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Verle Allyn Pope Papers

 Collection
Identifier: Ms 083

Scope and Content

The Verle Pope Papers date from 1903 to 1973, but the bulk of the collection spans a relatively short time period from 1966 to 1972, focusing on his term as president of the Florida Senate and his last years in office. The majority of the collection is arranged in two chronological groups, 1969-1971 and 1971-1972. Within each group, the arrangement is alphabetical by subject. Items of particular interest include a small file of letters about the Black Student Union protest at the University of Florida in 1971, and other files dealing with taxation, labor unions, abortion, prison reform, reapportionment, and the state's 1968 Constitution. Several folders also deal with Pope's advocacy for the deaf and blind. Throughout the collection there is evidence of Pope's political infighting with Governor Claude Kirk. A third group in the collection is comprised of miscellaneous papers and memorabilia, and includes biographical information, news clippings, campaign material, retirement memorabilia, photographs and a scrapbook of clippings covering Pope's life and career. One photograph album primarily includes photos of Pope in the U.S. Air Corps in the late 1920s and in the service during World War II (including aviation training, biplanes, etc.). Another photograph album covers Pope's tenure as president of the Florida Senate (1966-1968). Other people featured in photographs include Edith Taylor Pope, LeRoy Collins, Reubin Askew, Lawton Chiles, and several other politicians.

Dates

  • 1903-1973

Creator

Access

The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Born on December 12, 1903, in Jacksonville, Florida, Verle Allyn Pope became a leader in Florida politics, serving his constituents for thirty-eight years in both the Florida State House of Representatives and the State Senate.

As a boy, Pope moved around Florida with his family several times before ending up in St. Augustine. At the age of 14, he lost interest in school, deciding to drop out and fake his way into the U.S. Army. When his age was discovered, Pope returned home and finished high school, enrolling the following year at the University of Florida where he hoped to distinguish himself as a football player. A severe knee injury sidelined Pope early in his college career, and eventually forced him to return home without having completed a degree. Back home in St. Augustine, Pope performed a number of odd jobs until he joined the U.S. Air Corps in 1928.

In a secret elopement ceremony in 1933, Pope wed noted Florida novelist, Edith Taylor Pope. The following year, he entered politics for the first time, running for the St. Augustine County Commission. Beating the incumbent commissioner by 26 votes, Pope experienced his first political triumph. His efforts as commissioner attracted the attention of Governor Spessard Holland, who appointed Pope to the District Welfare Board. In 1942, Pope ran for a seat in the Florida State House of Representatives. Though he won the seat, Pope resigned soon thereafter to enter the armed services again during World War II. In 1944, he was transferred to England, where he served as an intelligence officer and as an aerial observer. Returning home in December 1945, Pope had earned a number of medals, including an Air Medal and a Croix de Guerre.

In 1948, he resumed his political career, running for a seat in Florida State Senate. His campaign proved successful, and Pope embarked on a Senate career that would last until his retirement in 1972. Along the way, he oversaw important legislation regarding education, taxation, and regional issues related to his district. Forging a good working relationship with the press, Pope was dubbed the "Lion of St. John" for his oratorical style and bravado. On several occasions, Pope found himself at odds with the "Pork Chop Gang," a voting bloc of 20 conservative North Florida lawmakers who upheld the interests of rural North Florida and who supported segregation policies. Pope, despite coming from a rural district, frequently opposed the Pork Choppers, especially on the issue of reapportionment, a plan to redistrict Florida in order to give more power to urban voters. He eventually saw reapportionment implemented in 1967, the same year he became president of the Florida State Senate. It was one of his two biggest political victories; the other, according to Pope himself, was the creation of the junior college system. Pope also was a long-time advocate for the rights of the deaf and blind; both his parents were deaf and were graduates of the School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine.

Pope retired from public office in 1972 and died on July 18, 1973.

Extent

4 Linear feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Subject files and correspondence pertaining to Verle A. Pope's career in the Florida State Senate.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Acquired from Florida State Senator Verle A. Pope.

Related Material

Personal correspondence pertaining to Verle Pope can be found in the papers of his wife Edith Taylor Pope also held at the University of Florida (here).

Processing Notes

News clippings originally housed in a scrapbook titled "Verle Allyn Pope 1903-1972" have been reproduced, and both photocopies and digital reproductions are available for use.

Title
A Guide to the Verle Allyn Pope Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid created by Rachel Beckett and Stacey Wroble
Date
December 2008
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

Contact:
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America
352-273-2755