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Thomas R. Carper congressional papers

Identifier: MSS 0399

Scope and Contents

The Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers document his career as Delaware's member-at-large in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1983-1993. The collection spans 1979-1993, but the bulk of the papers covers the time period 1982-1992, from the final days of Carper's term as Delaware state treasurer and the announcement of his intention to run for Congress in July 1982, until November 1992 when he won the gubernatorial election for the state of Delaware. Nearly 84 linear feet in extent with some oversize and audio-visual materials, the contents are typical of materials found in a congressional collection: correspondence with constituents, colleagues, and government agencies; memoranda and notes; speeches; bills, resolutions, and amendments of legislation; financial documents, reports, testimonies, hearings, pamphlets, publications, and reference materials; calendars, schedules, photographs, publicity, newsletters, news clippings, maps, and ephemera.

Some parts of the collection are more complete than others in documenting Carper's ten years in Congress, but the collection in its entirety depicts the congressional duties of representing individual constituents and the state of Delaware, creating legislation, serving on committees, and conducting oversight and investigations. Personal material in the collection is limited to campaign files from Carper's political career between 1982 and 1992, and photographs and other personal ephemera.

The collection as a whole is also typical of modern political papers: it is large and reflects the complex working relationship between the Congressman and his staff. Carper's papers are a composite of his own, personally-generated papers and the working files of his supporting legislative and administrative staff. As a consequence of the number of people involved in creating the papers, as well as the frequency of turnover in job positions and responsibilities, there is great idiosyncrasy in the breadth, depth, and continuity of the files.

The majority of the files in the collection were maintained by legislative assistants (LAs) in the congressional office of Carper. Assigned a subject area for which they are expected to develop expertise, legislative assistants research and synthesize information on an issue. They monitor all legislation as it moves through Congress. They provide their member of Congress with concise and informed reports with recommended positions and/or suggestions for a vote. Legislative assistants serve in important advisory roles, but, as evidenced in the Carper papers, their advice is not always heeded. Carper's legislative assistants also composed reports or memoranda to brief him on pending legislation, drafted legislation and speeches, and served as liaisons to agencies or other members of Congress. They supported Congressman Carper in all of his duties which required their subject expertise related to work on legislative issues.

Administrative assistants have management as well as legislative responsibilities and are the senior staff in a congressional office. Staff assistants often cover legislative assignments and provide general support with constituent services. Caseworkers serve as liaisons with federal agencies to procure appropriate government services for constituents. Key senior staff or long-term staff who worked for Congressman Carper and whose names appear frequently in this collection include the following: administrative assistant Ed Freel, communications director (later administrative assistant) Jeffrey Bullock, press secretary Timothy Gay, and legislative assistants Liz Ryan, John Baker, Christophe Tulou, Janet St. Amand, and Helen Wiederhorn. Several of these staff were not long-term employees, but were senior staff toward the end of Carper's career in the House, and their papers were included in the office files. Files created by earlier senior staff and legislative assistants are often missing from this collection.

The content and arrangement of the papers, then, reflects the research methods, filing habits, and organizational skills of numerous staff. The absence of a central office filing system, the frequent reassignment of staff responsibilities and subject areas, and the extent of subject overlap in identifiable file series led to an integrated series outline in the archival arrangement of this collection. The integrated series outline incorporates small groups of files that were created by these numerous staff. In cases where a staff member was clearly identified with the creation and content of a file series, this is detailed in series description notes. (See, for example, Series I.B.2. Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee files, primarily maintained by Christophe Tulou; or Series I.F. Trips, largely created by Liz Ryan.) This introductory scope note explains the overall arrangement and content of the collection; longer, detailed scope notes are found with each series description in the finding aid.

The collection is organized in three main subgroups: I. Official Work Files, II. Administrative Files, and III. Personal Files. The first subgroup, Official Work Files, encompasses eight series: TC (Tom Carper's) Personal Files, Committee Work, Issue Files, Regional Issue Files, Constituent Correspondence, Trips, Voting Records, and Publications. The Administrative Files subgroup includes Office Administration and Communications, and the Personal Files subgroup contains Campaign Materials, Photographs, Audio-Visual Materials, and Ephemera.

