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Lyle H. Boren Collection

Identifier: CAC-CC-007
The Boren Collection comprises more than 48 linear feet of papers dating 1885-1949, although the overwhelming majority date from 1933 to 1947. Most of the documents were created in or maintained by Boren's congressional offices (Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma), although items in the Personal and Family Files may have been kept at the congressman's home. Over the years a number of secretaries and assistants maintained the files, and the names of these people appear in the Office Files series. Boren donated the initial part of the collection to the University of Oklahoma in 1949, with additional accretions occurring through the 1970s.

The collection contains a wide variety of documents. Included are correspondence, telegrams, legislation, publications, brochures, flyers, speeches, press releases, newspaper clippings, campaign literature, lists, financial records, mimeograph and photostat copies, appointment and scheduling materials, office memos, phone messages, and notes. Well over half of the documents in the collection are constituent correspondence for the years Boren served in Congress (1937-1947). A number of other people also corresponded with the congressman, and the names of the more prominent and prolific appear in the series descriptions.

The collection also covers a wide range of subjects for the later part of the Great Depression and the entirety of World War II. Some of the broad topics include agriculture, armed services, Native Americans, newsprint supply, organized labor, politics (national and Oklahoma), price controls, railroads, rationing, stocks and bonds, strikes, and taxes. Some of Boren's legislative efforts are well documented; others are not. There are a substantial number of files on New Deal programs in Oklahoma, including the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the National Youth Administration (NYA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).


  • 1885-1949

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.


76.96 Linear Feet (62 containers)

Biographical Information:

Lyle Boren was born May 11, 1910, in Ellis County, Texas. Due to heart problems early in his life, he had to remain relatively inactive until he started school at age seven. He learned quickly, though, and soon caught up with the other children. In 1917 the Boren family moved to Lawton, Oklahoma. Everyone in the large Boren family (nine children in all) had to work to help support the family; Lyle picked cotton and sold newspapers. In 1927, after a brief return to Texas, the family moved to a farm near Choctaw, Oklahoma, in time for Boren to graduate from high school.

Lyle Boren attended college at East Central State College in Ada, Oklahoma. Supporting himself by working as an assistant librarian, tax assessor, and book reviewer, he graduated in 1930 with a B.A. in history and government. He started professional life as a teacher but quickly, by age twenty, became a principal in Seminole County. In 1938 Oklahoma A. and M. College conferred on him a master of arts degree.

Times were hard in Oklahoma during the early 1930s; depression and drought made life a constant struggle for a vast number of its residents. Boren, wanting to become more involved in helping his state, decided to run for Congress in 1934. Having been involved in the Democratic Party as a student, he was familiar with politics and the challenge of government. The problem he had was his age. He was twenty-four, and the U.S. Constitution states that members of the House of Representatives must be at least twenty-five. Since he did not have a birth certificate to prove otherwise, he entered his birth year as 1909. He did not win that year, but he did when he ran again in 1936, this time being truly old enough to hold office. Appearances made it impossible to change his birth year of record, and in many biographical sources it remains 1909.

His first years in Congress were extremely busy. Two high points of his first term were the beginning of his long friendship with Speaker Sam Rayburn and his placement on the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. During World War II, he chaired this committee's Subcommittee on Newsprint and Brand Names.

Among Boren's legislative efforts were cancer research, old-age pensions, the Civil Aeronautics Board, newsprint and paper shortages, consumer product labeling, railroad freight rates, labor strikes, and municipal bonds. Among the issues confronting him during his first year in office was the proposed reorganization of the U.S. Supreme Court, a plan he favored. He generally supported Franklin D. Roosevelt but not all of the president's programs. He attracted national attention for his extreme criticism of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Calling it a ""dirty, lying, filthy manuscript,"" the congressman believed that the book was an insult to farmers and was created by a ""twisted, distorted mind."" He also lobbied to keep Congressman Vito Marcantonio from getting committee assignments on the grounds that the member of the American Labor Party was too radical. Before Pearl Harbor, Boren opposed American intervention in World War II, believing that war did more harm than good and that the United States did not belong in foreign quarrels. After the attack, he wanted to leave Congress to join the military. Sam Rayburn convinced him to keep his congressional seat. During the war, the congressman voiced opposition to rationing strictures and price controls issued by the Office of Price Administration.

Lyle Boren served in the House of Representatives for five terms. During his campaign for the 1946 primary, several issues proved to be his undoing. That year veterans had great advantages running against incumbents, and Boren received criticism for not joining the armed forces during the war. Another trouble spot was the congressman's relationship with labor. He had strongly opposed wartime strikes and tried to outlaw them. He also had supported the suspension of a limit on the numbers of hours a person could work per day. Finally, he had tried to make it illegal for non-citizens to serve as union officials. In the 1946 campaign, organized labor organized against Boren. He lost his race in the primary to Glen D. Johnson, a youthful war veteran from Okemah.

Boren tried and failed to regain his seat in 1948. He returned to his old district with his wife Christine and children Susan and David, the latter a future Oklahoma governor, U.S. senator, and University of Oklahoma president. Lyle Boren became a cattle rancher and a founding member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. In 1957 he became a lobbyist for the railroads. He retired in 1969 and continued his ranching in Oklahoma. He died in Oklahoma City on July 2, 1992.

Arrangement of Materials:

The Lyle Boren Collection is arranged into 10 series: Personal and Family Files, Subject Files, Campaign Files, Information Files, Office Files, Legislative Files, Alphabetical Correspondence, Oversize Materials, Maps, and Photographs. The majority of the collection is arranged alphabetically with the exception of a couple subseries, the Campaign Files, and the latter half of the Oversize Materials.

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Accruals and additions: February 1979.
Guide to the Lyle H. Boren Collection
Language of description
The collection description/finding aid is written in English
  • TypeCollection

Repository Details

Part of the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections Repository

630 Parrington Oval
Room 202B
Norman Oklahoma 73109 United States