Papers