Papers of U.S. Representative Martin Dies
Held at the Sam Houston Regional Library & Research Center, Liberty, Texas
Finding Aid: Martin Dies Papers, 1916-1972 | Contact the Sam Houston Regional Library & Research Center
Martin Dies was born in Colorado City, but grew up in Beaumont and Greenville. His father, also named Martin Dies, served in the House of Representatives from the Second Congressional District. Dies followed in his father's footsteps and was elected to his father's House seat in 1930 where he served until 1944. Dies achieved national fame during these years when he served as first chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Although the Committee probed Communist, Fascist, Nazi, and other subversive groups, the Committee and Dies himself were best known for speaking out against the dangers of Communism and the Soviet Union. While the Dies Collection does not contain the complete archives of the HUAC, it does include correspondence about HUAC and card files on people who were investigated. Each card includes an individual's name, address, group affiliation, and his or her role in the group.
Between 1944 and 1952, Dies remained active. He joined a law firm in Lufkin. His most famous case during those years was his defense of the "Marshall Housewives," women who protested collecting and paying social security on their domestic servants. Dies retained a lively interest in politics, corresponding with individuals throughout Texas discussing public figures such as Dwight Eisenhower and Price Daniel, as well as his own political future. He traveled the country speaking on patriotic and political issues, including his experiences as chairman of HUAC.
In 1952, Dies was once again elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as Congressman-at-Large from Texas from 1953 to 1958. His papers document the multifaceted demands of congressional service. Committee work was only one responsibility. One important task was helping constituents deal with government agencies, such as obtaining social security benefits or bringing home foreign war brides. Dies formulated legislation on topics including the Communist party and civil rights. Like all political figures, he continuously campaigned for office. Although always succcessful in his races for the House, Dies was twice defeated in elections to the Senate, once in 1941 and again in 1957. In 1958, his position of Congressman-at-Large was abolished.
After his congressional service, Dies wrote magazine articles and a book, Martin Dies Story, published in 1963. Dies and his wife Myrtle were the parents of three sons, Martin Jr., Robert and Jack. He died in 1972 and is buried in Lufkin.