Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958, and representative for Massachusetts's First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business. Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides.
The Silvio O. Conte Papers are open for research, except for a group of case files that are closed for a period of seventy-five years for legal reasons of confidentiality and privacy.
Inquiries regarding the Conte Papers should be addressed to Special Collections and University Archives in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. Because the papers are stored off-site there may be up to a twenty four hour delay between request and retrieval of material. Photocopying and publishing from the collection are allowed subject to the policies of Special Collections and University Archives and fair use under the copyright act.
Background on Silvio O. Conte
In the book Congress and Its Members Congressional scholars Roger Davidson and Walter Oleszek discuss the"dual nature of Congress," observing that"there really are two Congresses. One of these is Congress as a lawmaking institution - the Congress of textbooks, of how-a-bill-becomes-a-law...There is also a second Congress...it comprises men and women of diverse backgrounds...whose electoral fortunes depend less upon what Congress produces as an institution than upon the support and goodwill of voters hundreds of miles away."1 This duality is revealed throughout the Silvio O. Conte Congressional Papers - from the vast array of bill files, position papers, mark-ups for consideration, reports, and floor statements, to the constituent mail, Conte speeches delivered throughout the district, returned constituent questionnaires, and the hundreds of photographs of Conte with his constituents.
The Silvio O. Conte Congressional Papers, 1950-1991 document Conte's public service first as Massachusetts State Senator for the Berkshire District, 1950-1958 and primarily as representative for Massachusetts's First District in the United States Congress for 17 terms, 1959-1991, where he made significant contributions in the areas of health and human services, the environment, education, energy, transportation, and small business.
The collection comprises 575 linear feet of those files maintained by Conte and his staff in Washington, D.C. and in the two district offices in Pittsfield and Holyoke (most of which is casework with restricted access), including correspondence, speeches, press releases, bill files, his voting record, committee files, scrapbooks, travel files, audio-visual materials and over 5,000 photographs and slides. The papers have been divided into five subgroups delineating broad functional areas of a congressional office: Personal/Political/Official; Legislative; Press Relations/Media Activities; Constituent Services; Office Administration. Each subgroup has been further divided into series based on file format and type of activity documented. Detailed descriptions of each of these 27 series are included in this guide.
There are folder title lists - which serve as primary subject access to the materials - for each series, although several have been omitted from this guide because of excessive length. The series excluded are: Legislative Subject Files, General Subject Files, Bills Files and item-level lists of VIP Correspondence, Speeches, Press Releases, Audio-Visual materials, and Photographs. These lists are available to researchers in the Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room.
The State Senator series (Subgroup I, Series 2), documents Conte's beginnings as a politician. Divided into speeches, correspondence, campaign and subject files spanning 1950-1958, this valuable series illustrates issues central to 1950s politics on the national and state level. Other early files of significance exist in the Travel series (I, 3) which feature Conte's handwritten notes and taped recordings with his personal accounts of the inspection tours of U.S. foreign aid programs in Africa and Southeast Asia during the 1960s that he participated in as a member of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee (see also Audio-Visual series, III, 6).
The bulk of the collection is contained in the two series identified as House Appropriations Committee Files (II, 3a-3m) and Legislative Subject/Correspondence files (II, 6a-6b). The Appropriations Committee Files reveal Conte's powerful position as ranking minority member of that committee from 1979-1991, a position that gave him a vote on all thirteen subcommittees. Although official committee records remain in Washington, D.C., housed in the Center for Legislative Archives, documentation of much of the work done by aides as they monitored the appropriations process and gathered information that Conte needed to make informed decisions remained within the collection. Although Conte served on the Small Business Committee from 1965-1991 and was very active in crafting legislation and providing vigorous support to small businesses in the First District, few files remain in this collection to document his influential role. Within the House Appropriations Committee Files, the Subcommittees on Interior and Health and Human Services are the largest of the subseries and cover areas in which Conte took a passionate personal interest and was an established leader in Congress.
The Health and Human Services Files (II, 3h.2) document Conte's largely successful efforts to continue full funding to the National Institutes of Health for biomedical research; and to support programs such as the low income home energy assistance program, (LIHEAP) and family planning centers in Western Massachusetts.
