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Thomas B. Murphy papers

 Collection
Identifier: POL-0002-01

Collection Overview

The Murphy collection contains 245 boxes of manuscript materials, in addition to memorabilia, furniture, and other office contents from Murphy's Capitol suite. Listed below are the folder contents for the manuscript materials, which have been arranged into a variety of categories, based on the contents of each document. A separate inventory from this one contains a complete inventory of the objects moved from Murphy's office in 2003.

Dates

  • 1967-2003

Restrictions on Access

No restrictions. Open to all users.

Conditions Governing Use note

All rights retained by the University of West Georgia.

Biographical Information

Thomas Bailey Murphy (1924-2007), was born on March 10, 1924 in Bremen, Georgia to Leta Jones and William Harvey Murphy. Thomas was the youngest of four boys. Murphy's political philosophy was shaped by his Primitive Baptist religion, growing up during the Great Depression, and serving in the Pacific during World War II. Tom Murphy was a good student and held a number of jobs during his youth, including newspaper carrier, movie usher, and soda jerk. He graduated from high school at sixteen and enrolled at North Georgia College in Dahlonega. After graduating in 1943, Murphy joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in the South Pacific as part of a Seabees unit for the majority of World War II. Upon returning home he learned that his beloved older brother James had a form of crippling rheumatoid arthritis. In 1946 Tom Murphy married eighteen-year-old Agnes Bennett. The marriage lasted 36 years, until her death in 1982, due to a heart attack.

Murphy enrolled in law school at the University of Georgia, and after graduation joined his brother James's law practice in their hometown of Bremen, called Murphy & Murphy. Tragically, James died of a stroke in 1966 at the age of 46. Tom Murphy became active in local issues and was elected to a variety of positions, including Bremen school board in 1948, for which he was chairman from 1960 until 1965. Murphy was elected to his first term in the Georgia House in 1960. Murphy began his rise to power in the Georgia House as an administrative floor leader for Governor Lester Maddox from 1967-1970 and then served as Speaker pro tem from 1970-1973.

During his tenure, Tom Murphy dealt with key issues of the times such as integration, domestic violence, abortion, reapportionment, and civil rights. Murphy worked hard for the people of his rural district and for the advancement of the city of Atlanta, supporting the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), improvements to Atlanta's Grady Hospital, the creation of the Georgia World Congress Center, the construction of the Georgia Dome, the Georgia Agrirama, a housing trust fund, the development of a system of technical schools, and other measures that benefited rural and small-town Georgia. He believed that if the city of Atlanta grew and prospered, so would the rest of Georgia and the Southeast. Murphy was a capable manager of the state's finances, and was a fiscal conservative, though when it came to the handicapped, children, and the elderly he considered himself a "bleeding heart liberal." He supported increased educational funding for children with special needs. He also recognized the importance of education, particularly in providing technical training for Georgia's rural and small-town populations to work in new industries and the service economy as the state moved to a more diversified economy from its former base of agricultural and textile industries.

The area in which he may have had the greatest national impact was in his determination and success in keeping Georgia a Democratic state in the face of a Republican tidal wave sweeping most of the South. His tight control of the reapportionment process enabled Georgia to keep sending a majority of Democratic Congressmen to Washington, while other southern states were sending ever more Republicans.

Murphy was defeated by Republican challenger Bill Heath in 2002, which would have been Murphy's twenty-second term in the House. Murphy had barely defeated Heath in 2000, by only 505 votes. In 2003 the House declared March 9th as Tom Murphy Day in honor of his seventy- ninth birthday. In 2004 Murphy suffered a stroke, and his health steadily declined until his death on December 17, 2007. The former Speaker lay in state, first in the House Chambers, and then in the Capitol Rotunda. Murphy is survived by four children, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Bremen, Georgia.

Extent

121.0 Linear feet (246 boxes)

Overview

This collection contains the papers of long-time Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, Thomas B. Murphy. Murphy served in the Georgia House from 1961-2003, and he was Speaker of the Georgia House from 1973-2002. The collection contains material from Murphy's time as Speaker as well as some material that predates his speakership. His papers contain an assortment of correspondence, photographs, budget material, committee material, candidate information, Democratic Party material, and miscellaneous other material.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

A deposit agreement was signed in 2003 that transferred Thomas B. Murphy's papers and Georgia State Capitol Office contents to the University of West Georgia, with Murphy retaining ownership and intellectual property rights. Upon Murphy's death in 2007, the collections were willed to his children. In January 2019, Murphy's surviving children - Michael L. Murphy, Martha Murphy Long, and Lynn Murphy McAdams - deeded the collections to the University of West Georgia. A fully executed deed of gift was countersigned by the University of West Georgia in February 2019.

Related Collections

POL-0001 Newt Gingrich

POL-0003 Georgia's Political Heritage Program

POL-0005 Bob Barr

POL-0006 R. David Boyd

POL-0010 Georgia Silver Haired Legislature
Title
Guide to the Thomas B. Murphy papers, 1967-2003 POL-0002-01
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by J. Steven Eubanks, Tiffany Luoma, Richard Primuth, Sarah Warren.
Date
March 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Sponsor
Finding aid converted with funds from a UWG FY14 Presidential Assistance Grant.

Repository Details

Part of the University of West Georgia Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Special Collections, Ingram Library
University of West Georgia
1601 Maple Street
Carrollton GA 30118-2000 United States