Series I.A. TC Personal Files and Series III.A. Campaign Materials provide the quickest overview of Carper's congressional career. With subject and correspondence files, Series I.A. TC Personal Files reflects the daily workings of the Congressman, his staff, and the offices of the House. File contents are variously broad in topical scope, and in depth of coverage for any one issue, and there are chronological omissions in this file series. But the range of topics illuminates Carper's involvement with important issues and highlights his accomplishments. Some files in Series I.A. TC Personal Files overlap or complement staff files on the same topic found elsewhere in the collection. Campaign files are especially rich as a synopsis of Carper's congressional career. Press releases, publicity, speeches, and other campaign literature highlight positions and accomplishments that Carper chose to feature in campaigns.

Comprising 24 linear feet, the largest series in the collection is Series I.C. Issue Files. The series is organized in twenty-two topical subseries, using subject terms similar to those found in indexes of Congressional Quarterly, Inc. publications and reflecting the subject responsibilities of the legislative assistants. These topical terms correspond generally to committee names (Appropriations, Foreign Affairs) or to the issues regularly referred to in committees or the legislative process. Other issue terms, such as "Women," "Children," or "Amtrak," were named by subject without regard to committee jurisdiction.

The twenty-two subseries are Agriculture, Amtrak, Animal Welfare, Appropriations, Children, Civil Rights, Civil Service, Commerce, Economics and Finance, Education, Energy and the Environment, Foreign Affairs, Health and Human Services, House Administration, Immigration, Judiciary, Mass Transportation, Miscellaneous, Science and Technology, Veterans, and Women. Series I.C. Issue Files is strongly representative of the work done by legislative assistants in Congressman Carper's office.

The legislative assistants' issue files were used to advise Congressman Carper on legislation before a vote, to support the Congressman in his committee work, and to provide context for dealings with constituents. Staff were expected to do background research, either on their own, by using the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, by speaking with other representatives' congressional staff, by attending meetings, or by all of these methods. Most staff met with constituents or practitioners pertinent to the issue, an invaluable activity that Carper expected of his staff.

A typical issue file might contain research notes, transcriptions of hearings, correspondence, position memoranda submitted by concerned parties, "Dear Colleague" letters, Democratic Study Group (DSG) reports with notations on how to vote or critiques of selected passages in legislation, analyses of issues by legislative assistants, meeting notes taken by legislative assistants, and business cards. Some staff systematically kept almost everything they collected pertaining to a subject; others randomly kept only a sample of articles, correspondence, or publications. In the few desirable cases when longtime staff maintained responsibility for one issue over several years, some issue files are more comprehensive than others; chronological coverage is mostly problematic with frequent gaps throughout the series. Some files on the same topic can be found in several places throughout this collection, either because a new legislative assistant assumed a former staff member's responsibilities or subject area, or because several staff kept overlapping files on topics of special importance to the Congressman. Other issues, such as "Children" could be multifaceted, considered under the purview of several legislative assistants.

In spite of these inconsistencies, Series I.C. Issue Files is a rich source for understanding the scope of legislation and concerns handled by Carper and his congressional staff in the years through the 1980s and start of the 1990s. Most of the legislative assistants' files contain reports and background notes from meetings or personal contacts with other congressional and government staff, which were then compiled into briefing memoranda for Carper's review. Carper tracked any number of issues in a given week, many of which were not related directly to his committee work or pending legislation, but were important to him nonetheless. He had strong interest in following any developments related to the environment; veteran’s affairs; foreign relations, especially in Central America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East; and issues relevant to Delaware. The papers contain extensive documentation on these topics and, to a lesser extent, there are issue files on social security, health care, women's and children's issues, and education. Additional issues related to Delaware and neighboring New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania are found in Series I.D. Regional Issues Files.

Legislative assistants were also responsible for the content of most of the files in Series I.B. Committee Work. The official records of House committees are permanently housed in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives, and, by House rule, are closed for thirty years from the date of their creation. The files that remain in Congressman Carper's personal papers are supporting documentation in the form of news clippings, reference files, position papers, "Dear Colleague" letters, studies, published hearings, and other related information collected by the legislative assistants.

The material in Series I.B. Committee Work is useful in documenting the full range of committee work and legislative issues considered by Congressman Carper. His legislative assistants had overlapping responsibilities in their subject assignments, so some of the research reports and legislative analyses found in this series had multiple purposes. For example, the bulk of Series I.B.2. Merchant Marine and Fisheries Files comprises the wider environmental issue files of legislative assistant Christophe Tulou. In addition to reference files, reports, correspondence related to building background information, and news clippings -- all similar to material found in Series. I.C. Issue Files -- there are a number of published hearings, floor statements, press releases, "Dear Colleague" letters, and other public documents that reveal committee actions and Carper's role in committee work. There are almost seven linear feet of files related to environmental issues studied by Carper in the Coast Guard and Navigation Subcommittee, and the Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment Subcommittee.