An ardent conservationist and outdoorsman, Conte fought for 10 years for passage of stringent acid rain legislation, and his efforts to clean up the Connecticut River and restore the Atlantic salmon to it are manifest in the Subcommittee on Interior Files (II, 3g). Within the General Budget subseries (II, 3a) are Conte's handwritten notes regarding periodic meetings (1983-1989) he attended at the White House with cabinet members, the Republican leadership, and the President as well as notes on his participation in the Budget Summits of 1987 and 1990. His attendance reveals his important position as ranking minority member of the Appropriations Committee and his recognized ability for bipartisan compromise.
While supporting most large-scale social spending requests, Conte established himself as a fiscal conservative in other areas. A colorful figure with a penchant for theatrics, his vocal denunciations sometimes took the form of satirical poems or pranks. The later years of his longstanding crusade to limit the size of farm subsidies are documented in the Subcommittee on Agriculture Files (II, 3i). The Energy and Water Subcommittee files (II, 3d) reveal his opposition to water projects such as the Garrison Diversion project in North Dakota and the Dickey-Lincoln Dam project, both of which he viewed as environmentally damaging boondoggles. The Department of Energy Files (II, 3h.2), a segment of the Subcommittee on Interior Files, document his efforts to kill the Synthetic Fuels Corporation which he had accused of"bankrolling the pet projects of the fat-cat oil barons."
The Legislative Subject/Correspondence Files (II, Series 6) reflect Conte's early assignments on the Treasury-Postal Service & Foreign Operations Subcommittees and contain mostly constituent correspondence and the office's response. Issues documented include the invasion of Cambodia, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Civil Rights movement, communism, firearms control, abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment, oil import quotas, the energy crisis, and federal aid to education.
Davidson and Oleszek make the observation that"Members of Congress . . . depend upon the support of their electorate in order to serve. In turn, they are expected to understand and promote the views of constituents and to serve as their links with the federal government."2 Two sections of the collection that illustrate this reciprocity are the Press Relations/Media Activities and Constituent Services subgroups. Conte kept in touch with his constituents by mail, by public appearances, and by radio and television appearances. The Speeches, Press Releases, Radio and Television Transcripts, and Newsletters series document this function. Maintained by staff more carefully than most other parts of the collection, the series offer valuable synopses of Conte's political career.
A large portion of the Audio-Visual materials (III, Series 6) consists of audio recordings of Conte's weekly radio show. Most of the 16mm films consist of Conte's five minute television programs, often condensed versions of the radio show, which aired mainly during 1959, 1961 and 1967-1968. Included here is an audio recording of a 1958 testimonial dinner honoring Conte's election to Congress; a 1967 film of an interview with John W. Lederle, President of University of Massachusetts; and an audio recording of the 1987 fund raiser for the endowment of the Silvio O. Conte chair at the University of Massachusetts.
Research strategies should be formulated carefully and researchers should keep in mind that there is substantial overlap of topical coverage and information is widely dispersed throughout this large collection. A good example of this is Conte's fight against oil import quotas. Because New Englanders are highly dependent on oil for heating fuel the quotas adversely affect them by causing oil prices to rise. Conte began his vocal opposition in his first year in Congress when the Eisenhower administration instituted the quota system. He continued to fight for free trade with regard to oil throughout his career. Discussion of his continuing efforts can be found within the Floor Statements series in the form of a compilation by staff of all floor remarks Conte made regarding oil import quotas and fees spanning the years 1959-1984; this issue is also documented in the staff-compiled Oil Notebooks located in the Issue Books/Briefing Books series. His efforts to inform his constituents of his activities are reflected in the Speeches, Press Releases, Radio and Television Transcripts, and Newsletters. Documentation of the legislative initiatives he sponsored exist in the Bill Files, Voting Record, and all the way up to the 1990 Budget Summit notes filed in the Appropriations Committee Series, which document Conte's efforts to block Senator Lloyd Bentsen's proposal to reinstate the quotas to increase revenues. And finally, constituents' opinion on this topic can be found in the Legislative Subject/Correspondence Files and annual constituent questionnaires.
Aside from the study of legislation, public policy debates, and the relationship between Congressman and his constituents, the Conte Papers are a history of the times in which he served. Spanning four decades and eight presidents, the papers offer an extraordinary perspective on the major social, economic, and cultural changes experienced by the American people.
