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Legislative Papers of Charles Stenholm

Charles Stenholm

The Texas Political History – The Charles Stenholm Collection project will formally archive 359 boxes of former Congressman Stenholm’s legislative papers for public access at the Dick Smith Library and online at a website designed to make accessible the finding aid and images of significant items from the collection.

Collection Description

For students of American Agricultural policy and legislation and the history of political movements and party maneuvers, the Charles W. “Charlie” Stenholm papers will serve as a unique information resource. Other research topics supported by the Stenholm papers include balanced budget debates and amendments, President Clinton’s impeachment (Stenholm voted for three of the four articles of impeachment), early energy programs (oil and gas pricing, oil for food), and healthcare (Medicaid, managed care reform, prescription drugs). For people wondering about the day-to-day operations of a Congressional office, the papers include constituent correspondence, visitor logs, financial statements and vouchers, and legislative folders.

Collection Inventories

The Charles W. Stenholm Congressional papers are an unprocessed collection. Advance notice is needed before any research can be conducted. Some files in the records may be closed because of privacy issues. These inventories are provided to indicate the extent of topics and issues covered in the Charles W. Stenholm Congressional papers.

For more information contact Amanda Pape, Coordinator for Archives and Special Services, or Archives staff at archives@tarleton.edu.

Stenholm's Career

Born in Stamford, Texas, former Democratic Congressman Charles Stenholm served Texas’ conservative 32-county 17th District (centered in Abilene) for 26 years. Specifically:

  • A member of the House Committee on Agriculture for his entire Congressional career, Stenholm became the committee’s ranking Democrat during his last 8 years ending in 2004. His papers include background material on crop subsidy and crop insurance legislation, speeches presented in Committee and on the House floor, copies of draft and final legislation and budgets, and summaries of legislative issues addressed in Congressional sessions.
  • As a founder and co-chair of the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, Stenholm was universally recognized for his abilities to forge good working relationships with moderate Republicans and to mobilize a “swing vote” of fiscally conservative House Democrats from states throughout the nation who were willing to vote with House Republicans usually in exchange for more favorable legislative language. The Stenholm papers trace the history of bipartisan alliances in agriculture, Social Security, energy, health care and balanced budget.
  • During the 1980s, Stenholm was a leader of the Boll Weevils, a coalition of Southern members of the House who defected as a group from the Democratic party to vote with Republicans on budgetary and tax bills.
  • As the result of a redistricting effort in the Texas Legislature during 2003, Stenholm’s existing district was split among three new districts. Most of his former territory, including his home in Abilene, was placed into the heavily Republican, Lubbock-based 19th district, while his cotton farm was thrown into the equally Republican Amarillo-based 13th district. Stenholm ran in the 19th district and was not re-elected.