Skip to Search

A Guide to the Verle Allyn Pope Papers

Finding aid created by Rachel Beckett and Stacey Wroble

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
December 2008

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Pope, Verle Allyn, 1903-1973
Title: Verle Allyn Pope Papers
Dates: 1903-1973
Abstract: Subject files and correspondence pertaining to Verle A. Pope's career in the Florida State Senate.
Extent: 4 Linear feet. 7 boxes.
Identification: MS 83
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

Born on December 12, 1903, in Jacksonville, Florida, Verle Allyn Pope became a leader in Florida politics, serving his constituents for thirty-eight years in both the Florida State House of Representatives and the State Senate.

As a boy, Pope moved around Florida with his family several times before ending up in St. Augustine. At the age of 14, he lost interest in school, deciding to drop out and fake his way into the U.S. Army. When his age was discovered, Pope returned home and finished high school, enrolling the following year at the University of Florida where he hoped to distinguish himself as a football player. A severe knee injury sidelined Pope early in his college career, and eventually forced him to return home without having completed a degree. Back home in St. Augustine, Pope performed a number of odd jobs until he joined the U.S. Air Corps in 1928.

In a secret elopement ceremony in 1933, Pope wed noted Florida novelist, Edith Taylor Pope. The following year, he entered politics for the first time, running for the St. Augustine County Commission. Beating the incumbent commissioner by 26 votes, Pope experienced his first political triumph. His efforts as commissioner attracted the attention of Governor Spessard Holland, who appointed Pope to the District Welfare Board. In 1942, Pope ran for a seat in the Florida State House of Representatives. Though he won the seat, Pope resigned soon thereafter to enter the armed services again during World War II. In 1944, he was transferred to England, where he served as an intelligence officer and as an aerial observer. Returning home in December 1945, Pope had earned a number of medals, including an Air Medal and a Croix de Guerre.

In 1948, he resumed his political career, running for a seat in Florida State Senate. His campaign proved successful, and Pope embarked on a Senate career that would last until his retirement in 1972. Along the way, he oversaw important legislation regarding education, taxation, and regional issues related to his district. Forging a good working relationship with the press, Pope was dubbed the "Lion of St. John" for his oratorical style and bravado. On several occasions, Pope found himself at odds with the "Pork Chop Gang," a voting bloc of 20 conservative North Florida lawmakers who upheld the interests of rural North Florida and who supported segregation policies. Pope, despite coming from a rural district, frequently opposed the Pork Choppers, especially on the issue of reapportionment, a plan to redistrict Florida in order to give more power to urban voters. He eventually saw reapportionment implemented in 1967, the same year he became president of the Florida State Senate. It was one of his two biggest political victories; the other, according to Pope himself, was the creation of the junior college system. Pope also was a long-time advocate for the rights of the deaf and blind; both his parents were deaf and were graduates of the School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine.

Pope retired from public office in 1972 and died on July 18, 1973.

Scope and Content

The Verle Pope Papers date from 1903 to 1973, but the bulk of the collection spans a relatively short time period from 1966 to 1972, focusing on his term as president of the Florida Senate and his last years in office. The majority of the collection is arranged in two chronological groups, 1969-1971 and 1971-1972. Within each group, the arrangement is alphabetical by subject. Items of particular interest include a small file of letters about the Black Student Union protest at the University of Florida in 1971, and other files dealing with taxation, labor unions, abortion, prison reform, reapportionment, and the state's 1968 Constitution. Several folders also deal with Pope's advocacy for the deaf and blind. Throughout the collection there is evidence of Pope's political infighting with Governor Claude Kirk. A third group in the collection is comprised of miscellaneous papers and memorabilia, and includes biographical information, news clippings, campaign material, retirement memorabilia, photographs and a scrapbook of clippings covering Pope's life and career. One photograph album primarily includes photos of Pope in the U.S. Air Corps in the late 1920s and in the service during World War II (including aviation training, biplanes, etc.). Another photograph album covers Pope's tenure as president of the Florida Senate (1966-1968). Other people featured in photographs include Edith Taylor Pope, LeRoy Collins, Reubin Askew, Lawton Chiles, and several other politicians.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

Personal correspondence pertaining to Verle Pope can be found in the papers of his wife Edith Taylor Pope also held at the University of Florida (

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Verle Allyn Pope Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Acquired from Florida State Senator Verle A. Pope.

Processing Notes

News clippings originally housed in a scrapbook titled "Verle Allyn Pope 1903-1972" have been reproduced, and both photocopies and digital reproductions are available for use.