1. Davidson, Roger H. and Oleszek, Walter J., Congress and Its Members, 4th ed. (Washington, DC 1994)
This collection is organized as follows:
The Biographical Files provide background on Conte's life and political career. This series has been artificially created by drawing from other series within the collection. Materials within folders in this series are arranged chronologically and include biographical sketches generated by aides; feature articles on Conte; transcripts of interviews; guest lists and notes regarding both of Conte's well-known annual celebrations the Labor Day Atlantic salmon party (1985-1989) and his birthday party (1983-1986) at the Botanical Gardens in Washington, D.C. There are also obituaries and several folders containing news clippings with substantive biographical content. This series contains a compilation of the famed rhymes he recited on the House floor and a few of his published writings. Tax returns from 1959 to 1975, and a few cards and notes from family members round out this key series.
The State Senate Files document Conte's eight-year tenure as a Massachusetts State Senator representing the Berkshire District. This series makes possible insight into Conte's formative years as a politician and public servant. The files reflect Conte's early involvement in what would become his major career interests: health and human services, education, the environment, and transportation. As a State Senator he served on more committees than had any other member of the state Legislature, and was the youngest legislator, in the history of the Commonwealth, to serve as chairman of the important Committee on Insurance.
This series documents his extensive involvement in legislative and investigative committees and his correspondence with constituents. Included in the nine boxes are campaign materials, correspondence, speeches, and subject files.
The one box of campaign materials is arranged in chronological order according to campaign year. Files for each campaign include addresses, correspondence with constituents and colleagues, newspaper clippings, endorsements, and campaign expenditures. Senator Conte's campaign addresses are particularly useful in revealing his political convictions as well as issues central to 1950s politics.
The four boxes of correspondence are the largest group of files within the State Senator series and reveal his diligent attention to his district's concerns and his dedication to serving his constituency. The correspondence, comprised of both incoming and outgoing letters, is almost entirely constituent-oriented with nearly one quarter of the correspondence consisting of general requests made by constituents, all of which were dutifully completed. The files are arranged both alphabetically by the name of the correspondent and by general subject.
Perhaps more than any other group of files in this series, Conte's speeches reveal his personality and opinions. Conte's speeches were candid, often humorous, and suggest that he was not afraid of difficult fights. The box of speeches is arranged in alphabetical order by subject or location of speech. Often folders contain more than one speech made on a single subject.
The subject files consist of three boxes and are arranged alphabetically. Each subject file contains an assortment of materials including correspondence, background material, newsclippings and Conte's handwritten notes. Most of the files pertain to legislation or committee activity. Prominent issues reflecting public sentiment during the 1950s McCarthyism, the Cold War and defense spending, unions, and the push for public works are recurring themes. During his years as a State Senator, Conte was particularly well known for his investigative work into mismanagement of union health and welfare trust funds; for authoring legislation establishing accident and health insurance for all state, city, town, and county employees, the first such law in the United States; and for introducing a bill outlawing communism in Massachusetts.
Also well documented in the subject files is his interest in the environment, evidenced in his work as chairman of the Conservation Committee and illustrated by his repeated efforts to obtain new state conservation and recreation areas.
His efforts to curb juvenile delinquency and his investigations of such health insurance agencies as Blue Cross and Blue Shield foretold his future vigorous support for health and social service programs in Congress. Conte also received attention for his vehement opposition to Governor Foster Furculo's proposal to establish the first sales tax in Massachusetts.
Included in the subject files are five folders of newsclippings provided by a newsclip service to which Conte subscribed. The clippings are extremely useful in obtaining background information on Conte's legislative and campaign activities.
The variety of subjects represented shows the diversity of Conte's interests, ranging from farming legislation to foreign affairs, and from an investigation of Gypsy Moths to authorship of a "Witches Bill" which exonerated the final eight victims of the Salem Witch Trials. Many topics represented in the subject files also appear in the State Senate speech files.
SEE ALSO: Crusade for Freedom
SEE ALSO: Tax, Sales
SEE ALSO: Youth Service Board
SEE ALSO: Pension Bills
SEE ALSO: Utilities, Public
SEE ALSO: Conservation Committee
SEE ALSO: Health and Welfare Trust Fund
The Travel Files is one of the few series in the collection to reveal at length Conte's own thoughts and impressions. These appear in the handwritten letters and taped recordings he sent to his staff while he traveled. This series contains itineraries, correspondence, background materials, transcripts of personal reports, newsclippings, press releases, thank-you notes, and speeches. The files are arranged chronologically and total two boxes.