Series I.B.1. Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Files includes nearly 10 linear feet of material related to issues handled by Carper in the following subcommittees: Domestic Monetary Policy, International Monetary Policy, Housing and Community Development, Economic Stabilization, and Financial Institutions Supervision, Regulation and Insurance. Key legislation related to public housing included Lead Paint Abatement, Family Self-Sufficiency Act, Tenant Income Verification, Mixed Populations in Public Housing, and Prepayment and Preservation. The series also includes files related to the National Flood Insurance Plan, and the National Flood Erosion Mitigation Act of 1989, legislation of interest to Delaware and other states in coastal zones. Important material in this series relates to Carper's work on behalf of regulatory and insurance reform for banks and financial institutions, notably the 1991 Banking Reform Bill.

Many legislative assistants kept reports and information in their issue files that were helpful in drafting responses to constituent mail. Whether handled by legislative assistants or other staff assistants, these replies were filed with the incoming letters and postcards found in Series I.E. Constituent Correspondence. Most of the 11 linear feet of files in this series is staff-generated, but the correspondence is useful for documentation of contemporary topics and Congressman Carper's stated positions on a number of issues. There are personal replies from Carper in the Constituent Correspondence series, especially when Carper knew the constituent personally, when the constituent was a frequent correspondent, or when the correspondent was "important." Carper's other personal correspondence with constituents appears in Series I.A. TC Personal Files and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the collection.

Series I.F. Trips includes itineraries, correspondence, reports, and other related documents from Carper's participation in several congressional delegations to foreign countries and the state of Alaska. The bulk of the series concerns an important trip to Southeast Asia in 1991, but there are other files from trips to Central America in 1983 and 1987; to the Middle East in 1983/1984; to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska in 1987; to Costa Rica in 1988; and to Panama in 1990. Complementary files are found in Series I.C. Issue Files or Series I.B. Committee Work. A number of sources found in Series I.G. Voting Records and Series I.H. Publications are useful for documenting the final action on legislation or other issues presented elsewhere in the papers. Legislative Activity Guides, published under supervision of the Clerk of the House; Democratic Study Group reports; Congressional Research Service reports from the Library of Congress; and other documents and correspondence record voting action, and provide legislative summaries and voter profiles of members of Congress.

The two series in Subgroup II. Administrative Files include Series II.A. Office Administration and Series II.B. Communications. Office administration encompasses general procedures and housekeeping, House manuals, caucus memberships, financial disclosures and expense authorizations, and guest books and Carper's schedules. Communications includes Capitol Comments, Carper's newsletter for his Delaware constituents, and clippings and other files of the press secretary.

As previously mentioned, Series III.A. Campaign Materials provides a rich overview of Carper's entire congressional career. Each campaign provided an opportunity to recapitulate the major issues of the day and to review Carper's positions, actions, and goals. The remaining photographs, audio-visual material, and ephemera in Subgroup III. Personal Files supplements and illustrates much of the rest of the collection.


  • Creation: 1979-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1982-1992


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Access Information

This collection contains audiovisual media that has been reformatted. Please contact manuscripts staff for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Richard ("Tom") Carper was born on January 23, 1947, in Beckley, West Virginia, the son of Jean and Richard Carper. He grew up in Danville, Virginia. Carper attended Ohio State University on a Naval ROTC scholarship and was graduated in 1968 with a bachelor of arts in economics. After graduation, Carper served three tours of duty in Southeast Asia as a flight officer in the U.S. Navy, 1968-1973. Carper flew a P-3 Orion aircraft, used for surface and subsurface surveillance of the ocean. During the Vietnam War, the P-3 was used to conduct low-altitude patrols of the coastal waters of Vietnam and Cambodia to detect North Vietnamese infiltrator trawlers attempting to enter the territorial waters of South Vietnam. Carper flew close to 400 hours on such missions. He received the Air Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, two Navy Achievement Medals, and three Vietnam Campaign ribbons. Upon discharge from active duty, he became a commander in the Naval Reserve.

