University Archives Finding Aids

Document Type

Finding Aid

Publication Date


Size of Collection

62 Boxes

Manuscript Number



The Waggonner papers include the Congressman's political files, voting records, material concerning the Judiciary Committee's deliberations on the impeachment of President Nixon, speeches, appointment books, scrapbooks, miscellaneous items, and memorabilia.

Dates of Collection




Joe D. Waggonner, Jr. of Plain Dealing, Louisiana, who retired from the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979 after serving for seventeen years, was a nationally recognized leader for conservative causes.

Born in 1918 near Plain Dealing (Bossier Parish), Louisiana, Waggonner graduated from Louisiana Tech University (then Louisiana Polytechnic Institute) in 1941. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and also in the Korean conflict, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander. He first won public office in 1954 by election to the Bossier Parish School Board. In 1960 Waggonner was elected to the Louisiana State Board of Education, and in 1961 he was chosen president of the Louisiana School Boards Association and president of the United Schools Committee of Louisiana. Since 1952, Waggonner operated a wholesale petroleum products distribution agency for North Bossier Parish.

Elected to Congress in a special election in December 1961, to succeed the late Rep. Overton Brooks, Waggonner represented Louisiana's Fourth Congressional District in eight succeeding Congresses without opposition in the general election and with minor opposition only twice in the Democratic primary. In 1965, he assumed leadership of conservative forces in the House, with greater access to the Republican White House than that of many Republican Congressmen. He was especially close to President Richard M. Nixon, who stayed overnight at the Waggonner home during a speaking engagement on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

For eight years Waggonner was a key member of the Ways and Means Committee, which considers legislation involving taxes, trade, welfare, health care, Social Security, unemployment compensation, and other socio-economic issues. He was the principal founder of the House Democratic Research Organization, a research and legislative group serving conservative Democrats. Waggonner was the DRO's first chairman in 1973.

In 1976 Waggonner was named "Mr. Shreveport" by the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, and he was a charter recipient in 1977 of Louisiana Tech University's Tower Medallion for distinguished Tech alumni. Congressman Waggonner chose not to be a candidate for reelection to the Congress in 1978.