Many of Conte's early trips stemmed from his service on the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. The trips were often inspection tours of America's foreign aid programs to developing nations. The most complete files concern Conte's six week tour of Africa and Europe in 1961, accompanied by his good friend and fellow committee member Robert Michel R-IL, and constitute nearly one-half of this series. Here Conte offers interesting commmentary on topics ranging from industrialization, agricultural practices, and political structures to descriptions of the climate and local customs. On that 1961 trip Conte made a stopover in Berlin. There he witnessed the flow of East German refugees into West Germany and the hardships endured by the German people as a result of the official separation of the city of Berlin by the construction of the Berlin Wall. His personal accounts of these events and others exemplify his concern for human rights and help to explain his strong support for well-funded foreign assistance programs to developing nations.
Although primarily known for his activism on the domestic front, Conte also played an international role by representing the United States when dealing with foreign leaders. His forays into diplomacy are documented in the China and Soviet Union files. The efforts of the Carter and Reagan administrations to improve Sino-American relationships are reflected in the files on the China Trips in 1977 and 1983. In 1985 Conte was a member of the first Congressional delegation to meet with the Soviet Union's leader Mikhail Gorbachev. As Tip O'Neill said in his eulogy of Conte: "I don't know how many places we went around the world together, but Sil could ask the leader of a nation the most pertinent question that would have taken a diplomat two years to ask. He could get to the point."
Conte occasionally made taped recordings while traveling and these audiotapes are included in the collection often accompanied by a typed transcript. The trip to Africa and Europe in 1961 is especially well documented with audiotapes and transcripts for nine different countries.
Additional series that document Conte's travels include the Speeches, Press Releases, Radio & TV Files, Newsletters, Photographs, and Audio-Visual Materials.
The VIP Correspondence series consists of three boxes of incoming correspondence designated by Conte or his staff for inclusion in a special "VIP" album. For preservation reasons all letters have been removed from the albums and placed in acid free folders.
Most frequent correspondents in the VIP series include: James A. Baker III, Charles E. Bennett, William Brock, Jimmy Carter, Lawrence Couglin, Elizabeth Dole, Michael Dukakis, Vic Fazio, Gerald Ford, Edward Kennedy, Robert Michel, James C. Miller III, Tip O'Neill, Leon Panetta, Ronald Reagan, Donald Regan, George Shultz, Olympia Snowe, David Stockman, and Jamie Whitten.
Although designated "VIP" by Conte's staff, many of the letters are routine they reflect the networking activities and daily interaction among members of Congress. There are notes thanking fellow members of Congress for small gifts (often home-state products), thank-yous for co-sponsorship of a bill or resolution, Dear Colleague letters, and occasionally a more substantive letter discussing an important national or local issue.
The preponderance of letters from such individuals as David Stockman, White House Budget Director; James C. Miller III, Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and President Ronald Reagan document the major reworking the national budget sustained during the Reagan presidency and underscores the administration's need for Conte's cooperation as the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee in order to implement "Reaganomics." These letters illustrate the growing urgency of the federal budget deficit as a potent political issue by the 1980s.
An alphabetical index to letters is available in Special Collection and Archives Reading Room.
Over the course of 17 congressional elections Conte won both party nominations three times and ran unopposed eight times and often won elections by 70% of the vote or more. Full-fledged campaigns were seldom necessary.
The files for each campaign include Conte's official candidacy announcements, correspondence expressing support or congratulations to Conte, information on the Republican party campaign fundraisers and national platform, and Conte's campaign newspaper, The Conte Record.
The later campaign files (1978-1990) contain the so-called Issue Books, which were prepared by Conte's staff to provide detailed, factual summaries of Conte's recent (usually in the last Congress) legislative accomplishments and his stance on important campaign issues.
Other series that relate to campaigns include the Scrapbooks, Issue Books/Briefing Books, Biographical Files, and Speeches.
Files regarding Conte's first Congressional campaign in 1958 can be found in the State Senate series.
The 10 boxes in this series consist of accepted invitations and daily schedules. The original size of this series was reduced by sampling. Whenever possible daily and weekly summary sheets of Conte's appointments were retained. Arranged chronologically, this series reveals the sheer volume and diversity of requests made on the Congressman's time.
The 80 scrapbooks in this collection cover Conte's eight years in the State Senate as well as every year Conte was in Congress. Compiled by staff, the majority of the scrapbooks comprise news clippings in which Conte's name appears. There are also campaign scrapbooks from the years 1952, 1954, 1958, 1960 (2), 1964, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1976, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, topical scrapbooks on the 1976 Republican presidential primary, the 1976 election, the 1980 election, the Fall 1987 budget appropriations process and three scrapbooks documenting the annual congressional baseball game for the years 1973-1974 and 1977-1979.
