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William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray Collection

Identifier: CAC-CC-041
Scope and Contents The Murray Collection is approximately 9 linear feet plus oversized materials. Although Murray served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1913-1917, the majority of the collection is related to his post-congressional activities, family affairs, and years as governor. The materials cover a variety of topics including his use of executive orders calling for martial law, pardons, and the appointment and removal of state officials. The documents also include material related to his campaigns, his writings and ideals, his work for the Association for Economy and Tax Equality, and his failed attempt to found a Bolivian colony.


  • 1891-1962
  • Majority of material found in 1919-1946

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Use:

The University of Oklahoma asserts no claim of copyright over photographs in this collection taken by private citizens. Any publication of such photographs requires the consent of the copyright holder.


26.42 Linear Feet (15 containers)

Biographical Information:

One of the most colorful politicians of Oklahoma history was William Henry Davis "Alfalfa Bill" Murray (1869-1956). A teacher, farmer, journalist, and lawyer, Murray first entered Democratic Party politics with the movement for Oklahoma statehood. Having served as the president of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention and playing a major role in the drafting of the state's constitution, the "Sage of Tishomingo" became the first speaker of the new state's house of representatives. In 1912, Murray won one of the state's at-large seats in the United States House of Representatives. Two years later, he was elected as the representative of Oklahoma's Fourth District. During his four years in Congress, Murray served on three committees: Coinage, Weights, and Measures; Pensions; and Indian Affairs. Known as a debater, Murray opposed segments of the Federal Reserve bill, called for American intervention in Mexico, advocated agricultural education, proposed amendments to the Clayton Anti-Trust bill, and promoted preparedness for American involvement in World War I.

Following his defeat in the 1916 primary, Murray dabbled in various pursuits, including establishing an agricultural colony in Bolivia. Upon his return to Oklahoma in 1929, he reentered the political arena and won the 1930 gubernatorial general election. (He had run unsuccessfully for the office in 1910 and 1918.)

Although Governor Murray helped create the Oklahoma Tax Commission and instituted corporate income taxes to help finance schools, he was best known for his excessive use of executive orders and martial law. Projecting an image as the protector of the little man, he did little to develop programs to fight the effects of the Great Depression. In fact, he thwarted many New Deal programs, possibly because they threatened his control over patronage. After leaving office in 1935, Murray organized the anti-New Deal Association for Economy and Tax Equality. Some charged that his opposition to the federal programs was in retaliation for losing the 1932 presidential nomination to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Murray lost a bid for the governorship in 1938. He also waged unsuccessful campaigns for the United States House and the United States Senate in 1940 and 1942, respectively.

Arrangement of Materials:

The Murray Collection is arranged into 11 series: Subject and Personality Materials, Speeches, Written Works of WHM and Others, Clippings, Miscellaneous Materials, Personal and Family Records, Books, Pamphlets, and Non-Paper Memorabilia, Oversized Materials, Maps, Certificates and Diplomas, and Photographs. The materials in the series are largely organized either alphabetically or chronologically, though some subseries may differ. Specific arrangement details for the subseries are unavailable.


Accruals and additions: February 1958; May 2, 1963; March 14, 1966; August 9, 1967; June 4, 1968; February 6, 1976; September 28, 1978; September 30, 1981; October 21, 1981; July 7, 1983; September 18, 1984.
Guide to the William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray Collection
Language of description
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections Repository

630 Parrington Oval
Room 202B
Norman Oklahoma 73109 United States