The Papers


Personal Series: 1948-1988, bulk 1960-1984
Linear Feet: 11.25 (28 document cases)
Status: A few items are closed.
Boxes: 932-959

Personal Few people know of John Tower’s early career as a radio disc jockey, but the country and western style lyrics that he wrote on the back of wire service reports while working at radio stations in either Beaumont or Taylor, Texas, can be found among the pre-Senate papers in this series. The papers, essentially maintained as received, generally fall into two chronological groups within the subseries, 1969-1979 and 1980-1984. Most correspondence between 1962 and 1979 was placed in a correspondence file separate from the general subject file. Starting in 1980, one general subject file appears to have been used for all papers (including correspondence) except for files related to memberships and advisory boards.

Although more pre- and post- Senate papers were donated by the senator’s family after his death and are part of a separate accession, there are several document cases of early papers such as the lyrics mentioned above, materials gathered for his master’s thesis (“The Conservative Worker in Britain: Why a Working Man Supports the Tories”), and a folder with items concerning 1956-1960 Texas Republican Party politics. The post-Senate papers consist of several files related to the Iran-Contra investigation, a file concerning a 1987 arms control and security issues meeting in Moscow, a 1988 document comparing the Democratic and Republican platforms, and materials about women in the military.

The first four boxes (1962-1980) of the Correspondence subseries include incoming and outgoing correspondence with the senator’s friends, his political colleagues in the Republican Party, especially at the state level, and prominent business leaders. There are also letters from former schoolmates and family. Occasional attachments are found, including clippings, a funeral service program for former President Eisenhower, a Republican National Committee study of Cubans in Miami, and an essay Senator Tower wrote for inclusion in a book on Texas government. Although a significant amount of the correspondence consists of thank-you letter and congratulations, Republican party politics— especially as they concern Texas—are frequent topics in the correspondence. Examples include several letters about the 1974 Texas gubernatorial race from a political consultant, discussions of nominations and appointments, and a 1964 letter to Tower from fellow Republicans discussing the need for a new Republican leadership following the heavy Republican losses in the 1964 elections. There is also considerable correspondence discussing polls and suggesting strategy from Peter O’ Donnell during his tenure as chairman of the Texas Republican Party. A number of letters concerning party politics are from women who were active in the Republican party, including Anna Chenault, Barbara Man, Mary Crisp, and Francis Lipe.

Most correspondence after 1980 is found in the subseries General Files. Materials here are primarily the senator’s personal and political files that were kept by his executive secretary. Although Senator Tower’s staff referred to these files as “general files” and some files relate to Senate business, the majority of the papers appear to be a continuation of the earlier group of files that staff called the “personal files.” The files contain a considerable amount of correspondence, call lists, V.I.P thank-you notes and congratulations, requests for contributions, memoranda between the Washington staff and the state offices’ staff, clippings, and materials related to the senator’s service on the advisory boards of his fraternity and various universities, including Southwestern University. Also found among these papers are files related to 1980 Republican campaigns, the 1980 Republican Platform Committee of which Tower was chairman, the Republican National Convention, and the Reagan campaign and transition. These 1980 materials include Tower’s opening remarks before the Republican Platform Committee Regional Hearings, correspondence from party members who are attempting to influence specific planks, clippings, and information regarding specific planks such as national security, government reform, and energy and environmental issues. 

Pre- and Post-Senate (ca. 1948-1960, 1985-ca.1988)
Correspondence (1962-1984)
General (1962-1983)
Advisory Boards and Memberships (1965-1984) 955-959