There is a small amount of memorabilia contained in Series 8. Items include a model General Electric power transformer, a framed Treasury check payable to the University of Massachusetts, and House of Representatives cufflinks. There are numerous campaign pins, bumper stickers, and fliers.
A few of the many plaques and awards Conte received over the years can be found here as well. These have been listed below in chronological order.
The Voting Record contains printed summaries of Conte's votes in Congress. In addition to the record supplied each member by the House Clerk, this series also includes vote analyses supplied by special interest organizations such as the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, and the Farmer's Union. From the 86th to 89th Congresses there are charts comparing Conte's vote with the votes of House and Senate leadership and the GOP; and from the 87th to 91st Congresses there are useful summaries that provide a synopsis of the bill's intent and the rationale for Conte's vote.
Beginning with the 99th and continuing through to the 102nd congress the more voluminous Clerk-produced "Legislative Activity Guides" replace the smaller Roll Calls. To supplement these guides there are "Legi-Slate" reports for the 98th and 99th congresses. These reports were obtained for members by the Congressional Research Service using a commercial on-line database and are simply a compilation of all votes by the congressman for that particular session, with a short explanation of the bill.
This series represents Conte's staff's efforts to maintain files on the bills sponsored or cosponsored by Conte. The bills are arranged in chronological order by Congress. Except for the first two Congresses in which Conte served the 86th and 87th covering the years 1959-1963, and the 96th and 97th Congresses which cover 1979-1982 each bill is in an individual folder and arranged by the assigned number.
Exceptions to the folder level arrangement include the 86th Congress, which consists of one folder containing a list of Conte sponsored legislation, and the 87th Congress, which consists of two folders for each session, each containing a list of Conte-sponsored legislation along with a printed bill. Other exceptions to folder level arrangement by bill number can be found in the 96th and 97th Congresses (1979-1982), which have computer generated "Legislative Profiles" produced by the House Office of the Clerk. The profiles summarize bills sponsored or cosponsored by Conte under broad topic.
The contents of the folders vary depending on which staff member maintained the files. Many of the files contain printed bills and drafts of bills, reports, statements, correspondence from constituents, members of congress and lobbyists, press releases, newsclippings and Congressional Record tear sheets; other files contain only a copy of the printed bill.
All types of legislative proposals: bills, both public and private; House Resolutions; House Joint Resolutions; and House Concurrent Resolutions are included and have been arranged in that order. Within each type the folders have been arranged numerically. There are numerous private bills interspersed among the public that pertain to individual matters, such as claims against the government, immigration and naturalization cases, and land titles.
Prominent issues reflect Conte's interests and committee assignments. There is much legislation in the areas of small business, farm subsidy reforms, social security, medicare, clean air and conservation, energy issues especially concerning oil import quotas and trade.
There is overlap within the collection and other series that are likely to have information supplementary to this series include the Legislative Subject/Correspondence Files, Floor Statements and Appropriations Committee Files.
The complete folder-title list for this series has not been included in this guide owing to its great length. It is available in the Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room.
Series 3, House Appropriations Committee Files, consists of the files created and maintained by the minority staff assistants who helped Conte to meet the responsibilities of his position as ranking minority member of the Appropriations Committee.
This series does not fully cover Conte's Appropriations Committee activities. Prior to Conte becoming ranking minority member in 1979, most appropriations-related materials were filed by his staff in the Legislative Subject/Correspondence files.
The files span the 1970s through 1991, and contain documentation of many of Conte's favorite issues and important legislative initiatives. In addition to a subseries for each subcommittee, there are also subseries for General Budget Files, Correspondence, and Markup Books.
Several of the subseries have been further divided. The Interior Subcommittee files have been subdivided into four segments: Acid Rain files, Department of Energy files, Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC), and Tim Shea Subject Files. The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee files have been further divided into Health and Human Services (HHS) files and Education and Labor files and the one box of materials on the Joint Commission on the Coinage has been placed under Treasury-Postal Service Subcommittee files.
There are no files on the Legislative Subcommittee or the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary.
The General Budget Files represent files not directly related to any one subcommittee but created as a result of Conte's leadership role and expertise in the appropriations process.
