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Percy L. Gassaway Collection

Identifier: CAC-CC-022
This collection consists of 2 cubic feet of material and spans the period 1924-1942. Although the collection represents only a small part of the papers which must have been generated during Gassaway's term as a congressman, it does serve as a good source of information on Oklahoma politics at the time. Materials are divided into five sections: correspondence and business papers; congressional correspondence; speeches and press releases; miscellaneous; and oversize. The congressional correspondence reflects Gassaway's distaste for Huey P. Long of Louisiana. Also included are letters indicating the congressman's interest in birth control. Another interesting feature found in the collection are Gassaway's "Dear Taxpayer" letters. These letters, printed weekly in newspapers, give updates on what was taking place in Congress, explanations of pending legislation, and information on the Roosevelt administration. The collection also includes some non-congressional and family papers and a small number of photographs.


  • 1924-1942

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.


3 Linear Feet (4 containers)

Biographical Information:

Percy Lee Gassaway was born in Waco, Texas, on August 30, 1885. He was one of thirteen children born to Reverend and Mrs. B. F. Gassaway. His father was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and was once a missionary to the Kiowa and Comanche Indians in the Fort Sill, Oklahoma, area. Most of Percy Lee Gassaway's early years were spent in Texas.

After two early marriages -- both of which ended in divorce -- and after traveling in the West and Mexico, Gassaway moved to Coalgate, Oklahoma, about 1914. He was admitted to the bar in 1919. While a practicing attorney, Gassaway married a third time, but his wife died after a few years of marriage. Two years later he married again. A total of fourteen children were born during the four marriages, of which seven survived to the time Gassaway ran for Congress in 1934.

For several years Gassaway served as chairman of the Coalgate Board of Education. He ran for Coal County state representative in 1920 but was defeated in the general election. In 1922 he was defeated in the race for Coal County judge, but he was appointed to the position the next year when the incumbent died. He was elected Coal County attorney in 1923. Gassaway won election as judge of the Twenty-sixth Judicial District in 1926 and was reelected in 1930. In 1928 he made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination to Congress from the Fourth District. He made a successful bid against the same man, Thomas D. McKeown, in 1934 and was elected in the general election to the Seventy-fourth Congress.

As a congressman, Gassaway was known as "Judge" and the "Cowboy Congressman." He was a firm supporter of the New Deal and of Franklin Roosevelt, although he did disagree on some policy matters. He was an early opponent of Huey Long. A colorful character, Gassaway frequently made the newspapers and newsreels.

Gassaway was defeated by Lyle Boren for renomination to the Congress in 1936. He retired to his ranch near Coalgate, where he died of a heart attack on May 15, 1937.

Arrangement of Materials:

The Gassaway Collection is arranged into 3 series: Manuscripts, Ephemera, and Photographs. The Manuscripts series is arranged by material type and topic and then alphabetically. The Ephemera series is arranged chronologically.
Guide to the Percy L. Gassaway 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