After his return from Southeast Asia in 1973, Carper attended the University of Delaware and received a master's degree of business administration in 1975. He worked as an industrial development specialist for the Delaware Division of Economic Development from 1975-1976 and taught undergraduate classes in business administration. Carper first became involved in Delaware politics as treasurer for the James R. Soles for Congress campaign in 1974. In 1976, he ran for state treasurer on the Democratic ticket and was elected. He won re-election to the office in 1978 and 1980. As treasurer, Carper managed the sale of the state-owned bank and established a cash management system to manage daily balances of over 150 million dollars. He was widely recognized for improving the state's credit rating -- from worst in the nation to a respectable "AA" -- in only five years.

In 1982, Carper ran for Congress and defeated Republican incumbent Thomas B. Evans, Jr., becoming the first Democrat in sixteen years to hold Delaware's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He retained this seat until 1992 when he was elected governor of the state of Delaware. Carper has the longest winning streak of any Delaware politician, having run for and successfully won ten elections between 1976 and 1996.

In 1978 Carper married Diane Beverly Isaacs of Greenwood, Delaware. They were divorced five years later in 1983. In 1986, Carper married Martha Ann Stacy. They have two sons: Christopher, born in 1988, and Ben, born in 1990. Carper is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the New Castle Presbyterian Church, and Common Cause.

Carper was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-eighth and to the four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1983 - January 3, 1993). These five Congresses were under Democratic Party leadership in the House during the Republican administrations of President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and President George Bush (1989-1993). With frequently opposing political philosophies, the legislative and executive branches of government dealt with a wide variety of domestic and foreign issues during these times. The 1980s were years of active economic development based on technological growth. Urgent calls were made to balance the federal budget and reduce deficit spending. A national financial crisis occurred in the savings and loan industry. Energy conservation and development of renewable energy resources were important subjects. Environmental issues encompassed "clean up" efforts for acid rain, oil spills, hazardous wastes, and ocean dumping. The Environmental Protection Agency established Superfund. Social concerns included unemployment, homelessness, health care and welfare reform, with increased attention on education, crime, gun control, and drug problems by the end of the decade. Abortion was debated between pro-choice and pro-life advocates. AIDS became a significant health problem; Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Defense topics included international disarmament, a nuclear freeze, and debate over a Strategic Defense Initiative. Foreign affairs pursued accountability for American prisoners of war or soldiers missing in action to prepare for renewed relations with countries in Southeast Asia. The Iran-Contra affair complicated the American role in the struggle between the Contras and Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The United States engaged in the Gulf War between Iraq and Kuwait. Calls for international human rights and the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa, followed by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, reflected significant changes in world order. International trade evolved and led to passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Congressman Carper represented his Delaware constituents in responding to these issues. In addition to traditional congressional functions of solving casework and voting on legislation, Carper served on committees and was a member of several congressional caucuses. He dealt with significant financial issues, particularly the savings and loan crisis, in service through the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee. His Banking subcommittees included Financial Institutions Supervision, Regulation and Insurance; Domestic Monetary Policy; International Development, Finance, Trade and Monetary Policy; Policy Research and Insurance; Housing and Community Development; and Economic Stabilization, of which he was elected chair in the 102d Congress (1991-1992).

On behalf of Delaware and its coastal issues, Carper was keenly interested in environmental topics. He served on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, and its subcommittees for Coast Guard and Navigation; and Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment.

Membership in several caucuses and other congressional organizations gave Congressman Carper a chance to keep abreast of other timely issues. He was a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, the Congressional Steel Caucus, the Environmental and Energy Study Conference, the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, the 70001 Ltd. Club, the Vietnam Veterans in Congress, and the U.S. Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus. Congressman Carper was also a co-founder of the Democratic Budget Study Group.

Throughout his career in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Carper was known as a moderate on social issues and a conservative on fiscal issues. In 1985, his voting record was described as "centrist," for siding with a conservative coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans 51 per cent of the time. He was not afraid to take an unpopular position on an issue, such as the savings and loan debacle, when he clashed with Speaker of the House Jim Wright over the amount of money that should be allowed to assist the FSLIC in bailing out thrifts. Carper often proposed compromises between radically different bills before a subcommittee, committee, or the House, attempting to get a basic bill passed, rather than squandering time in disagreement over small points. Carper was esteemed and congratulated by his colleagues in the House for his efforts to strike compromises in these legislative debates; they thought he showed tenacity and genuine interest in passing legislation for the good of the American people.