Subseries 3l, Markup Books, consists of the background information compiled by staffers in their effort to monitor Subcommittee Appropriations bills. The typical markup book consists of a looseleaf binder containing budget justification tables, correspondence from lobbying groups, committee recommendations, report language, and floor statements.
Subseries 3m, two boxes, Appropriations Correspondence, consists of copies of minority staff assistants' outgoing correspondence, filed by the name of the staff member within chronological periods.
The files have been arranged chronologically except for the last box, which contains the Budget Summit notes for 1987, 1990, and the White House Notes, 1983-1989.
These files cover general appropriations issues not related to specific subcommittee bills. This includes Office of Management and Budget proposals and overviews, deficit reduction agreements and supplemental and urgent appropriations bills. Notable files in this series include Conte's notes (some with accompanying typed transcripts prepared by office staff) on the meetings he attended as a participant in the Budget Summits of 1987 and 1990. The summits called together cabinet members, leadership in congress, and the president to work out solutions to the budget deficit crisis. Some of the notes have typed transcripts to accompany them. Also of interest are typed transcripts of his notes taken during meetings at the White House spanning 1983-1989. Though other topics were discussed in the White House meetings, topics predominantly pertained to budget issues.
Related series include VIP Correspondence and Scrapbooks.
Files for both subcommittees are combined because the files were maintained by the same individual, contain similar subject matter, and were kept in the same physical space. The folders are filed alphabetically under "Appropriations Bills," then chronologically by fiscal year.
The files for both the defense and military construction subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee were maintained by minority staff assistant George Allen, and later by Charles (Chinch) Wollerton and by legislative assistant Patrick Larkin.
Materials in this series are typically correspondence from contractors, constituents, and government agencies, Dear Colleague letters, and internal memos, and especially reflect First District concerns. District defense industries from large General Electric and Smith & Wesson to small Kollmorgen sought Conte's support, as did local defense installations like Westover AFB. From national concerns like Arms Control, SDI ("Star Wars") and the MX Missile to First District controversy over noise from Westover Air Force Bases's C-5A transport planes or the proposed construction of two unpopular communications systems (one in Amherst, the other in Hawley). This series reveals Conte's interest in and influence over defense issues most significantly through the appropriations process.
SEE ALSO: MX Missile
This series contains legislative materials relating to Conte's place on the District of Columbia Appropriations Subcommittee. Part of a group of appropriations subcommittee files maintained by Tim Shea, they have been segregated to reflect the work of the individual subcommittee. Although supplemental appropriations bills are all-encompassing, that is, not tied to individual subcommittees, supplemental issues relating only to District of Columbia appropriations have been included in this series.
The files relating to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water of the House Appropriations Committee contain materials relating to passage of specific appropriation bills and supplementals as well as to subjects of both one-time and ongoing interest. These subjects include the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), which provided federally funded employment through energy and water related projects and the Conte-sponsored "Buy American" provisions for government procurement contracts, particularly aimed at helping General Electric obtain contracts to provide generating equipment to hydroelectric plants. (Files related to JTPA can also be found in the L-HHS-ED Subcommittee files, Labor and Education subseries.) The appropriations bills are arranged chronologically by fiscal year and subject files follow in alphabetical order.
Also of interest are several files on individual hydroelectric projects, notably the Garrison project in North Dakota and the Dickey-Lincoln Lakes School project in northern New England, which illustrate Conte's efforts to balance clean energy production with the potentially devastating consequences of dam building to wetlands, conservation areas, and wildlife. Conte's dual concern for environmental and fiscal issues is also apparent in his opposition to the Clinch River breeder reactor and the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) projects. Many of the projects overseen and funded by the Subcommittee on Energy and Water were once the province of the now defunct Subcommittee on Public Works. For this reason some material in these files, generated during the latter part of the 1970s, may seem out of place here. Another issue outside the province of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water is the Synfuels debate. This Department of Energy issue relates to the Interior Subcommittee. Nevertheless, several folders of Synfuels material appear in this series.
In general, these files consist of materials relating directly to markup and passage of appropriations bills, including (but not limited to) floor statements, hearing materials, amendments, conference notes, staff memos and correspondence from colleagues, constituents and lobbying groups. Subject files contain correspondence of the types just mentioned, staff memos, newsclippings, and some printed materials from lobbying groups.
There is also material relating to First District projects funded by the energy and water appropriations bill in the Project/Grant Series.
