The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 106
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Lawrence C. Pope of Austin, a former bank president who spent
twenty-one years in prison for armed robbery of two Texas banks and
who is a well-known prison reform activist, has donated the bulk of his
voluminous collection of documents, correspondence, and clippings
pertaining to the federal and Texas prison systems to the Barker Texas
History Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Assembled during
his years of incarceration, Pope's collection focuses primarily on the
Texas Department of Corrections and contains information about pris-
oner's rights, violence in prisons, TDC finances, parole matters, prison
farms, prison medical care and living conditions, and Pope's contacts
with inmates. Also included are materials on banks and banking. Aug-
menting the Lawrence C. Pope Collection are nineteen ninety-minute
audiocassettes of personal interviews with Pope, in which he recounts
his life from earliest times until the present. Don Carleton, Barker Cen-
ter director, says he thinks the Pope interviews "may turn out to be
among the most valuable interviews we have." The Pope Collection is
expected to be an important resource for scholars, public officials and
lawmakers interested in prison reform, as well as for the general public.
A native of Trinity who grew up in Huntsville, Pope was associated
with banks from 1935 until early 196o0. He had been a teller with the
First National Bank in Dallas (1935-1948), assistant national bank
examiner with the Treasury Department (1948-1951), cashier with
Farmers and Merchants National Bank (now First National Bank) in
Abilene (1951-1953), executive vice president of Gulfgate State Bank
in Houston (1953-1958), and president of the West National Bank in
West (1958-1960). After a management shake-up in the West Bank in
which he was eased out of his position and left feeling cheated by his
banking partners, Pope briefly published a weekly in Giddings before
his lingering grudge toward banks caused him to commit criminal acts.
On successive Saturdays in early 1960 he robbed the federally insured
First State Bank of Thornton of about $1,200 and then the uninsured
Farmers State Bank of Schulenberg of about $1,500.
For those crimes, Pope was given a twenty-five-year federal prison
sentence and a fifty-year state sentence, both penalties to be served con-
currently. He was an inmate in several U.S. penitentiaries and from
1970 to 1979 he was incarcerated in various prison units of the Texas
Department of Corrections. While a prisoner, Pope gained a reputa-
tion as a skilled "writ writer," assisting other inmates in filing lawsuits
against state and federal prison systems over issues such as censorship
of inmate mail and prisoners' access to legal materials.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/132/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.