Contents List

Subject Files and Correspondence, 1969-1971

1 Abortion-For
1 Abortion-Against
1 Agriculture
1 Alimony
1 Anti-War Legislation
1 Appropriations
1 Aquaculture or Sea Farming Legislation
1 Art Commission
1 Asolo Theater
1 Auto Inspection
1 Baker County
1 Banking
1 Baptist Hospital Complex
1 Beach Erosion
1 Bingo
1 Branch Banking
1 Bullfighting
1 Cabinet Officials
1 Cane Pole Fishing
1 Certified Public Accountants
1 Citrus
1 Claim Bills
1 Coastal Petroleum Company
1 Collective Bargaining
1 Deaf and Blind
1 Committee Assignments
1 Committee Meetings (Out of Town)
1 Constitutional Revision
1 Consumer Protection
1 Consultants, Subcommittee on (House of Representatives)
1 Contributions
1 Cosmetology Board
1 County Officials (Salaries for County Officials)
2 Credit Unions
2 Crippled Children, Bureau of
2 Cross and Sword
2 Cross Florida Barge Canal
2 Department of Transportation - Correspondence
2 Districting
2 Duval County
2 Duval County Delegation
2 Education
2 Education - Campus Disturbances and Issues 1969
2 Education - Junior Colleges
2 Education - Minimum Foundation
2 Education - Private Schools
2 Education - Public Schools
2 Education - Teachers
2 Elections
2 Electric Co-op
2 Eminent Domain
2 Employment Agencies
3 Engineering
3 Finance and Taxation
3 Florida Forestry Board
3 Florida State Prison - Raiford
3 Fluoridation
3 Governmental Reorganization
3 Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Department of
3 Homestead Taxation
3 Honeybees
3 House Committee on State Institutions
3 IIt Raynior Paper Mill
3 SB 607, 608, 609 - Installment Sales
3 Insurance
3 Insurance and Corporate Tax - (Special Session, February 1971)
3 Insurance - No Fault
3 Invitations
3 Ionizing Radiation
3 Jacksonville, City of
3 Jacksonville Transit Authority
3 Judicial
3 Juvenile Delinquency
3 Labor Unions
3 Law Enforcement Agencies
4 Libraries
4 Licensing
4 Local Governments
4 Mass Transportation
4 Medical Services (Medicaid, Medicare)
4 Military
4 Minimum Foundation Program for Law Enforcement Officers
4 Mobile Home License Proceeds - SB 317
4 Mosquito Control 1971
4 Narcotics and Drug Abuse
4 Nassau County
4 Nepotism
4 Nursing
4 Optometry
4 Pay Raise - County Officials
4 Pay Raise - Legislative
4 Pledges for 1967 Senate President
4 Postal Savings System
4 Prison Reform
4 Public Employees
4 Real Estate
4 Retirement
4 Right to Work (SB 158)
5 St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission
5 St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District
5 St Johns County
5 St Lucie County - Juvenile Court Reform
5 Sex Education
5 State Employees - Merit Pay Raises
5 Sunland Training Centers
5 Suspensions of Law Enforcement and Public Officials
5 Taxation
5 Taxation - Advertising
5 Taxation - Beverage Tax
5 Taxation - Cablevision
5 Taxation - Corporate Tax
5 Taxation - Gas Tax
5 Taxation - General
5 Taxation - Homestead Exemption
5 Taxation - Motor Fuels
5 Taxation - Resort Tax (SB 742)
5 Taxation - Severance Tax on Minerals
5 Taxation - State Income Tax
5 Taxation - Utility Tax
5 Trees, Scott
5 Union County
5 Wiretapping (HB 2)

Subject Files and Correspondence, 1971-1972

6 Abortion - For/Against
6 Astrology Bill
6 Deaf - Mutes
6 Duval Delegation
6 Education - Elementary School Guidance Counselors
6 Education - Exceptional Child
6 Education - Private Schools
6 Education - Public Schools
6 Education - Teachers
6 Land Use
6 Law Enforcement
6 Legal Age
6 Medical
6 Ponte Verde (SB 1206)
6 Racing
6 Reapportionment
7 Retirement
7 Right to Work (HB 2008)
7 Sterilization
7 Taxation - Ad Valorem
7 Taxation - Credit Unions
7 Taxation - Resort

Miscellaneous Papers and Memorabilia

7 Booklet: "Verle Pope: The Lion of St Johns"
7 Campaign Poster
7 Photograph - Studio Portrait
7 Photographs
7 Recording of Pope Speaking on New Constitution before Jacksonville Realtors (7.5 ips reel-to-reel tape)
7 Retirement Folder: Governor's Proclamation, Senate Resolution, Distinguished Service Medal (Florida National Guard)
7 Retirement and Testimonial Dinner - Letters and Telegrams
7 News Clippings Scrapbook - Verle Allyn Pope 1903-1972 [Note: the original clippings in this scrapbook have been reproduced digitally and as photocopies.]
7 "Lion of St. John" - Binder containing hand-colored line drawings created by Lawton Chiles for Pope upon his retirement
Photograph album: primarily photos of Pope in the U.S. Air Corps in the late 1920s and in the service during World War II (including aviation training, biplanes, etc.). Includes early photos (loose) of Pope and family dating from 1903.
Photograph album: "Senator Verle A. Pope President Florida Senate 1966-1968" (photos and a few news clippings documenting Pope's tenure as president of the Senate).

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Florida -- Politics and government -- 1951-
Florida. Legislature Senate.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

University of Florida Home Page