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Arthur V. Watkins papers

 Collection — Box: 83
Identifier: MSS 146

Scope and Contents note

Contains biographies, brochures, pamphlets, newspaper articles, photographs, correspondence, speeches, and various other materials. Much of the correspondence deals with Watkins's work in the Senate, especially his work with the McCarthy censure hearings. Some of the material covers Watkins's pre-senatorial years. There is also information on Watkins's book, Enough Rope, his work on reclamation and water conservation, his time on the Indian Claims Commission, and his involvement in the Colorado River Storage Project in the Western United States.

Dates

  • 1886-1973

Creator

Conditions Governing Access note

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Arthur V. Watkins papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical/Historical note

Arthur V. Watkins was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, worked as a lawyer in Utah for several years before serving two terms as a United States Senator between 1946 and 1958, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, and Chief Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission.

Arthur Vivian Watkins was born in Midway, Utah on December 16, 1886, the first of eight children born to Arthur Watkins and Adelia (Gerber) Watkins. When he was not working on the farm, Arthur (or Vivian, as he was called at home) attended school with his siblings. In 1903, he began attending Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah, where he studied hard and participated in the Rialto Club, formed in 1903 to discuss economic and political issues. Arthur dropped out of school in 1906 to teach fourth and fifth grades. He taught for one year and was called to serve a mission in the Eastern States for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After completing his mission on September 17, 1910, he decided to stay in New York and continue his education. In 1912 he graduated from Columbia University Law School.

While in New York, Watkins met Andrea Rich, the daughter of his mission president, Ben E. Rich. After he passed the Utah bar exam in 1912, he and Andrea were married at the Salt Lake Temple on June 18, 1913 by President Joseph F. Smith.

Arthur and Andrea Watkins settled in Vernal, Utah where he practiced law and joined Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party. In 1915 Watkins accepted the appointment as Assistant County Attorney of Salt Lake County. While working at the County Attorney's office, he began building a private practice. Two years later, the Democrats won the election and he lost his appointment.

Watkins quit his private practice in 1922 due to health issues but soon set up another practice in American Fork, Utah. In 1925 the family moved to Orem so they could be closer to schools and the church. Watkins began another private practice in Provo. He was elected as Utah County judge in the Fourth District Court in 1928. He lost the reelection bid in 1930 and decided to merge his law practice with Raymond B. Holbrook. When Holbrook left, Watkins continued to practice on his own.

In 1946 Watkins was elected to the United States Senate. While in the Senate, he and his wife resided in Arlington, Virginia. He ran for reelection in 1952 and defeated the Democratic challenger, Congressman Walt Granger. In 1954, Senator Knowland, the Senate Majority Leader, appointed Watkins as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, which censured Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for his conduct in the Senate. Watkins later wrote a book, Enough Rope, describing his emotions and experiences during the McCarthy hearings and debates. Partly due to his involvement in the McCarthy hearings, he lost the election for U.S. Senator in 1958.

Arthur V. Watkins was very involved in the community and in church. He helped organize the Sharon's Cooperative Educational and Recreational Association (SCERA), a not-profit organization dedicated to providing educational recreational activities for youth in the area. He also became the director and general counsel for the Provo River Water User Association and worked with the Bureau of Reclamation and other organizations and agencies associated with the Water Users Association. The Willard Dam in Utah was later renamed the Arthur V. Watkins Dam in recognition of his work on the Bureau of Reclamation. Arthur also worked with Orem City on the Deer Creek project and Geneva Steel Plant project. At church, Watkins was called to served on the High Council, was active in the Young Men's program, and served as a stake president for eighteen years.

After his defeat in the campaign of 1958, Watkins was appointed a member of the Indian Claims Commission and later accepted the position of Chief Commissioner. In 1965, while in the Indian Claims Commission, he received the Abraham O. Smoot Public Service Award from Brigham Young University. He resigned as Chief Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission at age 80 to spend more time with with his wife, who had contracted a serious heart condition. The next year Andrea Watkins died due to complications from a stroke a few years earlier. On March 1, 1972 he married Dorothy Eva Watkins. As lung cancer began to deteriorate his health, Watkins asked that he be moved to Orem to die where he passed away on September 1, 1973.

Extent

82 boxes (41 linear ft.)

Language

English

Abstract

Contains biographies, correspondence, reports, speeches, articles, pamphlets, and various other material dealing mainly with Watkins's service as a United States Senator between 1886 and 1972.

Arrangement note

Arranged in six series: 1.Watkins's family and early career 2.General Work in the U.S. Senate 3.Indian Affairs 4.Enough Rope 5.Reclamation 6.McCarthy Censure.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online. http://files.lib.byu.edu/ead/XML/MSS146.xml

Custodial History note

Senator Watkins sent his files regarding the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1959 after he had completed his work as a senator. Those files were returned to Senator Watkins in 1969 for his research for his book, Enough Rope. The files were returned to BYU following Senator Watkins's death in 1973. Of those files, portions on reclamation were extracted in 1976 to organize them and create a register specifically on that topic. Some files prepared by Senator Watkins, including general correspondence, speeches, and other materials, were transferred from the University of Nevada in 1988. Other files, including newspaper clippings and photographs, were kept by the Watkins family until they were donated to Brigham Young University in 1980.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The materials in this collection were donated to Brigham Young University over a period of 30 years.

Appraisal

Utah political history (20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.I, 2007).

Processing Information note

Processed; LeGrand Baker with Vann Rolfson, Bryan Halverson, John Robison, and Ryan Strum, student assistants; April 2003
Title
Register of Arthur V. Watkins papers
Status
Under Revision
Author
LeGrand Baker with Vann Rolfson, Bryan Halverson, John Robison, and Ryan Strum, student assistants
Date
2003 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.
Sponsor
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Western Waters (WWDL) Grant, 2007-2010

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

Contact:
1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States