SEE ALSO: Water Resources Development Act of 1979
SEE ALSO: Souris Valley
SEE ALSO: "Buy American"
The files in this series document Conte's role as ranking minority member of the House Appropriations Committee, his position as an ex officio member of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, and his commitment to human rights.
Arranged alphabetically by folder title, the files include correspondence, memoranda, news clippings, and legislative reference material. Much of the correspondence, and most of the policy research, was conducted by Jim Fairchild, minority staff assistant, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, 1980-1990; Bob Goudie, Conte's legislative assistant from 1983-1987, who was extensively involved in the formulation of Conte's policies regarding Central America; and Ed Gresser, legislative assistant to the Congressman in 1989.
Conte's interest in foreign affairs can be attributed to, in part, his service on the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in the 1960s. During that time he undertook a number of trips through Africa. (Files related to these subjects can be found in the Legislative Correspondence/Subject Files, Travel Files and Audio-Visual materials).
The files most often deal with problems within Africa, the Soviet Union, and Central American countries and cover a variety of issues including world hunger, human rights, refugees, international debt, trade and tariffs.
A large number of files in this series concern foreign aid appropriations. Other files concern human rights issues of interest and concern to Conte, unrelated to appropriations. Still others represent a synthesis of appropriations and human rights issues, such as those instances in which funding or aid is tied to human rights records. Of particular interest are the files on Conte's involvement in funding for the government of El Salvador and the Nicaraguan rebels. The Congressman often took positions on these issues that opposed the positions of the Republican administration. His commitment to fighting for human rights is demonstrated by his involvement in a number of cases concerning individuals such as Argentinean journalist Jacob Timmerman and ethnic groups such as Soviet Jewry and starving populations in Sub-Saharan Africa.
SEE ALSO: Pease-Conte Trade Bill
Congressman Conte championed the interests of his district by seeking funding for First District projects in the appropriations phase, and represented those interests as an intermediary between constituents and the bureaucracy once a grant application was filed or a project under way.
The HUD subcommittee files document Conte's efforts, through his influence on the appropriations committee, to strengthen the economy of Western Massachusetts and to assist the elderly and low-income residents of Western Massachusetts through a myriad of housing and community development grants. Most of the files in this six box subseries relate to the appropriations of monies for programs such as Urban Development Action Grants (UDAG), Housing Development Action Grants (HODAG), Community Development Block Grants, funding for public works projects, housing for the elderly, and other HUD-related grants.
The contents here include correspondence, memoranda, news clippings, legislative reference materials, notes, speeches, and federal grant applications. The files are arranged alphabetically by folder title. Most of the files are under the first town or city for which the project was intended. There are also several files relating to the annual HUD-IA appropriations bill.
As a long-time supporter of public housing, Conte was extensively involved in procuring federally funded, low-income housing projects and developments in his district. As a result, he often found himself in the position of being a mediator between low-income constituents in need of affordable housing and those constituents who were opposed to housing projects in their neighborhood. Towns most often mentioned are: Pittsfield, Holyoke, Northampton, Greenfield, and North Adams.
Congressman Conte's interest in the environment and his concern for the homeless are evident in his legislative and constituent correspondence regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), two of the several independent agencies within the HUD subcommittee's jurisdiction. There are several files regarding EPA projects in the First District, most of which relate to water pollution control and wastewater treatment. Other independent agencies represented in these files include the Veterans Administration, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.
The staff members most frequently represented in correspondence and memoranda are Gayl Mileszko and Mary Silveira, with assistance from Peter Gossens, James Ogsbury and James Kulikowski, all minority staff assistants.
Researchers should note that many subjects are to be found in a mixture of Appropriations Bills, Independent Agency, and First District Town or City files. This is due to the fact that many projects, such as a sewage treatment plant, may be requested by a town, funded by a HUD grant, and monitored by the EPA.
The Interior files are arranged with five boxes of appropriation bills first, followed by eight boxes of subject files. The bills files have been arranged by fiscal year. Within a given fiscal year an Interior Appropriations bill can be tracked from bureau and departmental requests through subcommittee and full committee markup, to floor action and conference committee. The amount of information available within a given fiscal year varies considerably. The subject files are arranged alphabetically.