As a lone congressman, the term given to members of Congress who are the sole representatives of their states, Carper did not have other representatives from his state to work with in bringing forth legislation in the House. Carper usually tried to approach other members of Congress he felt would work with him or with whom he had worked in the past to begin the process of putting together legislation for a specific purpose. He personally lobbied other members for or against legislation affecting Delaware and worked tirelessly to gain their support, expecting the same effort from his legislative assistants. This is illustrated in clippings pertaining to the Annunzio-Wylie Amendment, which would have limited the ability of banks in Delaware to sell insurance. Carper personally went to every member on the House Banking Committee to ask them to vote against the amendment, and the tactic worked.

Carper identified the major issues in his first congressional campaign to be reversing a faltering national economy, balancing the federal budget, supporting the military but avoiding overspending on development of ineffective weapons, avoiding the proliferation of nuclear arms, supporting higher education, and addressing unemployment, social security, and crime. In his 1984 campaign, Carper referred to his record of sponsoring legislation to strengthen enforcement of fair housing; to ensure continuation of a strong Civil Rights Commission independent of political interference from the White House; and to end discrimination in education against women, minorities, and the handicapped. He had sponsored reauthorization of critical legislation to protect air and water resources, and other legislation to ban sewage sludge dumping off coastal waters and to combat the effects of acid rain. Carper called for negotiation of a bilateral mutual and verifiable freeze on nuclear weapons, and for continuation of the fight to reduce the budget deficit.

Congressman Carper was a proponent of recycling, clean air, and clean water. He was a strong advocate of environmental legislation to protect and clean up the nation's coastal resources, a relevant issue for Delaware. He was opposed to using the ocean as a dumping ground for sludge and chemicals. Carper worked hard to prevent large cities from continuing to dump in the ocean, encouraging them, instead, to find alternative disposal methods such as the use of landfills or incineration. Congressman Carper's additional environmental legislative interests regarded strengthening citizens' rights to know about hazardous substances in their communities.

A member of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee (MMF) from 1983-1991, he was faced with several important pieces of legislation relating to high-profile incidents such as the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and oil crises of the 1980s in the aftermath of the Gulf War, which led to proposals of drilling for domestic oil in the Arctic wilderness of Alaska. As a member of the MMF Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment Subcommittee, Carper traveled to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1987. Carper called for a national energy plan that would consider development of alternate domestic energy resources, but also include conservation measures. On a smaller scale, Carper attempted to change use of daylight savings time with H.R. 4251 The Energy Conservation Daylight Savings Act of 1983. The bill promoted energy conservation by extending daylight savings time by one month, beginning in early March rather than early April. The bill did not pass the House, but is an example of Carper's efforts to conserve energy.

Concern for the health of the nation's economy and the fiscal responsibility of the government prompted Congressman Carper to support the popular call for a Balanced Budget Amendment. He introduced legislation in 1991 and 1992 regarding a balanced budget, accommodating times when this goal could not be met, but seeking to increase the incidence of balanced budgets during periods of sustained economic growth. Carper also supported proposals for line-item presidential veto, or expedited rescission. Carper believed that empowering the president to rescind expenditures at the item level would allow more bills to pass, and put a crimp on legislative "pork" (pet projects benefitting single congressional districts).

Through the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee, Carper supported efforts to ensure safety and soundness of the nation's banking and financial institutions, and to improve the regulatory structures that supervise them. The crisis in the savings and loan industry in the 1980s was the focus of much of Congressman Carper's work on the Banking Committee during that time. The crisis was precipitated by deregulation of financial institutions, coupled with de-supervision of their practices, and an increase in the cap on insured deposits from $ 40,000 to $ 100,000. Carper's first major bill to pass the House occurred in his second term when he sponsored a bill to strengthen supervision of all United States financial institutions, including savings and loans, but the threat of a presidential veto killed the measure in a Republican-controlled Senate. In 1987, Carper led a fight in the House to substantially raise the insurance premiums that savings and loans were then paying, to allow bankrupt thrifts to be closed and avoid a huge taxpayer bailout. In that fight, Carper worked with the Reagan administration and against Speaker Jim Wright and the S&L lobby, but he lost. A critical collapse in the savings and loan industry in the Southwest occurred due to massive fraud by officers, directors, and others associated with the industry. Carper speared another House fight to authorize $ 75 million to hire FBI agents, investigators, prosecutors, or judges to bring the "looters" to justice; and the House passed the Bank Law Enforcement Act.

