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Joe L. Evins papers

Identifier: RG-0000-0001

Scope and Contents

The Evins papers included 100,000 pieces of correspondence, 2000 photographs, 1000 documents, 100 scrapbooks, speeches, and personal records, 300 artifacts, 400 volumes, and 150 maps and facsimiles.

The core of the collection is the Congressional Papers. These papers span the years from l946 when Evins entered the U.S. House of Representatives as its youngest member to l976 when he retired as one of the most powerful men in Congress.

The Congressional Papers, Series I, include legislation, drafts of legislation, committee hearings, minutes, reports and working papers, government agencies, correspondence, reports, budget appropriations, public works, projects, military academy appointments and local job requests. An enormous quantity of correspondence was sent and received in the 30 years Evins represented Tennessee's 4th District. Constituent correspondence, issue correspondence, out of district, out of state and international correspondence, political correspondence, requests, thank yous, compliments, personal greetings and invitations are included and reflect the Congressman’s close ties with his constituents as well as some of the concerns of Upper Cumberland Tennesseans of the time. Also of interest is the correspondence between Evins and his Congressional colleagues, community leaders and presidents such as Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald T. Ford and Jimmy Carter, as well as Tennessee Governors from Gordon Browning to Lamar Alexander.

Political files include national, state, district and local political information. Materials include speeches, campaign memorabilia, election returns, reports on opponents, campaign schedules and anecdotes. Of special interest is the l964 presidential campaign in which Evins served as Tennessee Campaign Manager for President Lyndon B. Johnson. Supporting materials include maps, blueprints, memorabilia, furniture, photographs, tapes, slides, videotapes, scrapbooks, records, books, government documents, congressional records, and awards and plaques.

The congressional papers provide only a one dimensional portrait of a complex and multifaceted man. The Joe L. Evins collection also includes family papers, business papers, and personal papers documenting Evins time as soldier, lawyer, family man, community leader, banker, and business man. Items included are family papers, correspondence, business papers, wills, deeds, military memorabilia, World War II newspapers, legal briefs, contracts and photographs. Of interest is the correspondence between Joe L. Evins and his father, State Senator J. Edgar Evins, and between Evins and his children during his long absences in Washington.


  • Majority of material found within 1947 - 1976


Biographical / Historical

Joe L. Evins served 30 years as a Member of Congress, representing the 4th District of Tennessee from 1947 to 1977. He chaired and served on the House Select Committee on Small Business, House Appropriations Committee, and the Subcommittee on Public Works and Atomic Energy Appropriations and he served on the House Committee on Small Business. These committees included working on programs such as the Veterans Affairs, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TEVA). Evins’ contributions in Congress helped rural middle Tennessee through the creation post offices and other federal buildings, and construction of both Interstate 40 and Highway 111. He brought Lyndon B. Johnson’s Model Cities Program to Smithville, TN, the smallest city to receive funding in the program. Evins was also responsible for acquiring funding for the Appalachian Center for Craft. Tennessee Tech named November 20, 1976 as Joe L. Evins Day in honor of his service and dedication to the University and region. Evins supported NASA and had a great interest in space, finding ways to incorporate Tennessee into the program by using resources such as Douglas Aircraft, Tennessee Technological University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Evins believed that “local leadership and local initiative…can and should provide the keys to progress for our people.” He wanted a Congress that was more beneficial to the people than the officials. He answered his constituents’ mail and listened to their problems, trying to resolve issues raised. Evins was born in Blend, DeKalb County, Tennessee on October 24, 1910. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and Cumberland University School of Law and too his Post Graduate of Law at George Washington University. He served in the United States Army during World War II. He practiced law in Smithville before working as an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission and later the assistant secretary. Joe L. Evin’s wife was Ann Smart, daughter of a McMinnville judge, and they had three daughters, Mary Evins Overton, Joanna Evins Carnahan, and Jane Evins Leonard. His father J. Edgar Evins was state senator. Joe L. Evins passed away in 1984.

Timeline: 1910 October 24: Joseph Landon Evins was born in Dekalb County, Tennessee. He was the second son of James Edgar and Myrtie Goodson Evins. 1933: Graduates from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. 1934: Graduates from Cumberland University Law School, Lebanon, TN. Admitted to Tennessee Bar. Opens law practice in Smithville, TN. 1934-1941: Attorney for the Federal Trade Commission in Chicago and Washington. Rises to the position of Assistant Secretary. 1935 June 7: Marries Ann Smartt, daughter of Judge and Mrs. R.W. Smartt. 1942-1946: Active duty in the United States Army. Serves two years in Europe. 1945: Nominated as Democratic Candidate to State Senate. Declined to serve during the war and his father was elected in his stead. 1946 November 5: Discharged from the United States Army with the rank of Major. Nominated for the United States House of Representatives. Defeats Harold “Doc” Earthman in the Democratic primary. 1947 January 8: Sworn in as the youngest member of the House of Representatives. 1948: Became a member of the House Small Business Committee. 1952: Became a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Districts were reapportioned and his 5th Congressional District merged with eth 4th District of Albert Gore Sr. Evins succeeded Gore as Representative of the 4th District. 1963: Published Understanding Congress. 1964-1971: Became Chairman of the House Small Business Committee. 1977: Retires at the end of his term in January. 1976-1978: Advisor to Governor Ray Blanton. 1984 March 31: Joe L. Evins passes.


700 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into four series and subseries thereunder: Series I: Congressional Papers; Series II: Personal Papers; Series III: Supporting Material; and Series IV: Addendum.

Joe L. Evins papers
Under Revision
Mancil Johnson
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Tennessee Tech University Special Collections Repository

1100 North Peachtree Avenue
PO Box 5066
Cookeville Tennessee 38505 United States