Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Greetings, Congressional Style

Peter Rodino (D-New Jersey) – Rodino 
was the chair of the House Judiciary 
Committee when Jordan served during
the Watergate Hearings.

Happy holidays from the Barbara Jordan Archives and Special Collections!  As this year draws to a close, we're reflecting on a tumultuous year in politics with a lot of division among party lines.  In Jordan's time, though, things weren't as divided.  There was more "across-the-aisle" camaraderie and socializing regardless of party affiliation.  It might be argued that this spirit of such a time in American politics is reflected in a sampling of Jordan's greeting cards from colleagues during the 1978 holiday season; of the twenty-five cards featured here, one-third are from Jordan's Republican congress-mates. 

From a more aesthetic viewpoint, it’s interesting to consider the card designs and styles:  many feature traditional family photos and husband/wife poses, while others feature a depiction of Capitol Hill or the seal of the House.  The fashions, the hairstyles, decor...all depict an American era gone by and allow for a step back in time.  (Notice, too, the duplication of a card or two; most holiday cards were, and are, printed in-house and made available to House and Senate members.)  Regardless of who sent the cards, though, the themes of family and America prevail, and regardless of the issues at hand and the battles waged between political opponents, holiday greetings were still exchanged.  We hope you enjoy looking though the selection, and have a great holiday!

John Rhodes (R-Arizona)
Robert McClory (R-Illinois)


Berkley Bedell (D-Iowa)


Charles H. Wilson (D-California)

Charlie Wilson (D-Texas) – Wilson was
a long-time personal friend of Jordan’s and 
the two often socialized outside of work.

Paul Simon (D-Illinois)

Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY)  
Holtzman was the only other woman
than Jordan to serve on the Watergate
Committee for the House.

Gillis Long (D-Louisiana)

George Hansen (R-Idaho)
Walter Fauntroy (D-Washington DC)

James Corman (D-California)
Edward Jenkins (D-Georgia)

Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio)

Henry Waxman (D-California)

John Brademus (D-Indiana)
Senator Tennyson Guyer (R-Ohio)
Shirley Pettis (R-California)
Tom Corcoran (R-Illinois)
Senator Spark Matsunaga (D-Hawaii)
Abraham "Chick" Kazen, Jr. (D-Texas)

Jim Collins (R-Texas)

John Murphy (D-New York)
John Culver (D-Iowa)

Friday, July 25, 2014

On this date: Jordan and the Watergate Impeachment Hearings

July 25, 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Jordan's historic statement on the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.  Jordan, then a freshman member of Congress and barely in office a few months, was given the unenviable task as a member of the Judiciary Committee to determine if there was evidence that the President had committed crimes that were considered impeachable offenses under the Constitution.

The Watergate Hearings held the country in its grip for months, dividing public opinion and shaking the confidence of Americans in their leaders and system of justice.  At the end of it all, America had a President leave office in disgrace, but for Jordan it was really the dawning of her career as a national politician.   In about 10 minutes, Jordan captured the attention and imagination of a country and provided a mini-civics lesson that has never quite been forgotten.  The statement she delivered is still considered today as one of the top 100 American speeches of all time by American Rhetoric. Please click here to view a virtual exhibit about Jordan's role in the Watergate Impeachment Hearings.

Friday, June 6, 2014

On this date...the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination

On this date in 1968, Jordan delivered a statement about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, which occurred three days earlier.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Jordan photographed with her mother,
Arlyne Jordan, Governor For a Day,
June 10, 1972
For Mother's Day this year, we thought it would be interesting to put something together about Jordan and her mother, Arlyne.  Like many mother-and-daughter relationships, their relationship was complicated but loving, and at the root of it all Arlyne was extremely proud and supportive of all her daughters and their accomplishments.

Arlyne (born Phothie Arlyne Patten) herself was a speaker of note as a child and teenager, known as one of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church's "star orators," speaking at youth revivals and missionary meetings. After she married and started a family, she gave up public oration, choosing to focus instead on family and church life.  Arlyne and her husband Benjamin both pushed their three daughters to work hard, study hard and make something of themselves. Jordan was to say later that one of the reasons she decided to become a lawyer and a public service was because she understood that Arlyne had given up something she loved and was good at to care for her family.
Arlyne Jordan outside the family
home on Campbell Street, ca. 1975

Arlyne wasn't exactly excited about Jordan's decision to go to law school (Jordan said later that Arlyne
wanted Jordan to choose something "more sensible"), but as Jordan went from strength to strength in her political career, her mother was among her strongest supporters.  Arlyne was even an inspiration and catalyst for some of Jordan's political work.