With his background of service in the U.S. Navy, Congressman Carper followed with interest issues related to veterans, the national defense, and foreign affairs. Carper was a strong advocate on behalf of veterans in Delaware. He held an important state forum in 1991 to review and explain changes and benefits provided by the Veterans Administration. Carper was also responsible for inclusion of necessary funds in the president's 1993 budget to add a clinic and update quality health services at the Veterans Hospital in Elsmere, Delaware. In 1991, as the United States sought to normalize relations with Vietnam, Carper joined a congressional delegation on a trip to Southeast Asia. Each member of the delegation had previous service in the Vietnam War, and they sought to resolve verification and return of POW/MIA remains.

Carper made other significant trips related to foreign affairs: he traveled to Nicaragua in 1983 and 1987 concerning U.S. aid during the struggle between the Contras and Sandinistas; to the Middle East at the beginning of 1984 to evaluate relations between Egypt and Israel; to Costa Rica in 1988 as one of a five-member congressional delegation observing a summit between the presidents of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador; and to Panama in 1990 to deal with economic and political issues related to the Canal during the dictatorship of General Manuel Noriega.

Carper believed in a healthy defense for national security, but thought growth of any weapons programs should be restrained in light of the budget deficit. He suggested that the United States should abandon land-based missiles, and rely on more effective submarine missiles. He was moderately supportive of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), saying its value was that the threat of its development would lead the Soviets earnestly to negotiate cuts in offensive nuclear weaponry. Overall, Carper believed in stopping the arms race and preferred to promote the economic interests in international relations. In Delaware, Carper was effective in obtaining federal appropriations to improve and continue operations at the Dover Air Force Base, the largest one on the East Coast. Carper held that maintaining Dover's infrastructure would guard the base against being closed in the wake of future military cutbacks.

Congressman Carper also won approval of the House to authorize and appropriate funds needed to build a new bridge across the federally-owned Chesapeake and Delaware Canal at St. Georges, Delaware. Representing an enormous investment in Delaware's infrastructure, the bridge was argued to be a vital link in a new north-south highway to bypass Dover and Smyrna. Carper overcame the initial objections of the Bush administration and the Army Corps of Engineers for the project. Meeting other state interests in transportation, environmental concerns, and protection of tourism, Carper proposed and won approval for several erosion studies and stabilization projects of Delaware's Atlantic Ocean shoreline, as well as the shorelines of the Delaware Bay and the Indian River Inlet.

With Delaware's close proximity to the nation's capital, Carper had the opportunity to be a commuting congressman. He rode the train daily, between Wilmington and Washington, D.C., when Congress was in session. From his constituents in Delaware, Congressman Carper had a popular reputation for accessibility through frequent, statewide town meetings. He held focused forums, such as one to explore the cost and quality of health care in Delaware, and seminars, such as one to encourage Delaware women to strengthen their roles in the businesses. In addition to an office in Wilmington, Carper opened an office in Dover to facilitate contact with Kent and Sussex counties. He secured labor union endorsements and wide support from the business community. At the end of five terms in Congress, Carper was a respected representative for his fiscal responsibility, for his reputation as a consensus-seeking moderate, for his concern for the environment, and for his advocacy of technological, entrepreneurial, and capital development in Delaware. He campaigned successfully for the governorship of Delaware in 1992 and was re-elected to the state's leadership in 1996. In 2001, Carper was elected to the United States Senate, as Delaware’s junior senator.

Information derived from the collection

Staff List

The following is a list of staff who worked for Congressman Carper. Staff are listed alphabetically by last name, with positions and dates of employment as reflected in the collection.

Anderson, John Sherwood (Temporary Employee, 6/11/1984)

Avancena, Roberta Jean (Staff Assistant, 9/15/1983 - 10/15/1983)

Avery, Peter Stevenson (Legislative Assistant Caucus Person, 5/1/1991 - 5/31/1991)

Baker, John D. (Legislative Assistant, 3/20/1991)

Berger, Joanne (Staff Assistant, 9/16/1985; Computer Systems Manager, 4/1/1989; Legislative Assistant, 1/1/1991 - 12/7/1992)

Blunt-Bradley, Lisa (Part-time Wilmington Office, 6/1/1988 - 8/31/1988; Caseworker, 9/1/1989)

Brown, SaBrina F. (Computer Specialist, 1/3/1983)