The subject files reveal Conte's interest in environmental and conservation issues. Subjects of national importance include Antarctic preservation, wetlands acquisition, prevention of development of Matagorda Island, Texas, the last untouched barrier island and home of the whooping crane, and other National Wildlife Refuges, and the North American Waterfowl Conservation Act. Issues more specifically related to Interior concerns in Massachusetts' First District include the files on the restoration of the Atlantic salmon and striped bass to the Connecticut River through projects like the Northeast Anadromous Fish Lab in Turners Falls and the Sunderland holding station, obtaining federal Clean Water Act funds for Massachusetts, and Appalachian Trail relocation plans for the Berkshire County towns of Tyringham and Sheffield. For his many years of hard work and dedication to preserving the environment he was honored by many environmental organizations including the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society.
Despite Conte's interest in environmental and interior issues, he served only as an ex officio member of the Subcommittee on Interior, a position granted by his status as ranking minority member.
In general, these files consist of materials relating directly to markup and passage of appropriations bills, including (but not limited to) floor statements, hearing materials, amendments, conference notes, staff memos and correspondence from colleagues, constituents and lobbying groups. Subject files contain correspondence of the types just mentioned, staff memos, and newsclippings. From 1985-1991, the Interior Subcommittee files were maintained by Tim Shea, minority staff assistant for the Interior subcommittee and primary staff member represented in these files.
Although supplemental appropriations bills are all-encompassing, that is, not tied to individual subcommittees, supplemental issues relating only to Interior matters have been included in this series.
There are four subseries of the Interior Subcommittee files: Acid Rain, Department of Energy, Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, and Tim Shea General Subject Files.
SEE ALSO: Kesterton Reservoir
SEE ALSO: Atlantic salmon
Conte's concern for the environment is well documented in the Acid Rain subseries of the Interior Subcommittee files. The files were maintained primarily by minority staff assistant, Tim Shea. Divided into legislative (bill materials arranged chronologically) and subject (arranged alphabetically) subseries, the files document Conte's ongoing interest in combatting acid rain. Writing and cosponsoring both clean air and clean water legislation for over a decade, Conte established himself as a congressional leader in the fight against acid rain.
A key issue here, documented to some extent in the Department of Energy Appropriations files and the Energy and Water Subcommittee files as well, is funding for the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Board. Initiated partly to study means of producing non-polluting (non-acid rain-causing) fuels, Conte was soon convinced that it was a waste of tax dollars and sought to rescind its funding. Files on the Synfuels successor, or as Conte referred to it, the "son of Synfuels" the Clean Coal Program are also covered in this series. Seeing the Clean Coal Program as an example of corporate welfare, Conte believed clean coal technologies should be developed in the private sector. Without restrictions on acid rain-causing emissions, Conte viewed the program as simply an expensive replacement for emissions control legislation.
Otherwise, the subject files here generally provide background material to legislative bills.
SEE ALSO: Tall Stacks and Clean Coal Jan-Jul 1985
Though the appropriations for the Department of Energy are determined by two house subcommittees, Interior and Energy and Water, the files here generally relate more to the Interior subcommittee.
Principal subjects within this series include the home heating oil crisis of the late 1980s, outer continental shelf leasing and drilling moratoria (which Conte favored) and the maintenance of the strategic petroleum reserve. Some information on the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Board, a favorite target of Conte's, can be found in this series, but most of this information is located in the Acid Rain subseries.
SEE ALSO: Acid Rain, subject subseries
The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission was established in 1934, its mission to acquire, through the revenue raised from the sale of federal duck stamps, wetlands around the country to be designated as national waterfowl refuges. Appointed by President Johnson in 1965, Conte served for 25 years on the Commission's board, the longest time for any member.
Because the commission works closely with the Interior Department and because there are Interior Department documents interspersed throughout the MBCC files, this small group of files has been placed with Subcommittee on Interior files. The one box of MBCC files consists of a small assortment of program agendas, minutes, correspondence, hearing testimonies, and Interior Department press releases.
The files are arranged alphabetically by topic.
The four boxes of files reflect Tim Shea's work as legislative assistant for Conte in 1983-1984 and minority staff assistant on the Interior, Treasury-Postal-Service-General Government, and District of Columbia Subcommittees, 1985-1990. There are several files relating to the Smithsonian Institution, documenting Conte's position on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian, 1979-1991, and Tim Shea's role as staff liaison to the Board.
The majority of the files represent Interior-related activities, with particular emphasis on environmental research, clean-up programs, and wildlife conservation. The files also include an assortment of files relating to national issues or Conte sponsored legislation.