Jordan’s mother Arlyne was widowed in 1972 and as a homemaker she received no income other than a small widow’s benefit from the government; because Arlyne had not worked outside the home (like many women of that generation) she was not able to contribute to the Social Security system with wages, thus she was not eligible for benefits on her own.  Jordan realized that her mother was not the only woman in their community in the same financial situation.  Jordan decided there was a need for equality in the Social Security system in terms of recognizing “homemaker” as a legitimate occupation.  In her first Congressional term, Jordan set about cosponsoring a bill to provide Social Security benefits for homemakers.  The bill died at the House, but Jordan attempted to revive the bill a couple of years later with still no success.  Jordan continued to push for the bill during her terms in Congress though, and was also an active supporter for the ERA.  For Jordan, these were equality matters that hit close to home.
Jordan and her mother at
Jordan's portrait unveiling,
February 8, 1975

During Jordan's last term in Congress, Arlyne began to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and was cared for in Houston by daughters Bennie and Rose Mary.  Jordan visited her mother often, spending as many holidays with her as she could.  Arlyne passed away in 1997, one year after Jordan's death. Photographs that remain show Arlyne's pride in Jordan's accomplishments.

Friday, February 21, 2014

On This Date...Jordan's 78th Birthday

Invitation letter for "Barbara's
Birthday Bash," 1976.  Notice the
handwritten logistics and planning
on the left.
Today marks what would have been Congresswoman Jordan's 78th birthday.  We've found a couple of birthday-related items in the collection.

1976 was an election year, and also marked a milestone for Jordan, her 40th birthday. A "Barbara's Birthday Bash" was organized as a tie-in to Jordan's re-election campaign, and the guest list featured a "who's who" of the Houston political and social circles.  The suggested donation price of $10 a ticket shows how times (and economics) have changed for political campaigns since 1976.

Ticket for "Barbara's Birthday Bash," 1976.  The Imperial
Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency is still there today.

Birthday greetings from President Carter, 1978.
Jordan also received birthday greetings from President Carter on what turned out to be her last birthday as a Member of Congress.

Jordan's birthday gives us pause to reflect on a remarkable life and career. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

On this date...Jordan's Portrait Unveiling

Sepia facsimile of Jordan's
portrait.  The original is
in full color. 
On February 8, 1975, Jordan's portrait was unveiled at the State Capitol in Austin.  Commissioned by the Texas Senate in 1973, the portrait was painted by noted Houston artist Edsel Crammer (who also painted Adelaid de Menil, George W. Bush and Rice University president Malcolm Gills, among other subjects), and the official unveiling and dedication was held in the Senate Chambers, where the portrait still hangs today.
Voice of Hope article, March 29, 1975

Jordan sits for Edsel Cramer, ca. 1974.
Photo by Bill Malone.

Just a fraction of the crowd that gathered at the State
Capitol to attend the unveiling, February 8, 1975.
Photo by Bill Malone.

Jordan and Cramer, State Capitol, Austin, Texas,
February 8, 1975.  Photo by Bill Malone.

A jubilant Jordan takes the podium as (from left)  Texas Senator
 Chet Brooks, Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby Jr., Gov. Dolph Briscoe,
and others applaud, February 8, 1975. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Black History Month 2014

February is observed as Black History Month, and this year's theme is "Civil Rights in America."  In the Jordan Archives, we came across a few items connected to Black History Month.  Rep. Ralph Metcalfe of Illinois introduced a House Joint resolution asking for the national recognition of a black history month no less than three times (1976-1978) during Jordan's tenure in Congress, and Jordan was a co-sponsor of the second and third attempts. Below are images of the 1977 resolution and Metcalfe's letter to Jordan asking her to be a cosponsor--Jordan's handwritten consent can be seen on the letter.

Page 1, H.J. Resolution 255 (1977)

Page 2, H.J. Resolution 255
Page 3, H.J. Resolution 255

Letter to Jordan from Rep. Metcalfe, 1977

For more information on Black History Month, please visit the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) at http://asalh.org/index.html.

Monday, January 6, 2014

On this date...

Article from the Houston
Informer, January 7, 1978
On December 10, 1977, Barbara Jordan gave a press conference in Washington to announce her intention to not seek reelection after her third term.  The announcement came as a surprise to many, especially since Jordan had been extremely visible in the political arena since 1973, and particularly after her spectacular and historic appearance at the Democratic National Convention the year before.

Following her announcement, Jordan didn't say much to the press, which was typical of her private and professional nature.  On January 6, 1978, however, she gave a lengthy statement to Time magazine about a month later about her decision (which she dictated over the phone from Houston to one of her Congressional aides in Washington).  Jordan had some interesting things to say about term limits for politicians, which still resonate in today's political climate.  Jordan's statement to Time appears below in its entirety.