Brown, Sharon Kay (Communications Director/ Press Secretary, 4/1/1985 - 1/1/1987)

Bullock, Jeffery (LBJ Intern, 6/6/1983; Staff Assistant, 8/6/1983; Legal and Executive Assistant, 8/12/1984; Communications Director, 1/1/1987)

Bushweller, Stephany J.P. (Staff Assistant, 3/9/1992)

Cahill, Mia (Part-time Caseworker Wilmington, 6/3/1987 - 5/20/1988)

Campbell-Wheeler, Heather (Special Assistant, 9/4/1984 - 6/7/1992)

Centenera, Maria C. (Staff Assistant, 1/10/1991; Case Worker, 3/9/1992)

Chase, Jill (Staff Assistant, 8/24/1987 - 4/8/1988)

Conlon, Richard P. (Part-time Employee, 2/1/1987 - 2/28/1987)

Conner, Margaret A. (Part-time Wilmington Office, 9/1/1988 - 11/11/1988)

Corn, Jonathan Charles (Legislative Correspondent, 8/11/1986 - 4/30/1987)

Crum, Laurette (Staff Assistant, 11/14/1988 - 5/10/1990)

Derrickson, Sabrina M. (Staff Assistant, 2/19/1991; Special Assistant, 1/1/1992; Scheduler/ Office Manager, 4/25/1992)

Ellis, Carol (Case Coordinator, 1/1/1990)

Fahey, Anne Marie (Staff Assistant, 4/29/1992)

Farside, Brenda (Caseworker, 9/1/1992)

Finnefrock, Susan (Dover Office Manager, 1/3/1983)

Fitzgerald, Sharon Holt (Press Secretary, 1/3/1983 - 3/11/1983)

Frank [Bullock], Susan (Staff Assistant, 1/1/1985; Legislative Assistant, 8/1/1985)

Freel, Edward Joseph (Administrative Assistant, 1/3/1983 - 5/15/1992)

Gay, Timothy Michael (Press Secretary, 4/1/1983)

Glenn, Diane (Receptionist, 9/6/1984 - 3/8/1985)

Glenn, Heidi W. (Scheduler / Office Manager, 5/12/1986 - 4/19/1992)

Gorman, Sarah Catherine (Legislative Correspondent, 2/1/1985 - 7/31/1985)

Hill, Liticha Ann (Temporary Employee, 1990)

Hubbard, Karryl D. (Legislative Correspondent / Assistant, 3/4/1985 - 7/27/1990)

Huber, Janet H. (Scheduler, 1/3/1983)

Jordan, Janice (Temporary Employee, 4/1/1983 - 4/30/1983)

Keil, Barbara S. (Case Worker / Part-time Caseworker, 3/14/1983 - 2/29/1988)

Lank, Mary (Staff Assistant, 8/9/1984 - 12/31/1985)

Laporte, Arleen M. (Receptionist / District, 3/11/1985; Staff Assistant, 5/7/1987 - 8/21/1987)

Leonard, Laura A. (Staff Assistant, 2/5/1991; Legislative Assistant, 2/19/1991 - 11/4/1992)

Lilly, Scott (Staff Assistant/ Democratic Study Group (DSG), 1989)

Loessner, Laura L. (Staff Assistant, 5/21/1990; Computer Systems Manager, 1/1/1992)

Lusane, Clarence A. (Intern, 7/2/1990; Part-time Employee, 10/1/1990 - 10/31/1990)

Mathe, David A. (Staff Assistant, 8/1/1990; Caseworker, 1/1/1991)

McAllister, Laura Elizabeth (Legislative Correspondent, 6/2/1983 - 6/29/1984)

McStocker, Maureen (Legislative Correspondent, 9/1/1985 - 8/15/1986)

Meconi, Vincent P. (Executive Assistant, 2/3/1987 - 1/1/1991)

Messer, Carol A. (Legislative Assistant, 3/1/1989 - 4/30/1990)

Metzelaar, Marc (Caseworker, 12/1/1988 - 1/31/1990)

Meyer, Mary Catherine (Staff Assistant, 6/1/1988 - 6/7/1990)

Miller, Elizabeth Newland (Office Manager, 1/3/1983 - 8/31/1984)

Milligan, Clifford L. (GT Summer Program, 6/4/84 - 7/13/84)

Morris, Judith L. (Caseworker, 5/1/1989)

Newton, John V.M. (Professional Staff Member, 4/15/1991)

Owens, Moira Anne (Staff Assistant, 10/1/1983 - 1/31/1984)

Richards, Tom (Temporary Employee, 4/1/1983 - 4/30/1983)

Ryan, Elizabeth P. (Legislative Assistant, 5/21/1990; Senior Legislative Assistant 1/1/1992 - 11/13/1992)

Ryan, John W. (Professional Staff Member, 3/11/1991)

Salter, David Paul (Legislative Aid, 1/3/1983; Caseworker, 6/1/1983)

Short, Bryan H. (Caseworker, 1/29/1990)

Skomorucha, Robert J. (Caseworker, 3/25/1987; Staff Assistant/Caseworker, 7/1/1987)

Smith, Lawrence Clifton (Caseworker / C. A. Specialist, 1/17/1983 - 7/31/1985)

Spaulding, Wayne Gordon (Special Projects Coordinator, 2/8/1983 - 3/1/1985)

St. Amand, Janet Gail (Senior Legislative Assistant, 2/7/1983; Legislative Director, 1/1/1985 - 4/30/1985)

Stine, Leo E. Jr. (LBJ Intern, 5/4/1987 - 6/3/1987; Part-Time Staff Assistant,6/4/1987 - 8/14/1987)

Stuchlik, Susan M. (Dover Office Manager, 1/1/1988)

Stuchlik-Edwards, Susan (Dover Office Manager, 1/29/1990 - 11/15/1992)

Thielker, Sheri (Staff Assistant, 5/1/1983)

Tierney, Patrick James (Legislative Correspondent, 2/1/1985 - 8/30/1985)

Tulou, C.A.U. (Legislative Aid, 3/3/1983; Legislative Assistant, 1/1/1985; Legislative Director, 12/1/1988 - 1/31/1991)

Wachs, Karen Sheryl (Legislative Correspondent, 6/20/1983 - 8/19/1983)

Watson, Karen (6/4/84 - 7/13/84)

West, Keith (Staff Assistant, 2/22/1989 - 6/9/1989)

Wheeler, Heather C. (Office Manager, 3/20/1991)

Wiederhorn, Helen C. (Legislative Assistant, 5/6/1985 - 1/18/1989)

Wilkinson, Patrick J. (Part-time Caucus Person, 10/01/1991 - 10/31/1991)

Willard, Tim (Legislative Correspondent, 6/05/1984 - 6/30/1985)

Williams, Gregory K. (Caseworker, 10/5/1987)

Windley, Lawrence E. (Caseworker, 6/1/1983)

Yatco, Elizabeth (Caseworker, 1989)

Yatco, Betty Jean (Staff Assistant / Caseworker, 8/12/1985 - 8/23/1989)

Zaragoza, Nancy (Staff Assistant, 8/23/1988 - 5/31/1989)

Zuckerkandel, Cynthia (Part-time Wilmington Office, 9/1/1988)


84 linear foot (84 boxes)

1 oversize removal (1 box of oversized removals (20 inches))


Thomas R. Carper (1947- ) served the state of Delaware as its member-at-large in the U.S. House of Representatives for five terms: he was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-eighth and to the four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1983 - January 3, 1993). Carper served on the committees of Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, and Merchant Marine and Fisheries, with memberships on several subcommittees. Carper was elected with the "budget conscious class of 1982" and was a fiscal conservative in his legislative efforts. Carper worked on the bailout plan for the savings and loan industry, correctly predicting the enormity of the problem. The Thomas R. Carper congressional pPapers reflect issues on banking, environmental and coastal concerns, fishing and tourism, and many other topics of interest to Delawareans in the 1980s. In addition to correspondence, memoranda, and office files, the collection includes reports, documents, and memorabilia from Carper's congressional career.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Thomas R. Carper, 1992, 1998-1999

Related Materials in This Repository

Items from the collection appeared in the exhibition “Trail to the Voting Booth: An Exploration of Political Ephemera,” lauched online September 2020, University of Delaware – Morris Library. The exhibition can be viewed online at


Boxes 1-84: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons

Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (20 inches)

Processing Information

Processed by Rebecca J. Altermatt, Rob Costello and L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, 1997 November-1999 December. Finding aid encoded by Lauren Connolly, February 2016. Further encoding by Tiffany Saulter, May 2016, and John Caldwell, 2018, 2023.

Finding aid for Thomas R. Carper congressional papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2016 February 16
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA